Quaker Avenue’s History

  • Beginnings
    The Churches of Christ in Lubbock go back to 1890 when S. W. Smith was a leading force in establishing what continues today as the Broadway Church of Christ. In 1923, a number of members, concerned with the scriptural appropriateness of Sunday Schools, started a new congregation that met at 5th and G. This church soon moved to larger quarters in a new and attractive building at 17th and N and became a strong and influential congregation among those churches that chose not to have organized Sunday Schools. Instead they encouraged parents to be the primary teachers of their children and make their homes a place of regular Bible study. Our earliest records show that the elders in 1946 were John R. Freeman and R. W. Poynor. That directory include the names of 194 adults.

    Early in 1945 the 17th and N church determined to start a new mission church in the north part of the city. An open-air revival was held by Alva Johnson of Turkey and the good interest manifested caused the brethren to seek a new meeting house. Lots were purchased at 4th and D by Arch Ferguson, a successful businessman with a special interest in the growth of the church. A building was moved on the lot and inaugural services were held on the first Sunday in October, 1945, with John R. Freeman, elder in the 17th and N congregation, preaching. The original leaders there were E. E. Cowan and George Calvert. The church was initially referred to as 4th & D Church of Christ and later the Mackenzie Park Church of Christ. The 1946 directory listed 67 adult names. The 1956 directory had grown to include 200 adult names.

    The 4th and D church soon outgrew its building, even after expansion of the building and its replacement with a new edifice. A decision was made to build a new facility at 22nd and Memphis, near Texas Tech and Methodist Hospital. Just prior to moving to the new location, elders and deacons were ordained. George Hughes, Kline Nall and George Calvert were installed as elders and John Watkins, Newell Burke and Clark Johnson as deacons. At the same time, N. E. Rhodes, Jr., a native of Tennessee and a graduate of Vanderbilt University who had held a number of meetings in the area, was secured as preaching minister for the new location.
    Memphis Avenue
    Veteran preacher Charles W. Watkins preached the first sermon in the new house of worship in August, 1958. Formal dedication services were held September 7th in connection with a meeting held by N. E. Rhodes. The 1958 directory included the names of 250 adults (and 258 children!). The Memphis Avenue church soon became the meeting place of many Tech and LCU students, attracted by the powerful preaching of Brother Rhodes and the warm and receptive attitude of the members. Many of the students married and remained as members and later served in the leadership in the church here.
    Several of the members were professors at Tech. Annual New Mexico retreats were held for college students at the beginning of each school year and weekly meetings were held in the homes of Armand and Peggy Weathers and Tom and Nell Langford. These were exciting years for young people in our fellowship and the interest in both home meetings and in the worship assemblies ran high.

    Additional men were added to the eldership at Memphis Avenue including Herbert Griffith, A. M. McCorkle, Raldo Meacham and John Watkins. Additional deacons serving at Memphis Avenue were Coats Bentley, Chester Griffith, Joe Henderson, Thurman Hoover, Thomas Langford, Delbert Smith, Armand Weathers and Dwayne Wiley. In October of 1963 a new church was planted at 78th and University with Brethren George Calvert, Thurman Hoover and Clark Johnson providing the leadership
    Quaker Avenue
    Soon the need for expanded facilities prompted the congregation to erect a new building just west of the Tech campus. In March, 1972, the church occupied the new quarters at 17th and Quaker. N. E. Rhodes still served as preacher and Odell Purdy was secured for outreach work. A. M. McCorkle, Raldo Meacham, John Watkins, Herbert Griffith and Kline Nall served as elders. In 1974, however, Brother Rhodes moved to begin a new ministry in Springdale, Arkansas and Odell Purdy resigned. The church experienced considerable depression for several years after moving to the Quaker Avenue location. Attendance fell to below 100 (from an earlier high of more than 300). The downturn was only temporary, however, and several factors seem to have been responsible for the church's recovery. Ellmore Johnson and his wife Marie moved to Lubbock to serve as pulpit minister in February, 1977. The Johnson family exerted a positive influence and Ellmore's preaching provided a strong, stabilizing force. Growth resumed, and continued through the 80's and 90's.
    New Ministers
    In 1988, David and Lisa Langford were engaged by the church for part-time ministry. Dave was at the time completing his Ph.D. in family therapy at Tech and the congregation saw his training and commitment as special assets for the work, especially as he had grown up under the ministry of Ellmore and was well known to the congregation. He began work full-time upon completion of his degree in 1992. In 2013 David completed his Masters Degree in Ministry at Lubbock Christian Univeristy. In 1997, as Ellmore began to think about retiring, the congregation secured the part-time services of Carey Jones, who was working on his Master of Divinity degree at Abilene Christian University. Upon completion of his degree, Carey began full-time work in the summer of 2000 and he and his wife, Tonda, continue to work with the congregation. Ellmore retired in the spring of 2000 and continued to serve the congregation on the teaching team. With the desire to reach out more to our families and youth the congregation invited Jason and Keri Moore to join the ministry in 2007. Jason had previously worked with Quaker while attending college and eventually received his Masters degree in Bible from Lubbock Christian University.
    Minister Training
    Over the years several young men have worked part-time, usually as youth ministers, with the church here while attending college and have gone on to effective ministries. These include Dave Langford, Mark Webb, Grady Bryan, Mark Gomez, Kirk Hayes, Steve McLean, Ian Shelburne, Jason Moore, Kenneth Hawley, Kirk Cowell, and Dell Purdy.

