Our Leadership is Here to Serve the Lord and Our Members
Please feel free to contact any of our Elders and Deacons should you desire to discuss any church or spiritual related matter. We welcome your feedback about how First Christian Church can serve you as we all come together to serve God’s Kingdom. The leadership of First Christian Church strives to follow the guidance found in the bible for the early church. We are not perfect, but we love God and desire to serve in this capacity and pray we are pleasing in God’s eyes.
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
– 1 Timothy: 517
“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”
– Acts: 14:23
Brother Jerry Ridge
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” – Acts: 6:3
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s Church?). He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain and excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy: 3: 1-14
History of our Leadership
William C. Kirby “Bill C” Smith was the first minister to serve the church. He held this position for approximately one year part-time in 1917-1918. During this time he boarded with Joe and Maude Huddleston. After moving to other churches he returned as a “fill-in” minister for an occasional Sunday sermon and for revivals.
Fill-ins for the years 1919-1941 were Torrence Harer, L.B. Hassler, Tumer Holt, Curtis L. Holt, Bill C. Smith, H. G. Bell, S. C. Snodgrass and Howard Stark.
Howard Stark, 1941-1942
Orville Skeens (student) 1942 (summer)
John Phelps (student) 1943 (summer)
Curtis L. Holt (shared with other churches) 1944-1969
Mike Sabens (first full time) 1969-1970
Tracy Miller (Milligan College Faculty) 1971-1972
Bob Emmert 1972-1977
Mike Duncan 1977-1978
John Hattery 1978-1979
Bob Emmert 1979-1983
Jeff Marshall (Johnson Bible College student) 1983-few months
Ted Avant 1983-1987
Mike Watts 1987-1988
Carl Bridges and Ron Wheeler (JBC Faculty fill-in)
Gary Snowden 1988-few weeks
Charles Presley (JBC), 1990 – a few months
Gene Grasham, 1990-2005
John Davis, 2006-2011
John Stone II, 2011-2018
Serving as minister of the Byrdstown Christian Church longer than anyone was Curtis L. Holt. He began his ministry with the church in February 1944, preaching two or three Sundays each month with two sermons each day. He pastored the remaining Sundays with Midway, Lovelady and Bloomington Christian Churches. Lovelady and Midway hired full-time ministers leaving Bloomington and Byrdstown the two churches he served for 25 consecutive years. He died May 20, 1969, at the age of 77. He served 57 years in the ministry.
After the death of Mr. Holt, Mike Sabens, a senior at Johnson Bible College, began serving the Byrdstown and Bloomington churches in May 1969. On May 8, 1970. the Byrdstown Christian Church called him as the first full time minister in the history of the church. Since the church did not own a parsonage, he moved his family into a house owned by Delmer and Edna Crouch. He resigned on Nov. 23, 1970.
Tracy Miller, a member of the faculty at Milligan College, served as part-time minister (Sunday mornings only) from February 1971 until May 1972.
Bob Emmert was called to pastor the church May 6, 1973. The Emmert family moved into a mobile home owned by Edward and Mary Zachary. The Zacharys gave the church use of the home rent free while Mr. Zachary served a tour of duty in Vietnam. In 1973 the church purchased a lot from David and Pat Rich on which to build a parsonage. Gilbert Evans was awarded the contract to build. It was completed in 1974. The Emmert family was the first to occupy the parsonage. Yearly pledges and special offerings taken on the last Sunday of each month financed this debt. After five years as minister of the church, Mr. Emmert resigned to pastor a church in Clinton, Tennessee. After two short ministries with Mike Duncan and John Hattery, the church voted to call Bob Emmert on Sept. 23, 1979 for his second ministry with the church. The Emmerts (Bob, Molly, Grace Ann, Rebekah, Luke and John) moved back to Byrdstown on Oct. 3, 1979. After five more years with the church, Mr. Emmert resigned June 26, 1983 to establish and build a Christian Church in Jefferson City, Tennessee, where he still remains.
