Highland Park Baptist Church, which for many years was the largest church in Chattanooga under longtime pastor Dr. Lee Roberson in an era when many downtown churches moved to the suburbs, will leave its Bailey Avenue home in January and relocate to a bluff overlooking Highway 58 and Harrison Bay.
Dr. Jeremy Roberts, the church's senior pastor since April, informed the church of the decision at its service earlier today. The decision previously had been approved unanimously by the congregation's long-range planning committee, deacons and a diverse group of members.
The name of the relocated Southern Baptist congregation, encompassing its Highland Park roots and the new site on land it has owned since 1946, will be Church of the Highlands.
Roberson, who was pastor for 40 years and started Tennessee Temple University and Temple Baptist Seminary, retired in 1983, several months before Roberts, 28, was born. That, said Roberts, "is a wake-up call for Highland Park Baptist Church to move on."
The congregation's $3.7 million, 5,700-seat Bailey Avenue auditorium - completed in 1981 - and seven other buildings will be liquidated. The pastor said "three strong churches" with ties to the surrounding community have shown interest in buying the Bailey Avenue auditorium. He would not disclose the churches or the asking price.
See Monday's Times Free Press for more details.