IN 1953, GOD MOVED IN THE TOWN OF ABINGDON
Abingdon Bible Church had its origin with a group of local Christians who were troubled by a drift toward liberalism in several area churches. The dissatisfaction started in 1952 and grew during the following year. In the summer of 1953 Rev. Dan Graham, a noted evangelist of Blountville, Tennessee began a nine-week revival in Abingdon, Virginia. Rev. Graham had recently broken a long relationship with his denomination because of its modernistic trend. At the time, he was urging the formation of independent, Bible-believing churches.
At the close of one of these nightly services several of the local concerned Christians came together under Graham’s revival tent and there decided to form an independent Bible church. Those known to have been in that group include W. B. Cox, Worth Goodman, Stanley Buckles, Glenn Eggers, Charlie Hefner, J.J. Roseberry, Looney Scott, W. P. Clapp, Richard Eggers, W. H. Hardwick, and J. M. Barker, Jr.
Things moved rather quickly after that meeting. On U.S. Highway 11, a mile below town was a restaurant and motel that had a huge basement. The VFW had recently vacated the basement. This basement space was rented from the building’s owner Mr. Sheffey. On a Sunday morning in August 1953, the first service was held in that basement. Rev. Bob Woolley, then of Binghamton, New York had been one of the speakers at the tent meeting. He had stated at the Graham meeting that if there were ten local men, who were serious about setting up an independent Bible church, he would come and be its pastor. While the church waited for Rev. Woolley to come to pastor the new church, Rev. Odum, Mr. Enoch Denton, Mr. H.C. Kiser, Sr., and a layman from Johnson City supplied the pulpit.
In October 1953 Rev. Mr. Herbert Ratliff moved Woolley and family from New York to Abingdon. Rev Dan Graham supplied funds for this move. The Abingdon Bible Church was formally organized on November 2, 1953, with 85 charter members. Rev. Woolley led the church in writing and adopting the church constitution. Those on the committee to write the constitution were W. H. Hardwick, J. J. Roseberry, Stanley Buckles, J. M. Barker, Jr., Worth Goodman, Kenneth Morrison, and W. B. Cox.
During that autumn Mr. J. J. Roseberry and Mr. Stanley Buckles consulted with Mr. Sheffey concerning the possible purchase of the building in which the church was meeting. Mr. Sheffey agreed to sell and the matter was presented to a business meeting of the church on November 22, 1953.
Throughout the life of the church, the members have had a concern for Christian education, evangelism, and missions. The church’s educational program includes Sunday School for all ages, children’s church, youth meetings, AWANA, and a yearly Vacation Bible School. A music program has also been an important part of the worship services. Revival meetings and evangelistic services have been held regularly in order to revive God’s people and to seek to reach the lost in the community for Christ. Giving to both home and foreign missions has been a growing commitment of the church. At present the church supports many missionary families, Bible colleges, and other ministries across the globe. To see God using us to bless people in countries and cultures we may never visit is truly a blessed privilege.
Our former pastors have been R. H. Woolley (10/53-3/60), Martin Gilbert (5/60-2/64), John C. Berry (6/64-12/65), J. C. Hinnet (12/65-5/66), Hayward Lough (8/66-8/72), and Frank M. Eppinette (10/72-6/78). Paul Bufford, our current pastor, has faithfully served our congregation since October 1978.