‘We started out with 15 people’: Desert Ridge Baptist Church pastor hopes new building adds legitimacy

The Desert Ridge Baptist Church has moved into the former location of the First Southern Baptist Church at 326 S 600 East in St. George, Jan. 30, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Michael Waldrop, St. George News

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.

Pastor Michael Waldrop of Desert Ridge Baptist Church shares an online sermon in September 2017 | Photo courtesy of Desert Ridge Baptist Church via Facebook, St. George News

“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.

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Sam January 31, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Congrats Desert Ridge! This is a great place to come learn the Word! They ar a people of the Book.

  • Pheo January 31, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    If you aim to reach out to Mormons, you probably shouldn’t say this:

    “We have a number of LDS folks who have come to our church and are now Christians.”

    There was probably no offense intended, but some Mormons will take offense at this. Mormons believe in Jesus Christ and are therefore Christians, even if you have decided that your version of Jesus is better than everyone else’s.

  • comments January 31, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    “There was probably no offense intended, but some Mormons will take offense at this. Mormons believe in Jesus Christ and are therefore Christians, even if you have decided that your version of Jesus is better than everyone else’s.”

    versions of jesus… I am so frickin tired of religions. It’s all so ridiculous

    What i’ve learned from church:

    churches are all businesses. The primary goal of most of them is to rake in $$$. Being a pastor and running a church can be a very lucrative “career” $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    that’s what i’ve learned from church. Besides all the fairytales and nonsense, ofc….

  • theone January 31, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Take you seriously? Hahaha people like myself will never take you or any religious nonsense seriously. Drop this imaginary skydaddy already, it’s time to grow up!

  • Who January 31, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    Sounds like theone wants to take the easy way out

  • 12345 February 1, 2018 at 2:47 am

    theone..people like them will never take people like you seriously either. drop your imigainary you know it all nonsense already, it’s time to grow up

  • darkgoddess February 1, 2018 at 5:36 am

    The pastor is just repeating what a lot of Baptists and some other religions believe, that Mormons aren’t Christians, despite “The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints.” These same folks believe that Catholics are heathens, too. *eyeroll* I’m now a lapsed Catholic, but I can’t tell you how many times someone’s tried to “save” me. I agree with @comments. Religions nowadays have become a business, and are no longer what was intended by Christ.

  • theone February 1, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Take the easy way out, not exactly sure what you mean by that Who.

    12345, never once have I claimed to know it all. Believers are the ones who claim to know, and yet they can’t provide evidence for their stupid claim.
    That by default makes me a much more rational adult.
    12345 change my mind with some evidence if you can.

  • nicklecoder February 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    A belief in God is as rational as a belief in the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life existing somewhere out there in the cosmos. If such life exists, chances are that it has developed far beyond us. Who’s to say that such an advanced form of life wouldn’t appear, in our eyes, to be very much like God? You could say that it’s impossible for intelligent life to get that far, but science has yet to discover solid limits on what we can do, let alone what any other intelligent life might be ultimately capable of achieving. To say that God can’t exist then is equivalent to stating that there is a natural upper limit to what intelligent life can accomplish, that at some point, technology can go no further, that it’s possible to understand and know everything that can be understood and known by intelligent beings, and that that limit falls short of understanding the entire universe by a long shot. It doesn’t take a genius to discover the glaring contradiction in that argument, for if there is anything in the universe that can’t be understood or known, therein lies a margin of truth that gives room for the possibility of God, and if it’s beyond the reach of science, then perhaps faith isn’t as worthless as one might have imagined.

    Also, Mormons are just as Christian as any other Christian. If you claim otherwise, I won’t be offended; more like mildly amused. I’ve never once met a real Mormon who didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who suffered on the cross for our sins as taught in the Bible. In fact, such a belief (even if it is just a very strong hope) is a requirement for access to LDS temples.

    • theone February 1, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      ^^^^^^^^ I will call the above a strawman argument, oh wait how about a special pleading.
      This is the kind of goobledygop you hear in place of actual evidence.
      Nice job nick

    • comments February 1, 2018 at 5:30 pm


      Personally, I can leave open the possibility there might be some kind of god ‘out there’, but it doesn’t mean that the bible is anything more than a bunch of old jewish fairytales, some written by some very clever men no doubt. And it doesn’t mean that Joseph smith didn’t just fabricate the entire b.o.m and other mormon holy texts, even going as far as to imitate the old King James english from the 1611 version. Not even that hard to do, to fabricate something like that, and the b.o.m reads just like the king james bible in so many ways. Almost directly transposed sentences and paragraphs in a lot of places.

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