Katie, Kathy, Justin and Brett
We dedicate this page to the life and legacy of a great man and friend, Dr. Rick E. Ferguson.
We will never, never forget you, who so humbly dedicated your life and service to the cause of our Lord, Jesus Christ, bearing mass orchards of spiritual fruit, not for your glory, but for the glory of our loving Savior. May we be pressed to follow your example, just as you followed our Perfect Example, God's son.
"Well done, my good and faithful servant!"
The Berry families were greatly saddened and shocked to learn our dear friend, Rick Ferguson died suddenly in an automobile wreck on his way home to Missouri on July 25, 2002. The family was near Hays, Kansas, pulling their boat and on their way to Missouri for the annual vacation with family at Windermere, when their Explorer had a blowout. Justin, Rick and Kathy's youngest son, lost control of the vehicle. Rick tried to help Justin gain control and talked his son through the ordeal. They almost had control of the vehicle when the back right tire of the trailer hit gravel. The vehicle flipped, then rolled several times. Kathy and Justin climbed out of the wreckage with cuts and bruises. Rick had suffered severe head trauma and died instantly. Following just behind them in another automobile was their daughter, Katie, oldest son Brett, his girlfriend, and Rick's nephew, Mike McGee and his wife, Jamie.
There were two funeral services for Rick, one in Colorado and one at First Baptist Church in Arnold Missouri where Rick had been Associate Pastor some years ago. The Berry Brothers sang "These Hands Shall Touch the Hands of God" at the Arnold memorial service. Rick was a very dedicated man of God and our best friend for more than 30 years. He was as close as a brother to Steve and Alan. He will be missed by all who knew him. Please remember his precious family and congregation in your prayers.
The Berry's had spent a week in early July with Rick and his family in Denver, Colorado, just 3 weeks before his death. There they sang at Riverside Baptist Church where Rick was Senior Pastor. On Sunday, July 7th, Rick received a standing ovation from his church congregation after singing with the Berry Brothers, "These Hands of Mine Shall Touch the Hands of God." We rejoice that Rick has "entered through the gates" and is walking "on streets that saints have trod," and that his hands are touching the hands of his Lord and Savior for whom he served here on earth.
Rick sang with Steve and Alan approximately 30 years ago in a group called called The Young Messengers. The opportunity to spend time with Rick and his family in July was a true gift from God. Rick & Kathy, and their three children, Brett, Katie, and Justin Mike McGee and his wife, Jamie are some of God's greatest servants and some of our dearest friends in the world. Mike is Rick's nephew and leads the music in the early service at the church. Pictured here is also Joel Allen, Rick's Music Minister, who graciously filled in as bass singer on Sunday, July 7, 2002 for the The Young Messengers reunion at Riverside Baptist Church.
Rick's church website reports that Dr. Ferguson served
as Senior Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church for 11 1/2 years. In 1992,
Pastor Ferguson joined the Riverside family. During that time, the
church grew from 400 members to 4000 members.
Dr. Ferguson's legacy will be his "Arms Around Denver" vision. He was instrumental in leading Riverside to start 25 churches in Denver, Colorado and the Western United States.
Dr. Ferguson was also an instrumental leader in the Southern Baptist Convention. He has served as the 1st Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention and has held other denominational roles.
Rick Ferguson killed in
auto accident; led Denver church to array of ministries
Ferguson, 47, as senior pastor of Denver's Riverside Baptist Church, sparked an array of ministries. Among them: local and international missions and church planting; a crisis pregnancy center and soon-to-open home for unwed mothers; "Hope for Today" TV and radio broadcasts; and creative outreach to ethnic groups, cowboys, sports enthusiasts and motorcyclists.
The fatal one-car accident, according to news reports, occurred as Ferguson's son, Justin, 17, was driving. Shortly after noon on Interstate 70 three miles west of Hays, the front left tire of the family's 1999 Ford blew out. The vehicle, which was pulling a boat, went out of control, slid broadside and rolled two and a half times.
Ferguson, in the front passenger's seat, died in the accident; his son and wife, Kathy, who was in the back seat, were treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and released. Ferguson's 22-year-old son, Brett, and daughter, Katie, 18, were following in a separate vehicle, also en route to the extended Ferguson family's annual reunion at Windermere Baptist Conference Center in Missouri.
In addition to his wife and children, Ferguson is survived by his parents, Wilbur "Menk" and Valene Ferguson. Menk Ferguson is minister to senior adults at First Baptist Church, Arnold, Mo., and was a bivocational pastor for more than 30 years for several churches in the Jefferson (Mo.) Baptist Association while also being a state employee.
