Greetings in the Lord, my friend!
My name is Mike Aldridge. My full name is Charles Michael Aldridge (hence, CMA for CMA Ministries). Since my father's first name is Charles (who has now gone on to be with the Lord), I was called by my middle name – Mike.
I am married to Elaine (now for 34 years) and we have four children: 3 sons and 1 daughter. We also have 13 grandchildren.
Elaine and I met in Winchester, KY, when I was eighteen years old. Early In 1976, I was recruited (asked) to play the bass guitar for the Christianaires, a local Gospel Group made up of 3 families ministering on the weekends. Elaine was one of the singers in the group. We traveled throughout Kentucky and Tennessee, playing at local churches and other events. As a group we would spend our vacations together (all three families – and often others) each year in the Smoky Mountains attending the 'Singing in the Smokies', hosted by the Inspirations. This was one of the most memorable and exciting times of our lives, as well as one of the most exhausting.
Almost two years after starting with the group, as our feelings for each other began to grow, Elaine and I started dating. Shortly thereafter, I asked Elaine to marry me. Elaine had been married previously and had two sons, Chris and Tony. Her first husband died of a heart attack when he was only twenty-six years old. We were married on October 8, 1977 at Epperson First Church of God in Winchester, Ky. The Rev. Kenneth Howard (also now with the Lord) officiated.
On one of our weekend trips in 1976, we were scheduled to do a service at a little Church in Paris, Ky. I wasn't planning on being with the group that weekend, having made other commitments to take our youth group on an outing. However, the Lord had other plans. I don't recall exactly why we didn't go on the outing, but it was now open for me play with the group in Paris (remember that's Kentucky, not France!).
According to the request of the Pastor, we were to do two thirty minute sets that evening with a break in between. At the end of the first set I was asked (which was the usual custom) by the leader of our group to give a testimony. I don't remember much of what I said that evening other than giving an account of my personal conversion to Christ at my Grandfather's Church when I was but seventeen years old.
As we sat down the Pastor stood up to say a few words and to instruct the congregation regarding the break and when we were to gather again for the next set. I can still see his face to this day. He was a short, bald man who always had the biggest smile. We called him, appropriately so, “Smiley.”
The words he spoke I remember clearly. He said, “You know, I've been pastoring now for some fifty-three years, and I've made a lot of predictions in my life, some which have come true and some which haven't. But you mark my words, that young man right there (and he pointed directly at me) is going to preach the gospel.”
When he said that, I sensed in my spirit that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through this pastor. There was no question in my mind or in my heart, I was called to preach. Again, not simply because of what the pastor said, but because of what the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart through him.
Off to College
For the next two years, I had the privilege of preaching at various Churches and sharing my testimony whenever I was with the Christianaires. One Sunday morning, rather nonchalantly, our Pastor stopped me as I was standing in the middle isle of our home Church. This was just before Morning Worship, and he said to me: “Mike, I believe the Lord has His hand upon you, and that God will use you in a great way. I would like to see you in school at Warner Southern College, even if but for two years.”And then he walked off. Again I knew, because of the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He spoke to my heart through our Pastor, Rev. Richard Rothman, that I was being called to attend college.
So, after much prayer and preparation, Elaine and I, our two sons by her previous marriage, Chris and Tony, and our new son, David, who was born December 31, 1978, headed off to Lake Wales, Florida, home of Warner Southern College, a Church of God, Anderson college. That was in November, 1979.
Two years later I graduated with an AA Degree with concentration in Biblical Studies. I took all the Bible classes I could take (all of my electives were Bible classes as well).
Beginning Our Ministry
After leaving school, Elaine and I headed back to Kentucky. Since the Church of God, Anderson (we specify Church of God, Anderson – our general offices location - to distinguish it form the Pentecostal Church of God with Headquarters in Cleveland, TN) is non-denominational, each individual Church is autonomous. Therefore, I obtained a list of Churches without Pastors from our general offices and Elaine and I sent out several letters expressing our interest as a possible candidate for Pastor.
We were invited by a small country Church in Chatham Hill, Virginia to come for a "try-out" and after preaching on a weekend the Church extended a call to us to become their Pastor. We accepted the call.
That was the beginning of our ministry.
Upon leaving Chatham Hill, we now had a daughter, our fourth child. Ashley was born in Marion, VA, at Smyth County Hospital on March 19, 1982.
Over the years, we pastored several Churches in Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Now some twenty-seven years later, we are at a crossroads. My theology has changed – well, not so much changed as developed by my study of Scripture over the years -- that puts me at odds with some of the most fundamental beliefs of the Church of God, Anderson. I would label my theology – even though I don't like labels – as Reformed. The greatest motivation for this ‘change' has been my study of Galatians, Romans, and the Gospel of John. I am convinced that the Reformers had it right in their interpretation of Scripture, while most of the evangelical Churches today, which adopt Arminianism, or semi-pelagianism, have (I believe) blindly followed men like Charles G. Finney, John Nelson Darby, Cyrus Scofield, Lewis Sperry Chafer, and others, without giving much consideration to the Biblical account of Salvation as put forth by the inspired writers of the books mentioned above.
I am still licensed and ordained as a minister in the Church of God, and I love the Church of God, but I don't ever see us pastoring in the Church of God, not because of my choice in breaking fellowship, but because of how the Church would receive, or should I say, not receive, my current convictions and teaching on some fundamental doctrines.
Currently, we are attending Church at Living Springs Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN, while residing in Smyrna, TN. I am teaching a community bible study class each Tuesday evening, doing some puplit fill-in, and sharing at the Ladies State Prison in Nashville.