    Others receiving support for ministry training were Ivan Woodard in the ླྀs to attend Sunset School of Preaching and Travis Eubanks and Stuart Smith to attend the Houston Bible Training work in the ྌs. Ivan has recently retired from fruitful ministries in Muleshoe and Campwood, Texas. Stuart Smith continues to serve as preacher in Turkey, Texas.

    In 1989, on the occasion of their 50th anniversary of preaching the gospel, Ellmore and Marie Johnson were honored as the congregation established the "Ellmore and Marie Johnson Preaching Fellowship" to support the training of future gospel preachers. Several recipients of the Preaching Fellowship have blessed Quaker Avenue. They include Grady Bryan (1990-93) who now works as teacher/evangelist in the Ukraine, Jason Moore (1993-96) now at Quaker, Kirk Cowell (1996-99) now teaching at Laredo Community College, Laredo, TX, Kenneth Hawley (1996-99) now deacon at Quaker and a professor of English at Lubbock Christian University, Dell Purdy (1999-2000) who serves as deacon at Quaker and preaches for several area congregations, and James Luchivia (2007-2008) who assisted our missionaries in Uganda. Currently (2012-2013) Samuel Corder is the most recent recipient of the scholarship. In 2005 this fund was designated to also honor Gladys Johnson for her nursing career and funds have been awarded to Erin Simpson (2006), Ashleigh Johnson (2009) and Meagan Morrison (2011) who have dedicated themselves to a career in nursing.

    Additional assistance to young ministers for building their preaching library was made available through the generosity of the George Calvert Scholarship Fund. This fund is in honor of this pioneer preacher and former member at Quaker and Memphis Avenue churches. Plans are currently in process to begin a youth and family ministry internship in 2014.
    Leadership at Quaker Avenue
    Approximately every three years the congregation is invited to evaluate the current leadership and to make any suggestions of additional elders and deacons that might be added to the leadership. The result of this three year review process has been the development of many good men to serve in the leadership here. Over the years (in addition to the original elders Herb Griffith, A.M. McCorkle, Raldo Meacham and Kline Nall) the eldership has included Rex Adamson, Bob Conway, Brett Farr, Odell Farr, Bill Flemmons, Kirk Hayes, Joe Henderson, Larry House, Fred Jack, Ellmore Johnson, David Langford, Tom Langford, L.K. Lankford, Rodney Lee, Raymond Lusk, Everett McCullough, Kevin McCullough, Phil Nash, Haney Poynor, Randy Price, Harold Rhoades, Jackie Smith and Armand Weathers.

    Deacons who have served at Quaker include Rex Adamson, Lynn Alexander, Coats Bentley, Quentin Blackerby, Scott Bloomer, Larry Boling, Jim Bullock, Mike Branum, Russell Camper, Mel Carter, Rodney Cates, Wes Conway, Doyle Corder, Mark Corkery, Bobby Creel, Rick Duckworth, Bill Flemmons, Steve Gomez, Kenneth Hawley, Joe Henderson, Neal Hendrix, Larry House, Fred Jack, Mark Jennings, Jason Johnson, Curt Langford, Tom Langford, L.K. Lankford, Rodney Lee, Gary Lewis, Ronnie Miller, Everett McCullough, Kevin McCullough, Criss Morrison, Murry Morrison, Clyde Oliver, Clarence Oswalt, Greg Pare, Randy Price, Dell Purdy, Harold Rhoades, Raymond Richardson, Otto Schacht, Ronnie Simpson, Delbert Smith, Clint Smith, Dub Smith, Jackie Smith, Elmer Stapp, Tim Stroud, Armand Weathers and Chris Williams.
    Mission Work
    Another factor in Quaker Avenue's growth was the mission work begun in 1980. The church had had little previous involvement in missions, but in 1977, Willie Sang, a young Kenya student at LCU began attending and soon urged us to send missionaries to his country. A reconnaissance team was sent to Kenya in 1980 and returned reporting great prospects for evangelism in that country. Members discussed the matter, prayed, about it for six months, and finally decided, without knowing where the necessary finances would come from, to send two couples to the field. Rolland and Jessie McLean and Shawn and Linda Tyler were ordained to the Kenya work in 1981. Necessary support readily came as God led other churches and individuals to join us. After three years Kirk and Susan Hayes replaced the McLeans as the work continued to prosper. The mission was very successful, with over 7,000 baptisms and more than 130 churches established within 13 years.

