The evangelistic history that leads to the Richwood Church of God begins with the conversion of Pastor G. William Harding and his dear wife.
At the early age of six or seven, G. William Harding (then known as “Billy”) first met Jesus. He and his family went to a revival meeting one summer evening and listened to a man in a prison uniform preaching on the courthouse steps. The man speaking was the Reverend Ned Ellis. He was telling about his past sinful life and how that God saved him from that sin.
Reverend Ellis invited everyone back to the meeting, where he preached the remainder of the week in the old armory.
After listening to the man preach, Billy went to the Altar and asked Jesus to come into his life. When young Billy stood up from the Altar and looked at the audience, he felt a love that he had never felt before. He went to a man who stood weeping in the service and invited him to go to the Altar also so that the stranger could have what Billy just found.
Later, the minister visited his home and his mother Leora, Brother Jim and Sister Barb accepted Jesus into their lives. Billy came from a very bad and broken home and the only stability he knew was from his mother.
In later years, God began again to deal with Billy, now a young man and married. Billy (now William) was searching for the peace that he found as a child and desired to find the stability in Christ that he never had while growing up. During this time of searching, Stan Goudy, a Church of God pastor (Margaret’s brother - see intro slideshow), came and visited G. William and Margaret Harding in their home, inviting them to local services. At this point, in their young adult life, they had drifted away from serving God. This was mainly because there was nowhere for them to hear the truth.
William and Margaret, much to everyone’s surprise, accepted this invitation from Stan and then they accepted Jesus into their lives. As the congregation sang "Have thine own way, Lord," William and Margaret Harding walked hand-in-hand to the Altar, where they found a new walk with God. This union stayed true and together they accomplished many things for our Heavenly Father.
Pastor G. William Harding said:
“My wife and I turned to God, and He lifted us up out of a life of deep sin, and placed our feet upon the rock, Christ Jesus. We were in love with each other, and more in love with Jesus. We gave our hearts to Him. He is first. I would like to give a detailed account of my God's leading hand, but space will not permit. So, allow me to take you quickly along our pathway from then until today [September, 1997].
We had been saved a few years and l felt a strong burden to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ [John J. Bailey was Pastor at this time - Pictured below right with Sister Bailey]. I began preaching at different congregations while still attending the Pine Street Church of God.
By 1976, a great burden came over my heart to work in the foreign mission field. Little did I know that my mission field would be the factory where I was earning a living for my family. The Lord spoke to me and told me to "Begin your mission work here in the factory." So we, as a little family, began to pray for our mission field. Almost immediately, souls in the factory began to get under Holy Ghost conviction. I would share with my wife and children the names of the men that God was dealing with. We prayed earnestly each day when I came home from work at our family altar. We began to see souls saved. As each individual was converted, they would join us in carrying the burden for more souls. Not only were the men in the factory converted, but also their families. During this same time, the doors opened up to work with a group of young people attending college in our town.
Souls were being saved there also. Our door was open day and night. Much of our labors were done in the wee hours of the morning. Our little home at 2 Melick St became a mission home before we even recognized it. We had as many as 60 people in our home at one time. Most every evening we had between 15 to 20 men and women in our home (our youngest son, Nathan Harding, was born during this busy time).
This work went on for approximately 10 years from our little home. Some of those who were saved during those years are still numbered in the Church of God today, and still are laboring in the Kingdom with us here
[today]. In the midst of our labors in our home, God saw fit to grant us the first desire of our hearts, by opening the doors for us to work in the foreign mission fields. The Saints met each Tuesday night in our home from July 1985 for 10 months, to pray for our own building to worship in.
We purchased our first building on April 20, 1986. The congregation worshiped there for 11 years. God was gracious to us and blessed our services. We grew in number in the Lord. The Lord began to burden me with the need to build a new place of worship…we found land [just outside of Mount Vernon] and purchased it with great prayer and expectation. We began to build our new building in April of 1996. [By September 27, 1997, we held our dedication service and began worshipping full time in the new building.]
We consider this only the beginning of the Work of God. The prayer of our home mission work was to reach the world for Christ. This is still our greatest desire as the [local] Church of God. We believe that Jesus is the way for all. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the rock we are building on. We give God all the praise and thanksgiving. He gets all the Glory. Praise His Holy Name!"
Bro. Nathan Harding