OUR CONGREGATION'S HISTORY
Historical Sketch and Timeline of the East Ridge church of Christ
1942: Through the efforts of W.C. Carrell, Dee Wilbanks and Seth Leeper, the East Ridge church of Christ began meeting in a rented storefront located at 4336 Ringgold Road. This was near the current day Regions Bank and East Ridge Crossing Shopping Plaza at S. Moore Road Extension and Ringgold Road. The first service was held on December 13, 1942. There were 12-15 people present to hear the lesson presented by Seth Leeper.
1944: W.C. Carrell and J.B. Fair were appointed as the first elders.
1945: On September 7 property at the corner of Ringgold Road and West End Avenue was purchased from W.C. and Ethel Harris for $3,250.00.
1946: In the latter part of this year, due to over-crowded conditions in the rented storefront, the congregation sought and received permission from the City of East Ridge to meet in the Town Hall located at the corner of Ringgold Road and Marlboro Avenue. Services were conducted in this building for about 18 months as the stone building was being constructed at 5421 Ringgold Road. During these early years the congregation was served by three part-time ministers: Seth Leeper, Fee Thomas and Conrad Bates.
1947: On July 4 groundbreaking was held for the stone building. Arthur T. Macon, a member of the congregation, served as the architect. The original building was 40 ft. x 80 ft. and included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 375, a balcony, three classrooms and two restrooms. The heating unit was donated by the recently decommissioned (1946) Army Post at Ft. Oglethorpe, GA. The exterior rock work was done by brother Rueben Parker using rock from a quarry in Chickamauga, GA. With this one exception, all other work was performed by the 51 men and women of the congregation. Upon completion, the structure was valued at $30,000.00. During this time, through the efforts of C.L. Cooley, the congregation had obtained a small bus. Also, during this time Clint Mason was added to the eldership. J.M. Whitson, Will Hazelwood, R.L. Bowman, and C.L. Cooley served as deacons. W.O. “Billy” Mitchell was hired as the first full-time minister.
1948: W.O. “Billy” Mitchell preaches the first sermon in the new building (no exact date for this event could be found).
1951: W.O. “Billy” Mitchell leaves. Irvin Lee is hired as the new minister.
1952: Irvin Lee departs. Charles G. Lemons replaces him.
1957: Charles Lemons leaves and is replaced by Howard Parker.
1958: The 375 seat auditorium could no longer accommodate the Sunday a.m. crowd, so two worship services were being held. Also, a wing of classrooms was added on the west side of the building in the 1950’s. Due to the persistence of over-crowded conditions, it was decided to start another congregation in East Ridge. A site on Green’s Lake Road was chosen and Paden Construction Company was hired to erect the building.
1959: Jimmy (other sources, Jimmie) Eaton was hired to be the preacher and on October 4, the first service of the Green’s Lake Road church of Christ was held. About 200, most of whom had been attending East Ridge, were present for that first service.
Summary of other significant events 1950-1959:
By the mid-50’s Ward Collett was added to the eldership. Also, during this time period, several deacons were added: I.L Baldwin, Jr., D.L. Boyd, F.E. (Earl) Britton, M.C. Chaffin, M.D. (Melvin) Grubb, B.L. Kimball, H.E. (Hugh) Pritchard and J.R. (Junnus) Womack. Minutes from business meetings during the 1950’s show the congregation has always been mission-minded. Support was being given to works in Rock Hill, S.C.; Philadelphia, PA.; Manhattan, NY and Nigeria. Locally, the congregation was supporting Shepherd, Ooltewah and Alton Park. East Ridge was also instrumental in starting the congregation in Ringgold, GA by providing financial support and preachers for the services. The same was done for the congregation in the Westside community of Northwest Georgia.
1960: Howard Parker leaves East Ridge and David East is hired as the new minister.
1965: David East departs and is replaced by Jon Hazelip. Jerry Overbey is working as Educational Director.
1966: Charles Crouch is hired to replace Jon Hazelip. The congregation once again found itself facing over-crowded conditions. This time, the elders decided it would be best to keep the congregation together. Groundbreaking on a major building expansion was held in August of 1966. At this time a new 700 seat fan-shaped auditorium was constructed along with 20 classrooms, 2 offices and a church library.
