OUR CONGREGATION'S HISTORY
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN EAST RIDGE (1942-2007)
1942: Through the efforts of W. C. Carrell, Dee Wilbanks and Seth Leeper. The East Ridge Church of Christ began meeting in a rented store front located at 4336 Ringgold Road. The first service was held on December 13, 12-15 people assembled to hear the lesson presented by Seth Leeper
1944: W. C. Carrell and J. B. Fair 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. & Ethel Harris for $3,250.00.
1946: In latter part of this year due to over crowded conditions in the rented store front, 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 location for about 18 months as the stone building was being constructed. During these early years the congregation was served by three part-time ministers: Seth Leeper, Fee Thomas and Conrad Bates.
1947: July 4 Groundbreaking held for the stone building. A member of the congregation, Arthur T. Macon served as the architect. The building was 40 ft. x 80 ft. and included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 375, a balcony, 3 classrooms and 2 restrooms. The heating unit was donated by the Army post at Fort Oglethorpe. Exterior rock work was done by Brother Reuben Parker using rock from a quarry in Chickamauga, GA. With this one exception, all other work was done by the 51 men and women of the congregation. When completed the structure was valued at $30,000.00. The congregation had also obtained a small bus through the efforts of C. L. Cooley. Also during this time Clint Mason was added to the eldership and J. M. Whitson, Will Hazelwood, R. L. Bowman and C. L. Cooley served as deacons. Brother W. O. “Billy” Mitchell was hired as the first full-time minister.
1948: Brother W. O. “Billy” Mitchell preaches the first sermon in the new building (no exact date for this event could be found).
1950: By the mid-50’s Ward Collett was added to the eldership. Several deacons were added during this time: I.. Baldwin, Jr., D.. Boyd, F.. (Earl) Britton, M.. Chaffin, M.D. (Melvin) Grubb, B.. Kimball, H.. (Hugh) Pritchard and J. R. (Junnus) Womack Business meeting minutes from the 1950’s show that the East Ridge congregation has always been mission-minded. During that time 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 congregations at Ringgold providing financial support and ministers for the services and at Westside.
1951: W. O. “Billy” Mitchell leaves. Irvin Lee is hired as the new minister.
1952: Irvin Lee departs. Charles G. Lemons replaces him.
1957: Brother Lemons leaves and is followed by Howard Parker.
1958: In spite of expansions to the building (a wing of classrooms was added on the west side) two worship services were being held on Sunday morning because the 375 seat auditorium in the stone building could not accommodate all the members. Due to these over-crowded conditions, it was decided to start another congregation in East Ridge. A site was chosen and a contractor was hired (Paden Construction Company).
1959: Jimmy Eaton was chosen to be the preacher for the new congregation. On October 4 the first service was held in the Green’s Lake Road building. About 200, most of whom had been attending East Ridge, were present for that first service.
1960: Howard Parker leaves and David East is hired as the minister.
1965: David East departs and is replaced by Jon Hazelip. Jerry Overbey is working as Educational Director for the congregation.
1966: Brother Charles Crouch is hired to replace Jon Hazelip. By October of this year the congregation found itself in the same situation as in 1958. Due to growth, it was necessary to once again have two worship services. This time the elders decided it would be best to keep the congregation together. This would require a major expansion to the building. Groundbreaking for the expansion was held in August of 1966. At this time a new 700 seat fan-shaped auditorium was constructed as well as 20 classrooms, 2 offices and a church library.
1967: Building expansion is completed. Brother James Watkins began his work as minister for the congregation. Prior to coming to East Ridge he had been at Chattanooga Valley.
1968: Those listed as elders were W. . 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, Buddy Martin, Joe McCullough, Leon Norman, Ralph O’Neal, Jr., Buddy Parks.
1970’s: 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. Additional deacons 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: This was a year of change for East Ridge. James Watkins departed and was replaced by Eddie Hendrix. Ken Erb was sent to our mission point in the Kiski Valley of Pennsylvania to work as their minister. Scott Slatton also joined the staff as a minister and worked with Ken Erb in PA.
1982: Slats Slaton joins the staff as a minister. He takes over the work in Kiski Valley.