    The mission effort was a faith building experience for Quaker Avenue, and the Lord blessed the church richly with both spiritual and numerical growth. During the decades which followed, the church tripled in number and its budget quadrupled. In addition to the evangelistic work, the missionaries, working with the Christian Relief Fund were instrumental in helping establish the Kitale Children's Home. After thirteen years in Kenya a new mission was begun across the border in Uganda, where the Tylers were joined by Ian and Danetta Shelburne and Phillip and Laura Shero.

    The work in Uganda has flourished with hundreds of churches established and the development of the Messiah Theological Institute, a Bible training school that instructs hundred of students from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and the Sudan. Under the coordination of Carey Jones, approximately 14,000 books were collected, categorized and shipped to Uganda to establish a library for the Institute. In 2007 a second collection and shipment of over 18,000 books was coordinated by Susie Bullock . This included agricultural, medical, educational and industrial technology texts to begin to provide for the needs of a university library. The shipment also included children's books collected by Sarah Bullock and her Girl Scout troupe to assist with literacy training in Kenya and Uganda.

    The success of the Mbale work led many other works to locate there as well. In cooperation with the Christian Relief Fund and the Northwest Church of Christ in Seattle, Washington, the Aids Orphans Project was begun providing shelter, support and education for children who have lost their parents due to the AIDS virus. In 2006 Good News Productions International, a medial production ministry of the Independent Christian Churches built one of their production studios in Mbale. In 2009, after many years of planning, LivingStone International University, a liberal arts university, officially opened its doors.

    We also continued to provide support for Kirk and Susan Hayes and their family as they moved to Nairobi, Kenya to work with the Good News Production producing video resources for missionaries throughout Africa. In the summer of 1999, the Hayes moved back to Lubbock. The church continued its support of the Hayes as Kirk completed his Master in Bible and Ministry and served as missionary in residence at LCU. Beginning in the fall of 2000, Kirk was made the Spiritual Director for the LCU campus and also an instructor in Bible and missions at LCU. Kirk and Susan also became coordinators of our missionary efforts at Quaker Avenue. In 2007 Kirk and Susan moved to Houston as Kirk accepted the directorship of the South Houston Bible Institute. In addition to the work in Kenya and Uganda, Quaker Avenue has been involved in mission efforts in southeast Asia, Malawi (Ben and Becca Hayes), Sudan (Kennedy Obura and David Bikokwa and families), and the Ukraine (Grady and Lena Bryan).
    In 2006 Quaker Avenue was recognized by the World Missions Workshop for its 25 plus years involvement in mission work in Kenya and Uganda. In that same year the North American Christian Convention also recognized our mission work as one of the outstanding examples not only of missions, but also of unity and cooperative effort among Churches of Christ and Independent Christian Churches.

    In 2012 Shawn and Linda Tyler decided, after more than 30 years of mission work in Africa, to transition back to the states. The Tylers continue to be supported by Quaker as Shawn continues to coordinate our involvement as well as develop funds and additional personnel for the work in Kenya and Uganda. (In 2013 Ty Hayes, son of Kirk and Susan Hayes) moved to Uganda as an educational specialist to develop educational resources for the children of missionaries and employees of LivingStone International.) Shawn has also joined the staff at Lubbock Christian to teach missions and undergraduate studies.
    Music Ministry
    For more than twenty years the congregation held annual "Singing Schools" and "Jubilees," emphasizing the power of praise in song. These schools were conducted in the summers by outstanding musicians such as Darrell Bledsoe, Doyle Corder Jr., Brett Farr, Ralph Gage, and Milton Pullen. In 1979 a family chorus called the "Children of Promise" was formed to provide a ministry of music to Quaker Avenue and surrounding churches. The group was founded by David Langford and has been directed at various times by Dave Langford, Darrell Bledsoe, John Woicikowfski and Brett Farr. In 1989 a second group was formed called "Praise." Several of our members (Brett Farr, Bill Flemmons, Steve Gomez, Kevin McCullough) also sang in a popular quartet, "A New Creation" which made several recordings. The church has also produced several Christmas and Easter musicals for the congregation under the direction of Brett Farr. Brett, a longtime choral director in the Lubbock public schools, moved in 2012. Devon Langford, a graduate of Lubbock Christian University in music, stepped in and directed the latest (2012) musical for the church. These musicals are well attended by people throughout the city.
    Family and Intergenerational Emphasis
    Often one of the first comments made by visitors to Quaker and new members is the family atmosphere of the church. Quaker strives to be a family of believers, young and old, serving and worshipping together. The membership is distributed across ages. In fact a recent membership analysis noted the membership sorted almost equally with 10% falling into 10 year increments ( e.g. 1-10 years, 11-20 years, 30-40 years etc. to 80-90 years old.) While that distribution varies from year to year, commitment to nurturing relationships across the generations does not. Carey Jones coordinates our small group ministry. These home groups help to facilitate the development of deeper spiritual relationships among members.

