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A Call to Ministry


WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. - After visiting his hometown of Lynch, Lonnie Riley was discouraged by the lack of ministry in the area. Soon after, God called him to help the community. With little money and no real job, Riley relied on God and moved back to Lynch where he began helping by simply trimming hedges.

During Wednesday’s convocation service held at University of the Cumberlands, Riley paraphrased Hebrews 11:1 by saying, “Faith is the stuff you are already convinced about.”

His faith and patience in his newfound call bore fruit. The ministry progressed and soon he and his wife Belinda were building parks for local children. “We just started helping people as we could,” he said.

Before long, several missionaries were coming and going which led to the need for a mission house. Ultimately, an old hospital was converted into a large mission house, now known as Solomon’s Porch, which has sixty-nine rooms on four floors.

Later, the pair founded the Manna House, where $25,000 worth of food was given away each month. After that, the couple started a teen center called Club 180 where averages of 200 young people gather each weekend. Most recently, he has helped establish a school for the hearing impaired.

The Riley’s are the founders of Meridzo Center Ministries, serving the Appalachian towns of Lynch, Benham and Cumberland. Meridzo Center Ministries serves as the umbrella for the different programs the Riley’s have begun. Meridzo, the Greek word for “care”, has been established since 1999. As a result of their efforts, the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention selected the couple as the 2004 Mission Service Corps (volunteer) Missionaries of the Year.

Riley is a 1980 graduate of University of the Cumberlands and former member of the university’s administrative staff. He previously served as director of youth evangelism for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio and has ministered to churches in Ohio and Mississippi.

For more information about the Riley’s ministry, visit

University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, is a private liberal arts college in its 117th year of operation. Cumberlands offers four undergraduate degrees in 37 major fields of study, 30 minors and nine pre-professional programs, as well as online and accelerated, nontraditional programs for adults.