1967: With the building expansion completed, James Watkins becomes the new minister. Prior to coming to East Ridge, James was at Chattanooga Valley.
1968: Elders were: W.C. Carrell, W.W. Dreaden, L.L. (Lance) Pippin and W.A. (Alex) Watt, Jr. Those serving as deacons were: Leo Anderson, Johnny Carroll, C.L. Cooley, Ray Duncan, Claude Glenn, Marvin Goldberg, M.D. (Melvin) Grubb, Hillis Layne, Arville Lawrence, Nathan (Buddy) Martin, Joe McCullough, Leon Norman, Ralph O’Neal, Jr., Buddy Parks.
Summary of other significant events 1970-1979:
Throughout the 1970’s growth continued at East Ridge. There were several additions to the eldership and several men became deacons during this decade. Men added as elders in the 1970’s were: Leo Anderson, Leon Norman, Roy Williams, Ralph O’Neal, Jr., Ken Rasbury, Charles Austin and Tom Matherley. Deacons added during this time were: Thomas Foy, Bobby Snyder, Sam Vandergriff, Charles Preston, Tucker Williams, Ken Erb, Cecil Lowry, Tim Croson, Johnny Jackson, Lloyd Johnson, Mike Knauff, Martin Brown, Danny Collins, Roy McKinney, Jr. and Sam Owen. Men who served on the ministerial staff in the 1970’s were: Kenneth D. Rhodes, Carmack Skelton and Ken Erb.
1980: A year of change. James Watkins departs and is replaced by Eddie Hendrix. Ken Erb was sent to the congregation’s mission point in the Kiski Valley of Pennsylvania to work as their minister. Scott Slatton was added to the staff as a minister and worked with Ken Erb in Kiski Valley.
1982: Slats Slaton joins the staff as a minister. He takes over the work in Kiski Valley.
1983: W.C. Carrell, one of the first Elders, passed on February 21. Eddie Hendrix leaves East Ridge. Charles F. Cochran is hired to replace him. Charles preached his first sermon as pulpit minister on June 12. In November, Scott Slatton departs and takes a position at Webb’s Chapel in Dallas, TX.
1984: Mike Lusk joins the staff as Education Director.
1986: The former Anna B. Lacey school building at 501 McBrien Road is purchased for $450,000.00. A three year remodeling project by members of the congregation begins. Raymond Leonard oversees the project. The cost of renovations was approximately $350,000.00.
1987: Slats Slaton leaves Kiski Valley and returns as Minister of Evangelism at East Ridge. Keith Fussell replaces Slats in Kiski Valley.
1988: Jeff Ingram begins work as Youth Minister in May. Also, during this time period Paul Kidwell begins the Seed Sowing television program.
1989: October 25 the last bulletin with the Ringgold Road building on the front is published. October 29 the last service is held in the building at 5421 Ringgold Road. November 5 the first service is held at 501 McBrien Road. The offices move to McBrien Road on November 9. On November 22 the first bulletin with a drawing of the new building on the front is published.
Summary of other significant events 1980-1989
Walter Smith and Tucker Williams were added to the eldership in the 1980’s. Men added as deacons during the decade were: Charles Millirons, Sr., Hershel Owens, Billy Ray, Gus Stone, John Arnold, Paul Bratcher, Larry Fincher, Harry Gass, Richard Grider, Russ Haynes, Sidney Henderson, Don Hill, Steve Ives, Hollis Johnson, Fred Ledford, Don Perry, Tommy Shelton, Charles Cochran, Curtis Taylor, Raymond Leonard, Bill Clements, Mike Lusk, Ralph (Rimmy) Miller, Jr., Ken Parker and Slats Slaton.
1990: Jeff Ingram leaves to work with the Graymere congregation in Columbia, TN. Doug McVey is hired to replace Jeff as Youth Minister. The Eastdale congregation closes and merges with East Ridge. The last service at Eastdale was November 4. Their minister, Ken Willis, joined the staff at East Ridge.
1991: Paul Kidwell joins the staff. Ken Willis departs. On October 10 East Ridge was hosting the Firm Foundation Lectureship. While being introduced as the final speaker on the lectureship, Foy Smith suffered a fatal heart attack.
