In the early 1950's Pastor Glen Coon, pastor of the Madison College and Boulevard churches, asked his congregation who would be interested in starting a branch Sabbath School in the tiny town of Ridgetop. Viola and Kenny Knight along with T.H. and Daisy King raised their hands. Having no financial backing, they along with a handful of others began meeting in the apple barn of the Madison Campus Apple Orchard, which was located where the Hewitts now live. Once cold weather began the group moved to the basement of the Knight's home, the only level built at that time. Kenny said he wouldn't complete the house until a church had been built. They managed, though. Viola cooked for her family of five and frequent guests on one burner, very thankful for her degree in Nutrition.
The Knights had just started their CPA firm in Springfield. Viola says they used to sit by the phone waiting and hoping for a business call. In her own words, they were poor. She remembers having one nylon dress she washed out each week for church. There was absolutely no extra income left over to finance a church building, so they took out a bank loan and prayed business would improve. All the while Viola would go about her daily business in town, chatting with the merchants and making friends, who in time became valued clients.
Construction of one room of the little white building (located behind our church) was begun in the fall of 1952. The five men in the church did most of the work themselves to save money. Viola recalls one Christmas they had gone to Pennsylvania to visit her parents. They had to leave for home on Christmas Eve and drive through the night so Kenny and helper Ted Knight could lay the wood flooring in the morning (Christmas Day).
Yard sales were held to help finance the building. Viola, much like the Israelites upon leaving Egypt, went to all their merchant friends who had become clients, and asked for donated items. She was never refused.
Over the years the Knight's business flourished as did the church. Families with children were attracted to the school and stayed because of the warm and friendly congregation.
In the past fifty years the Ridgetop Seventh-day Adventist Church has had four expansion programs to accommodate church growth. It is a testimony to the sacrificial giving of many and proof that God does richly bless those who put Him first.
The Ridgetop Church was organized on May 2, 1953 with thirteen charter members. Shortly after organization the schoolhouse was enlarged to two rooms, and it was here the church continued to meet until 1963 when the present sanctuary was built. The membership had grown by that time to sixty-eight.
In 1978 a 5,100 foot education building, the Lela Whorton Elementary School was completed after the purchase of additional land. A kitchen and gymnasium were added in 1983, and later a metal warehouse for community services and storage was attached to the school. The school was renamed Ridgetop Adventist Elementary School and now supports three teachers and approximately 40 students.
The church building itself was enlarged in 1983, and again in 2001, then again in 2004.
The pastors that have served the church from 1953 to 2003 are as follows - A.D. Burch, C. Edwards, D. Bennett, J. Reams, H. Anderson, E. Beck, N. Johnson, F. Wilson, D. Holland, D. Philips, C. Steen, D. Cummings, Jr. C. Southard, Alvin Wolcott, Herb Hewitt, J. Colclesser, L. Walton, R. Johnson, Steve Rose, Bob Korzyniowski, Jeremiah Smart, and William Little (current pastor).
by Bob Korzyniowski
Updated by David Garner July 2017