    The church has also long been committed to helping parents teach their children the faith. In addition to providing an inter-generational atmosphere to worship and activities, David Langford has developed a special family bible study curriculum, Faith Chronicles, which assists parents in the spiritual training of their children. The church also has each year special worship services at which newborns are dedicated to the Lord, and our "new-schoolers" and their families are prayed over by the elders as they begin their formal education. Our goal is for Quaker Avenue to be an extended spiritual family for all its members, both young and old alike.
    Life Groups
    An exciting program was begun in 1996 called "Life Groups," in which a number of groups meet in various homes on Sunday evenings for study and discussion, including groups especially designed for our junior and senior high students and college students. Members are encouraged to invite their neighbors and friends into these studies. From Thanksgiving through January and in the summer months, Life Groups are discontinued and the church gathers together for services on Sunday evenings. Additional leaders are continuously sought out to be trained and help to accommodate the growing number of groups. Carey Jones currently supervises the Life Group ministry.
    Benevolence
    Over the years, one of the special ministries at Quaker Avenue has been with the elderly and those in need. In the early 70's Nova Purdy, one of our former members who worked with the state department of human services, was set apart to oversee special funds to assist with the poor in our community. Later, Dorine Harbin, a retired school teacher and tireless worker, took over that responsibility. She coordinated the work till the end of 2002. Deacons Doyle Corder and Larry Boling have also coordinated much of our benevolence work. In addition to distributing food, clothing and emergency funds at the church, Quaker has been actively involved and supportive of several community programs including Carpenter's Church and Carpenter's Kitchen, Family Promise (a ministry to homeless families), Habitat for Humanity, Hope Shalom, Lubbock Children's Home and Boy's Ranch, Ronald McDonald House and the South Plains Food Bank.

    In the late 90s the church began to collect a special benevolence contribution to be used to help congregational and community members in need. Members have generously given above and beyond the budget (usually over $2,000 each month). These funds are generally administered by the staff and allow the church to be able to respond to a variety of needs and emergencies in our community as well as our church family.
    Summer Excitement
    In the summer of 2003, Quaker Avenue assumed the role of sponsoring congregation to Summer Excitement, a leadership school for young people established in 1985. The school has ministered to hundreds of young people throughout the country providing inspirational teaching, leadership training and spiritual mentoring. After 17 years on the campus of Dallas Christian College under the supervision of the Farmers Branch Church of Christ, the school moved to the campus of Lubbock Christian University.in 2003. Doyle Corder Jr., former member at Quaker and currently worship minister for the Southwest Church of Christ in Amarillo, began serving as the director. Laci Richardson, a member at Quaker, began serving as assistant director. In 2009 Jason Moore, youth and family minister at Quaker, took over the directorship with Quaker member Rachel Hendrix serving as assistant director. David Langford, who served as the original dean of students for the first 10 years, continues to teach and also serve as liaison to the elders.
    Christian Unity
    Efforts to improve unity among brethren in Christ date back to the Memphis Avenue church when several members helped to sponsor the Unity Forum in 1970 on the campus of Lubbock Christian University. Led by church historian and scholar Leroy Garrett, this forum brought together speakers from throughout the country representing Churches of Christ, Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ. Various members continued to be involved in these unity efforts and in 1987, Quaker Avenue sponsored a unity seminar in which Reul Lemmons, G.B. Shelburne, Joe Barnett and Ervin Waters, representing divided segments of the churches from within the Restoration movement, were invited to present their ideas on the prospects for greater unity. The meeting was well attended and inspired all present to seek ways to further unity among God's people. In 1992 the elders approached the Broadway Church elders with a plea for unity, an insistence that some difference in conviction and practice should not keep us all from working together in mutually agreed upon ways. Shortly afterwards the Broadway Church invited Quaker Avenue to a joint service as an expression of our unity. The service was a great success and since that time two other joint services have been held.