1992: Charles Cochran’s bulletin article, originally entitled “Charlie’s Chat” changed to “Heart to Heart.” In conjunction with workers from Southern Christian University (now Amridge University) the first trip to Russia was made in June to the city of Ukhta. While there, Tom Matherley and George Tucker made the first exploratory trip to Sosnogorsk. In October, the first gospel meeting was held in Sosnogorsk. Tucker Williams, Tom Matherley along with Michael and Janine Underwood and their children established the congregation there. Former Eastdale members purchased an apartment as a residence for the Underwood family. A second apartment was purchased as a meeting place for the church.
1993: The work in Kiski Valley is dropped. The first medical mission to Nicaragua is conducted.
1994: Paul Jones joins the staff as the evangelist to the deaf. A 50th Anniversary (1944-1994) Homecoming was held on November 6. James Watkins was the guest speaker. As noted at the beginning of this sketch and timeline, the congregation had its beginning in 1942. However, the first elders were not appointed until 1944.
1995: Paul Kidwell leaves the staff.
1996: Paul Jones leaves. A building to house the congregation’s benevolent work is constructed. Johnny Jackson becomes church treasurer.
1998: On March 1 bonds on the McBrien Road property are paid off six years ahead of schedule. Dale Turner is hired as the Associate Minister. Within a few days of assuming his duties, Dale Turner resigns as Associate Minister, desiring to return to fulltime pulpit work. Steve Plemmons is then hired for the position.
1999: January 1, Steve Plemmons officially joins the staff. Chester and Claudene McCurter retire after 23 years of service as building custodians. Geroge McBrayer replaces them.
Summary of other significant events 1990-1999:
Gus Stone, George Tucker, Danny Collins, James Rains and Allen Womack become elders. Deacons added in this decade were: Eddie Perry, Don Puryear, Richard Case, Kenny Thurman, Jerry Corbin, Fred Stewart, Mike Putnam, Lamar Matherley, Rick May, Gerald Presley, Jay Hicks, Don Weaver, Marvin Green, Billy Yerbey, Brien Applewhite, Joey Hogan, Ken Cozart, Kevin Davenport, Joe Acuff, Larry Judd, Mike Tompkins, Roy Parham, Alan Brown, Joseph (J.) Peers, Bryan Hollis, George McBrayer, Billy Sells, Billy Peers, Kyle Hedrick, Joe Bowen and Roy Brazier.
Also, during the 1990’s mission efforts continue to expand in Russia and Central America (in particular Nicaragua and Panama). Annual trips are made to these mission points. In Nicaragua, three annual campaigns become the norm. A building campaign in the late Winter/early Spring followed by medical and VBS missions in the Summer. There is also a focus on doing one stateside mission trip each year and works in Africa receive support.
2000: Singles begin hosting a lectureship in the Spring. Speakers over the years have included (in no particular order): Jeff Archey, Cliff Goodwin, Phil Sanders, Tom Holland, Matthew Winkler, Ronnie Hayes, Winford Claiborne, Edwin Jones, Bill Watkins, David Lipe, Ralph Gilmore, David Shannon, Jeff Clark, Steve Plemmons, Eddie Boggess, Reid Perry, David Schonhoff, Tom Harrison, John T. Smithson III, Jason McDade, Gary McDade, Drew Kizer, Mark Hastings, Charles Ables, Frank Ford, Steve Higginbotham.
2002: A congregation is planted in Sosnovka, Russia, an adjoining city to Sosnogorsk. Paul Baumberger, John Busby and Bob Oliver added as Deacons.
2003: Doug McVey becomes minister to Senior Citizens. Adam Miller becomes interim Youth Minister.
2004: In May, Aaron Dodson joins the staff as Youth Minister. On May 26 Walter Smith passes into eternity. On June 28, George Tucker went to his reward. In July three men were added to the eldership: Bill Clements, Bob Oliver and Joseph (J.) Peers. New deacons added were: Larry Foy, Tom Franklin, Scott McDonald, Brad Moore, Darrell Tinker, and Larry Vandergriff.
2005: July 22, former elder Roy Williams passed away.
