For the members of a new church, a shopping center can be sacred space

April 08, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

It's an odd assortment of tenants in Mount Airy's Ridgeville Center -- an H&R Block Income Tax office, a karate school, a pizza place, a scuba shop and the Abundant Life Apostolic Assembly, a Pentecostal church.

The setting may be a bit unconventional, but to Pastor Ken Ricker location isn't everything.

"It doesn't matter where we are," said Mr. Ricker, 33.

"We'll feel the freedom if it's in someone's house or in a store space. It doesn't have to be a formal church building," he said.

The 17-member Abundant Life Apostolic Assembly church had its first Sunday service last month in a space formerly occupied by a printer and an arcade.

Church members had been meeting in members' homes until Mr. Ricker found a worship space.

The pulpit, sound system and Yamaha keyboard were donated. And the baptismal tank is actually an animal feeding trough.

"It serves the purpose," Mr. Ricker said. "That's how strongly we feel about the necessity of baptism."

The Abundant Life Apostolic Assembly church grew out of Mr. Ricker's dream to start a church similar to the Pentecostal church in Frederick he attended for 10 years.

It was at the Apostolic Lighthouse church that Mr. Ricker found what he was looking for.

"I wanted a deeper relationship with God," he said.

The Pentecostal church adheres strictly to the Bible and rejects the notion of a Holy Trinity.

"The Pentecostals teach the oneness of God as opposed to three persons making up a godhead," Mr. Ricker said. "Our philosophy is to cut through all the traditions through the centuries and go directly back to the original church."

For years, Mr. Ricker said, he lacked the confidence to start his own church.

He said he didn't believe he had the ability to lead.

It wasn't until he oversaw the growth program at the Apostolic Lighthouse church that he changed his mind.

"I knew then that God had placed in me what it takes to build a church," said Mr. Ricker, who lives in Watersville with his wife, Kathy, and four sons.

Working full time installing elevators for the Montgomery Elevator Co. and running a new church leaves Mr. Ricker with little free time, but his family supports his efforts.

The entire Ricker family, except for 3-year-old Aaron, participated in the first service March 20 at the Abundant Life Apostolic Assembly.

Mrs. Ricker and 7-year-old Joshua sang, 9-year-old Christopher played the keyboard and 14-year-old Scott was the main usher.

"We believe in lively worship -- clapping hands, singing, shouting," Mr. Ricker said.

The Abundant Life Apostolic Assembly holds Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. and runs a Sunday school for children ages 2 to 14.

Every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. the church runs a "care group" at a member's home.

The atmosphere is relaxed and the group focuses on studying, teaching, singing and praying for members' individual needs, Mr. Ricker said.

He hopes to see the Abundant Life Apostolic Assembly grow over the years, but wants to maintain a sense of intimacy.

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