Deacons at New York Avenue Church of Christ were given the mission to establish a congregation of the Lord’s church in the black community of Oak Ridge in 1949.
That July, a tent was erected on a recreational lot across the street from the business section of the black community to kick off the first gospel meeting. The speaker was bro. William Whitaker, of Jacksonville, Florida. What began as a two-week tent meeting expanded to four weeks, at the conclusion of which nine souls were baptized into Christ.
The congregation began meeting for Sunday morning worship services and Thursday evening Bible study classes at rented facilities at the Scarboro school. Brothers from New York Avenue and Park City preached each week, until a full-time minister, Bro. Eldridge Butler of Chattanooga, was installed in 1950. Soon after, government-owned land became available to build church buildings in Oak Ridge, and New York Avenue purchased a lot in the Scarboro community for that purpose.
By 1953, the congregation had grown to 25 members, with average Sunday morning attendance of about 35. The congregation sought financial support to erect a building on the newly purchased lot. Funds were raised by members and several area congregations, with New York Avenue as the main contributor. More than 60% of the building was completed without any indebtedness when the church obtained a loan to complete the structure in 1954.
The church continued to flourish, as capable men filled the position of minister:
|Bro. Eldridge Butler||1950 – 1952|
|Bro. M. F. Holt||1952 – 1953|
|Bro. Milton Payne||1953 – 1954|
|Bro. William Whitaker||1954 – 1955|
|Bro. William McCluskey||1956 – 1965|
|Bro. Phillip Smith||1966 – 1967|
|Bro. Robert Byas||1967 – 1969|
|Bro. Henry Clay||1969 – 1971|
|Bro. MacArthur Moore||1971 – 1979|
|Bro. Ulysses Wilhoite||1979 – 1981|
|Bro. Edward Howard||1981 – 1986|
|Bro. Lonnie Smith, Jr.||1988 – 2005|
|Bro. Friday Paul Okure||2005 – 2006|
|Bro. Wayne Conner||2007 – 2010|
|Bro. Charles Caruthers||2010 – present|
The church met in the original building for over thirty years. In 1985, a special building fund was established to remodel and expand classrooms and worship facilities. Members of the congregation contributed a special monthly collection toward the new building program. In August 1985, $7,000 was raised for the building renovations in a special 36th anniversary program. By 1991, over $32,000 had been accumulated, and Owens Construction Co. was contracted to remodel the existing facility. The project was completed in August 1992, by the congregation’s 43rd anniversary.
By the mid 1990’s, the congregation had established a partnership with the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions for well-qualified students of the school to serve as Associate Ministers for two-year terms or to be guest speakers.
Today, the congregation has approximately 60 members, represented by 27 families. The Scarboro church continues to strive to do God’s will in all its endeavors.