2006: Former ministerial staff member Slats Slaton passed on August 10. On October 1 a Homecoming was held with David East as the guest speaker. Also, in October, due to changes in 911, the church address was changed from 501 McBrien Road to 951 McBrien Road.
2007: In March, Aaron Dodson resigns as Youth Minister. May 27, Alan Pitchford is hired as Aaron’s replacement. On June 24 six men were added as deacons: Clint Benson, Doug Hughes, Paul Hughes, Scott Tittsworth, Shannon Sewell and Doug McVey.
“Victory Sundays” replaced Gospel Meetings. “Victory Sundays” fall on fifth Sundays throughout the year. The first four Victory Sunday speakers were: Milton Sewell, Donnie Hilliard, Melvin Sapp and Keith Mosher. Another change ushered in was moving singing nights from the last Wednesday night of every month to the last Wednesday night of months with five Wednesdays. The congregation establishes an online presence with the launching of a website, eastridgechurchofchrist.com. Church email addresses are set-up for each staff member.
2008: Victory Sunday speakers: Dan Winkler, Randy Medlin, David Sain and Billy R. Smith. In November James Rains stepped away from the eldership.
2009: Victory Sunday speakers: Aubrey Johnson, Dave Miller, Tom Holland, Phil Sanders. Former elder L.L. (Lance) Pippin passed on July 13. Former ministerial staff member Carmack Skelton passed on April 25. In December four new deacons were added: Neil Brooks, Lucien Claiborne, Morgan Hopkins and Wayne Weaver.
2010: Victory Sunday speakers: Paul Sain, Tom Holland, David Lipe, Dan Winkler. Former elder Leo Anderson passed on March 28.
Summary of other significant events 2000-2010:
During the first ten years of the 21st Century, the focus on foreign missions remained strong. It should be mentioned that there were numerous baptisms taking place here at home as well. Between 2000-2010 Bill Clements, Joseph (J.) Peers and Bob Oliver were added to the Eldership (2004). Deacons added during that time were: Paul Baumberger, John Busby, Bob Oliver (2002); Larry Foy, Tom Franklin, Scott McDonald, Brad Moore, Darrell Tinker, Larry Vandergriff (2004); Clint Benson, Doug Hughes, Paul Hughes, Doug McVey, Shannon Sewell, Scott Tittsworth (2007); Neil Brooks, Lucien Claiborne, Morgan Hopkins, Wayne Weaver (2009)
2011: Victory Sunday speakers: David Sain, Glenn Colley, Melvin Sapp, Kyle Butt. At the end of April, church treasurer, Johnny Jackson resigns after 15 years of service. He is replaced by Russell Lively.
2012: Victory Sunday speakers: Gary Hampton, Mike Hixson, Cliff Goodwin, Phil Sanders, James Watkins. On January 7 former minister Charles Crouch passed away. The position of Associate Minister was eliminated. Steve Plemmons had served in that position since January 1, 1999. His last day with the congregation was December 9.
2013: Victory Sunday speakers: Kyle Butt, Dan Winkler, Glenn Hitchcock, Eric Owens. In January it was announced the weekly bulletin would no longer be mailed out. Also, in January Danny Collins leaves the eldership. The teacher’s workroom on the South hallway undergoes a renovation and re-organization. In August a new website (ercoc.com) was launched. Former elder Tom Matherley passed away on November 11.
2014: Victory Sunday speakers: Mel Futrell, Paul Sain, Frank Chesser, David Smith. In October improvements to the parking areas on the South side of the building are completed.
2015: Victory Sunday speakers: Roy Johnson, Bob Veil, Greg Dismuke, Tom Holland. Building renovations continue with the auditorium receiving new paint, carpet and pews. Former elder Danny Collins passed away on April 10.
2016: Victory Sunday speakers: B.J. Clarke, David Paden, Jr., Melvin Otey, Dan Winkler. On April 3 twelve new deacons were installed: Stan Cope, Mike Frost, Joe Gass, Jason McDade, Ken Moses, Kyle Moses, Alan Pitchford, Kevin Plemons, Robbie Rhodes, Matt Rider, Brain Robinson, Sam Townsend. Joseph (J.) Peers left the eldership.