1983: Brother W. C. Carrell passed from this life on February 21. Eddie Hendrix leaves East Ridge. He is replaced by Charles F. Cochran. Charles preached his first sermon as pulpit minister on June 12, 1983. In November Scott Slatton departs to take a position at Webb’s Chapel in Dallas, TX.
1984: In February Mike Lusk joins the staff as Education Director.
1986: The former Anna B. Lacey school building and surrounding land at 501 McBrien Road is purchased by the congregation for $450,000.00. A three year remodeling project is undertaken by members of the congregation. Raymond Leonard oversees the project. Renovation cost 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 PA.
1988: In May Jeff Ingram begins work as Youth Minister. Also during this time period Brother Paul Kidwell begins Seed Sowing television broadcast.
1989: October 25 last bulletin with Ringgold Road building on front is published. October 29 last service is held in building at 5421 Ringgold Road. November 5 first service is held in building at 501 McBrien Road. Offices move to McBrien Road on November 9. November 22 first bulletin with drawing of new building on front is published. Additions to the eldership in the 1980’s: Walter Smith and Tucker Williams. Deacons added were: Charles Millirons, Sr., Hershel Owens, Bill 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, Rimmy Miller, Ken Parker and Slats Slaton.
1990: Jeff Ingram leaves to work with the Graymere congregation in Columbia, TN. No VBS is held due to move to the new building. Doug McVey replaces Jeff Ingram as Youth Minister. The most significant event of 1990 was the merger of the Eastdale congregation with East Ridge. The last service at Eastdale was held on November 4, 1990. Their minister, Ken Willis joined the staff at East Ridge.
1991: Paul Kidwell joins the staff. Ken Willis departs. On Oct. 10 during the Firm Foundation Lectureship being hosted by East Ridge, Brother Foy Smith, while being introduced as the final speaker on the lectureship, suffered a fatal heart attack.
1992: Charles Cochran’s bulletin article, originally called “Charlie’s Chat” was changed to “Heart to Heart.” First trip to Russia was made in June of this year to the city of Ukhta in conjunction with workers from Southern Christian University. While there, Tom Matherley and George Tucker made the first exploratory visit 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 work there. Former Eastdale members purchased an apartment for the Underwood’s to live in. Another apartment was purchased as a place for the church to worship.
1993: Work in Kiski Valley was dropped. Congregation conducted its first Medical Mission in Nicaragua
1994: Paul Jones joins the staff as the evangelist to the deaf.
1995: Paul Kidwell leaves staff.
1996: Paul Jones leaves. A building to house our benevolent work is constructed.
1998: March 1 bonds on the McBrien Road property are paid off 6 years ahead of schedule.
1999: Jan. 1 Steve Plemmons officially joins staff. Chester and Claudene McCurter retire after 23 years of service as building custodians. George McBrayer replaces them in this position. Additions to the eldership in the 1990’s were: Gus Stone, George Tucker, Danny Collins, James Rains and Allen Womack. 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, J. Peers, Bryan Hollis, George McBrayer, Billy Sells, Billy Peers, Kyle Hedrick, Joe Bowen, Roy Brazier, Jerry Corbin and Jay Hicks.
2002: Congregation of the Lord’s church is begun in Sosnovka, Russia, an adjoining city to Sosnogorsk.
2003: Doug McVey becomes minister to Senior Citizens. Adam Miller becomes interim Youth Minister.
2004: In May 2004 Aaron Dodson joins staff as Youth Minister. May 26, 2004 Walter Smith passed from this life. On June 1, 2004 longtime church librarian, Montice Howard passed. On June 28, 2004 George Tucker went to his reward. In July 2004 three new elders were installed. They were: Bill Clements, Bob Oliver and J. Peers. Deacons added at that time were: Larry Foy, Tom Franklin, Scott McDonald, Brad Moore, Darrell Tinker and Larry Vandergriff. July 22, 2005 Roy Williams passed.
2007: Aaron Dodson resigns as Youth Minister. May 2007, Alan Pitchford is hired for the Youth Minister position. June 24 six men added as deacons. They are: Clint Benson, Doug Hughes, Paul Hughes, Scott Tittsworth, Shannon Sewell and Doug McVey.
