About Us

If you are looking for a church in the Lancaster, Ohio, area, you are welcome here. We are a Bible-based, Spirit-filled church, and our whole heart is focused on fulfilling Christ’s mission to the world: loving and serving people. Through Christ’s love, the lost are found and the broken healed. (Isaiah 61:1)


  1. There is one Almighty God and Creator and His name is Jesus.
  2. All sin came by Adam and can only be forgiven by one, Jesus.
  3. Jesus was born of a virgin, died on the Cross, rose from the grave on the third day, ascended into the heavens with the promise to return in like manner.
  4. Jesus is the Lamb of God whose blood brings redemption to those who believe.
  5. We are to be producers and not consumers in the earth…
  6. It is the inherent responsibility of every believer in Jesus to share their story with others.


We consider reaching people one of our greatest responsibilities.


Real life change happens in the context of relationships – small groups. In the Bible, they worshipped in the temple but ministry happened house to house.


The River Pathways offers the information and experiences necessary to help you discover and develop your redemptive purpose. The River Pathways are designed to lead you through a step-by-step pro¬cess of growth and leadership.


All of us were created by God to make a difference in the life of another person. God has a place for you where your unique abilities and passions can touch the lives of others. We believe that your life will never make sense until you find, develop, and fulfill that purpose.


  • Statement of Faith

    We believe that the Bible is the Word of Almighty God. The Word of God is Spirit and life. The Spirit of man is made alive by that living Word.

    We declare that the shed blood of Jesus Christ is the only atonement for the sin of the world. Jesus saved that which was lost in the first garden (Garden of Eden), by His death, burial, and resurrection in the garden of His tomb.

    We believe in repentance, baptism in the Name of Jesus, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. These, however, are only the first steps in the life of a Believer. Salvation should be walked out, manifesting the Gifts and the Fruit of the Spirit in our everyday lives. (Acts 2:38, 19:1-6, 10:44-48)

    We expect the imminent appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ to rule and reign with His saints and His Kingdom will never end.

  • Statement of Vision

    Our vision is to see the Kingdom of Christ rule in the hearts, homes and lives of all. This must be done “in” us so that it might be done “through” us. (Colossians 1:13)

  • Statement of Purpose

    Our purpose is to provide an atmosphere of love and grace allowing the purposes of God to be unhindered in individuals, thus impacting our community.


Pastors Paul and Paula Bishop

bishopsOur Founding Pastors Paul and Paula Bishop were both born and raised in the homes of ministers.

Son of Rev. Raymond and Frankie Bishop, Paul was born and raised in rural Mississippi. Early childhood in a pastor's home taught him the ups and downs of ministry and it was in this environment that a love for ministers and a passion for the lost was born and nurtured.

At an early age Paul heard the voice of God and began to answer the call to serve in the local church in several facets of ministry.

In 1982 Paul married Paula (Russell) who also comes from a family of faith. Her grandfather, James O. Russell was a pioneer preacher who had a gift to pray for the sick and see great miracles and who was also her pastor and spiritual father.

In their ministry together Paul and Paula have served as staff ministers in New Albany, Mississippi, Springfield, Missouri, Lancaster, Ohio, and now as pastors of The River.

It is the Bishop’s heart’s desire to bring healing to the broken, hope to those who’ve been disillusioned by “religion”, and restoration to the “generals” in God’s kingdom who feel displaced and no longer needed.

They also seek to make a place for people who are hungry for a deeper and greater move of God in “worship” to find that experience.

The Bishops have one daughter, Lindsay (Bishop) Williams and she is married to Ben Williams who serves in ministry at The River mentoring young men. Both Lindsay and Ben have made themselves available to serve in many other capacities of ministry as well.


Youth Ministry Leaders: Jack and Betsy Schumacher

shumachersJack and Betsy Schumacher have been married since 1992. Jack was raised in the Canal Winchester area and Betsy was raised in Lancaster. They met at Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster. While at Fairfield Christian Church, they both felt a call to minister to teenagers. Jack began helping with the youth in 1989 and Betsy began in 1991.

As they felt God moving them to a deeper level in Him, they started to attend The River in 2000. As a result of their love for teens, they became the youth pastors in 2001. They now have become the spiritual parents to many young men and young women who are striving to fulfill the call of God on their lives.

They have 3 children: Makaila, J.B., and Gabriella and all are active in ministry at The River. They live in Lancaster, Ohio in the house that Jack built.

Mike and Cindy Teagarden- Deepwater Healing

The Teagardens came to River Valley Life Center in May 2008, after selling their “dream house” and moving to Lancaster, Ohio. By the leading of the Holy Spirit they found oversight in Pastors Paul and Paula Bishop, and now serve as congregational pastors. Mike and Cindy have six grown children, Freddie, Beth, Jill, Dee, Michael, and Carla, and nine grandchildren.

teagardensMike has pastored churches, started churches, supervised a church camp, organized a Christian coffeehouse, conducted Christian radio programs, and organized community intercession groups. His heart’s desire is to disciple many sons and daughters to maturity, bringing them into the fulfillment of their ministries through alignment and relationship. Cindy has been a mime for many years, directed a benevolence ministry, and excelled in intercessory prayer. Her passion is to bring wholeness to the body of Christ through the healing, delivering, saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Ex. 8: 1 “Let my people go, that they may serve Me.”

