Our Church History
Back in 1980, it was just a prayer request: “It would sure be nice if there was a church in Forest Ranch.”
The roots of Forest Ranch Baptist Church began long before this request. The vision for a church in Forest Ranch originated with Pastor Cliff Farnworth of Calvary Baptist Church in Susanville. For that purpose, Will Howe, a deacon from Susanville, and his wife Suzy, came each Sunday to lead Bible studies, call upon people in Forest Ranch, and begin the formation of a church. On July 9th, 1980, the request became reality as the first meeting was held at the home of Bob and Barbara Batt. The group agreed upon the name of Forest Ranch Baptist Church and organized themselves into a church body. Pastor Farnworth, having searched for a pastor for this new church, recommended George Gunn. Forest Ranch Baptist Church called George Gunn to be their first pastor, beginning his ministry on August 1st, 1980. Pastor Gunn was accompanied by his wife, Janice, and their time in Forest Ranch saw the birth of their sons, Christopher and David.
Forest Ranch Baptist Church started meeting in the home of Gene and Wilma Rolls, located on Sugar Pine Road. A nice sign was constructed and placed outside each Sunday to encourage others in Forest Ranch to attend. It was quickly apparent that the small church was exceeding the limitations of a home; those who arrived late stood in the kitchen, stooping underneath the cabinets to join the services held in the living room.
A piece of property became available at the corner of Schott Road and Highway 32. Originally, the property had been purchased in hopes of planting a vineyard there. The entire lot was cleared, leaving a very suitable property for building a new church. The asking price for the 5 acres was $30,000 in cash, but the church was short $25,000. God, however, was not short of funds, and provided the needed cash through an unexpected source. The property was purchased in the fall of 1981 and the foundation was poured in spring of that next year. Many people in the church and in the community greatly contributed of their time, effort, and supplies to the construction of the new church building. The first service in the new building was held on Christmas of 1982, even though carpet and sheet rock were lacking! The new building consisted of an 80 seat sanctuary, an office, a nursery, and a classroom which also doubled as the kitchen. The church built and installed their own baptistery. In 1986, the church steeple was added.
George Gunn resigned his pastorate in 1989, moving to a teaching ministry at Shasta Bible College. After a year of seeking God’s direction, the church called Kevin Robinson to become the next pastor. Pastor Kevin began his ministry in January of 1991, joined by his wife Kelly and their children Kyle, Keith, and Katrina. Forest Ranch Baptist Church continued to grow, and again, the church exceeded its limitations. Plans started to be drawn up as early as April, 1993 to add a larger sanctuary, 4 Sunday School classrooms, a nursery, and expanding the present kitchen and restroom facilities. Once again, the church’s funds were short of the needed total; once again, God faithfully provided through unexpected means to care for the church. With the money and plans in hand, the church held a ground-breaking ceremony in the summer of 1995. The church joined hands to pray for this new addition and dedicate it to God; then each had the opportunity to use the shovel and break ground. Just as many in the church and community helped to build the first building, so also many came out to help with the addition. Construction of the new facilities began with the pouring of the foundation in June of 1996. By the fall of 1998, the Sunday School wing was completed.
January of 1999 marked the close of Kevin Robinson’s tenure as pastor, as God called him to pastor Sierra Baptist Church in Newcastle, CA. The construction continued to progress on the new sanctuary, as the church sought God’s direction for their new pastor. Scott MacKenzie, with his wife Phyllis and children Robert, Kari, Melissa, and Tommie, was called as the new pastor on July 1st, 2000. Less than a year later, the sanctuary was completed, and a dedication service was held for the new addition on March 31st, 2001.
Scott MacKenzie resigned from his position as pastor on August 16, 2001. Forest Ranch Baptist Church was split and was again without a pastor, seeking God’s direction for the church. God has shown His faithfulness to Forest Ranch Baptist Church in the past and He did not stop during some of the hardest times of the church’s history. After 2 ½ years, Chips Ross was called to be pastor and began his ministry in March of 2004. God blessed Pastor Chips and his wife Christchanna with four children during their tenure: Abigail, Hannah, Sarah, and Isaiah. Chips resigned as pastor in September of 2015.
Much has changed at Forest Ranch Baptist Church. 4 pastors have come and gone. The church has moved into a new building not once, but twice. Families have come, raised their children, and then departed. Of the 21 individuals who originally signed the charter July 9th, 1980, 5 still attend.
Yet, much has stayed the same. The church has stood consistently for the preaching of God’s Word and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Throughout its history, Forest Ranch Baptist Church has relied upon the support of the community. It would be impossible to recognize all those who have contributed in many various ways to Forest Ranch Baptist Church. In turn, the church has always sought to be a support and help to Forest Ranch. Finally, the credit for the church’s existence belongs entirely to God. Having seen God’s faithfulness in the past, Forest Ranch Baptist Church eagerly looks forward to His plans for the future.