November 19, 2019

History of Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church

1931 – 1952

John Wesley Woods was called to the ministry of the gospel while a member of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. He was licensed to preach the gospel of Christ on August 3, 1931 at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church and he was publicly ordained to the work of the gospel ministry on August 31, 1931. Reverend Woods believed and he knew that he was responsible for meeting the needs of the people, and he did just that. The late Reverend John Wesley Woods formed the Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church in 1937.

Reverend John Wesley Woods and his first wife (Emma) took many children and young people under their tutelage because they had love for the young generation and they did not have any children of their own. Reverend Woods and First Lady Emma tutored them in homework and encouraged them to excel in both Christian and secular educations. After the death of First Lady Emma Woods; Reverend John Wesley Woods later married Thelma, his second wife.

Reverend John Wesley Woods’s mission statement was“I saw the need and met the challenge.” The Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church began in a rented space located at 2215 West Fulton Street in Chicago, Illinois. It started with a humble beginning with a few chairs and a few members who understood the mandate to compel men and women to come to Christ and they shared the common goals of meeting the needs of people on the Westside of Chicago, Illinois. Some of our founding members at Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church included: the Brown Family, Deacon Charlie and Ruth Thomas, Deacon Ernest Simmons, Deacon Simon Wakefield, Emma Robinson, Evelyn Thompson, Lewis Robinson, Louise Gaston, Louise Richardson, Mother Gussie Fairchild, Rena Matthews-Irving, Roberta Mollet, Ruby Smith, and Ruth Waters. As the Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church membership grew, they were able to purchase the building at 2215 West Fulton Street, Chicago Illinois.

1953 – 1972

In 1953, Reverend Woods led the congregation to purchase a new church located at 2658 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois. The members, friends and well-wishers marched from their former church on 2215 West Fulton Street to the new church location at 2658 West Jackson Boulevard. Included in the march were: Reverend Arthur Hubbard, Sr. of Greater Union Baptist Church, Reverend Phillips of Providence Baptist Church, Reverend Elijah Thurston of the 44th Street Baptist Church, Reverend Lewis Body of the Greater Harvest Baptist Church, Reverend Clarence Cobb of the First Church of Deliverance, Reverend F.D. Johnson, and Reverend Kline of Zion Temple Missionary Baptist Church. In addition to participating in the march were some of the active deacons and associated ministers including: Deacon Jones, Deacon Simon Wakefield, Deacon Bailey, Deacon Austin, Deacon Jacobson, Deacon Charlie Thomas, Deacon Booker T Brown, Reverend Wells, Reverend Black, and Reverend Powell.

Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church prospered and the membership grew under Reverend Woods’ leadership. He formed the pastor’s aid ministry and other auxiliaries. Many people gave their lives to Christ and he had many sons in the ministry who continued to carry out the work of the Lord. Reverend Woods had to give up the reign of leadership in 1972.

1972 –1975

Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church remained without a Pastor from 1972 to 1975. During this time frame without a Shepard, the membership declined significantly as well as in financial support.

1975 - 1993

In March 1975,Reverend Snirly Fred Simpson was elected as Pastor of the Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church. After having started with about 50 members, the church membership increased greatly, under Pastor Simpson’s leadership, reaching its peak of approximately 450 members in the 1980’s.Pastor Simpson has undertaken countless endeavors for the purpose of kingdom building, as his mission is “To Reach the Lost at all Cost”.

In 1975, Pastor Simpson led the Church to become a part of the Friendship Baptist District Association, the Illinois National Baptist State Convention, and the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.

In 1977,Mount Ridge purchased a yellow bus; the bus was painted blue and they placed the name Jesus on the upper front of the exterior display. The bus was known as “Blue Jesus.” The Blue Jesus bus made many trips on the Westside of Chicago to provide transportation for our faithful church members. Over the years, Pastor Simpson has implemented many programs at Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church in order to meet the needs of the members and its surrounding communities; such as:New Member’s Orientation class, Mid-week Prayer Meeting and Bible Study Class.Pastor Simpson also initiated and taught an annual Leadership Training class for many years, to prepare members for leadership roles within the church. Programs organized under Pastor Simpson’s leadership included:the children’s choir,drill team, boy scouts, food pantry, Christian Book store, Vacation Bible School and scholarship fund. Auxiliaries/Ministries organized under Pastor Simpson’s leadership included: nursery, children’s church, youth ministry, women’s ministry, couples’ ministry, singles’ ministry, evangelism ministry, follow-up ministry, prison ministry, feeding ministry, intercessory prayer ministry, bereavement ministry, tape ministry, widows’ ministry, praise dance ministry, mime ministry, sick &shut-in ministry, minister’s wives ministry, and men ministry.