On July 6, 1983, Ted Avant was called to serve as minister of the church. During Mr. Avant’s ministry, plans were finalized to build another addition to the church. For this addition more land was needed. On Dec. 14, 1983, it was announced that Travis Guffey had agreed to give the land needed for the expansion of the building. The ground-breaking ceremony was held at the close of the church services on Feb. 19, 1984.
The church board appointed Glenn Sells as supervisor of the building program. This new addition consisted of a fellowship hall, new kitchen, additional classrooms, nursery and additional space in the sanctuary along with bathrooms and a baptistery. The dedication service was held on Nov. 24, 1984. Dr. David Eubanks, President of John Bible College, gave the Dedicatory Address.
After almost four years with the Byrdstown Christian Church, Mr. Avant resigned on Feb. 15, 1987, to pastor a church where he previously served. He is retired and still living in Cornith. After one full time minister and two “fill-ins” the church hired Gary Snowden, a missionary with the West Indies Christian Mission in St Croix, on June 19, 1988. He resigned April 15, 1990 to pastor the Kent Christian Church in Madison, Indiana. Gene Grasham preached a trial sermon on June 6, 1990. Immediately following the services, the congregation voted to hire him. On Aug. 7, 1990 the Grasham family (Gene, Barbara, Robert and Timothy) moved into the parsonage. His first sermon with the church was on Aug. 12, 1990. The first service for the ordination of a minister to be conducted in the Byrdstown Christian Church was that of Tim Grasham, son of Gene and Barbara Grasham, on May 5, 1996. His father presented him as a candidate for ordination into the ministry. After confirmation by the congregation his grandfather, Raymond Martin, a minister from Columbia, Kentucky, gave the charge to Tim, the newly ordained minister.
Leadership Across the Years
J.L. Parris, Ben E. Groce, D.M. Brown, Curtis L. Holt, J.H. Robbins, 1.L. Garrett, Polk Garrett, Delmer Crouch, Clyde McDonald, Taskel Rich, Norman Hill, Roy Koger, Lyle Donaldson, J.R. Simmons, Ralph Booher, Doug Garrett and Bill Robbins
J.H. Robbins, Alfred Matthews, James Easterly, Willis M. Huddleston, Andrew J. Crisp, Morrison Huddleston, Roscoe Story, J.B. Gilreath, John Cope, Glenn Sells, Everett Asberry, B.Q Harrison, James (Dick) Dillon, Wanza Pendergrass, Howard Rains, Willie Phillips, Ray Bilbrey, Chester (Kayo) Mullins, Forest Martin, Lyle Donaldson, Glenn Paris, Roger Rich, J.R. Simmons, Jack Storie, David King, Ralph Booher, Keith Parrott, Douglas Garrett, Mike Bilbrey, Bill Robbins, Bob Robbins, Stephen Bilbrey, Tom Allen, Jim Gray, Adam Parrott, Brad Cross and John Reagan
Elizabeth Garrett and Virginia Evans
Secretaries, Clerks and Treasurers
Laura Robbins, Elva Huddleston, Virginia Evans, Edna Crouch, Elizabeth Garrett, Claudine Dillon and Sandy Parris
L.B. Hassler, Willis M. Huddleston, Norman Hill, George Butler, Willie Phillips, J.R. Simmons, Doug Elder, Barbara Grasharn and Craig Gray
Pianists and Organists
Dona Groce, Wilma Coe, Bertie Holt, Estelle Mulllins, Virginia Evans, Ruth Holt, Dorothy Ann Koger, Susan Rich, Vicky Lynn Koger, Glenda Evans, Carolyn Garrett, Molly Emmert, Delilah Donaldson, Elaine Beaty, Fontella Storie, Kim Snowden, Amy Simmons, Jori Monday, Jane Ford, Mary Alice Egler and Angela Allen