2017: Victory Sunday speakers: Robbie Eversole, Jeff Archey, Phil Sanders, Caleb Colley. A new security system was installed in the building. This process took several months. On April 23 Paul Baumberger was added to the eldership. Former elder W.A. (Alex) Watt, Jr. passed on July 13.
2018: Victory Sunday speakers: David Shannon, Kyle Butt, Dan Winkler, Larry Kirby. Due to political and civil unrest in Nicaragua medical and VBS campaigns were cancelled and instead, groups held campaigns in Panama.
2019: Victory Sunday speakers: Eric Garner, John Deberry, Dan Winkler, Phil Sanders. Travel to Nicaragua for campaigns still not possible. Once again, Panama is the focus of mission campaigns. On August 25 Bryan Hollis and Robbie Rhodes are added to the eldership. New deacons installed on that day were: John Capps, Lee Handley, Jared Hueter, Josh Rider, Christ Wehman and Lee Maiser. Scheduling men to participate in worship goes hi-tech with the Ministry Scheduler Pro app. In September Tucker Williams leaves the eldership after 34 years of service. In November the congregation celebrates 30 years on McBrien Road. Also, in November, Steve Plemmons is hired to return as Associate Minister.
2020: Victory Sunday speakers: Kyle Butt, Eric Garner, Jeff Archey. January 5, Steve Plemmons begins work as Associate Minister. He assumed the duties of Doug McVey who would retire at the end of February with just over 29 years of service to the congregation. Allen and Dot Womack are honored by the congregations in Nicaragua for 25 years of work and service in that country. As the year progressed we began hearing more and more about the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Soon, it is declared a pandemic.
2020: March 15 was the last service with the building completely open to the public. ALL events were cancelled. The Benevolent Room was closed. Worship services were conducted at the building for broadcast on Livestream. A minimal number of people (10 or under) were at the building to carry out worship. Alan Pitchford began developing online resources on the church website to keep members engaged. Soon, a virtual meeting platform called Zoom becomes an integral part of the work at East Ridge.
Young at Heart and the bi-weekly Singles Bible Study begin meeting on Zoom in April. The elders also utilized Zoom for their meetings, the monthly Elders, Deacons, Preachers meeting and their monthly meetings with the ministers. Young at Heart did not take the usual Summer break, but instead continues meeting weekly on Zoom.
On June 7 the building is partially re-opened with socially distanced seating and members being asked to wear masks inside the building. On June 10 Wednesday evening Bible Study is open for members to attend in person with an auditorium class only. On June 16 the Singles Bible Study resumes meeting in
person, but still offering the class on Zoom.
In July Wednesday p.m. children’s classes resume. But still not business as usual. Children are divided into two groups and taken to two classrooms for class. On 7/19 Sunday a.m. children’s classes resume meeting. In August a scaled down VBS was conducted on Wednesday nights. In September all Sunday a.m. adult classes resumed meeting. Also, in September some sections of the auditorium were returned to open seating. By the end of 2020 things were more “normal,” but the pandemic was still affecting what we could do and how we could do it. Several members of the congregation came down with COVID-19. However, there was no “community spread” in the congregation.
On August 4 former elder Joseph (J.) Peers passed away. It was announced that Alan Pitchford would be transitioning out of the Youth Minister position and would focus on working with the congregation’s young couples and families. The search for a new Youth minister began. On November 8 Bob Oliver resigned from the eldership. Another innovation made possible by technology was introduced with online contributions for members. Brien Applewhite resigns as church treasurer. Lee Maiser replaced Brien.
Summary of other significant events 2011-2020:
During the second decade of the 21st Century, the focus on foreign mission points remained strong. The congregation is involved in works in Ghana, Haiti, Israel, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Russia and South Africa. The gospel continued to be spread at home as well with numerous baptisms at East Ridge. Elders added between 2011-2020 were: Paul Baumberger (2017), Bryan Hollis and Robbie Rhodes (2019). Deacons added were: Stan Cope, Mike Frost, Joe Gass, Jason McDade, Ken Moses, Kyle Moses, Alan Pitchford, Kevin Plemons, Robbie Rhodes, Matt Rider, Brian Robinson, Sam Townsend (2016); Gary Atkins, John Capps, Lee Handley, Jared Hueter, Lee Maiser, Josh Rider, Chris Wehman (2019).
