“The Years of Our Heritage”
by Elder Joe F. Hildreth & Sister Virginia Hildreth
On Saturday, May 28, 1910, seven members were constituted as the North Chattanooga Old School or Primitive Baptist Church. These seven were D. M. Raulston, B. F. Rogers, B. F. King, Fannie L. Raulston, Mamie C. Raulston, Mrs. Martha Magriff, and Mrs. Mary Suttles. The constituting presbytery consisted of elders J. T. Stewart (moderator), R. O. Raulston (clerk), M. A. Hackworth, H. L. Golston, and G. M. Sharp; and deacons J. C. Raulston, S. B. Raulston, John Clark, B. F. Tittle, and I. N. Hackworth.
The minutes of the first meeting of the Church relate, “Sunday after short and appropriate talks by Elders H. L. Golston and M. A. Hackworth the church commemorated the death and suffering of our Lord and engaged in washing each others feet, being blessed with the presence of many brethren and sisters from a distance who took part with us.”
Sunday night Elder R. O. Raulston was chosen as pastor and Bro. D. M. Raulston as clerk. These brethren thus began long tenures of service, with Elder Raulston pastoring the church until his death in 1938 and Bro. D. M. Raulston serving as clerk until his death in 1953.
One month after the constitution Sister Espa Wilkinson was received by letter into the church. Sister Mamie Raulston (daughter of the first pastor) and Sister Wilkinson continued as long devoted members, more than 63 years after the church was constituted.
The congregation’s first place of worship was located on E. Kent Street in North Chattanooga (also known as Hill City). This building was purchased from another church group. It is interesting to note that the April, 1920, minutes recorded, “No conference meeting on account of high backwaters being up under the church house. Sunday services in Elder R. O. Raulston’s home.”
Elder Raulston suffered a stroke in July, 1938, preparing to meet meet Elder Harvey Houk at the train depot, and died on July 7. His funeral was held in the meetinghouse of the church he had pastored for more than 28 years. A large concourse of friends and relatives was present, demonstrating the high esteem in which the community and church held him.
Shortly after its organization the church affiliated herself with the Sequatchie Valley association of churches, and has sent representatives ever since then to these associational meetings. Later this group combined with the Blue Ridge association of churches to form the Sequatchie Valley-Blue Ridge Association. Chattanooga has hosted these associational meetings on many occasions through the years.
In 1941 two local radio stations gave free time to broadcast portions of the associational meeting—the 120th session. Among those preaching over the radio were Elders C. H. Cayce of Arkansas, J. W. Hardwick of Mississippi, H. P. Houk of Alabama, and H. L. Golston and H. V. Massey of Tennessee.
In January, 1926, a committee was appointed to purchase a new building. In April, 1926, the first meeting was held in the building at 2502 E. 12th Street, formerly owned by another denomination. At this meeting the name of the church was changed to Chattanooga Primitive Baptist Church. Various improvements to the property were made through the years.
In March, 1969 a committee was appointed to search for yet another location. Brother James R. Hood located the property on Runyan Drive, and the committee recommended its purchase in September, 1969. The building on E. 12th Street was sold in August, 1971, and construction of the present building commenced in April, 1972.
Temporarily the church met in the Community Church Building in the New England Community, Dade County, Georgia. Incidentally, the minutes show that through the years several members of the church lived in the New England Community, and for a season the church held a regular service in that area and considered the possibility of establishing a new church there.
Brethren James R. Hood, Richard Martin, O. B. Stewart, Fred Benderman, John R. Stone, Douglas Sons, W. C. Wilcoxen, and David O’Neal were members of the building committee. They, with several other members, performed much of the labor in constructing this building. The first services were held in the new building on January 7, 1973. Dedication of the new building was held later that year. Elder Milton Lillard of Franklin, Tennessee, delivered the dedication sermon.
Elder J. Richard Martin was ordained the 4th Sun in June 1964; invited ministers were Elders Fred Stewart, H. P. Copeland, and M. P. White.
Elder Joe F. Hildreth was called in 1972 to serve with Elder Fred Stewart and Elder Richard Martin. He has continued to serve for over thirty years.
Elder Eddy A. Flick was ordained in 1979 and has continued to serve the church since that time, as well as visiting and serving other area churches.
The church called Elder J. Andrew Huffman as pastor in 2002 and has been blessed under his leadership to the present day.
In recent years we have hosted several singing schools and associational meetings. We meet every Sunday morning as well as on second Sunday afternoons and on the first and third Wednesday evenings of each month. Our annual meeting is held each spring. We observe the communion of the Lord’s supper twice a year, in springtime and in autumn.
Chattanooga Primitive Baptist Church endeavors to maintain the gospel order of worship as instituted by Christ among his disciples. On this centennial occasion, we pause to look back with thanksgiving for those who have gone before us and for God’s unfailing mercies upon this congregation. As we look to the future we desire to continue in simplicity of worship, adherence to the doctrine of grace, and service to one another and to all our kindred in Christ until our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ returns to gather His people home. What a day that will be!