During a two-and-half year period of sitting under Pastors Chris and Sandy Longgrear of Fresh Fire Ministries, Int’l of Parkersburg, WV, the Teagardens received training and were ordained by Charles and Frances Hunter in 2007. This training and impartation from the “Happy Hunters” resulted in a noticeable difference in the results obtained when praying for the sick. As a result of aligning with daughter Joan Hunter, they also have received training for praying for emotional needs and exposing root causes.

Mike and Cindy lead Healing Services, Schools, Crusades and Conferences for churches when invited, teaching how to believe and receive all the healing Jesus died for, laying hands on the sick, and expecting miracles.

The Teagardens are developing community healing evangelistic outreach teams made up of Healing School graduates from the area churches, which go out into the region, praying for the sick, expecting “Divine appointments.”

“We love adventure. When God moved us to Lancaster we started having one Healing/Miracle School after another, seeing many healings, miracles, salvations and deliverances. Many have been filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. God has raised up more than 300 students-adults and children- in the last two years, who are laying hands on their families, neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers! We believe that’s just the beginning of what He wants to do.”

Mike is also a large part of leading the marriage mentoring ministry as well as our home groups and Cindy directs The River’s building service team.

Children's Ministry Leader: Lindsay Williams

williamsHello! My name is Lindsay and I have had a passion for children as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I loved being around and helping out with those younger than I. Honestly, I never wanted to grow up! Kids are such a wonderful part of life. They bring such wonder and imagination to everything. I believe that God has instilled things like imagination, in every kid from birth that is for the purpose of their ministry. I wholeheartedly believe in the ministry of children at any age. I believe that everything their hands touch can be used for ministry when guided by faith. And faith is what we at The River seek to instill in your child.


barnIn 1995, God moved upon the hearts of a few ministers from the Lancaster, Ohio area to unite and start a church. This would be a place where the freedom of worship and the multiplicity of ministry could be established, free from the hierarchy of man's systems of religion. These men of God met in the home of Paul and Paula Bishop on Tuesday night, October 15, to pray and plan the first meeting. Among these ministers were Paul Bishop - Pastor "The River", Rob Yanok - Lead Pastor, Gracetown Church(Columbus, OH), Matt Rice - Pastor, Life Church Columbus(Columbus, OH), and others. They were also assisted by Brian and Michelle Burd who have since founded The Vineyard, Pataskala, Ohio. The church was named "The River Valley Life Center".

The first Sunday service was held in the Tarhe Elementary School in Lancaster. There were no real efforts to announce or advertise the service. The church had no money or equipment. God moved on someone to bring a keyboard and someone else brought a PA system. By 11:00am that Sunday morning there were eighty-one people worshiping Jesus!

The church began to grow. Very soon the children were too many to fit in the small "teacher's lounge" set aside for their class. To this day, the children are the fastest growing group, and a significant part of all that God is doing in this work.

Six months later, the church moved to Thomas Ewing School to have more space. One year to the day of the first service, they were able to move to their own property 2190 Coonpath Road in Lancaster, where they currently reside.

In August of 1996, Pastor Paul and Paula were taking a leisurely drive on their way out of town for their wedding anniversary. A spontaneous turn led them down Coonpath Road to an "acreage for sale" sign. They pulled in and spoke to the farmer and drove away with tears in their eyes, knowing that God had set them up with another "divine" appointment.

1They were able to purchase the property through a real estate agent who had already joined the church and the bank loaned the little group the money they needed. The farmer agreed to let them start having services in the barn. Thus, sitting on bales of hay, and among horse stalls, on a very cool October morning the first service in "The Barn" was held. Following some creative renovation and one miracle after another, the State of Ohio issued a change of use permit and allowed occupancy to the church worship services.

The "barn" is an ongoing project reflective of the ongoing restoration of the "house" that God is building in us. It has more recently come to be known as "The River", but will forever be in the hearts of so many in Lancaster, "The Barn"!


Sundays 10:30am

Wednesdays 6:30pm

Worship Location
2190 Coonpath Rd. NW
Lancaster, OH 43130


We want to make sure that your visit at The River is the absolute best that it can be. In order to make you feel a little more at home, here is what you can expect:

  1. A CASUAL ATMOSPHERE - We have no dress code and no strict time schedule. You and your family are invited to come as you are.
  2. A WARM GREETING - Our friendly greeters are here for you; from a hug or a handshake to answering questions.
  3. LIVELY WORSHIP - Our time together kicks off with the family worship experience where we welcome all to worship in their own way.
  4. CHILDREN'S CLASSES - Our nursery staff is available for the duration of the service to minister to your little ones ages 3 and under. Preschool and elementary age kids are part of the family worship experience and will be released to their classes following worship. We encourage parents to escort their children to class for the first time so they can meet the teacher, see the classroom, and register them.
  5. SPIRIT-LED PREACHING AND TEACHING - Our pastor, Paul Bishop, brings a life-transforming word to us each week from the Bible. From real-life topics to biblical doctrine, each week’s word is intended to stimulate spiritual growth no matter where you are in your walk with God.
  6. A MOVE OF GOD - God is always moving and we desire to move with Him. Though our services follow a basic structure and format, we welcome the Holy Spirit to come and dwell and often that means abandoning our plans for service to just enjoy his presence.