Not to be overlooked in the work of the East Ridge congregation are the women who have served as secretaries. Past secretaries are: Mackie Parks, Carolyn Preston, Etta Mae Carroll, Mary Parham (22 years), Mary Frances Smith, Theresa Ives, Kim Brunegraff Cromer, Evelyn Smith.
Secretaries as of December 2020:
Kim Moses, Judy Clark, Melissa Frost, Bobbi Gattis, Karen McBrayer.
In the early 1960’s the church library got its start through the efforts of David East. Over the years several ladies have dedicated themselves to making our church library a facility that is second to none. They are: Montice Howard, Anna Huddleston, Delores Clark, Judy Clark, Glenda Foy, Lois Engleman, Mary Parham, Bessie Ashe, Marguerite Parker, Mary McKinney, Missy Ward, Patsy Franklin. As of this writing, Patsy Franklin and Judy Clark serve as the primary librarians.
Chronological List of Men Who Have Served as Elders (29 total):
L.L. (Lance) Pippin
W.A. (Alex) Watt, Jr.
Ralph O’Neal, Jr.
Joseph (J.) Peers
*Elders as of December 2020:
Chronological List of Men Who Have Served as Deacons (138 total):
F.E. (Earl) Britton
M.D. (Melvin) Grubb
H.E. (Hugh) Pritchard
J.R. (Junnus) Womack
L.L. (Lance) Pippin
Ralph O’Neal, Jr.
*Nathan (Buddy) Martin
Roy McKinney, Jr.
Charles Millirons, Sr.
*Ralph (Rimmy) Miller, Jr.
Joseph (J.) Peers
*Deacons as of December 2020:
Chronology of Pulpit Ministers:
1942-1947: Three part-time ministers: Seth Leeper, Fee Thomas and Conrad Bates
1947-1951 W. O. “Billy” Mitchell
1951-1952 Irvin Lee
1952-1957 Charles G. Lemons
1957-1960 Howard Parker
1960-1965 David East
1965 Jon Hazelip
1966-1967 Charles Crouch
1967-1980 James Watkins
1980-1982 Eddie Hendrix
1983-Present Charles F. Cochran
Chronology of Men Who Have Served in Other Ministerial Positions:
196?-? Jerry Overbey, Education Director
1972-1974 Kenneth D. Rhodes, Minister of Education
1975-1977 Carmack Skelton
1977-1982 Ken Erb (East Ridge & Kiski Valley)
1980-1983 Scott Slatton (Kiski Valley)
1982-1987 Slats Slaton (Kiski Valley & East Ridge)
1984-1986 Mike Lusk, Education Director
1987-1988 Keith Fussell (Kiski Valley)
1988-1990 Jeff Ingram, Youth Minister
1990-2020 Doug McVey, Youth Minister – 2003 Senior Member Minister
1990-1991 Ken Willis
1991-1995 Paul Kidwell (Seed Sowing TV Program)
1994-1996 Paul Jones, Minister to the Deaf
1998 Dale Turner, Associate Minister
1999-2012 Steve Plemmons, Associate Minister
2003-2004 Adam Miller, Interim Youth Minister
2004-2007 Aaron Dodson, Youth Minister
2007-Present Alan Pitchford, Youth Minister – 2020 transition to Family Involvement Minister
2020-Present Steve Plemmons, Associate Minister
This is by no means, nor is it intended to be, a complete history of the work of the East Ridge church of Christ. A major source of information from this timeline and historical sketch was “A History of the East Ridge church of Christ, 1942-1967” compiled by brother Wallace Norman. Also, several years of past church bulletins were an invaluable source of information. Others who contributed to this project were: Leo Anderson (deceased); Nell Britton (deceased); Shirley Elliott (deceased); Pearl Hendrix (deceased); Montice Howard (deceased); Tom Matherley (deceased); Ralph O’Neal, Jr. (deceased); and Mary Frances Smith (deceased).
This timeline and historical sketch was compiled by Steve Plemmons and is dedicated to the memory of his “church mom,” Montice B. Howard (January 15, 1929 – June 1, 2004).
(Updated/Revised June 2021)