Church History

Riverside Baptist Church, as we know it today, was first known simply as “The Mission.”

A godly woman by the name of Nellie Henley Marney had in her heart a desire to see a place on the east side of Harriman where boys and girls could learn about Jesus.

The first few meetings were held in the living room of her home. Then on October 5, 1923, Mrs. Marney purchased a lot that had been a coal yard on the corner of Clinch and Sewanee Streets. She paid $175.00 for this property.

Some of the men in the community built a small, one-room building, which was quickly outgrown and two more rooms were added. This building was affectionately known as “The Mission.”

One year later, Mrs. Marney, who suffered from an incurable illness, could no longer see to the work of the mission and was led to turn the work over to Trenton Street Baptist Church. It was told that before the transaction took place that Mrs. Marney asked to see the children one more time. And upon a day set aside, all these children who had been touched by God and the life of Mrs. Marney, lined up and entered her home and each one passed by her bedside.

In December 1925, Trenton Street Baptist Church accepted the responsibility of the mission. Under the very capable leadership of Mr. Leonard Marney, who was a deacon at Trenton Street, services began in the afternoons. Some of the people would attend Trenton Street in the morning and then go to the mission in the afternoon. There was age-graded Sunday School (curtains stretched across the room to make classrooms) and then a time of worship. No doubt, though there are not many official records, many people came to know the Lord and memories were made that are still alive today.

For some 25 years, the faithful members of The Mission continued to work until finally on March 4, 1945 an associational council met for the purpose of organizing a new Missionary Baptist Church. Names and details are recorded in the church minutes. The council read and accepted the Church Covenant and also the Articles of Faith. Forty-eight members of other churches, mostly from Trenton Street, as well as one candidate for baptism were accepted by the council as charter members of this new church, which would be known as Riverside Baptist Church.

Rev. Dale Larue became the first pastor, followed by Rev. Luther Adkins––both had very short tenures. Then in 1948, God called Pat Howard to become the third pastor. Bro. Pat had a very successful ministry that would last 26 years. He and his wife, Gladys, were loved and respected by this church and community.

Bro. Pat became ill in 1971 and was unable to continue his duties. The church asked Bro. Mason Goodman to serve as assistant pastor. Two years later, the church called Bro. Mason as pastor, where he served for 31 years.

Rev. Richard Jones began his ministry as pastor at Riverside in 2005. In 2013, he resigned after 7 years of service.

Rev. Greg Kelly began his tenure as pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in November of 2014 and the current pastor.