Woodlake’s History – October 1978-October 2008
Dr. Gerald Williamson, former Director of Missions for Denton Baptist Association, was the first to have a vision of planting a new church in Carrollton. Dr. C. E. Colton, Pastor of Royal Haven Baptist Church, Dallas, led the Missions Committee of that church to consider sponsoring a new work in the northern part of Carrollton, Denton County.
Members of the Missions Committee at Royal Haven were Bill Hill, Bob Box, Michael Hoyt, Willard McGee and Bud Reily. Royal Haven, First Baptist of Mexia, Handley Baptist of Fort Worth, BGCT, and Denton Baptist Association combined resources to begin the new work. Royal Haven was the major contributor.
Dr. Jimmy McLeod was called as Pastor of the Mission. The first worship service was held June 16, 1977, in a mobile chapel owned by DBA. The mobile chapel was located on the southwest corner of Josey and Frankford. Twenty-three people, all from Royal Haven, gathered for that first worship service.
An 8.2 acre tract at the intersection of Peters Colony Road and Wellington was purchased for the building. The Mission remained in the mobile chapel for sixteen months. On March 19, 1978, ground was broken for a 7040 square foot building. That building is the present auditorium and preschool wing. On October 8, 1978 the congregation met for the first service in their new facility. The Mission was constituted as Woodlake Baptist Church on October 29, 1978, with one hundred charter members.
On March 17, 1982, Woodlake Baptist entered into an agreement with DBA and BGCT to sponsor a new mission church in Carrollton. Tommy Biggs was chairman of the Missions Committee. The new Mission was started in much the same way that Woodlake began. Bro. Carl Elder was called to pastor the new mission. The first service was held in October, 1982. This group met initially at Good Elementary on Denton Drive. Under Bro. Elder’s leadership property was purchased at 1225 E. Rosemeade. The Mission was constituted as a church in 1984. Dr. Randy Marsh was called as Pastor in 1985, and served until August 8, 2003.
Rosemeade felt the need to expand and purchased land on the 121 By-Pass at Huffines in 1995. The name of the church was changed to Vista Ridge Baptist Church in July, 2001. They moved into their new building in 2002. Jerry Witham, the current Pastor, began his ministry as Pastor on January 2, 2005.
Woodlake also experienced a change in 1982. Dr. McLeod resigned on October 24, 1982, to begin a new work in Trophy Club. Dr. Newman McLarry served as Interim Pastor until a new pastor was called in April, 1983. Dr. Harry Lewis began his pastorate on the first Sunday in June, 1983.
By 1983, Woodlake had grown and was utilizing three mobile buildings for additional education space. Under the leadership of Dr. Lewis the church entered in a Together We Build program. Bill Linton was the lay leader of the program and Dr. Wayne Allen was the BGCT Coordinator. Gary Marrs was Chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee. With pledges from the members and a loan from BGCT an educational wing and fellowship hall were added to the original building. The addition added 8,000 square feet. This lovely new addition was first used in December, 1984 and dedicated on January 20, 1985.
With the increased educational space came a new ministry. Dr. Charles Ku approached Woodlake about using the new space for a Chinese School. An agreement was reached, and the school began using our facilities on Sunday afternoon. Part of the agreement was that we would teach the children a Bible lesson. Nancy Whatley taught that Bible lesson for about ten years. The school outgrew our facilities and moved to a larger location.
In November, 1989, Dr. Lewis accepted the call to a pastorate in Ridgecrest, CA. George Davis, Jr. began serving as our Interim Pastor in January, 1990.
Once again a Pastor Search Committee was formed to look for God’s man for Woodlake. The Committee was led of the Lord to bring Ed Ethridge to preach in view of a call. Bro. Ed began his ministry at Woodlake on July 3, 1990.
