ST. GEORGE — It started out as a Bible study in Pastor Michael Waldrop’s home. Now, with Desert Ridge Baptist Church moving into an established church building in St. George, Waldrop said he hopes people will start to see the church as a more legitimate place for faith in the community.
“There’s the challenge of people taking you seriously when there’s not a lot of external evidence of being a church,” Waldrop said. “A church that’s meeting in a private home or even a storefront, people wonder if it’s stable or even if it’s permanent. People should see there’s something serious going on here.”
Desert Ridge Baptist Church recently moved into the former First Southern Baptist Church building at 326 S. 600 East in St. George. The first meeting in the new building will be Sunday at 10:30 a.m. First Southern Baptist Church has already moved to 475 W. Buena Vista Blvd., Washington City.
Waldrop, a pastor who holds a doctorate in theology, said he is excited about the new location after humbly starting out nearly seven years ago.
Desert Ridge Baptist Church was started in 2011 when Waldrop moved with his family from Mississippi to St. George to start a church. Waldrop was financially supported by First Baptist Church of Keller, Texas, and the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, he said, to kick off another Southern Baptist church in St. George.
“We moved here to plant a new church,” Waldrop said.
Desert Ridge began as a Bible study in the Waldrop’s home in August 2011. Soon after, they started holding Sunday meetings in the conference room of the La Quinta Inn in St. George.
The church then leased a former interior decorating store on Tabernacle Street in 2013, where they’ve stayed until now, Waldrop said. Two years later, Waldrop said the church finally became financially autonomous.
“In 2011, we started out with 15 people, five of which were from my family,” Waldrop said. “And then last month, we had about 72 people now coming on Sundays.”
Roger Tracy, Desert Ridge Baptist Church outreach director, said it’s a challenge growing an evangelical church in Southern Utah because of the culture that is strongly adherent to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We are trying to reach out to our LDS friends and bring the gospel according to the Bible out to them,” Tracy said. “We have a number of LDS folks who have come to our church and are now Christians.”
Tracy said one of the goals for Desert Ridge Baptist Church is to gain more members by reaching out to community members and bringing the message of Christ to them.
“We do want to be good neighbors here in St. George,” Waldrop said, “but we do want to reflect what the Gospel says and that’s why we think we’re here.”
Members of the public are invited to join the congregation of Desert Ridge Baptist Church as they meet for the first time it their new building at 326 S 600 East at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.