Avoca Christian Church began as a visionary dream in the hearts of two congregations: the Central Christian Church and the Central Holston Christian Church. Each congregation purchased an acre of land along highway 11 E between Bristol and Bluff City.
February 8, 1959, Leigh Hargrave was called to serve as minister to the new congregation that was already meeting on Sunday and Wednesday nights in the Avoca Elementary School. In April of 1959, with the encouragement of the East Tennessee Evangelization Association, an additional acre of land was purchased. The first morning worship was held on June 7. Ground breaking for a church building on the three acre site was held on October 11, 1959.
The fledgling congregation was growing under the capable leadership of Leigh Hardgrave, and in the spring of 1960, they moved into their first building. By 1962, the congregation had grown to an average of 92 in morning worship, and Bob Forrester was called to serve as minister.
Bob Robinson began his ministry with the congregation November 3, 1963. The church continued to grow and a parsonage was purchased in 1964. The church expanded its facilities in 1968 with the addition of an administrative and educational wing.
During the decade of the 70’s the church continued to increase in numbers. A Youth Minister was added to the staff on a part-time basis and the parking lot was expanded.
The decade of the 80’s saw many changes. The sanctuary (our present Fellowship Hall) was overflowing. A second worship was added in March of 1981. The church realized an immediate increase of 50 per Sunday. By the end of the year, in spite of two services, the second worship was experiencing over-crowded conditions. In January 1982 the congregation voted to build a new sanctuary. The modified “A”-frame structure would seat 400 and would house a baptistery, dressing rooms, storage area and a sacristy room. The building was completed in December of ‘82. The first worship was a Christmas Eve candle light service. That sanctuary now serves as our Youth Center.
The decade of the 90’s was exciting. Bobby Shelley was added to the staff as a full-time Youth Minister. By now the new sanctuary was experiencing overcrowding, so a second worship was added.
It was obvious to the church Elders that additional land would be necessary in order to meet the needs of the growing congregation. After three years of negotiations, the church was finally able to purchase 18.2 acres of land adjoining the church property. Hatfield and Halcomb, a church planning architectural firm out of Dallas., Texas, was hired to develop a 20-year plan utilizing the newly acquired property.
In February 1993 the congregation approved the Church Board’s recommendation that we pursue the construction of Phase 1-A of our Master Plan. A large educational building and gym/Celebration Center were constructed.
As the church grew additional staff was added and The Littlest Angel Child Care Center was formed. Because of overcrowding in the Contemporary worship, it was moved to the Gym/Celebration Center. The 21st Century began with plans for a 900 seat sanctuary addition which was completed in October of 2005.
Avoca is a contemporary, community-minded congregation, deeply rooted in the unchanging truths of the Bible. Families and singles of all ages find Avoca to be a wonderful place to grow in Christ and serve God through the church’s foundational values of prayer, fellowship, Bible study, worship, and service. The congregation is a dynamic, faith-filled community of believers who learn from the past, serve in the present and look forward to the future. The best is yet to come with this congregation as it seeks to serve the community and bring the world to faith in Christ.