Last week I was privileged to attend the 20-Year Anniversary Banquet of Meridzo Ministries in Harlan County, KY. I too am celebrating 20-years with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Lonnie & Belinda Riley were two of the first people I met when I came on board. It has been amazing to see Meridzo Ministries develop over the years. Every time I make a visit, new and exciting things have happened at the ministry.
Dr. Larry Martin, retired Missions Team Leader with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has also connected with Meridzo from the beginning, and shares about the evening as a guest writer to this blog:
Meridzo Center Ministries, Lynch, KY celebrated 20 years of ministry in the heart of Appalachia on September 6-7. More than 200 people from at least 10 states gathered for a banquet on Friday evening at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn and a cookout on Saturday at Shekinah Village and The Stables at Creekside Glen. At the banquet, 22 current staff members of Meridzo were recognized. Meridzo is a faith-based ministry; no staff member receives a salary.
At the banquet four speakers shared about the impact of Meridzo: Dr. Larry Martin, retired KY Baptist Convention missions team leader; Dr. Bruce Ayers, president emeritus of Southeast KY Community College; Claude King, co-author with Henry Blackaby of the Experiencing God study; and George Otis, Jr., producer of Transformation Videos from communities around the world which are experiencing unusual movements of God. Martin has often described the movement of God in Lynch as “the greatest movement of God in one location I have experienced in more than 50 years of ministry.” Otis referred to the movement in Lynch as the greatest example of transformation he has encountered in North America.
Lynch Mayor John S. Adams emphasized the positive impact of Meridzo Center during the past 20 years. In honor of that impact on Lynch and the surrounding area, he announced that the street on which the Meridzo Center office is located will be renamed “Solomon’s Way.”
Lonnie and Belinda Riley, the founders of Meridzo Center Ministries, served for more than 20 years through the Ohio Southern Baptist Convention and in local churches in Ohio and Mississippi, before returning in March 1999 to their home area of Southeastern KY. Belinda was reared in Lynch; Lonnie was reared in Hazard and attended college in Lynch. There he met Belinda, became a believer, and felt a call to ministry. Unexpectedly, in late 1998 both sensed God leading them to “return home and help hurting people,” as they put it. Over the past 20 years God has displayed His power in amazing ways.
On Friday evening Lonnie announced a transition in leadership. Lonnie will remain the President and Chairman of the Board for Meridzo Center as well as continuing to do speaking engagements and representing the ministry. Drew Baldwin will succeed Lonnie as the CEO. Drew and his wife Leah have been Meridzo staff members for the past 10 years, and Drew has served as COO since 2014.
More information concerning Meridzo is available in the book “Miracle in the Mountains” and the DVD documentary “It’s Only Cookie Dough.” Website for Meridzo is: meridzo.org