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our history

Take a few minutes to watch our 56th anniversary video, as we walk through the history and highlights of Southside Baptist Church. 

Southside's 56th Anniversary

Southside's 56th Anniversary

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Southside Baptist Church held its first service in the home of James and Leora Day on January 14, 1968. There were 15 present. On February 4, 1968 the church called Rev. Carl McDonald as pastor The church rented a building on Blount Avenue, southwest of the Baptist Hospital. It met at this location until the present property was secured. The John Sevier location was purchased before the Highway was built. A trail of faith and determination began.

The first building was completed and the Southside members occupied their new home on Easter Sunday, 1972. A second addition was added in the latter part of ’73. In March of ’79, the church called Rev. Danny Thomas as pastor. Under his leadership, the church experienced tremendous growth numerically and structurally. Much of the construction was done by the church members themselves! As the ministry grew, the trail of faith and determination continued to wind through its South Knoxville community and to stretch to the region beyond.

In July 1985, the church called Rev. Clarence Gresham as pastor. Pastor Gresham and Mrs. Carol served the Lord faithfully here for over 30 years! We are indebted to there consistent faithfulness and service to the Lord all these years. In January of 2019 Pastor Luke Wilkerson came on to be the Senior Pastor upon Pastor Gresham’s retirement the same month. 


Over the years, Hundreds have been saved and baptized here where many faithful people still serve the Lord in this local church, generation after generation. We are thankful for the buildings that have been erected over the years to support the everyday ministry that we enjoy today. However, the real building that has endured over time is the building and body of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ; faithful members and friends that have served the Lord with gladness year after year. 


The Lord has continued to bless the Spirit of the church as they have carried out the Great Commission to reach this community, our country and world. Southside currently supports 64 foreign missionaries and 11 stateside missionaries. It has trained and commissioned several full time ministers and missionaries over the years. Within the last 6 years alone it has seen over a dozen surrender to and active in, full-time Christian ministry, with several currently in Christian ministry training . In June of last year, the church sponsored a Missions Team of 24 to the field of South Africa where we are proud to be sending shortly the Johnson Family out of our church as they have surrendered to be full time missionaries in South Africa.

The faith and determination of the original 15 who met in 1968 and each one that has joined them over the past 56 years, are the characteristics which have made Southside Baptist Church a great evangelistic lighthouse. As we enter another year we pray that we will continue to partner in gospel ministry together and make a difference in our community and the regions beyond! “And of some have compassion making a difference.” Jude 22

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