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Red Oak Christian Church
100th Anniversary Celebration 1871 - 1971

This information found in the Celebration booklet of April 4, 1971.

Contributed by Bill Kittrell.


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In the latter part of the year 1870, there was in a community about five miles west of Greenville, North Carolina a group of persons that began to feel the need for a Disciples of Christ Church. A very devout and steadfast Christian woman, Mrs. Elvira TYSON, lived in this community; and it was through her efforts that this movement came about. Her father, the late Reverend Wiley NOBLES, was one of the pioneer Disciples in Pitt County. She planted a seed and on the third Sunday in April 1871(believed to be April 16), this seed came up. A group of eleven persons met in the Piney Grove Baptist Church and organized Berea. It was under the leadership of Rev. Josephus LATHAM that this church was begun, the name being Berea. He preached for the first few years and there is no record of his receiving any pay.

The eleven charter members were: Julia A. COREY, William H. MAY, Lunicey C. NICHOLS, Elizabeth W. SMITH, Joshua SMITH, Theophilus SMITH, Benjamin W. TYSON, Elvira TYSON, May E. TYSON, Moses W. TYSON and Clemmie WATFORD. Their meeting places were Forbes School house (used for the first four years), Watford house (an empty home nearby, which was used for one year), Nichols schoolhouse (located nearby in the Arthur community. From this from this movement and the meeting held in the Arthur community, another church, Arthur Christian Church was born. After three years of meeting in this community (Arthur) it was decided to move back to the original community and preach in the Frog Level Schoolhouse.

After moving around for several years, the members had increased to twenty-five, and they began to realize the need for a permanent place in which to hold their meetings. Plans were started to build a house of worship. The land was obtained about one mile from the Frog Level Schoolhouse and work was begun on the church. Progress was slow because of the lack of funds and also because most of the building was being done by the church folks and preachers.

Finally the building was completed. It was thirty-five feet wide and forty-two feet long, and it was located on a lot filled with oak trees. On the third Saturday in September, 1885, the name of the church was changed from Berea to Red Oak by a vote of the members. Reverend LATHAM did not like the change, but it was formerly dedicated to the service of God on the third Sunday in October by the Reverend Gideon ALLEN, who suggested the name change and preached the dedication sermon.

Shortly after the building was dedicated, a marriage was performed in the new building uniting Miss Sarah MCARTHUR and Mr. Peyton ALLEN, who subsequently became parents of two of our older members, Mrs. Emma VANDIFORD and Mr. Willis ALLEN.

Mrs. Elvira TYSON had seen her dream come true. When she departed this life on July 3, 1886 her funeral was conducted in the church.

The first revival meeting was conducted by Reverend J. L. WINFIELD in the year 1890.

In the year of 1891 an organ was purchased for the total sum of $50.00 Mrs. Maggie KITTRELL HEMBY was the first organist. [W.B. Kittrell Note.... I remember seeing this organ when I attended church there in the 1940s and 1950s.]

By 1900 the membership had grown to fifty-four.

In 1904, the congregation voted not to have a minister for the year and use the money to paint the church.

In 1907, there were sixty-six members and they paid $75.00 annually for the minister, who preached monthly.

Records of the first Sunday School date back as far as 1878. It was organized by Mrs. Alford NICHOLS (who was better known as “Sannie’). There were twenty-five members and two teachers. Sannie was both teacher and superintendent until her death in May 1915. It was necessary for the church to suspend Sunday School during the winter because of the lack of heat.

On May 21,, 1920, the first Mother’s Day program was held in the church. It was conducted by J. R. and R. W. SMITH.

A piano was purchased for the church in 1921.

In 1926 four Sunday School rooms were added to the church auditorium. They were approximately eight by twelve in size.

In 1938 the first Easter Sunrise service was held, conducted by Mrs. Leota J. TYSON.

In 1940 one of our boys became interested in studying for the ministry. The church came to his aid with financial help; and on September 10, 1944, Howard Glenn JAMES was formerly ordained into the Christian ministry in Red Oak Christian Church.

It was decided in 1941 to have a Homecoming Day. The third Sunday in September was the chosen date. All of the members who had moved away, the former pastors and friends of the church, were invited to come back for the event. Dinner was served on the grounds (picnic style), and it was a day of real Christian fellowship. The observance is still held to this date.

In May 1946, the women of the church met and organized into two circles. They took upon themselves the housekeeping duties of the church and participated in Home and Foreign Missions.

An extensive remodeling program was begun in 1947. The old ceiling was taken off the church auditorium and replaced with plastering on the side walls and celotex overhead. A choir loft was erected on either side of the pulpit and the old flooring was replace with new. Two more Sunday School rooms were added to the front of the church. The entire building was painted inside and out and a steeple was added thus increasing the beauty of the outside appearance of the church.

