Springtime speaks of new births and new growth. Amidst the showers and fluctuation in warm and cold days, Richmond welcomes new residents, Father George Ssebadduka and Pastor David Ridge.
Father George Ssebadduka has filled the vacancy left by Father Phillip Watanabe at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 602 S. Camden, in Richmond. Father Watanabe has fulfilled his assignment and has returned to Japan.
Father George is on loan to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph from the Diocese of Hoima, Uganda and was stationed at St. Patrick Parish in St. Joseph, Mo., prior to his assignment to Richmond.
Born and raised near the central part of Uganda, Father George comes from a large family of six brothers and six sisters. His father was a teacher.
“I’m from the countryside. We had subsistence farming,” Father George said. “We would sell peanuts, pancakes and sugar cane. There was no industry there.”
The family had about 20 acres where they grew corn, beans, peanuts, potatoes, bananas, coffee, oranges, pineapple, mangoes and avacados.
The closest ‘town’ was Mubende, 30 miles away, and they would bike or walk there. Supplies could be purchased at trading centers two-three miles from the family. They raised their own vegetables and had a cow for milk. Planting season in Uganda begins in March with harvest at the end of June, but that is changing partially due to global warming.
So how did Father George come to be in Missouri?
“When growing up, we used to interact with the missionaries doing Mass at our church. They used to come to our house and I got to liking what they were doing, and got to acting that out,” said Father George. “I found I wanted to study that.”
Father George went on to seminary to study philosophy and to college for four years of theology. It takes another eight years after college to become a priest. In 1991, Father George graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a doctorate in scripture.
Arriving in Richmond March 15, Father George said, “I like the farming and the country. It’s different from my area. I like to go out driving.”
The parish has about 150 families and FatherGeorge looks forward to visitors.
“Let them come and visit with us. We want to be friendly and welcoming,” he said. “We want to be real when people come to see Christ living among us. As I walk with leaders, we can put this into practice. We would love to see them live their faith everyday and be champions of love and peace. We want to live like who we think we are, and what we want to be and do. To me, this is the crux of the matter.”
Mass is held at 8 a.m. on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri mornings. There is a 4 p.m. Sat. Mass and a 10 a.m. Sun. Mass. Adoration prayer time is Wednesday from 5-10 p.m.
Pastor David Ridge and his family from Garden City, Kan., have taken the place of Pastor Ed Green at First Church of God, 606 S. Camden, in Richmond.
Arriving in Richmond Mar. 1 from his previous position in Casey, Ill., Pastor Ridge said he had served in various Churches of God in the western region and made a lot of friends along the way.
But he didn’t start out as a pastor. The Lord surely moves in mysterious ways.
“I was in the school system as a janitor and maintenance man,” he said. “I met a retired pastor from the Church of God and he said their church needed a pastor, and that’s how it happened.”
Pastor Ridge attended Denver Baptist Bible College West for two and a half years when his home church asked him to come on ‘job training.’ That was almost 20 years ago. The pastor served as a youth pastor for 10 years and also was the visitation pastor, inviting people to come to church. Now his service brings him to Richmond.
“This church needed a pastor. We came as a candidate twice and then they asked us if we’d take the position,” said Pastor Ridge. “They said ‘yes,’ and so did we. We really enjoy Richmond and the friendliness of the people.”
The Richmond First Church of God holds Sunday school services from 9:45-10:45 a.m. on Sunday mornings, followed by church services at 11 a.m. Junior church services begin at 11:30 as the adults listen to the morning message.
On Wednesdays, at 7 p.m., youth night is held for ages four through high school and includes Bible study. There are leaders for the various age groups.
The last Sunday of each month celebrates birthdays and anniversaries and is an opportunity for fellowship.
“If they don’t shake your hand, it’s because you had your hands in your pockets!” he smiled.
The church also has a nonstate sponsored Christian daycare in the basement from Monday through Friday. Information regarding the daycare can be obtained by contacting the church at 816-776-5901.
“What I’m trying to do is make up a flyer. Instead of us trying to say we’re here, come see us, we’re going to see them,” said Pastor Ridge. “We want them to talk to us, and to serve the people of Richmond. We can rake leaves, repair steps, etc., for those that can’t get out. Hopefully, all of us will capture the vision and go out to the people.”
With a background and licensing as a general contractor and experience in maintenance and home remodeling, Pastor Ridge is eager to get the ministry going.
“I’d like to start a ministry to get people that don’t have jobs to work on abandoned houses to fix up and sell, and teach them and pay them to learn a new skill,” he added.
Pastor Ridge is enrolled in continuing education courses to be a licensed home inspector and is also familiar with the bid process. He has a variety of interests, talents and wants to serve the community.
“I’m surprised there’s no food pantry in Richmond,” he continued. “I may consider doing it. It’s a lot of work, and will need major support from other churches and a location to put it.”
Photo: Father George Ssebadduka has filled the vacancy at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church for the departed Father Phillip Watanabe. (Photo by Brenda Jensen/The Daily News)