In 1880, a group of Christians in the Oglesby community began meeting in members’ houses for worship. Mrs. Margaret Philips purchased a plot of ground and donated it as a site for a church building. The group of Christians then erected a brush arbor under which a gospel meeting was held, with J.N. Armstrong preaching.
In 1891, a white frame building was completed at the cost of $300. The name given the local church of Christ was Woodson Chapel. Bro. J.N. Armstrong was deeply loved by the Christians, and they chose his wife’s name, Woodson Harding, as an appropriate designation for the local congregation.
The first addition to the original frame building was made in the early 1930s under the leadership of a local druggist, Dr. Dake Gleaves. These three small rooms were used until 1945 when three more rooms were added under Houston Ezell’s direction. A baptistry and an eight-room addition were constructed in 1957 under Edgar Turrentine’s supervision.
In 1961, the old frame building was torn down and Paden Builders constructed a 300-seat auditorium with members Harris Williams and Earl Dennis’ supervision. In 1966, Paul McLendon oversaw the sixteen-room Sunday School addition. An upper-story addition of Sunday School rooms and rest rooms and remodeling of kitchen and fellowship room were completed in the early seventies by Ahval Turner.
In October 1978, the congregation moved into its present location. The building was constructed by Equitable Church Builders with John Strickland as building committee chairman. The land site of the congregation on Edmondson Pike has now grown from the original deed of “one acre and forty-five poles” to approximately seven acres, including the Franklin property purchased in 1994. The Educational/Fellowship addition completed in May, 1997, built by Equitable Church Builders with David Dierks supervising the project, includes extra-large classrooms and fellowship facilities.
Woodson Chapel has always included mission work as one of its prime reasons for existing and has supported workers in Japan, Germany, Italy, Korea, the Philippines, Formosa, Panama, Africa and Russia, as well as many areas in the United States. In 1968, the congregation began supporting its first full-time domestic missionary in Mascot, Tennessee. In 1970, Woodson Chapel assumed its second full-time missionary in Middlesboro, Kentucky. Mission work now includes churches in North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
Benevolent work has also been a part of Christian service at Woodson Chapel. At one time a special concrete building was erected to serve as distribution center for food and clothing to needy families throughout the area. Now, in addition to the local benevolent work, the food committee work, and the Room in the Inn program, Woodson also supports the Disaster Relief program, children’s homes, retirement homes, and AGAPE.
Church bulletins are a continued teaching and communication tool dating back to World War II, when bulletins were mailed around the world to community boys serving in the armed services. The pine tree standing at the front was planted as a living memorial to the boys in the community who were in the armed services, especially Woodrow Williams, Arthur Jennette, and Donald Alexander, whose lives were lost in that conflict. Members of the all three families are still a part of the Woodson congregation.
W.H. Williams, Sr., handled financial matters of the church until his death in 1934. L.T. Alexander kept the first actual written financial records, beginning in 1934 and continuing until 1945, when W.H. Williams, Jr. became treasurer. The records show that in 1934, it was not unusual for the contribution to be $5.00, $8.00 or $12.00, whereas the present weekly budget is in excess of $21,000. Jim Rains and Eddie Arnold are the only two other men who have served as the congregation’s treasurer.
Preachers who have served at Woodson Chapel include B.H. Friend, T.Q. Martin, Joseph McPherson, F.C. Sowell, Sr., A.G. Freed, Hall L.Calhoun and S.P. Pittman. More recent preachers include Jim Bill McInteer, J.P. Sanders, Norvel Young, J. Ridley Stroop, Harold Baker, Everette Alexander, Kenneth Piety, Richard Batey, Mack Craig, Van Ingram, P.D. Wilmeth, Bob Bryson, J. Garvin Smith, Rees Bryant, Dean Freetly, Eugene Peden, Joe Gray, Wendell Byrd, Jim Franks, Carl Sims, Steven Guy and currently Wesley Walker. Recent assistant ministers and youth directors include Mike Mitchell, Mike Norwood, Fay Cornwell, Mike McPherson (currently serving as involvement minister), Andy Connelly, Joe Wells Wesley Walker, and currently Andrew Jenkins. Wesley Walker began serving as our pulpit minister September 2011.
The first elders, Edgar Turrentine, W.H. Williams, and John M. Williams, were named in 1957. In 1963 Dan Alexander and Harry Rains were appointed. Others include Roy Osborne appointed in 1969, Jack James appointed in 1972, Charlie Tarkington appointed in 1981, Dorris Barnes and Clarence Summers appointed in 1983, Cordell Choate appointed in 1990, John Knott appointed in 1992, and Jim Caldwell appointed in 1995. Wendell Byrd and Kendall Harris were appointed in 2006. Roger Walker was appointed in January of 2009. Early 2011, Tim Osborne was appointed as an elder for the congregation. In 2012 Jimmy McCollum and Ford Holman were appointed to serve the congregation. Currently, Woodson Chapel has five elders – Wendell Byrd, Kendall Harris, Tim Osborne, Ford Holman, and Jimmy McCollum. Woodson’s leadership is further enhanced by seventeen deacons.