Borderview Christian celebrates 150th anniversary

Published 3:23 pm Thursday, September 9, 2021

During the month of September, Borderview Christian Church, located at 1338 Bristol Highway, is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
An outdoor concert is planned this Sunday evening as one of the anniversary events. Also, an outdoor concert is planned for Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. when Heritage Sunday will be observed with Jack Harris preaching.
Sunday, Sept. 26, will feature Lifted in an outdoor concert at 6 p.m. with a boxed supper at 5 p.m.
According to a booklet compiled in 1971 by Anna Mae Daniels, church historian, Borderview’s beginning was in 1871 when the popular mode of travel, other than by foot, was horse-drawn vehicles. At that time people living in the Keenburg community had to travel “the old ridge road” to the Brick Christian Church in order to worship.
Preacher A.M. Ferguson arrived in the community and began preaching at the Emmert schoolhouse, an old log building which stood near the site of the Raymond Jenkins’ house. He set about organizing a church. Records show at the time of organization, there were 45 members. The first elders were J.H. Keen, James Holly, and Henry Barnett. The congregation continued to meet at the Emmert schoolhouse for 22 years.
Records indicated the church was re-organized in May 1893 with J.J. McCorkle, T.A. Ellis, and W.J. Cole as elders; D.T. Chambers Sr. and Alfred Peeks as deacons; and W.M. Blevins as clerk. That year a frame building was constructed on property donated by J.J. McCorkle. That building was used for worship until 1942.
As was the custom in those days, the men sat in chairs on the extreme right, and the ladies on the left. The center section was used by married couples visiting who wished to sit together and young couples going.
According to Daniels’ writings, the name Borderview was given to the church because of the beautiful view from the front of the building, which included farmland. Since it bordered Elizabethton and presented such a beautiful view of the valley nearby, it was decided to call the church “Borderview,” and that is the name the church is still known by today.
In March 1915, the church was re-organized and Sunday School was re-started. Also, a Ladies Aid was organized by the women.
Early elders at that time included J.H. Keen, James Holly, Henry Barnett, J.J. McCorkle, T.A. Ellis, W.J. Cole, C.T. Estep, W.M. Peeks, G.M. Blevins, John Lewis, Charlie Cole, and G.M. Ellis.
Many of the ministers who served the congregation during the early years were paid only what was received in the offering at the worship service. They often did not receive enough to cover the cost of their transportation. A partial list of ministers who served included A.M. Ferguson, a Mr. McIntire, Samuel Right, Roy F. Smuckers, John Williams, a Mr. Bass, Mr. Wise, Mr. Buck, E. Roy Gentry, Wallace Gentry, Mr. Forbes, W.H. Walker, J.J. Music, Mr. Lappin, Mr. Pouge, Ralph Depew, S.A. Morton, G.W. Jones, John Shepherd, James Smith, and Noble Tester.
A decision was made in 1939 to buy land and build a new church when the old frame building the congregation was meeting in became outdated and in need of repairs. Groundbreaking and construction on the new building began in July 1941. Church records show that over 2,531 hours of free labor were donated. The ladies served meals for the men and then spent the afternoon carrying brick, rock, lumber, mortar and driving teams of horses. The new house of worship was ready for worship. It contained a large auditorium with balcony, a choir area, baptistery and dressing rooms, basement, which contained Sunday School rooms, and a large assembly room. Stained glass windows for the sanctuary were bought by various members, most in memory to deceased members.
Noble Tester preached the first sermon in the new building, which was followed by a dinner, and an afternoon service at which Stephen A. Morton preached.
The building was dedicated Dec. 27, 1943, with Lonnie Dever, minister of the First Christian Church in Erwin, preaching.
In March 1950, a two-bedroom frame house was purchased on Commodore Avenue for the church parsonage. Arthur Isenburg was the first to live there and John W. Jones Sr., the second and last minister to live in it. In 1953, the Clyde Morley house on the Bristol Highway was rented for the pastor. Later that year the congregation voted to purchase land from Mrs. R.A. Range and build a new parsonage.
An educational building was added to the church in 1960, and some refurbishing of the auditorium took place.
The Borderview congregation has engaged in mission work since the early years. The earliest was aid to Milligan College, Johnson Bible College, and Christian children’s homes. Later expansion of the mission program included Cincinnati Bible Seminary and Kentucky Christian College. In May 1960, the church voted to support Bro. Lester Cooper, missionary to Africa, as a living link. Other missions supported include Carter County Christian Men’s Fellowship, Lenoir Church of Christ, Brazil Christian Evangelism, Liverpool Church of Christ, New York, Friendly City Church of Christ, Durham, N.C., and Grundy Mountain Mission School, Grundy, Va.
Ministers who have served the church since 1941 include Noble Tester, J. Randal Farris, Ralph S. Depew, Howard Reece, J.A. Burns, Arthur Isenburg, J.W. Jones Sr., J. David Lang, Ivan Odor, Dick Piper, James Adkins, Jack Harris, J.C. Anderson, Randall Childress, Billy Manuel, John Jones Jr., David Wolfe, Kirk Langston, and currently Scott Fisher.
Youth/Associate ministers who have served this congregation include James Messimer, Keith Wigal, Eddie Fine, Fred Kelly, Gerald Tribble, Gary Hall, Bob Woods, Scott Reynolds, Keith Hertzog, Brent Nidiffer, Jones Oliver, James Greene, Greg Bolton, David White, Richard Saxton, Brett Cartwright, Ron Marvel, Mark Garland, Eric Spaulding, Nathan Powell, Jonathan Hawkins, Penny Milam (children’s director), Adam Williams, Andrew Norman, Matthew Fisher, Sam Kozee, and currently Sallie Biles.
Timothys from the congregation include Ralph C. Carter, A.D. “ ete” Carter, Henry Reynolds, Jimmy Tate, Stanley Sams, Jerry Tribble, Bill Tribble, Steve Fair, Steve Morris, Fred Sams Jr. and Randy Carrier.
Ms. Daniels concluded her history of the church with this thought: “The influence of Borderview Christian Church in the community has been strong through the years and we pray that its positive influence in the future will continue. We pray that the Lord will find us faithful.”