Years ago, Mission of the Dirt Road was just a dream that God gave our pastor, Carey Morford. Over a few years, God spoke clearly and directly to Carey and her husband, Isaac; but in 2014 they began taking steps of obedience to make the dream a reality.
In 2015, Carey met with Rev. Patrick Styers, District Superintendent of the FL District of the Wesleyan Church, to discuss her dream of creating a ministry that would be focused on making disciples through community development in High Ridge Estates and the larger Keystone Heights area. While the FL District of the Wesleyan Church would have never on their own decided to plant a church in Keystone Heights, a rural community already overflowing with churches; after that meeting, it was clear that God was doing something. Carey began the process of transferring her ordination from Community Church of Keystone Heights to The Wesleyan Church and starting an approved church plant with the Florida District.
In 2016, a group of people began meeting for dinner and conversation at a local park. As this group grew in number and relationship to each other, prayer and scripture were added to the regular rhythm of their gatherings. Around Easter of 2016, Mission of the Dirt Road held their first gathering at the Seeds of Grace Community Garden, and this eventually became their regular gathering place. While we were meeting there, we were able to form a few neighborhood traditions like our annual pumpkin party, thanksgiving feast, and Christmas party which were often attended by 100 people or more. We also loved showing The Jesus Film for kids on Good Friday.
By 2019, Mission of the Dirt Road was ready to purchase a building to expand their ability to offer ministries and services to the community, and in October of 2020 we held our first public gathering at their new location. While Sunday Gatherings are a key component to Mission of the Dirt Road’s ministry, we also love to find creative ways to serve and love our neighbors. Some of the ways we’ve been able to do that include our neighborhood events, distributing food and hygiene/cleaning supplies during the pandemic, hosting educational presentations, offering free coffee and WiFi a couple of times each week, and partnering with other local agencies like Lake Area Ministries, Answers Resource Facility, local schools, and the health department.
Our vision is that the residents of High Ridge Estates would become our neighbors and friends that we would devote ourselves to the teachings of Jesus Christ and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. That we will all be filled with awe at the many signs and wonders performed in our midst. That we will all be together and have everything in common. That we will sell our property and possessions to give to anyone in need. We will break bread in our homes and eat together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people. And the Lord will add to our number daily those who are being saved. And, then we'll do it again in another neighborhood. See Acts 2: 42-47.
Real Relationships- Our first goal must be to build relationships and make friends. Jesus gave each believer the mandate to "go and make disciples," and to do that we must build trusting relationships. We must each build a deep trusting relationship with Jesus Christ, and then we must give him away through the deep, trusting relationships we build with other people.
Resurrect People- We all have known poverty. Even the wealthy have known emotional, spiritual poverty. We've all been the walking dead. People need other people. It's how we grow and develop, by learning from each other. Our goal is to provide educational, worship, and service experiences so that each person can discover the Way of Jesus and God's calling for their lives and be equipped to live that calling.
Revitalize Communities- One resurrected person should always lead to another resurrected person, which eventually will lead to a revitalized community. We must be intentional about telling our stories, about welcoming the outsider, about sharing our time and resources and gifts.