The first Daily Vacation Bible School was held in the summer of 1948 with Mrs. Almeta J. PAGE as superintendent. The average attendance was approximately fifty children.

It was in the year 1949, when the church decided to have a Thanksgiving Service; since then it has been held annually.

In 1951, a new Wurlitzer organ was purchased and the Young Married Couples Class of the Sunday School assumed the responsibility for the payments.

The church advanced to half-time preaching in 1952 with service twice each month, with Rev. Harold TYER as Minister.

The “red letter year” for Red Oak Christian Church was certainly 1953. The men organized into a Christian Men’s Fellowship. The original two circles for the women were changed into a Christian Women’s Fellowship with three active circles. Red Oak Christian Church was adjudged to be the years’ Outstanding Rural Church in North Carolina and we received a prize of $500.00. In the contest for the South’s Rural Church of the Year Red Oak tied for second place and received a prize of $200.00.

The proceeds from these awards were placed in a building fund for an education building.

On October 1, 1955, the Church voted to go to fulltime services with Rev. Harold TYER the first fulltime minister.

In 1953 ground was broken for the Educational Building. It was a two story structure of solid masonry with eight classrooms and a pastor’s study. Central heat was installed and added to the Church auditorium as well.

The years 1955 and 1956 saw a parsonage erected on a lot given to the Church by Mr. And Mrs. Heber R. ALLEN. This lot is located in the back of the church, facing Highway 264 By-pass.

In the spring of 1956, Rev. Clifford R. LANMAN was installed as the first full-time resident minister and the first to occupy the new parsonage.

A congregation meeting of August 5, 1956 voted to adopt the Functional Committee Church Organization where the Church is governed by special committees with the chairman of each committee being appointed by the official Board Chairman in consultation with the minister.

The purpose of this was to increase the efficiency of the meetings and to help in carrying on the business of the church.

A church library was begun and opened in 1958.

In the early 1960’s, the congregation began to realize the need for better facilities and more adequate parking space. A committee was appointed to look into possible sites. In 1964, a lot was purchased from Miss Nancy ALLEN. This lot was near the parsonage and contained approximately two and three one-hundredths acres.

On the third Sunday in September, 1967, a mortgage burning ceremony was held thus retiring the $20,000.00 debt of the Educational Building and the parsonage.

In 1968, the new church lot was paid for in full and a committee was appointed to start making plans for a new church building. The ground breaking ceremony was held on Sunday, September 13, 1970 for the new church.

In the one hundred years of history of the Red Oak Christian Church, it has had thirty-five ministers. They were:

Joseph LATHAM 1871-1873, 1875
Charles KING 1874
Gideon ALLEN 1876-1882, 1885-1888
Isaac L. CHESNUTT 1883
D. W. DAVIS 1884
Jesse T. DAVIS 1889
Samuel W. SUMRELL 1890-1895, 1899-1901, 1906-1907, 1921
Joseph D. WATERS 1896-1898
David W. ARNOLD 1902-1903, 1918-1919
[No Pastor] 1904
John T. GRUBBS 1905
Eber E. MOORE 1908
Jesse T. MOORE 1909
Benjamin E. ODEN 1910-1911
Howard H. SETTLE 1912
S. Lee SADLER 1913
Perdell BUSH 1914
John H. LEGRANDE 1915
James J. WALKER 1916
Joel E. VAUSE 1917
Rupert A. PHILLIPS 1920
Joseph A. SANDERS 1921, 1928
Raleigh L. TOPPING 1923-1925, 1929
D. Guy SAUNDERS 1926
Lester B. BENNETT 1927
Lonnie B. SCARBOROUGH 1930-1932
Harold L. TYER 1933-1934, 1948-1955
Warren A. DAVIS 1935
Timothy W. BOWEN 1936
Gilbert D. DAVIS, Sr. 1932-1942
Howard G. JAMES 1943-1946, 1957-1965
Horace G. QUIGLEY 1947
Clifford R. LANMAN 1956-1957
Thomas L. LAW 1966-1967
Glenn SAVAGE 1968
Kenneth A. MOORE 1969-

Seven secretaries, formerly called clerks, have served the church keeping the records in an excellent way. Miss Ella V. MAY (whose grandfather was a charter member and whose father, John J. MAY, was secretary before her) served for approximately thirty years and was then elected “Secretary Emeritus” for life. Her brother H. H. MAY then became the secretary.

Fenner L. ALLEN, Sr. was superintendent of the Sunday School for twenty years with eighteen years perfect attendance.

The membership has ranged from eleven to two hundred and sixteen. At present, the membership is 185. About 125 are active members.

There are many people, too numerous to name, and perhaps some unknown, who gave untold hours of service as well as part of their wealth to make Red Oak Christian Church what it is today and what it has meant to this community over this period of history.
May God bless all who pass through its doors.

