Church History

Calvary Baptist Church Lenoir City, TN

The following is a condensed history of Calvary Baptist Church, Lenoir City, Tennessee. The information was compiled from various sources and is given as accurately as possible.

Church Names
The first name selected was The Baptist Tabernacle of Lenoir City, 1915-1951, was renamed First Avenue Baptist Church, 1952-1957 and finally changed to it's present name, Calvary Baptist Church, in 1958. The name was changed to Calvary Baptist to avoid the confusing of names with First Baptist Church of Lenoir City.

Organizing A Church
On December 4, 1916, on a Monday evening, thirteen folk, consisting of nine men and four women, met at the home of Bro. W.E. Glover, 303 W. Broadway in Lenoir City, Tennessee, for the purpose of and to consider organizing a church in the faith and order as the New Testament teaches. A motion was made by W.E. Glover that the organization be called The Baptist Tabernacle of Lenoir City, Tennessee. Bro. C.M. Dutton seconded the motion and all present were unanimously in favor of this name and it was adopted. Later a constitution and articles of faith and by-laws were adopted as well as the church covenant.

Where To Hold Services
It was decided to rent and hold services in the Lenoir City Masonic Hall at the corner of Broadway and Kingston Street; however, the group subsequently moved to a building in the Foute Building, 300 “A” Street since the previous meeting place “did not meet the approval of all concerned".

First Church Building
A short time later the church members rented, and later purchased for $1,500, a former Presbyterian Church building fronting “C” street. They worshipped there, (in The Baptist Tabernacle) for some thirty-five years until it became inadequate and inefficient, as overcrowding demanded more space than the building could provide.

New Sanctuary/Fellowship Hall/Kitchen/Classrooms
As reported, on March 29, 1949, ground breaking took place for a new two-level building facing First Avenue at “C” Street, to be constructed on property adjoining The Baptist Tabernacle. The lower floor was built first, which consisted of a fellowship hall, classrooms and a kitchen. On Easter Sunday, March 3, 1951, the congregation assembled in the lower level floor of the building. The upper floor, a new Sanctuary providing seating for about 350 people, was finished sometime later, in 1952.

An Adjoining Cemetery Plays A Part
The property on which the then new church was built was deeded free to the church by the Norwood-McNeely heirs if the church “would agree to take reasonable care of the family burying ground (cemetery) which lies on the west side of the property." This “agreement” holds true to this day, as Calvary Baptist Church continues to maintain the “family burying ground”, the cemetery.

The Baptist Tabernacle Building Is Razed, Education Unit Built
The former meeting place of worship, The Baptist Tabernacle building, was razed, the grounds cleared, and a three story educational unit was built in 1958-1959 where the Tabernacle once sat and was connected to the rear of the newly built  Sanctuary.

Still Growing, More Space Needed
Seeing the need for even more space, in the mid 1950’s the church had purchased three small houses across the street from the church. The houses were initially used by the young people as Sunday School classrooms. When no longer needed for classrooms following the completion of the new three story educational unit, the houses were razed and the property used for parking. Over time, additional houses were purchased in the same area, were later razed and also used for parking.

Present Sanctuary Constructed
Still growing, and needing more space, in late 1978 the church members voted to build a new two story church building on the previously purchased property “across the street” from their old church. The new church building, which includes a sanctuary seating about one thousand people, fellowship hall, office complex, choir suite, work room, etc., was completed and occupied in 1985 and is present place of worship today. An elevator was added at a later date.

Former Church Building Remodeled
The former church building, or annex as it is now called, was completely remodeled in the 1990’s and today serves many church uses. As part of the remodeling, the former sanctuary, which holds many memories, was converted into a modern pre-school facility.

Our Pastors
Twenty-two men have served the church as pastor, with A.A.Carlton having served as pastor the longest, nineteen years, from 1953-1972. A list of the pastors and the year(s) each served is available in the church office.

Calvary Baptist Church, Lenoir City, Tennessee is a member of the Loudon County Baptist Association, the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention. The church continues to be a “Light on a Hill” proclaiming the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

June, 2015

Music Director History

Music Directors of Calvary Baptist Church, Lenoir City, TN.

(Not a complete list) Early years our church was named The Baptist Tabernacle, later First Avenue Baptist and presently Calvary Baptist Church. NOTE: Some directors served Full-Time, some Part-Time, some Interim, some fill-in.

