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Our History

The first meeting of the Woodlawn Christian Church was held in August 1955, at the home of Sam and Eleanor Darden in Knoxville, Tennessee. During a subsequent meeting, the Smoky Mountain Men's Fellowship and the Smoky Mountain Evangelism Committee of Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University) agreed to assist in the establishment of a Christian Church in South Knoxville. A house and adjoining lot on the corner of Woodlawn and Young High Pike was purchased for that purpose.


The first meeting in the newly purchased home was held Sunday, August 28, 1955, with Floyd Clark, Academic Dean of Johnson, presiding. Charles Fordyce served as minister of the new congregation for several months and was succeeded by L. W. Buckley. Beginning in December 1956, David L. Eubanks served the church as minister until shortly after his appointment as President of Johnson Bible College in 1968. Under his leadership, the first church building was begun in the spring of 1957 and dedicated in May 1958.


In 1966, a building committee began planning for a new sanctuary. Groundbreaking services were held on April 7, 1968, and the building was dedicated October 13, 1968.


Members in the Woodlawn congregation continued to grow during the 1970s and 1980s under the ministries of Marion Parkey, Steven Everroad, Kenneth Overdorf, and Bill Eaton. In 1986, the Forest Avenue Christian Church closed its doors and approximately 20 of her families became members of Woodlawn. In November 1988, Dr. Richard Beam became Senior Minister, and Mark Pierce became Senior Associate Minister.


Funds from the sale of the Forest Avenue property became the core of a building fund for the newest sanctuary of the Woodlawn congregation, and in 1990, the congregation voted to proceed once again with the construction of a new building. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held April 7, 1991, and the dedication of the new sanctuary was held August 30, 1992. Three years later, a new educational wing was added.


In the late 1990s, Woodlawn continued to enjoy God's hand of grace. Dr. Rick Grover was called to serve as Senior Minister from 1996-2001. Under his leadership, the church enjoyed a dynamic period of growth. The introduction of the cell ministry concept enabled Woodlawn to grow without sacrificing its small church feel. The cell or small group approach promotes the shepherding of members, provides a safe place for members to introduce their friends to Jesus, and is a key piece in the church's vision for multiplying its ministry in the local community.


The church has been enriched by an ongoing tradition of excellent ministers and servant leaders. In 2001, David Wheeler assumed the role of Interim Minister until Charles Beckett was called to the Senior Minister position in June 2002. While Woodlawn has always been an active supporter of world missions (about a quarter of our giving goes to missions), Charles led the church into a period of significantly expanded involvement in the local community. Whether working with the Knoxville area Compassion Coalition or just assisting teachers in the local elementary schools, Woodlawn found more and more ways to extend God's love to our community.

After coming to Woodlawn as Youth Minister in 2006 and serving as Senior Associate Minister since 2014, Dwayne Curry transitioned into the role of Lead Minister, in February 2018, upon Charles' retirement.

The keys to Woodlawn's remarkable past and hopeful future are faith in Jesus and the involvement of every member in His ministry. Together, we embrace the future with faith in the One who brought us into existence in August 1955. We still share the same faith that led a handful of people to gather in the Darden home in 1955. The passion still lives ... to the praise of His glorious grace.

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