1994 – 2010

In 1994,the Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church purchased two vacant lots on Washtenaw and Jackson Boulevard for parking with the possibility of later building on the land.

In late 1994, the Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church’s mortgage was burned and a cornerstone was laid to commemorate what had been accomplished through the goodness of God; so that those who were to come behind us would have a memorial of God’s wonderful deeds in the life of the Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church.Pastor Simpson initiated a fundraising effort to have engraved name plates of deceased members placed on the side of the pews in the sanctuary in honor of their memory.

In 1995,central air conditioning was installed in the church. Pastor Simpson initiated many renovations to the church including the roof, the sanctuary, the windows,remodeling of the men &women’s restrooms,new chandeliers in the sanctuary, and installation of wrought iron fence surrounding the outside of the church building.

In 1999, the Christian Dolls and the Big Sister Little Sister was organized. The Christian Dolls focused on the age group of 5 – 12 and they were being taught about the Christian lifestyle, how to conduct themselves as Christian and how to give of themselves by sharing with others who are less fortunate. The Big Sister Little Sister focused on mentoring young girls and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 17. This program was to educate, enlighten, increase spiritual awareness and heighten biblical teaching of the little sister. In addition, increase the self-concepts and work towards greater understanding of why it is important to develop a personal relationship with God.


In 2011, Pastor Simpson led the Church to join the Christian Unity Baptist District Association (CUBDA) under the leadership of Moderator Oscar T. Moses, Pastor of the Mount Hermon Missionary Baptist Church because our former district association (Friendship Baptist District Association) was no longer active.

In 2013, Pastor Simpson spearheaded a faith venture fundraising effort to do major renovations to the exterior and interior of the church. The interior work included: a remodeled sanctuary with refurbished pews & new seat coverings, new carpeting, stained floors, new wooded pulpit platform, new doors, new furnishings&decorations, newly built Pastor’s office with a restroom facility, remodeled lower dining hall, and remodeled kitchen. After the remodeling of the interior was completed; there was a dedication service to celebrate and honor God for His abundant blessings.Members,visitors and friends marched from the lower dining hall, where we had held worship services during the renovation, to our new sanctuary in October 2013.

In November 2013, a most memorable event took place at Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church; a celebration of annual Women’s Day, designated as “Sisters Homecoming.” A tribute was presented to the Church on behalf of former members (women and men) who had crossed over to eternity; a continual burning light was placed in the upper staircase of the sanctuary as a permanent memorial to those former members.

The annual Cornucopia Celebration was initiated in November 2013, which symbolizes an abundant harvest and includes three days of studying God’s word, teaching and preaching.This aligns with our mission and goals to express gratitude and thankfulness for what God has done in our lives over the past year. Thanksgiving being so commercialized, we needed to provide the Body of Christ with a clear understanding of God’s greatest sacrifice, his Son Jesus Christ. We chose to accomplish this through teaching,preaching, and sacrificial giving during this time of celebration, known as Cornucopia.

In April 2014, the Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church completed the exterior work which included the following repairs: tuck pointing, new roof, repaired firewall, landscaping, restoration of the stained-glass windows and replacement of the large picture window.

Pastor Simpson ordained several deacons including Willie Hale, Anthony Taylor, Anthony Scott,Charles Miller and Corey Williams.

Pastor Simpson has licensed numerous associate ministers: Marvin Barnett, A. C. Kimbrough, Jack Gaston, Bobby Jackson, Milton Johnson, (November 1998) Roger Hawkins, Louis McLain, Joseph Jones Jr., Terrance Wallace, Darnell Taylor, (2005)David Lakes, Corey Williams, Sheridan Simpson, Snirly Simpson, Jr., and (January 2014) Anthony Scott.

Pastor Simpson’s pastorate of Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church extends over four decades of dedicated and faithful service.The current membership of Mount Ridge Missionary Baptist Church is approximately 315 members.