Celebrating 125 Years

Saturday, February 4th, 1897, Texas Valley Church using the Constitution and Articles of Faith, organized the United Baptist Church of Christ at Clear Spring at Thompson School House. The church met on the fourth Saturday and Sunday of each month. James Walker Morton was elected as the pastor and served until 1901. Charter Members: J.N. Bright, M.C. Wood, William Martin, I.M. Foust, N.B. Daniel, Sarah E. Bright, Z.E. Parker, A. Carpenter, A.J. Carpenter, Alice Carter, and Rebecca Lester.

August 4, 1897, a building program was initiated, and a building committee was formed.

1901 – 1903, Mike Hensley served as pastor.

1903 – 1906, James Walker Morton served as pastor.

1903 – 1906, John Harris served as pastor.

1906 – 1909, Marcus Ellsworth "Worth" Parker served as pastor.

1907 - The original white, clapboard church building was completed, and the church was renamed Clear Spring Baptist Church. The church minutes never reflect when the “s” was added to Springs, it could have been a clerical error in recording.

1909 – 1910, William "Bill" Madison Clapp served as pastor.

1910 – 1913, Samuel "Bud" Hall served as pastor.

1913 – 1914, T.P. "Pierce" Wilkerson served as pastor.

1914 – 1918, Clem Cooper served as pastor.

1918 – 1923, Albert Deadrick Henderlight served as pastor.

1922 – 1938, the church hosted annual Christmas Revivals every December.

1923 – 1925, J.H. "Hugh" Blair served as pastor.

1925, Frank Garrett was elected pastor. He served until 1928 and again 1929-1930.

1928, Marcus Ellsworth "Worth" Parker returned as pastor.

1930 – 1935, C. N. “Nick” Warren served as pastor.

1935 – 1939, Albert Deadrick Henderlight returned as pastor.

1939 - Frank Garrett was elected pastor once again.

1942 - The church voted to have windows installed in the church building and purchased 30 Modern Hymnals.

1947 - A building committee was appointed, and the church added nine Sunday School rooms, installed a coal furnace, and purchased new pews and a rostrum.

December 16, 1959, G.S. (Shields) Dalton was elected pastor.

December 31, 1959, due to ill health, Frank Garrett held his last service.

July 1960, the church purchased a bell for the building. The bell was rung before the start of every worship service.

May 1969, plans were completed for a new church building. The new sanctuary had a seating capacity of 400, a baptistry with two dressing rooms, sixteen Sunday School rooms, and restrooms.

February 8, 1970, was the last service held in the white clapboard church building. Soon after, the building was torn down and re-placed with an outdoor shed for homecomings and Bible school.

February 15, 1970, was the first service in the new brick church building. Services were held on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and a singing was held on the second Saturday of each month.

1980, a telephone was installed in the building.

December 1980, Mike Tipton became the director of music.

January 29, 1989, Shields Dalton resigned as the pastor due to deteriorating health.

May 28, 1989, Jerry Vittatoe began his pastorate.

1992, a fellowship hall was constructed, and a breezeway connector was added to the main church building.

1997, Clear Springs celebrated 100 years of ministry in the Gibbs community.

June 8, 1997, a groundbreaking was held to rotate the sanctuary seating by 90 degrees. This expansion extended the seating from 400 to 650 seats. The project cost $750,000 and was completed in May 1998. Members of our Building Committee, Tommy Walker, Phil Babelay, Chris Wyatt, John Arnwine, Pastor Jerry, and members of our church family breaking ground on the project.

June 1999, after 40+ years, the morning Vacation Bible School was changed to a night program and became a “Family” Vacation Bi-ble School. In addition to adding classes for middle and high school students, a class was added for adults; and dinner was provided each night.

June 1998, Pastor Jerry Vittatoe, Julie Vittatoe, and Chris Wyatt participated in the first mission trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

April 1998, began the tradition of the Old-Time Gospel Spring Singing. This annual event took place every year until 2015. On many occasions, our choir presentation would be followed by special singing groups, such as Squire Parsons, the Young Family and the Chandler’s.