There are ten members of Red Oak Christian Church living now that have been a member of our church for 50 years or more. Their name and the date they joined are listed below:

Mrs. Lizzie ALLEN - September 1899
Mrs. Mollie WORTHINGTON - September 27, 1902
Mrs. Lena ALLEN - August 30, 1906
Mr. William ALLEN - September 4, 1909
Mrs. Frank WORTHINGTON - September 4, 1909
Mrs. Ada EVANS - September 2, 1911
Mr. Frank WORTHINGTON - August 1912
Mrs. Sadie ALLEN - August 29, 1915
Mrs. Emma VANDIFORD - September 2, 1915
Mrs. Lizzie VANDIFORD - September 27, 1916

In addition to the above there are eleven members living now who are 70 years old or older. They are:

Mrs. Lucy J. ALLEN - August 24, 1924
Mr. Roland CANNON - April 14, 1957
Mrs. Roland CANNON - April 14, 1957
Mrs. Ethel CRAWFORD - August 24, 1924
Mrs. Mary C. HARRINGTON - May 31, 1959
Mrs. Joe JOYNER, Sr. - September 25, 1938
Mrs. Effie KITTRELL - June 16, 1946
Mrs. Lillian SUTTON - April 12, 1953
Mrs. Mary SMITH - November 8, 1953
Mrs. Leota J. TYSON - August 25, 1924
Mrs. Ada VAUGHN - March 22, 1959

THE CHURCH AT WORK Officers and Functional Committees 1970-1971

Chairman of Official Boad: James S. ALLEN, Sr.
Vice Chairman: Jarvis H. ALLEN
Secretary: Mrs. Dickie ALLEN
Treasurer: Robert ALLEN
Treasurer of Building Fund: Edgar DENTON

Board of Elders
S. C. WINCHESTER, Chairman
Charles ALLEN, Sr.
Willie PATE
Jarvis ALLEN

Board of Trustees
Mrs. Leota J. TYSON, Charirman
Mrs. W. E. GOIN
Robert ALLEN

Board of Deacons
Charles JACKSON, Chairman
Burton EVANS
Dickie ALLEN
William Clark MORGAN

Board of Deaconesses
Mrs. Joe JOYNER, Jr., Chairman
Mrs. Charles STOCKS
Mrs. Jarvis TRIPP, Sr.
Mrs. Andrew GARRIS

Worship and Educational
Mrs. J. T. MANNING, Jr., Chairman
Charles ALLEN, Jr.
Mrs. Dickie ALLEN

Membership and Evangelism
Mrs. W. E. GOIN, Chairman
Willie PATE
Mrs. Leota J. TYSON
Mrs. Andrew GARRIS

Stewardship and Finance
Charles ALLEN, Sr., Chairman
Mrs. Waddell MANNING
Mrs. Hubert GARRIS
Mrs. Robert ALLEN

Claude MANNING, Chairman
Robert ALLEN
Burton EVANS
Charles STOCKS

Building Committee
J. T. MANNING, Jr., Chairman
James S. ALLEN, Sr.
Charles ALLEN, Sr.

Sunday School
Superintendent: Bob BEADSWORTH
Assistant Superintendent: Charles ALLEN, Jr.
Secretary-Treasurer: Nina Kathryn PATE
Nursery: Mrs. Earl DENTON, Mrs. Charles STOCKS
Kindergarten: Miss Nancy PATE, Mrs. Dickie ALLEN
Primary: Miss Kay JOYNER, Miss Becky BRIGHT
Junior: Mrs. Robert ALLEN, Mrs. George HADDOCK
Intermediate: Edgar DENTON
CYF: Mr. & Mrs. Chester Don WORTHINGTON
Adult: Mrs. W. E. GOIN, Mrs. J. T. MANNING, Jr., S. C. WINCHESTER

Christian Women’s Fellowship
President: Mrs. Hubert GARRIS
Vice President: Mrs. Charles JACKSON
Secretary: Mrs. Edgar DENTON
Treasurer: Mrs. Charles ALLEN, Sr.
Worship Chairman: Mrs. W. E. GOIN
Study Chairman: Mrs. S. C. WINCHESTER
Service Chairman: Mrs. Willie PATE
Circles Presidents: Mrs. F. L. ALLEN, Sr., Mrs. J. T. MANNING, Jr., Mrs. H. L. ROBERTS

Christian Men’s Fellowship
President: Waddell MANNING
Vice President: Charles ALLEN, Sr.
Secretary: Earl JOYNER
Treasurer: Thomas GLADSON

Christian Youth and CHI-RHO Fellowship
President: Faye MANNING
Vice President: Grigg DENNING
Secretary: Eric MOORE
Treasurer: Vickie GARRIS

Christian Junior Fellowship
President: Donna WORTHINGTON
Vice President: Mary Grace PATE
Secretary: Edna Earle DENTON
Treasurer: Jeffrey STOCKS

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