The story of The Ridge Church is intertwined with a family story. Although the The Ridge Church as we know it is fairly new, our story goes back to the several years. Locally, it begins in 1997, when Pastors Mark and Lori Welch and their sons David, Nathan and Jonathan, moved from Michigan to Rocklin, CA. The Welches came to join a church planting movement through Faith Legacy Church in Sacramento. The movement was developed through Pastor Phil Stevenson. This project was called "RippleChurch." The vision was to “start churches that start churches that start churches,” thus "Spring Valley Church" was born. Under the leadership of Mark and Lori Welch, and through the sacrificial partnership of Pastor Phil and the Faith Legacy Church family, this vibrant church began (and, by the way, is still going strong). Right away, even while Spring Valley was in its infancy, the Welches began praying and looking for ways to see the ripple expand by giving birth to other new churches in the region.
Church ministry is nothing new to Mark and Lori Welch, nor to the families they come from. Both of the Welches were raised in pastor’s homes, with parents that served faithfully for years. Lori’s parents, Pastor Clyde and Gerrie Mills, had a radical conversion to Christ and a call into ministry in the early 1960’s. With their young family of 6, they left a successful business career, went to Bible College and began pastoring. To know more of that story, we recommend reading Gerrie’s book, Oy Vey, Such a Deal (available on Amazon).
When they were new in ministry, Clyde and Gerrie re-started a country church that was all-but-dead in rural Michigan. They built it from 7 older congregants, into a thriving ministry that attracted and reached hundreds and hundreds of people over a 20 year period. They also successfully raised Lori and her three brothers, Mike, Andy and Tim, who all developed the same love, passion and dedication for Jesus. They each have had a calling to pastoral ministry, church planting and community service, as have so many other people that Clyde and Gerrie mentored. The Mills pastored until Clyde turned 66, and then they retired. BUT GOD WAS NOT DONE…they soon felt a stirring and had no idea what God had in mind.
In the winter of 1999, Mark Welch noticed two big earth movers working in a field near Twelve Bridges golf course outside of Lincoln. He inquired and discovered that one of the largest retirement community build-outs in Northern California was just getting under way. Mark and Lori contacted Pastor Phil and their denominational officials, and together came up with a plan; they decided to ask Lori’s recently retired parents to consider moving to California to plant Spring Valley’s first daughter congregation in Sun City Lincoln Hills. Clyde and Gerrie prayed and by faith, sold their Florida home and answered the call. They left retirement, and moved into one of the first homes in Sun City. In the fall of 1999, from the living room of their new home, Valley View Church was born (Pastor Clyde and Gerrie pastored Valley View for another 10 years; the church is also going strong to this day).
In 2001, Lori’s younger brother, Pastor Tim Mills, his wife Michelle and their young daughters Aubrie, Aundrea and Alexa, also felt the call. By faith, they moved from Michigan, where they had previously successfuly planted a vibrant church, to California to start another daughter church of Spring Valley. Tim and Michelle were passionate to plant a new congregation in the area for people who “don’t like church.” Tim and Michelle had a natural way of making friends with people who did not-yet-know Jesus. With Michelle's unique gifts, their love of hospitality, and Tim’s one-of-a-kind personality and joyful humorous preaching style, it would prove to be just the thing for reaching this new group of Californians. Some leaders from Spring Valley joined them in the effort, and another new ministry was born. The church flourished and reached hundreds of people in the Rocklin/Loomis/Lincoln areas. Through various locations and a couple of name changes, the ministry ended up in Lincoln with the name Eleven One Church.
Pastor Tim and Michelle faithfully led Eleven One until Tim passed away on October 7, 2021 through a tough battle with cancer and finally COVID. Yet, even in the end, Tim's final words are changing lives. During his final goodbye, in between short difficult breaths, he whispered to his family, "give it all you've got for Jesus." These words would ring true, eventually becoming marching orders. But initially, the family and church were devastated with his loss. Through a season of grieving, and while still affected by the effects of the pandemic, the prayerful decision was made to close Eleven One in December of 2021. BUT GOD WAS NOT DONE.
In early 2022, Michelle and her family, and a faithful remnant from Eleven One Church, made a bold decision by faith. They felt a call to start another church, something new with old friends. They formed a core group, chose a name and prayerfully began meeting in a rented gym in Loomis. Gerrie Mills, even while grieving over the recent loss of her husband Pastor Clyde, and more recently her son Tim, joined the effort as well. God began showing up to resurrect and fulfill “the dream” that started it all in the first place.
In November, 2022, the group moved into Twelve Bridges Elementary School in Lincoln for weekend services. Meanwhile Mark and Lori Welch had finished 40 years of ministry. Since 1994, they started or sponsored seven new churches, including Eleven One, during their ministry. They finally felt led to retire in March, 2022 from The Pointe Church of Antelope. They started The Pointe in 2009 and pastored for there over 13 years. They thought that their time of pastoral ministry had come to end. BUT GOD WAS NOT DONE.
Even though retired, Pastor Mark agreed to do some temporary pulpit filling as a Sunday morning guest speaker while The Ridge Church began their search for a new pastor. But, Mark and Lori fell in love with the heart of these people, and the people loved them too and started asking them to consider being their Pastor. So in December, 2022, Mark and Lori answered the call to become the Lead Pastor team for The Ridge Church. Now they join efforts with family who already were connected in ministry, but now ALL IN THE SAME PLACE (something Pastor Tim dreamed about and often mentioned.) Today, Pastor Clyde and Pastor Tim’s legacy lives on. God cannot be stopped. When God has a plan, nothing can thwart that plan. As we know from the story of Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection, EVEN DEATH CANT STOP WHAT GOD HAS IN MIND!
Today the "RippleChurch" is alive and well. Countless people have come to know Christ in a deep and meaningful way, and the Mills/Welch Family has been thrilled to be a part of something so powerful for The Kingdom. The Ridge Church is now ready to accept God’s call to reach this region and beyond for The Lord. We plan to "give it all we've got." Why? BECAUSE GOD IS NOT DONE. Let’s get ready to all be a part of what God does next!
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.