Central Baptist Church is celebrating "100 years of spiritual excellence and servant leadership in our community."
HISTORY & LEGACY
Central Baptist Church principles and congregants have over the past 100 years tried to model after the scripture of St. Matthew 25:35-36 - from its humble beginning to the present.
Central Baptist Church was founded and organized with only 21 members in the heart of the city on the corner of Dale Street and Bristol Highway (E. Center Street). In 1941, Central moved to an unnamed section of town (later named Riverview by a member of Central Church, Bessie Hipps) and began building a new church that was completed in 1943. Imagine the fortitude it took to build a church during World War II years with mostly women doing the work. This was the beginning of many historical firsts for Central, including the expansion of the church, renovations and the purchase of additional property beginning under the tenure of the Rev. William H. Stokley. The Rev. Fredrick Gordon arrived at Central in 1983 to begin his pastorate. Under the Rev. Gordon’s leadership, the kitchen was remodeled, the fellowship hall was extended, and the Manna Meal ministry was started. It has lasted over 30 years.
Beginning in 1993, during the tenure of the Rev. Clifford Matthews, Central opened its first African American Book Store, and began a mid-week devotional for the senior membership. The Rev. Matthews also holds the unique position of running for public office (school board) while serving as pastor of Central. The Rev. Charles Dent began his pastorate at Central in 1999 and under his tenure the 8 a.m. worship service began along with the traditional 11 a.m. worship service. Under the Rev. Dent’s direction, Central began separate Men’s and Women’s Bible Study groups and upgraded the audio/video ministry. The Rev. Anthony Daniels was called to Central in the summer of 2001. The Rev. Daniels held a unique status; he was a son of Central and was born and raised in Kingsport. Under the Rev. Daniels’ leadership, several programs began, including Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) hosting families in need of temporary housing, the G.R.O.W. (God Rewards Our Works) and the Yoke Servant ministries. Of his many accomplishments, the one most visible to most is the new sanctuary which was completed in December 2004. Following the Rev. Daniels’ retirement in 2007, the Rev. Billy Pearson served as the interim pastor of Central Baptist church for two years. The Rev. Ricardo Dorcean began his pastorate at Central in August of 2009. The Rev. Dorcean was instrumental in bringing the M.O.V.E. (Missions, Outreach, Vision and Empowerment) model to the church. The Rev. Dorcean was also instrumental in the establishment of the Central Baptist website.
In the fall of 2015, the Rev. Perry Stuckey became the 15th pastor of Central Baptist Church. The Rev. Stuckey established the model of Senior Pastor, Administrative Pastor and Associate Pastor. The Rev. Billy Pearson serves as the Administrative Pastor and Minister Rick Zimmerman serves as the Associate. The Rev. Stuckey initiated the completion of the remodeling of “the old sanctuary.” He facilitated the upgrades to the media technology ministry and established the direction of the Youth Animation Ministry. The Rev. Stuckey led and engaged the “successful” merger with New Beginning Christian Fellowship Church, just to name a few of his initiatives.
MEN OF MEASURE
Van Dobbins Jr. was only 2 years old when the church building was completed. Van had the good fortune of growing up in a home that espoused values and beliefs adopted from his father, V.O. Dobbins Sr., a deacon in the church during the Rev. Grant Parks’ tenure (1938-1946). As a teen, Van worked alongside his father in a family-owned garden large enough to provide food to feed the entire neighborhood. From this Christian value ,Van Jr. has helped to lead the Manna Meal ministry and establish a food pantry ministry.
Deacon Paul Montgomery was appointed to the deacon board as a young man 30 years ago and has worked to initiate many of the ministries at Central, including the Benevolence Ministry and Manna Meal Ministry. He has led every pastoral search committee since joining Central. Deacon John Harrison also came to Central as a young man and has been a member and a deacon for 42 years. Most of those years, he has served as the head deacon which entails either chairing or being involved with multiple ministries. Deacon Harrison and Deacon Montgomery remain faithful to their posts. Deacon James Thompson has a connection to the church through his grandfather Alfred Thompson who served for many years as a deacon during the the Rev. Grant Park tenure. His father James Thompson was one of several young men who began his ministry through Central Baptist. God has a way of bringing things to completion. Central Baptist Church is currently led by its 15th pastor, Senior Pastor Perry Stuckey and the Administrative Pastor Billy Pearson. Under Pastor Stuckey’s leadership, the church is focusing on these areas: Unity, Modeling Grace and Relationships Matter for 2018.
GOALS FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS
To grow our Youth Ministry by: offering Bible study classes for all age groups, to hire a full-time pastor to lead youth services, to grow our youth animation ministry, and to grow our tutorial program.
To expand our transportation ministry to meet the needs of those who reside in homeless shelters, government-supplemented apartments, and others in the community that are underserved.
To serve the needs of all ethnicities by becoming the fastest growing multicultural church in the region.
Community contributor Linda Kincaid is the historian for Central Baptist Church. For more information about Central's anniversary events, see Holly Viers story.