    Another series of unity meetings called "Restoration Forum" were begun in 1984 coordinated by members of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. Tom Langford had been a participant and speaker in many of these as well as the previous Unity Forums organized by Leroy Garrett. The elders at Quaker sent Ellmore Johnson and David Langford to attend the 1994 forum in Joplin, MO to request being a host for the forum. In October, 2002, Quaker Avenue hosted the annual Restoration Forum. Co-hosting churches were the Broadway Church of Christ, First Christian Church, Raintree Christian Church and Vandelia Church of Christ; representing the three major fellowships of the Restoration Movement, Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ. For three days, participants were treated to hearing leaders of all three streams of the movement speak on the importance of Christian unity. A Unity Covenant for the forum was written by Tom and David Langford and over 300 people signed the document. In a moving ceremony, honorary first signers included Leroy Garrett, Sue Burton (daughter of long time unity advocate Carl Ketcherside), Floyd Rose (veteran Afrian American evangelist), Victor Knowles (representing Christian Churches and a coordinator of the Restoration Forum and editor of OneBody magazine), Doug Foster (representing Churches of Christ, a coordinator of the Restoration Forums and director of the Center for Restoration Studies at Abilene Christian University), Tom Langford (elder at Quaker Avenue and long time advocate for unity), Clint Stephenson and Michael Passmore (pastors of two local Disciples of Christ churches, Westmont Christian and First Christian)

    In addition to these efforts, Quaker has been able to promote unity in our mission work as well. Early on in our work in Kenya, two brothers from Independent Christian Churches approached our missionaries, Shawn Tyler and Kirk Hayes, requesting to work more formally together with us in Kenya. The elders agreed and through the cooperative efforts of Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, hundreds of churches were established as well at the construction of the Kitale Children's Home. Our cooperation with Independent Christian churches continued as we moved into Uganda in 1995. Over the years the mission team has included Independent Christian Church missionaries Sandy Piek, Vince and Joy Vigil and most recently J. P. and Jill Robinson. It was partly because of these productive and peaceful relations, that Good News Productions, an outstanding mission program of the Independent Christian Churches, located one of their media studios in Mbale, Uganda in 2006. That same year our mission work in Kenya and Uganda was recognized at the North American Christian Convention as one of the outstanding examples of unity and cooperation among Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.

    Tom Langford provided much of the leadership for Quaker's involvement in unity. He helped organize the 1970 forum in Lubbock and all that followed. He was a frequent speaker and advocate for unity including writing many articles. He wrote regular columns promoting unity ideals in Gospel Tidings and OneBody as well as three books On Common Ground (2006), Recovering the Restoration Ideal (2008) and especially Pursuing Peace (2006) which includes all of Tom's formal presentations and papers on unity from 1962 through 2006.

    Tom died in 2008. His memorial service was a unity forum of its own; included among the participants were fellow elder Ellmore Johnson, OneBodfy editor Victor Knowles and president of Good News International Ziden Nutt from the Independent Christian Churches, his long time mentor and partner in unity efforts Leroy Garrett, non Sunday School church leaders Larry Branum, Lyndon Latham and Gene Shelburne all of whom mentioned their indebtedness to Tom for their own significant involvement in unity efforts as well as many others (a recording of that service is included on our website in the list of sermons). In 2010 an expansion to the building was made named "The Unity Center" in honor of both Tom and Nellie Langford and Ellmore and Marie Johnson for their mentorship and example of promoting unity among believers in Christ.

    There is currently a warm and cooperative attitude among most of the Churches of Christ in Lubbock and Quaker Avenue desires to be seen as a proponent of peace and goodwill among our sister churches. In addition to this Quaker Avenue seeks to cooperate as much as possible with all other churches in our community in various good works of benevolence and outreach. We try to embrace the attitude of many of the early pioneers of the Restoration Movement expressed in one of the movement's mottos, "Christians only, not the only Christians."
    The Future
    It has been an exciting and eventful 60+ years. Experiencing the Lord's blessing and leadership in the past, the church stands poised in hope as we look forward to ministering into a new century, if the Lord tarries. More than anything else, Quaker Avenue seeks to glorify God and do His will. We want to preach the gospel faithfully, to live according to God's direction and to be peacemakers among men of good will. There is a wonderful atmosphere of harmony and love among the members and we welcome everyone who would follow the Lord with us to become a part of our fellowship.