The Karns congregation began in June 1953 with a tent meeting on the north side of Oak Ridge Highway near where the Exxon station is now located. Bill Nicks, minister of the Highland View congregation in Oak Ridge, did the preaching and nine people obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only one of those nine, Joyce Cawood, is still living. From these humble beginnings, the Karns church of Christ has faithfully served our Lord, our community, and has trained over 400 ministers.
This small group of Christians petitioned the Knox County Board of Education to use the Karns school building in which to meet until a building could be constructed. On July 5, 1953, between 25 and 30 people met for the first time at the Karns High School. For about a year the Karns congregation assembled on Sundays at 3:00 PM for worship and on Thursdays at 7:30 PM for Bible study. This schedule accommodated Bill Nicks and his responsibilities to the Highland View congregation. With an initial contribution of one hundred dollars to a building fund, a portion of the property where the Karns congregation is now located was purchased and a building was constructed. The first service in the original building was held on January 2, 1955. The first sermon was preached by Bill Nicks. The original building, pictured here, remains a part of the current building, although it is not recognizable.
The Karns congregation continued to grow, and on January 28, 1962, the congregation met in a newly constructed building including an auditorium, 15 class rooms, two offices and a fellowship room. The first elders, Harold Duncan and Frank Huber, were appointed on October 7, 1962. In 1974, additional class rooms and a library were added. In 1991, the new auditorium was started, and in 1998, our current facility was completed. Construction of the Bill Nicks Library was completed in 1993.
The first members of the Karns congregation were beneficiaries of a mission effort of Bill Nicks and the Highland View congregation — and this legacy has not been lost. The year the congregation moved into the building they began contributing to a mission effort in Nigeria, Africa, which they continued for several years. In 1966, the Karns congregation held the first of 15 World Mission Workshops. In 1971, the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions (ETSOPM) began with 13 full or part-time students. There have been over four hundred graduates of ETSPM carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ to the United States and the uttermost parts of the world. The congregation currently supports four foreign missionaries and four domestic mission efforts.
Today we exist to serve God in this community and share the good news of Jesus Christ with our friends, neighbors, and the world.