A few of these served in the early years - Prior to 1958. (Not necessarily in the order of years served)

Year(s) or partial year(s) served Music Directors Name
Prior to 1958 Johnny Frye
Prior to 1958 George Preston
Prior to 1958 Fred Preston
Prior to 1958 Paul Adams
Serving in the years 1958 to present:(Not necessarily, but should be close, in order of the years they began serving)
1958 Lee Thompson
1960 Ronald (Ron) Tilley
Bill Thompson
Larry Hayes
Chuck Sayne
1972 Bob Tullock
1974 Nolan Rollins
1977 Eddie Scruggs
1978 Raleigh Todd
1979 Al Hitch
1980 Bob Dotson
1980 Ruben Weaver
1986 Hank Jones
1987 Wayne Vespie
1988 Russell Johnson
1988 Lance Vining
Loren Miller
1989 Bill Harden
1992 Roger Solomon
1997 Ray Hubbs
2003 Brian Graves
2003 Shirley Gossage
2004 Richard Sloan
2005 Ferol Moses
2007 Bryan Long
2012 Bill Wilkinson
2014 Jim McKinney
2014-Present Ronald (Ron) Tilley

Pastor History

Honoring their Heritage ~ Leaving a Legacy

" For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace,
and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

Before the world was spoken into existence God had a plan to birth a church in Lenoir City, TN. From the portals of glory He brought that plan to Earth when General William Lenoir was granted five thousand acres of land for his outstanding service and patriotism during the Revolutionary war. In 1810 the Lenoir family took up residence on the land that would sixty years later become the site of the church.

On December 4, 1916 a tiny group of believers, embracing the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, and taking it as their battle cry, met to seek God's direction in organizing a church. After much prayer they unanimously agreed to allow God to use them as His human hands to start Tabernacle Baptist Church. The following Sunday, December 10, A.V. Pickering, accepting the position of pastor, brought the inaugural message. As with any living organism, the little church experienced growing pains. Pastors come and went, believers were added to the church, and their faithful giving allowed them to purchase the building. Being mission-minded they began to support local, national, and world missions: and God was glorified!

In 1948 the name of the church was changed to Calvary Baptist Church. Under the leadership of A. A. Carlton, pastor from 1953 until 1972, the church continued to grow, purchasing new property and adding new members. It soon became obvious that God was blessing to the extent that a new building was needed. Rev. Clarence Sexton, pastor from 1972 until 1975, led the church in a dynamic visitation program that saw the church experience great growth. In May of 1985, the membership of Calvary Baptist, under the leadership of Milton Hicks, moved into their present building. On Easter Sunday, 1995, a record number attended Sunday School (405) and worship (750); rejoicing in the knowledge that they serve a living, risen, soon returning Savior.

From Pastor A.V. Pickering in 1916 to Pastor Jody McGaha in 2016, many men of God have taken their places behind the sacred desk, faithfully declaring God's Word. With renewed vision and a willingness to work, Calvary Baptist continues the journey. As a torch is passed from generation to generation God's glorious Word rings out with new enthusiasm. With an abiding love for God and a bond of fellowship among the brethren, Calvary Baptist Church continues forward. The theme, "Life Begins at Calvary", both guides and gladdens Cavalry's desire to share Him with the world and gives the zeal to persevere. Doing such, Calvary Baptist Church continues to honor its heritage while simultaneously leaving a legacy for others to walk the path toward an eternity with Christ.

Pastors: A.V. Pickering, Robert E. Humphrey, J.H. Cate, A.B. Johnson, G.X. Hinton, F.J. Hoge, D.C. Kerley, C.M. Dutton, Zane Mason, Thomas P. Guinn, Ray T. Turner, Glenn A. Toomey, Aubrey A. Carlton, Clarence G. Sexton, John R. Walker, Milton L. Hicks, Rodney Burnette, Richard V. Holden, Scott E. Cagle, R. Steven Taylor, Charles R. Jenkins, William (Donny) Crass, Jody McGaha

A synopsis of the history of Calvary Baptist as gleaned from the files of church historians, Sherry Bivens & Glen Hill.

Calvary Baptist Church

301 W. First Ave. Lenoir City, TN.