Cornerstone Christian Church, known for most of its history as Lonsdale Christian Church, traces its beginning back to the summer of 1902 when a few women formed a Ladies Aid group in the home of Mrs. T. J. Adcock on Tennessee Avenue. As early as 1902 E. C. Wilson, minister of Forest Avenue Christian Church, was interested in the organization of a congregation after the New Testament pattern in the Lonsdale community. In 1903 Mr. Wilson and a Mr. Howell along with Edgar Broome met with the Sunday School under the trees at the Sulphur Well near the present parsonage on Minnesota Avenue. These meetings were held on Sunday afternoons.
In 1904 some meetings were held at the Snow homeplace on Texas Avenue. About that time arrangements were made for the use of the Old School House at the corner of Sheridan and Delaware. The Presbyterians had been conducting a Sunday School in the Old School House and they turned their meeting place and time over to the Christian Sunday School. From this time the Lord’s Supper was regularly observed; Grandmother Snow used to say they hadn’t really met unless they broke the bread. Mr. Keevil, minister of First Christian Church, was very helpful in these early days. He inspired the women to keep the Sunday School going, saying, “The Lord called Isaiah, and he has certainly called us to build his Kingdom here.” Likewise, Mr. Tuttle, beloved minister of Lonsdale Methodist Church, supported the work of the Christians. At this time he conducted prayer meetings in the homes of anyone who would invite him and thus gave the Christian Sunday School the benefit of his ministry.
From the Founding to the First World War
In the summer of 1905 A. I. Myhr, State Evangelist of the Christian Churches in Tennessee, was contacted by J. S. Loveless with a view to establishing a Christian congregation in Lonsdale. Mr. Myhr came from Nashville and gave himself freely to the work. As there was considerable interest in developing Lonsdale as a residential section, a small lot was given by a land company for a church building.
Mr. Myhr directed the work on this building–the Endeavor Hall as it was known in later years. The building cost between four and five hundred dollars. By October 1905 it was ready for use, and the time had come for the organization of the church. Mr. Myhr, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Tuttle of the Methodist church participated in the first service. Twenty-three people responded to the invitation to become charter members of the congregation. Among the earliest families in the church were these: Adcock, Loveless, Snow, Steffy, Cannon, Sharrett, Gibson, Haynes, and Pritchard.
The first elders of the church were Myhr, Wilson, and Loveless. The first deacons were T. J. Adcock and Dave Gibson. Among the early ministers were a Brother Campbell, E. E. Edens (State Evangelist of Tennessee), McEver Lamb, Morton Ault (who received seventy-five cents per week for his services), L. W. Buckley (who trained the congregation in C. J. Sharp’s First Principles), Bob Ely (who came when the work was lagging and said, “It is a shame that there are no services. If you folk will come, I will do my best to help you”).
Other early ministers included Glen Carter, C. E. Burns, Sam Harlan, Ira Kirk (who cashed his war bonds to buy the house and lots next door to the church), Verner J. Murray, Brother Pryor, Brother Burton, Edgar Broome, and Professor Sperry. These men served with great personal sacrifice, and much credit is due them for any victories the church achieved later.
In this early period the First Christian Church was especially helpful in promoting the work. Twenty-five dollars a month came regularly from First Church to help pay the building debt. Mr. Ware, minister of First Church, also helped organize the church board. The Women’s Missionary Society was organized in 1911. About the same year a great event took place–electricity came to Lonsdale. On this occasion the women of Lonsdale Christian Church served 175 dinners at twenty-five cents a plate.
From the Fifties to the Move
The name of Dr. Robert E. Black figures prominently in any attempt to relate the history of Cornerstone Christian Church during the nineteen-fifties, -sixties, and -seventies. He served the congregation faithfully as minister from 1950 to 1972 and again from 1973 to 1978. After retiring from the pulpit ministry, Dr. Black continued to serve the congregation as an elder and Sunday School teacher. His influence is still felt within the congregation in the continued faithfulness of his family as well as the countless lives he touched.
Highlights of this period include a new fellowship hall completed in 1978, a Junior Church program begun in 1980, and a Boy Scout troop that began in 1992 with Don Moore as Scoutmaster. A major leadership change came about when Merl Roop retired as Board chairman after serving from 1964 to 1986, and Robert D. Black took the post and served until 2000.
Starting in 1989 the congregation considered moving due to lack of space. In 1992 the church bought the present property on Lantana Lane in the Norwood community, about a mile and a half from the original property on Delaware Avenue in Lonsdale. Because the church was leaving Lonsdale, it legally changed its name in 1993 to Cornerstone Christian Church. For the last few years at the old property, the church held dual worship services on Sunday morning, which were recombined into a single service not longer after the move to the new, larger building.
In 1994 Home Federal Bank approved a loan with the help of bank employees David Sharp and Steve Jones, and also with the help of Wilbur Reid III, grandson of Mrs. Edith Snow of Cornerstone. Construction took place in 1994-95, and the congregation moved in the early fall of 1995.
From the Move to the Centennial
Much of what the church has done since its 1995 move to the new property is a continuation of programs begun years before, including small groups for Bible study and prayer, and a youth outreach to the neighborhood. More recently the church has shown concern for homeless people through its work with the Water Angels ministry and Knox Area Rescue Ministries.
Since the late 1980s the church has had resident, full time preaching ministers and part time youth ministers. The youth ministers include Cynthia Bridges Coffey, Brian and Stephanie Young, Russell and Beth Ridgeway, Travis Ausmus, and Jason Allen. Other leaders as of this writing include elders Robert D. Black, John Black, David Pyle, and Carl Bridges, deacons Butch Messer, Luke Cooper, and Jeff Womble, and board members Randy Baier and Scott Black.
This history concludes with a list of the preaching ministers of Lonsdale Christian Church and Cornerstone Christian Church, as best it can be reconstructed from the old records.
Myhr, A. I. (1905- )
Edens, E. K.
Buckley, L. W.
Burns, C. E.
Murray, Verner J. Pryor
Cox, L. B.
Fitts, Dr. Albert T. (1928-1940)
Hyde, A. A. (November1940-June 1941)
Williams, Frank (June 1941-June 1945)
Bell, Dr. Robert M. (June 1945- )
Mathis, Ken Black, Dr. Robert E. (1950-January 1972)
Hemmen, Michael (January 1972-September 1973)
Black, Dr. Robert E. (September 1973-October 1978)
McDaniel, Dr. Stanley K. (October 1978-May 1980)
Smith, Ken (May 1980-February 1981)
McDaniel, Dr. Stanley K. (Interim in 1981)
Brown, Bryant (May 1981-May 1983)
Fellows, Gerry (June 1983-August 1984)
Howard, Mark (September 1984-January 1990)
Lutz, David (February 1990-May 1992)
Ritter, Steve (May 1992-2005)
Cox, Jeremy (Nov 2006- )