By 1885 there were a number of settlers in the Shepherd Community but there was not a church. The nearest Baptist Church was located approximately twelve miles away in a settlement called Turkey Foot (near what is now Highway 58). Settlers of Shepherd would meet on Sundays and walk to and from Turkey Foot to worship. Some of those who would make the journey on Sundays were Bill Henderson, Sue Craven, Jim Moore, Alice Glispy, Adline Holmes and Mary Moore.
After making the journey to worship for a period of time, the Shepherd group decided to organize their own church. The first meetings were held in a school house. Rev. Martin was the first pastor called. The church was first named Noah’s Ark. After worshiping in the school building for some time, the group began to look for property on which to build a church. Property was selected and the cost for making the purchase was $40.00. The first church building was erected a few yards north of the present building and the church was re-named Pilgrim Rock Baptist Church.
Saint James African American Methodist Church
Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1897 or 1898 by Rev. Hanson of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the A.M.E. Church. The land on which the church was built, approximately one acre, was given by Mr. & Mrs. W. B. Bedell. On May 20, 1901 the property was deeded to the Trustees of the Saint James A.M.E. Church. The Trustees were Mr. Robert Stone, Mr. Wiley Strickland and Mr. Cicero C. Henderson. Some of the charter members were Mr. & Mrs. Robert Williams, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Stone, Mr. & Mrs. Wilkes, Mr. Anderson Westfield and Mrs. William Wofford.
The church worshiped at the old Chickamauga School until the church building was completed. The first nail was driven by Mr. Arthur Woods who was a member of the Fields Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church of Summit, Tennessee.
Washington Park Baptist Church
Washington Park Missionary Baptist Church was organized on December 7, 1941. The group of seven (7) met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Swaing.
In 1942, Rev. Arthur Williams was called as pastor and the first church was built. Other pastors to serve have been Rev. Henry Laddie, Rev. D. Thomas and Rev. Willie C. Williams Rev. Willie C. Williams was called in August of 1950. He served for 42 years. His tenure ended in 1992. In July of 1992, Rev. Robert Williams, the son of Rev. W.C. Williams was called as pastor of the church and he was installed in September of 1 992.
Morning Star Baptist Church
In the early fifties a man named Rev. H. D. Grimmett and his wife, Evie Grimmett decided to establish a church. They found an empty one room structure that was owned by Leroy Jefferson located on west Shepherd Road. They started the church and he became the minister and the church was named Morning Star Baptist Church.
They had no members, so Mrs. Grimmett who was a very kind and friendly woman went to the homes on Shepherd Road and asked the adults to come and if they would not, she would ask if they would allow their children to attend. As a result, on opening day there were a few adults and several children in attendance.
Mrs. Lucy Drake and several children were baptized in the Fryers Branch creek off Shallowford Road and they became faithful members. The church was not in existence for long due to lack of adult members to support the work.
The Grimmett home on Shepherd Road was located in a low area. Every time there were heavy rains, their home would flood. They became discouraged and moved from the Shepherd Community.
Shepherd Church of Christ
Back in the early fifties, on old Shepherd Road, across from Mr. Emory Henderson’s home, there was a big field. Almost every summer there was a man who would come and pitch his tent. From this tent, the Shepherd community could hear him preach the gospel from the speakers that were placed on each corner of the tent.
The man was a stranger to most people in the community, and the gospel he preached was also strange. However, the words he spoke stirred the minds of many. Some disliked his teachings, even when he backed his words up with the Bible. This man was William Miles McCleskey, Sr.
At that time, Brother McCleskey was the minister of the Southeast Second Street Church of Christ in Cleveland, TN. The results of the tent meetings brought forth fruit, some obeyed the gospel and they too became members of the Southeast Second Street congregation. Those saints from the Shepherd community would travel to Cleveland each Sunday for worship. This travel continued for many months.
During the preparatory time for the building of the church, Bro. McCleskey was training men to preach and prepare for the work.
In early 1955, the building of the church was in full swing. Bro. Wiley Pasley and his brother, Roy Pasley did the footing and plumbing work. Bro McCleskey and his young sons did the block work. Combined efforts were used in building the roof. Other notable brethren that aided in the construction were Bro. Will Carter of Chattanooga and Bro. George Carson, a new convert from the Shepherd community. Bro. Carter previously worshiped at the 19th & Williams Streets Church of Christ but once the building in Shepherd was open, he began to worship in Shepherd.
The fall brought more to the Shepherd community than just the close of summer
and vibrant colors. It also brought together a people dedicated to the Lord’s work and an edifice ready for occupancy. What was once a dream was now reality.
Bro. Robert McMahan, a young newly trained minister was called to do the work. Bro. McMahan (Brother Mack as he was affectionately called) labored as minister of the Shepherd Church of Christ for the next 11 years with growth. Bro. George McGee was the minister for a very short while until Bro. Rufus A. Williams, Sr. became the minister in 1966. Bro. Williams labored in the vineyard for 34 years during which time the church grew significantly. After encountering a series of health issues, Bro. Williams surrendered the pulpit.
The church was once again without a regular minister. Finally, in 2000, Bro. Michael Ludy, of Highway 27 Church of Christ in Summerville, GA accepted the work on a temporary basis while the bretheren continued their search for a permanent replacement. Nine years and four children later, Bro. Ludy continues to preach riveting, soul stirring sermons Sunday after Sunday. One could say that while the brethren worked, God has worked it out. The membership continues to grow.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Church
Metropolitan Tabernacle was birthed in the heart of Pastors Steve and Reita Ball and became a reality on October 4, 2002 at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center. Over 400 people attended this opening service. From the first service, Metro Tab became a place where miracles occur, lives are changed and destiny is released! Pastors Steve and Reita never looked back as increase came to the Metro Tab family. Services were held in a rented bridal center for nine weeks, and then the congregation moved to a rented church facility for nine more weeks. On the eighteenth week, Metro Tab stepped into a new dimension when God opened the door to take possession of a dream building. On February 18, 2003, Metropolitan Tabernacle moved into our miracle building. The former Jumbo Sports building sat empty for over five years until Pastors Steve and Reita Ball took possession of the 42,000 square foot facility to house the ministries of Metro Tab. God placed this ministry in the population center of Hamilton County at Airport Road exit. The 1,200 seat sanctuary is now complete, but further expansion is underway.