“There are more than 16,000 children in Ohio who need homes, and churches and ministries need to be the answer,” Bishop said. “The Bible tells us to take care of the orphans and the widows. I want this facility to be so nice they won’t want to leave, but the end game is to get them adopted into families.”
The non-denominational church has contracted with Woolpert, a Dayton-based architecture, engineering, geospatial and strategic consulting firm, to provide concept architecture, civil engineering, floodplain analysis and survey services. Restoration Ranch will feature Southwestern-style architecture like the church but will have its own distinct style, according to James Dobrozsi, Woolpert architect and program director.
“The church has a long history of providing support to the youths of our community, and we’re happy that they chose Woolpert to contribute to their goals,” Dobrozsi said.
Bishop said he came up with the idea for the facility one Sunday last April after preaching at the church and speaking with a woman and her husband who have several foster children.
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“She brought these two little brothers, one was 1 and one was 2, and she said ‘Would you pray for these boys because we may have to turn them back over to the state? We’re afraid they’ll be separated. One of them has health issues.”
Bishop said that’s when God “moved on my heart.” Despite knowing next to nothing when it comes to foster care and group homes, he immediately returned to the pulpit and declared that Solid Rock would work to build its own foster care facility.
“I thought, ‘You know, churches can build million-dollar gymnasiums (and other) facilities, why can’t we take these kids?’” he said.
Solid Rock Church was licensed by the state by the end of January to provide foster care and adoption services, Bishop said. It expects to start accepting up to 12 boys in the near future by converting an existing building on the church campus.
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Launching such an endeavor wasn’t without precedent, as the church has run an orphanage in Brazil for about 15 years, he said.
Construction on Restoration Ranch should start this spring and wrap up sometime by the end of the year, Bishop said.
Bishop is the son of the late Lawrence Bishop, who founded the church in 1978 as Middletown Evangelistic Center with his wife, the Rev. Darlene Bishop.
A nationally recognized horse rancher and breeder of quarter horses, the senior Bishop operated LB Ranch across Interstate 75 from the church. The ranch produced several World Champion quarter horses. Before entering the ministry, he was a well-known quarter horse auctioneer.
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“We had the ranch a long time before we had the church,” said his son, who started serving as co-pastor with his mother after his father died in 2011.
The boys at Restoration Ranch will work with and care for the horses, and the older boys will be taught how to live independently as they transition into adulthood, he said.
“They’ve proven that equine therapy is one of the most successful things you can do for a child that’s troubled,” Bishop said.