Mark Edlund, executive director/treasurer of the Colorado Baptist General Convention, said in a statement released July 26, "In the death of Rick Ferguson, Colorado has lost a key pastor, leader and friend. I don't believe there is another leader in contemporary Southern Baptist life who demonstrates a greater passion for worship or burden for the lost than that exemplified by Rick.
"In the decade that Rick led Riverside, the church planted more than 30 new, innovative churches, sent thousands on mission and raised up countless new leaders," Edlund said. "While we mourn this tremendous loss, we in Colorado celebrate a life well lived and know that for decades to come Rick Ferguson's impact on the kingdom will go on and on."
The funeral had not been scheduled at Baptist Press' deadline July 26; funeral arrangements are being handled by Denver's Olinger Mortuary.
Ferguson, a native of Cedar Hill in the St. Louis area, became Riverside's pastor in 1992, at a time when the church's membership had dwindled to 400. Under his leadership, the church grew to 4,000 members and, through his "Arms Around Denver" initiative, began congregations among Hispanics, African Americans, Vietnamese, Indonesians and others -- including cowboys and bikers.
Speaking at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's commencement in May, Ferguson said, "Our model in the church is Jesus Christ -- not CEO-style leaders, but servant-style leaders.
"At the Last Supper, while the disciples were pulling out resumes to see who would be the greatest, Jesus picked up a basin of water and a towel and began to wash their feet. Jesus is still in the business of washing dirty, defiled feet," the Denver pastor said, urging the graduates to "lead with creativity, lead with passion, lead with contrition and a broken heart. But leave here today with a towel and a basin."
"The Lord gave Rick a big church and allowed him to see it become a great church," Rob Norris, director of missions for the Denver Baptist Association, said in a statement July 26. "Rick's vision for evangelism and church planting was fueled by his passion for people who need to have a personal relationship with Jesus."
While Ferguson's death "is shocking and heartbreaking news," Norris said, "The only one not surprised by this event was the Lord himself. Rick was a dear friend and a joy to work with. ... Our prayers are with Kathy, the children and Rick's church family, Riverside Baptist Church."
Ferguson was elected first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the SBC's 1998 annual meeting in Salt Lake City, for which he served as chairman of the Committee on Order of Business.
Ferguson held a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a doctor of ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta. He also was a 1978 graduate of Missouri Baptist College in St. Louis.
Before moving to Denver, Ferguson had been pastor of First Baptist Church, DeSoto, Mo., seven years.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said in a statement to Baptist Press, "The news of the tragic death of Dr. Rick Ferguson comes to us as a deep shock. Rick Ferguson was a man of integrity, and respected by all who knew him. His visionary leadership and evangelistic ardor helped him to build one of the truly great evangelistic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. He was one of the bright young leaders emerging in our Convention, blessed with a keen, creative mind, which he employed for effective ministry. His gentle, sweet spirit had enabled him, though he was still a young man, to become accepted as a statesman among his peers.
"Rick loved the Lord, his blessed church, the great kingdom of God, the Word of God, and he loved the lost," Chapman said. "His life was marked by a deep fidelity to the Scripture and a vibrant compassion for those who do not know the Lord. Rick will be missed by all of us here. We are praying for his wife and children, his extended family, the church staff and the membership of Riverside Church during these days. We commend them all to the rich grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our hope, as Rick so often preached, is in the dear Lord."
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., in nominating Ferguson for SBC first vice president in 1998, described the Denver pastor as one of America's "young, premier Christian leaders." In an announcement of his plans to nominate Ferguson, Floyd had said, "Rick Ferguson pastors one of the greatest Southern Baptist churches in the West. ... Southern Baptists need an upcoming leader like Rick Ferguson ... . He is a true spiritual champion and a great leader among us."
In a July 25 statement to Baptist Press, Floyd said, "I believed in Rick Ferguson. He was a passionate communicator and leader. I saw him as being one of the greatest younger pastors in the ranks of our larger membership churches. His family, Riverside Church, the city of Denver and all of our Southern Baptist family will miss him. I grieve for his family and the church greatly. As I think of him, I only know to trust Jesus this afternoon."
An announcement of Ferguson's death on Riverside Baptist Church's website states that the congregation "mourns the loss and celebrates the life of our pastor.
A popular speaker in Southern Baptist life, Ferguson recounted how God led
Riverside Baptist Church through a process of awakening, adjusting and
activating to more effectively impact Denver for Christ, in a message
delivered at a North American Mission Board "On Mission '98"
conference at LifeWay Ridgecrest (N.C.) Conference Center.