Woodland Park

Past, Present, and Future

1901: Before there was a Woodland Park Baptist Church                                                  
In 1901 Chattanooga was mostly mud roads and hitching posts. Tabernacle Church, which later became Second Baptist Church, felt the need for a mission on Main Street, then known as Montgomery Avenue. After much prayer and consideration, seven members stepped out on faith and God’s Word and began the Avenue Mission in the old Grand View Hotel. The leaders of the mission were Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Miller and Miss Dollie Clouse, who later became Mrs. J. H. Keller.  
1914: Woodland Park Baptist Church Organized                                                    
God’s hand was on the little mission, and on April 26, 1914, Woodland Park Baptist Church was organized. The church started with twenty-six adults and one youth; little did this group know God’s plan for Woodland Park and the door of witness that it would become. Though the group was small, they purposed to hold fast to the Word and to the name of Jesus; in return God blessed them with an open door for ministry (Revelation 3:8).

The first church building was a small thirty- by forty-foot frame building. George W. McClure, who had been preaching for a short time, was called to pastor the church. He began with a salary of $15 per month and served for eight years. Church membership grew to three hundred and fifty during his ministry.

J.N. Poe, E.G. Epperson, Walter Lee Head, Rev. Ervin, A.M. Stansel, and E.L. Williams followed George W. McClure as pastors of Woodland Park. Growing pains and the joys of fellowship eventually turned into some hard years during the 1920s-1940s. The Great Depression and World War II touched all the families, especially the four families that lost young sons in battle.
1940s: Amazing Growth Requiring New Additions                                                
God blessed Woodland Park with tremendous growth during the pastorate of E.L. Williams. The small white frame building had to be expanded to accommodate a growing congregation, and eventually it was expanded until it was unsafe. Army huts were brought in to house the Sunday School classes. In 1942, a new stone auditorium was built next door to the small white building, which was then used to house the Sunday School classes. The stone building is still standing and is now home to the Chattanooga Rescue Mission.

By 1946 the membership had grown to 2,392 and in that year, there were 380 additions with more than half of them coming by profession of faith and those desiring to be baptized. During this time the congregation of Woodland Park, which had been ministered to by others, began their own outreach by starting three mission churches, located at 1918 East 17th Street, 2301 East 23rd Street, and 650 East Main Street. From one large Sunday School class in the church, the Lord had called out at least eight young men to preach the Gospel.                
1978: Move to a New Location                                            
J. Harold Smith followed E.L. Williams as pastor of Woodland Park, and God continued to bring growth to the congregation. It was under his leadership that an education building was constructed behind the auditorium at the Main Street location. John Edmund Haggai, B. B. Fletcher, Carl Allen (our tallest pastor – 6’8 1/2′′) and Larry Draper (our youngest – 23 years old) followed J. Harold Smith in leading Woodland Park. God used each one in His way to grow and to build up the church in the Word.
Charles Hyder was called as pastor in August of 1977, and under his leadership God led Woodland Park to relocate to 7501 Standifer Gap Road. Approximately 200 people gathered on Easter Sunday of 1978 at the new location and experienced a tangible joy and excitement for the future of Woodland Park. The members of the congregation were fully aware that it was the Lord who had brought them to their new location, and that he would continue to guide them if they were found faithful – just as he had done with those who had gone on before them.            
Charles Hyder was eventually called by God into evangelistic work, and C. Henry Preston served as interim pastor until October of 1981. Through the grace of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit, Wayne Barber began as pastor of Woodland Park on October 17, 1981. In his 18 years leading this congregation, God brought about phenomenal growth. Without any pressure or great publicity, people came to hear the Word preached in its simplicity. During Wayne Barber’s tenure, Woodland Park garnered a reputation as a sending church.
Wayne Barber left Woodland Park in July of 1999 to enter full-time conference ministry. God brought John Meador to Woodland Park that same month, and under his leadership Woodland Park continued to grow and send workers out to carry on Jesus’ mission. Under his leadership the decision was made to relocate to a piece of property in East Brainerd that Woodland Park had purchased in August of 1991 for $1.1 million.
June 2007: Move to Present Location                                                          
Before the relocation could be completed, John Meador felt called to leave Woodland Park and pastor a church in Dallas, Texas in August of 2006. Late in 2006 WPBC sold the 7501 Standifer Gap Road facility, but was allowed to continue occupying it until May 30, 2007. Woodland Park was without a pastor and had very little time to make the relocation a reality. Available funds had been exhausted and the congregation was unable to secure additional financing. The situation looked bleak, but God was faithful. A plan was identified and approved by the city of Chattanooga for a minimal build out that could house the congregation. God provided $1.6 million, and a new bank provided the needed additional financing. Kuebler Construction orchestrated the minimal build out, and the new facility was certified for occupancy on May 31, 2007. The body renamed the minimal build out the “miracle build out,” recognizing God’s hand in all that transpired. On June 3, 2007, Woodland Park held its first service at 6735 Standifer Gap Road.

For four years after John Meador’s departure, Woodland Park was without a senior pastor. Despite the challenges that ensued God was faithful and eventually brought Wayne Barber back to Woodland Park as senior pastor in February of 2011. Wayne served as pastor until his death in August 2016. The search for Wayne Barber’s replacement did not take long; in December of 2016 Woodland Park affirmed our current senior pastor, Brian Kinlaw.

Throughout its history Woodland Park has had a great desire to be a part of reaching the world for Christ by evangelizing, training up disciples, and sending many out to carry on the work of Jesus’ ministry. Our goal today is simple; we want to be a body of people that help others find and follow Jesus. The numbers and the details may be different today than they were in 1914, but Woodland Park’s strength has never been in numbers, but in the mighty name of the Lord. As the people of Woodland Park appropriate His grace and power for every step and act of faith, we will see His Word spread and Jesus’ name exalted.