Visiting Dogwood Ridge Grace Fellowship Church

Randy Rucker



On April 23, 1968, at least 14 tornadoes struck throughout the Midwest, causing 14 deaths, 9 in Ohio. The Wheelersburg tornado was the most notable, having caused more than $2 millon in damage. It was officially classified an F-4, but many think it may have actually been an F-5, making it the first F-5 tornado in Ohio since 1950. A train close by was thrown from the tracks, and 550 homes in the Dogwood Ridge community in Wheelersburg were damaged or destroyed.

On the Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday), Beverly and I dropped in to worship with the Dogwood Ridge Grace Fellowship Church. A few days prior, driving up Hammerstein Road, I said we will turn left onto Dogwood Ridge. The first church we come to is where we will go to church this week. I often say it doesn’t matter where we go because we are going to all of them should the Lord allow us to complete our journey.

So arriving a bit early, we tarried a bit to allow for Sunday school to end, and we walked in about 10 minutes before the 10:30 a.m. service would begin.

Chris Cremeans, songleader and deacon, opened the service. Playing the piano on this day was Johnna Culver and Janet Cronin. Unfortunately, I don’t always get these names, but I did today.

Chris told the congregation to grab their hymnals and turn to page 206, with the opening hymn being “Wonderful grace of Jesus.” Then he spoke a prayer which included “just as sure as every drop of rain that falls, for every drop of dew that drops, we are thankful for these things. May your spirit be there and blessed. These things we ask that your name be glorified. In the name of Christ, Amen.”

Then sung was the hymn, “Tis so sweet to believe in Jesus.”

Pastor Dan Culver opened his message saying he was reading from John. Much of his discussion revolved around Jesus and His Disciples coming to the Passover Festival.

He spoke of the woman at the well in Samaria. Jesus having requested a drink of water from her. My translation from “The Patriots Bible,” verses 9-10 shows the discussion between Jesus and her concerning his request for a drink. Then, in verse 13, Jesus said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again.” 14 “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Again in a discussion with disciples and Jews quarreling around Him, Jesus called out in a loud voice, verse 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” In verse 58, Jesus said, “This is the bread which came down from heaven — not as your father’s ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats my bread will live forever.”

Dan went on to say that “God never goes back on His word. Only Christ alone can give the living water. A wellspring of water to eternal life. No matter how sinful a person has been, as they drink from the spiritual water, a person will join a life living for Christ.”

Then the Pastor pointed to a verse in Isaiah, verse 28, “Behold I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.”

Later, he stated that the two books of Corinthian are several of the Bible’s greatest books. From Corinthians 2, 5, verse 21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

The sermon continued, but came down to a final message Pastor Dan said, “And to all your children and those friends far away, I will pray to the father that He will dwell with you and be with you. We thank you for the people here today to search the truth. Thank you for the food you have given us today.” I think that was a reference regarding a potluck announced following today’s service.

For the second week in a row, we were invited to the church potluck, accepting to better meet the people of faith attending Grace Fellowship Church.

Beverly and I later discussed the value of these potlucks in churches. Beverly had a lot of good thoughts I wanted to share. She said they allow some who would go home to eat alone to stay and talk in fellowship.

She said Jesus himself set the mold when he gathered his disciples and followers together for dinners and to break bread. Therefore, surely it was set as an important standard for those who follow Jesus to sit with fellow worshippers at the table of Jesus. It gives all a chance for those within the church to become familiar with others. There is a lot to share in the basement of a church during the practice of a friendship building potluck dinner.

On this day, we certainly enjoyed our dinner and visit with many. There was David Childrey, who lives in Kentucky, but comes here each week to worship. Then there was Mark Shonkwiler and Kayla McCoy, who we sat adjacent to at dinner. I have known Kayla, as she is a Minford third-grade teacher, and she annually dresses in historic attire for the Harrisonville Reunion. She knows me best in the character I annually portray there as Thaddeus Bennett, founder of Minford.

Kayla’s grandmother Janet Cronin said “faith is a gift.” This was, in part, to a conversation with Cheryl Pennington, who said the building of this church in 1993. Her husband is Charles Pennington, first pastor when the church was built. It has been pastored by Dan Culver since that time, and has been built on the subject of grace, pointing out scripture in the book of James. She pointed out that sinners are saved by Grace, while Beverly added, but by Christ. Also I learned the church primarily uses the King James Version of the Bible in their worship. What a lovely visit we had to the Dogwood Ridge Grace Fellowship Church. If you are looking for such a church, then perhaps you will plan a visit to this church, located on Dogwood Ridge, Wheelersburg.

As believers, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior of the World. Each one, reach one. See ya in church.


Randy Rucker

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