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Oakwood Forest celebrates 60 years of faithful service

Amy Millhorn Leonard • Oct 24, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Oakwood Forest Christian Church is celebrating 60 years of being ... “Planted in HOPE, Growing in FAITH and Branching out in LOVE.”

On Sunday, Oct. 21, the church held a special anniversary service to share the church’s past memories and future outlook.

The history of the church actually began in 1954 when a church was needed in the Oakwood community of Kingsport. An arduous task of raising funds, rezoning land, obtaining the land and building the church began with a small congregation. During this time, they met for services at Andrew Johnson School and then at the former PET building until the church’s completion just before Easter in February 1958. A congregation of about 100 under Minister J.E. Hayes was formally established as Oakwood Forest Christian Church that year.

The church has grown several times with additions like a new sanctuary in 1966, new classrooms in 1974, fellowship hall in 1978 and renovations in 1991. Additional property was purchased in 1987 and 1992 and used for the youth group and housing.

Amazingly, 74 crosses can be seen at Oakwood Forest Christian Church. The church has a unique high arch sanctuary and an “Eternal Light” to represent Jesus Christ. The Bible-based church has traditional services incorporating modern audiovisuals.

Minister Marlin Jaynes, a minister for over 50 years, has been at Oakwood since 2005. He likes to stay in touch with the congregation. Every month on the First Monday he invites members to “Lunch with Marlin” at Golden Corral.

“Oakwood Forest Christian is not a big church, but we have a huge heart and you will never meet a more loving congregation,” says church secretary-bookkeeper Kitty Beverly. She continues, “While big churches do much larger events, we have found our place in the community and pour our hearts into doing smaller events and serving in smaller ways.”

The church has a “heart for missions” and supports Appalachian Christian Camp in Unicoi, East Tennessee Christian Home & Academy in Elizabethton, ETSU Christian Student Fellowship, Grace Network International, Rebuild Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as Phil and Michelle Parker, long-time missionaries in Thailand. They also support Hope Haven, Hope House and Kingsport Community Ministry Center to lend help to those in need. Hope Haven's homeless are treated to a church service and luncheon monthly.

There are two very active ladies’ circles at Oakwood Forest Christian. The Adelphai Circle supports Grace International, collects snack items for the hospital beverage cart and is currently sponsoring the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry. The Dorcas Circle supports the International Disaster Emergency Service and Grundy Mountain Mission School, collects toiletry items for a shelter for battered women called Safe House, and sends comfort items to military troops.

Besides holding an Easter Egg Hunt for children in the spring, Oakwood Forest Christian has its annual Hullabaloo in fall; it's coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The Hullabaloo is a multi-activity event which includes “trunks of treats,” games, the very popular cake walk and more. Kitty says, “Our smaller events are great for smaller and more sensitive children.”

The church hosts an annual community block party and some years a Living Nativity Scene at Christmas. They host monthly fellowship events sometimes with a barbeque or fish fry, cooked by Wayne and Lisa Darnell, and Vacation Bible School each June. Children’s church, led by Jonelle Stephens, is held three Sundays per month. Oakwood will be participating in “Kingsport Rocks,” a program of painting rocks with inspirational messages and hiding them around Kingsport to be found and logged by following the Kingsport Rocks Facebook page. Workshops will be held soon.

Youth minister Josh Lawson and wife April lead Oakwood Forest’s active youth group, called G.Y.F.O. It meets on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Besides worship and Bible study, G.Y.F.O. participates in community service projects and retreats. They gave out bottles of water tagged with uplifting messages to Fun Fest attendees this year and attend the Tennessee Christian Teen Convention yearly.

Oakwood Forest Christian Church is located at 1713 E. Sevier Avenue in Kingsport. Sunday services are at 10 a.m. for Sunday school, 11 a.m. for morning worship and children’s church, and 6 p.m. for evening worship. On Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m., they alternate meeting locations with Grace Covenant Church, located at 2001 American Way, Kingsport. The church's wonderful “Sanctuary Choir” is led by choir director Bob Perry and practices on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

To learn more, call (423) 247-2691 or visit the church website at www.oakwoodforestchristian.org. If you want to belong to a loving, giving church family, the congregation invites you to visit Oakwood Forest Christian.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” I John 1:30 (NIV)

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