Not to be overlooked in the work of the East Ridge congregation are the women who have served as secretaries.
Presently we have four ladies who work in this capacity. Three part-time and one full-time. They are Kim Moses, Judy Clark, Patsy Franklin ,Melissa Frost & Karen McBrayer. Others who have faithfully served in this capacity are: Mackie Parks, Carolyn Preston, Etta Mae Carroll, Mary Parham (22 yrs.), Mary Frances Smith, Theresa Ives and Kim Brunegraff Cromer.
Chronological List of Men Who Have Served as Elders (26 total):
W. C. Carrell
J. B. Fair
I. O. Wheeler
W. W. Dreaden
L. L. (Lance) Pippin
W. A. (Alex) Watt, Jr.
Ralph O’Neal, Jr.
Elders as of October 2016:
Chronological List of Men Who Have Served as Deacons (111 total):
J. M. Whitson
R. L. Bowman
L. L. Cooley
I. L. Baldwin, Jr.
D. L. Boyd
F. E. (Earl) Britton
M. C. Chaffin
M.D. (Melvin) Grubb
Ralph O’Neal, Jr
B. L. Kimball
H. E. (Hugh) Pritchard
J. M. Whitson
J. R. (Junnus) Womack
L L. (Lance) Pippin
Nathan (Buddy) Martin
J. S. Bailey
Charles Millirons, Sr.
Roy McKinney, Jr.
Deacons as of October 2005:
Roy McKinney, Jr
Deacons as of September 2007:
Roy McKinney, Jr
acons as of September 2007:
Deacons as of April 2016:
Brien Applewhite Jason McDade*
Paul Baumberger Doug McVey
Clint Benson Rimmy Miller
Neil Brooks Ken Moses*
Lucien Claiborne Kyle Moses*
Charles Cochran Alan Pitchford*
Stan Cope* Kevin Plemons*
Ken Cozart Gerald Presley
Kevin Davenport Robbie Rhodes*
Mike Frost* Matthew Rider*
Joe Gass* Brian Robinson*
Bryan Hollis Shannon Sewell
Doug Hughes Darrell Tinker
Paul Hughes Sam Townsend*
Johnny Jackson Wayne Weaver
* Indicates those new deacons as of April 2016
Chronology of Pulpit Ministers:
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
1980-1983 Scott Slatton
1982-1987 Slats Slaton
1984-1986 Mike Lusk, Education Director
1987-1988 Keith Fussell (Kiski Valley)
1988-1990 Jeff Ingram, Youth Minister
1990-Present Doug McVey, Youth Minister – 2003 Senior Member Minister
1990-1991 Ken Willis
1991-1995 Paul Kidwell (Seed Sowing TV Broadcast)
1994-1996 Paul Jones, Minister to 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
This is by no means, nor is it intended to be, a complete history of the work of the East Ridge congregation. A major source of information for this timeline and historical sketch was “A History of the East Ridge Church of Christ, 1942-1967” compiled by Brother Wallace Norman. 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.
This Historical Sketch & Timeline of the East Ridge Church of Christ is dedicated in loving memory of the congregation’s long-time Librarian, Montice B. Howard (January 15, 1929 – June 1, 2004).
The congregation’s Library came into being in the early 1960’s through the efforts of David East. However, it is because of the efforts of Montice and her faithful co-workers that the East Ridge congregation currently possesses a church Library that is no doubt among the very best in our brotherhood.
Montice or “Aunt Bee,” as she was called by some in her later years would certainly be pleased to know that since her passing the Library’s progress has continued under her successor, Anna Huddleston. Those working with Anna are: Delores Clark, Judy Clark, Glenda Foy (deceased), Lois Engleman (retired), Patsy Franklin, Bessie Ashe, Mary Parham (deceased) and Marguerite Parker (deceased). We also don’t want to overlook Mary McKinney’s many years of loyal service. One could say that the congregation’s Library is a “living tribute to Montice Howard.” However, I don’t believe Montice would agree with or even like such a statement. She lived her life to bring glory and honor to the Father. Her love for God was the reason for her dedicated labor and she would want all the credit to go to Him. It is for that reason that this dedication is made with love to her memory.
Compiled by: Steve Plemmons (Updated 07-14-2016)