Kenneth Ridings, president of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute since 1997, announced his retirement July 22.
Ridings, 72, told the Fruitland Board of Directors that he would retire in December. His wife, Ann, accompanied him to the board’s meeting.
“Ann and I would like to express our deep appreciation for North Carolina Baptists for giving us the wonderful privilege to serve our Lord at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute,” Ridings said. “God has his hand upon Fruitland and our prayers are that this will forever be true.”
Ridings became president of Fruitland in 1997 following the death of then Fruitland President Randy Kilby. Ridings began his service to Fruitland in 1968, teaching church administration and pastoral counseling. He started what would become a 39-year tenure as professor of homiletics the next year.
Ridings told the Fruitland board that more than 800 churches are currently served by Fruitland graduates. Other graduates are involved in a multitude of ministries across North Carolina and around the world, he said.
Members of the board and members of the staff shared their appreciation with Ridings not only for the impact he has made on the school, but upon their lives individually.
J.D. Grant, Fruitland’s vice-president of development, said it’s hard to think of Fruitland without Ridings.
“In my very first homiletics class as a student, God used Kenneth to change my life and ministry,” he said.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention (BSC), praised Ridings. “Your fingerprints are on this place, the preachers you have prepared and the people associated with Fruitland have been enriched by your ministry,” Hollifield said. “God blessed and honored your ministry, service, and leadership of this school.”
The Fruitland board has the responsibility of conducting a search for the next president and will begin the process of this important task in the days to come. “We want a man who loves the Bible more than the presidency of Fruitland to come lead us,” said board member David MacEachren.
Fruitland is an agency of the BSC and the Fruitland Board is accountable to the BSC Board of Directors. When the Fruitland board’s search for the next president is complete, the candidate will be presented to the BSC board for approval. Fruitland has been a ministry of the BSC since 1946.
Fruitland board chair George Cagle asked N.C. Baptists to pray for the board during the search.
“Fruitland has been blessed by strong leadership in the past, and our (Fruitland) board has a significant task before us, but we are confident that the next president will build upon the strong foundation of Dr. Ridings and his predecessors to lead Fruitland as we seek to prepare the next generation of pastors for so many North Carolina Baptist churches,” he said.