Rev. Dr. Winston Christopher Ridley, Jr. was reared and educated in the public schools of Duquesne, Pennsylvania. He received his early religious training at the Jerusalem Baptist Church. He was licensed to preach at the Jerusalem Baptist Church in Duquesne, where he was baptized at 13. He holds a B.S. degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Rev. Ridley received his Master of Divinity Degree in May 2006 from the Howard University School of Divinity. In May of 2011, he received his Doctor of Ministry from the Howard University School of Divinity.
Dr. Ridley, who was licensed to preach at the Jerusalem Baptist Church on July 13, 1980, served as Associate Minister under Pastor A.R. Caldwell. He was ordained to preach on November 23, 1986 by Pastor Delano R. Paige at the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Ridley served the church as Associate Minister. Before answering the call to pastor The Greater First Baptist Church, Dr. Ridley was Pastor of the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania for 14 years. He served with dedication and distinction. While leading the congregation in the study of God’s word, Pastor Ridley promoted new ministries and enhanced old ones.
Following an election on January 27, 2001, Dr. Ridley delivered his first sermon as Pastor-elect of The Greater First Baptist Church on March 4, 2001. He was installed as the new pastor on Sunday, May 20, 2001, with the theme: “Continuing the Vision – A Revitalized Greater First Baptist Church.”
During Dr. Ridley’s installation as the new pastor, he stated his primary goal was to ensure that the church stay focused on its mission of “glorifying God.” Throughout his first year, he stood steadfast to the mission. He extended the tradition at The Greater First Baptist Church by demonstrating in new ways how the church can biblically, culturally, and technologically minister to the need of its members and community. His leadership in updating existing ministries and promoting new ones, such as the Computer, Transportation, and Praise and Worship Ministries speaks to the spiritual, educational, and public service growth of the church.
Dr. Ridley urged his members to go beyond the walls of the church and spread the Gospel throughout the world. He, along with the Fellowship Choir of The Greater First Baptist Church, traveled to Düsseldorf, Germany and Stockholm Sweden, where he ministered to the people and the message was well received.
Every year, Pastor Ridley passionately chooses a binding theme. The theme for 2018 is “GFBC IS MAKING L.I.F.E. COUNT LIKE NEVER SEEN IN 2018” L.I.F.E. – Living In Faith Everyday, Living In Favor Everyday, Living In Freedom Everyday. The Scriptural Reference is Psalm 90: 1-15. During this year of several national challenges, Pastor Ridley has done much, especially through his weekly sermons, to provide the members with spiritual guidance and enlightenment.
Dr. Ridley has enhanced his ministry through memberships with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, the Missionary Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Washington, DC and Vicinity and the Mayor’s Interfaith Council. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, DC.
Dr. Ridley is happily married to Bonita LuRose Lee Ridley, who is an accomplished coloratura soprano, pianist, and organist. She is currently the National Coordinator/Chair of the Ministers’ Wives and Widows of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Rev. Dr. Ridley succeeded the late Rev. Dr. Edward Thomas, Pastor Emeritus, who retired in 1997 after 50 years of outstanding service to the church, community and city.