A Brief History
Continuous meetings of the church of Christ in Rock Hill began in 1943 in the home of C. C. Dillard. Brother Dillard, who was a barber, preached for the new congregation. The only other male member at the beginning was H. J. Jones. An early letter from brother Dillard in The Evangelist (published in Longview, Texas) said there were six members in all of York County. The letter was asking for $1000 for materials to build a building. H. J. Jones had agreed to do the construction for free. Chester Estes, editor of The Evangelist, conducted a tent meeting in Rock Hill some time prior to this.
Members, whose names we have, from the forties through 1950 include: the Dillards, H. J. Jones, Sr., H. J. Jones, Jr., Maggie Hayes, John Beasley, Ila Manus, Elsie Waldrop, Lois Jones, sister S. A. McDowell, J. S. Hollands, Tom McCord, W. C. (Bill) and Martha Rutledge,* Virginia Moss,* Grace Hefley,* Dot Pope, Helen Snyder, Rudy Cribb, Fred Bowers, Frank Bowers, Lucille Bowers, Lucille Hafney, Attaleen Harrison, E. W. Livingston, T. A. Cudd, J. P. Haair, Gordan Nicholas, G. W. Nicholas, Cleveland Rix, Warren Dennison, Mary Dennison, W. H. Epps, J. L. Legere, the Aldridges, Nishie Brooks, and Ann Brooks.* Of the present membership, W. C. Rutledge, Jr., has been with the congregation longer than any other man, having come first in 1946 as an army recruiting officer and returning in 1948 up until his death in June 2007.
With the coming of the Celenese and Bowater plants several new families arrived in the fifties. Among these two families are still at Charlotte Avenue, the D. C. Trotter’s and the James Hix’s. Grady and Ila Slatton came in 1953. Brother Slatton had preached frequently in Georgia and was active in the congregation until his death. The Slatton’s daughter, Joyce Elder, is still here.
The first property owned by the church was a dwelling on Spruce Street in downtown Rock Hill, which was remodeled for use as a meeting place.
An interesting note in the August 1948 minutes considered whether the polio epidemic would allow a tent meeting in September.
Property was purchased in 1950 on Saluda Street, but was later sold in favor of another location. As was frequently done at the time, a restrictive clause was put into the deed of that property which forbade instruments of music and other unscriptural innovations.
In 1960 an attractive brick building was erected at the present site (corner of Charlotte Avenue and Lucas Street). It provided seating for 120, with five classrooms in the basement. In 1974 the present main auditorium was added, with additional basement classrooms. Warren Dennison, who had moved to Rock Hill in 1950, was a carpenter and worked in the construction of both this building and the later addition. Seventy-three adults and children are named as having been present for the first service in this building, May 1, 1960. At the evening service on that day Linda Hefley (now Cassidy) became the first one baptized in the new building.
The present main auditorium, with the classrooms below, was completed in 1974 and is actually an addition to the original structure. This project involved considerable volunteer work. Approximately 350 people attended a special dedication service in November of that year.
A third expansion, of 8,000 square feet, which includes the foyer and upstairs classrooms and the large fellowship area downstairs were completed in 1989-90. Rod Hunter, a present member, was the contractor for this phase.
The Rock Hill work received financial support from several places during its early years. Some of the churches which helped were: East Point church, Atlanta, Georgia; Central, McMinnville, Tennessee; East Ridge church, Chattanooga, Tennessee; and congregations in Rutherfordton and Winston-Salem in North Carolina.
The first elders were appointed in 1968 and were Grady Slatton, Al Pittman and D. C. Trotter. Charles Fetters served for a few months after the passing of brother Slatton. Others who have served as elders were Jim Hix, Joe Manning, Tom Ryals, Eddie Smith, Jim Waters, Charles Taylor, Paul Schultz and Howard Ashley. The present elders are Steve Cox, Randy Hefley, Dow Hix, David Pharr, Mike Rowand and Danny Timmons. There are eleven deacons.
Preachers for the congregation were: C. C. Dillard, Sam Brinkley, T. L. McCord, John L. Wheeler, Grover Moss, Bill Lambert, Al Frakes, William Pierce, Jeff Lovitt, Erwin Gunnells, Paul Powers, Jeff Percer, Ken Forrest and Bob Bickle. David Pharr served the church for twenty-five years before becoming the director of East Tennessee School of Preaching in 1988. He returned to Charlotte Avenue in 1998. Then after David retired in 2009 Mark Reynolds took his place officially starting September 6, 2009 until he moved July 31, 2012. David Pharr then returned to be the temporary preacher until one was found. January 2013 Tom Bowling became our full time preacher until he resigned in May 2013. David Pharr filled in again until June 2014 when Andy Brewster became our preacher.
Six men from the congregation have gone into full-time work as preachers. They are: Sam Watts, Charles Fetters, Jeff Trotter, Jim Pharr, Neal Pharr and William Purvis.
In 1966 Charlotte Avenue started the work which became the Crawford Road congregation and provided financial support for many years. Their building was erected in 1969. Charlotte Avenue members also contributed considerable “sweat equity” on this project.
In 1994 several members left to start the congregation in the Lesslie community. Though their departure involved some disagreements, there is good harmony between the congregation and Charlotte Avenue.
After years of careful planning, the nucleus for a new congregation began meeting in the northern part of the county. Their building was opened on Gold Hill Road, Fort Mill, in 1996 and has been expanded to twice the original size. Jeff Trotter, who grew up here, is their capable preacher. Their elders were all one time members at Charlotte Avenue.