Using Zechariah 4:6 as a motto Bro. Ed felt led of God to lead the church to become debt free. In January, 1991, we owed $122,817.00 on our building debt. In January the church paid an additional $18,600.00 on the debt. In May, 1992, the debt was paid in full. Woodlake has been completely debt-free since that time.
Woodlake sold them 2.5 acres of land for a nominal amount. They have built their own debt-free building at the corner of Wellington and Kings Road. Paul Wang is their current Pastor.
During Bro. Ed’s tenure as Pastor Woodlake began working with Calvary Baptist Church, Oak Cliff. We assisted them with $100.00 monthly, but we also assisted with a commitment of people. For several years a group of adults and youth went to Oak Cliff in the summer. Labor was provided for many projects. Bible Clubs were conducted all around Oak Cliff.
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was organized during Bro. Ed’s last years at Woodlake. He was very involved in that process. Bro. Ed began to serve as a volunteer Director of Missions for North Texas Baptist Area. Bro. Ed resigned in July, 2002, to become the fulltime Director of Missions for NTBA.
In January, 2003, Bro. Stacy Escoe was called to be Woodlake’s fourth pastor. During this time we sponsored a Korean Mission. We provided a place for the Mission to worship. After a short time they found a place that was better suited for their needs. Bro. Stacy received training in F.A.I.T.H (an evangelistic outreach program). He and Marshall Johnson led several semesters of F.A.I.T.H. Bro. Stacy resigned in September, 2004. Bob Evans began an interim in October, 2004.
A new search committee was formed, and they recommended Mark Flurry to the church in early March, 2005. The church voted to call Bro. Mark, and he immediately began to serve as Woodlake’s fifth pastor. During this time Woodlake was struggling with finances and attendance.
Attendance was averaging sixty to seventy. Bro. Mark set about to focus on the needs and actually revamped some areas as if we were a new church start. It was a growing time once again.
Easter Sunday, 2007, was unusually special for two churches. Castle Hills Baptist Church and Woodlake Baptist Church merged to become one fellowship on April 8, 2007.
Castle Hills Baptist Church, pastored by Bro. Steve Skinner, has had a long history in the Carrollton area. The church dates back to 1846, when Texas pioneers banded together to begin a church in the north Dallas County area. They met on College Avenue (now Beltline) for many years. Then they moved around the corner to Josey Lane and became First Highland Baptist Church. In 2000 they moved to North Josey in Denton County and changed the name to Castle Hills Baptist Church. Until the move to Denton County they were the oldest Baptist church in Dallas County.
Woodlake Baptist Church is a young church by comparison. The talk of merging the two church families began at a lunch in August, 2006. Bro. Steve and Bro. Mark discussed how similar their beliefs and philosophies of ministry were, and the talks moved towards how the two churches could join forces.
After many hours of discussion and meetings the leadership of both churches began to talk and pray about taking the bold step of becoming one church. Things continued to progress until both churches decided to take the plunge. Once the decision was made, the building belonging to Castle Hills sold within six weeks. Vista Ridge Baptist Church had also been faced with difficult decisions, and they had decided to make a move. Vista Ridge purchased the Castle Hills property and changed their name to The Ridge.
Bro. Steve Skinner served along with Bro. Mark at Woodlake until God called him in July, 2008, to be the Pastor at Carroll Baptist church, Southlake, TX.
God began a good work at 2015 Peters Colony Road thirty years ago. The congregation is committed to continue that work. The future is bright. C2C (Connect to Community) is one outreach ministry that Bro. Mark began. The church has gone through the community passing out smoke alarm batteries, light bulbs, bottles of water and coke, coffee, candy and flowers. We continue to have front yard Bible Clubs each summer as well as our own Vacation Bible School. Each Saturday Nancy Whatley conducts a worship service at Brookhaven Nursing Center. We host an Easter Egg-stravaganza each year for the community and at least one other block party. Fishes and Loaves, an in-house ministry assisting members financially, has been a great opportunity to see our Lord provide for personal needs.