December 2001, the fellowship hall was extended and attached to the main building by removing the breezeway and replacing it with a hallway and elevator. In addition, a second floor was added for new Sunday School rooms that connected to the sanctuary. The bank loaned the church $657,000 for the project that was completed in September 2002.

April 2001 Dr. Damon Patterson was elected as the Associate Pastor.

2003, Mike Tipton became the full-time Music Director.

October 2004, two tracts totaling 26 acres (the Sanchez and Tolliver farms) were purchased to accommodate future expansion of the church on Tazewell Pike. Later, an additional 5 acres was purchased for access from Emory Road, bringing the total to 31 acres on the campus. Total borrowed $877,882 to purchase the land.

November 2010, preconstruction began on the land with excavation, drainage, and parking lot completion ready for building con-struction. The cost of this project totaled $1,211,000.

July 2014, the church began phase one of constructing a 60,000 square foot new church home. Cost of the project totaled $9 million.

Sunday, May 1, 2016, the church family met at the church building on Thompson School Road and paraded to the new church home on Tazewell Pike. We held our first service in the new building with 1,363 people in attendance.

2016, the Thompson School facility was auctioned and sold. The church was purchased by New Beginnings Baptist Church.

December 2017, after 28 years of service, Dr. Jerry Vittatoe retired as Senior Pastor.

December 3, 2017, Justin Pratt was elected as the Senior Pastor.

July 1, 2018, the church received a love offering for over $32,000.00 to fulfill Pastor Justin’s vision of building a brand new Kids Club-house.

March 8, 2019, the first Silver Spirit Celebration was held at the Knoxville Convention Center to honor and recognize our many volun-teers. Three prestigious awards were created: The Virginia Wyatt Silver Song Award, the Charolette King Called to Prayer Award, and the Dr. Damon Patterson Silver Spirit Award.

February 2019, Paul Baird became the first full-time Student Pastor.

January 8, 2020, a state-of-the-art Teen Room was opened on the lower level of the building.

February 2020, Rob Maddox became the full-time Worship Pastor.

March 2020, during the world-wide Covid-19 Pandemic, the doors of the church were closed for corporate worship for six weeks and all services were streamed live on the internet and on social media.

April 2020, due to the pandemic, our annual Easter Egg Hunt was a “You Got Egged,” where eggs were delivered to kids’ homes. In addition, our Easter Sunday morning service was a “Drive-In Service,” where our church family stayed in their vehicles and Pastor Jus-tin preached standing on a trailer.

May 1, 2020, much like Israel and as a remembrance of what God had brought our church family through during the Covid-19 Pan-demic, twelve stones were constructed in front of the church building to serve as a reminder of the miraculous grace of God. “What mean ye by these stones?” Joshua 4:6

May 3, 2020, was the first Sunday the church came back together for “Back to Church Sunday.”

August 2020, the Escape Parents Day Out program opened. The two day a week program cares for children ages 6 months to 5 years of age from our church family and community.

October 2020, Mike Meade became the first full-time Children’s Pastor.

2022, the church witnessed substantial membership growth, 51 families joined during the First Quarter of the year.

July 2022, “Family” Vacation Bible School recorded its largest average attendance of 951, with an enrollment of 1,191.

July 31, 2022, in celebration of the 125th anniversary, the evening worship service was held at the former location on Thompson School Road. The night was entitled “Take Me Back Sunday Night.” Dr. Jerry Vittatoe opened the service in prayer, our choir led the worship, and Justin Pratt and Danny Neal (pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church) preached the sermons.

August 28, 2022, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Clear Springs, Dr. Jerry Vittatoe was recognized and he shared a message from God’s Word.

September 25, 2022, celebrated the 125th Year Anniversary of sharing the gospel in the Gibbs community.

Fall/Winter 2022, Phase II buildout begins, including a 700-seat balcony in the Worship Center, a new Sunday Connect Group wing on the lower level, and an outdoor pavilion.