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Johnson City, Tennessee


In the year 1906, Mr. Dan Setzer, who was a member of Central Baptist Church, felt the need for a Sunday School Mission in the third ward of the city. Mr. Setzer was able to rent three upstairs rooms at 1003 Grover Street where the Sunday School was organized. This building soon became inadequate and the group moved to a store building on Henry Street. By 1913 this building became inadequate and the group moved to a building on Division Street. They felt the need for the organization of a church and prayed for the Lord’s leadership.

On April 12, 1914 the group met for this organization. R. E. Grisley of Burnsville, N. C. served as moderator and H. A. Leib served as clerk pro tem. After much discussion and the reading of the Baptist Church Covenant, sixty-four people presented their letters and were received as the church body.

Rev. J. M. Whitaker became the first pastor. After the organization of the church, the name “Eastern Star Baptist Church” was adopted. Because of the construction of the Appalachian Highway, they were forced to sell the building and buy property for new construction. Property was purchased on University Parkway and the present building was erected during 1973 and 1974. The first service was held in the new building on July 28, 1974, and dedication of the new construction was on November 10, 1974. With the move to a new facility, another name change became effective. They were now called University Parkway Baptist Church.

The church began to talk to Dr. Michael Oaks about becoming the pastor for the church. Dr. Oaks was then the pastor of Harmony Baptist Church in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Dr. Oaks had served at Harmony Baptist for 14 years. After much prayer by both parties, the church called Dr. Oaks to be their new pastor. Dr. Oaks began his ministry at University Parkway Baptist Church on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1994. 

During Dr. Oaks ministry at University Parkway Baptist Church the focus has been on reaching people for Christ and discipling believers. Throughout the nineties and continuing into the new millennium University Parkway Baptist Church has been a “Kingdom” church by including other churches and denominations in events. Over 30 different volunteer ministries were added to the ongoing ministries at Parkway. 

University Parkway Baptist Church has invested over 1 million dollars in mission work at home and around the world. University Parkway Church has led international mission trips to South Korea, Guatemala, Macedonia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Lithuania, and Mexico. We have also engaged in North American missions in Canada, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, as well as our local community.

Throughout the past 100 years thousands of people have been taught the Word of God, saved through this ministry, shared their faith and served God from the hills of Northeast Tennessee and around the world.

God’s faithfulness to His Word and His people has been seen time and time again. God has always provided for the needs of this ministry. God has always done more than they thought possible and continues to use ordinary people to do the extraordinary for His kingdom work.

It is the desire of the University Parkway Baptist Church family to continue carrying out God’s purpose for His church through intentional teaching and modeling worship, discipleship, evangelism, ministry and fellowship according to Acts 2:42-47.