The History of the Riggs Congregation
The church of Christ at Riggs exists today because of the dedication, sacrifice and faithfulness of many men and women. The church began in 1872. A brush arbor was built so Brother James H. Morton could preach the gospel. However, the weather became unfavorable, and when two denominational churches refused to let their building be used to continue the meeting, R.D. Tatum, who had build the brush arbor for the meeting and who was a rural mail carrier, met G.W. Riggs, Sr. and told him about the two churches refusing to let them use their buildings. Riggs, who did not claim to be anything religiously, offered brother Tatum $100.00 and the land on which a church building could be erected.
The church met in the new building May 5, 1872. The new building was opened with a gospel meeting that lasted for two weeks. James H. Morton and Frank H. Davis did the preaching in the meeting. Brother Davis preached for the church for about 20 years. The members of the church at Riggs Cross Roads wrote a type of resolution that was signed by all the members of the congregation. Among the declarations, these were written:
And we agree that we are to take the books of the Old and New Testaments, as commonly received, as the inspired work of God, and that we take the same and especially the New Testament scriptures as our guide in faith and practice and will endeavor in all things to be guided and governed by the teaching of the Holy Script therein contained.
The church experienced numerical growth and listed one hundred and forty two names in the membership list.
In 1880 the church at Riggs Cross Roads became involved in establishing the Lord's Church in Eagleville, Tennessee. According to The History of Eagleville, "The Eagleville Church of Christ had its roots in the revival held in Simons School House, about 1880. The Riggs Church of Christ sent and financially supported W.T. Todd of Nashville to hold this meeting," (p. 14).
With new congregations being built in surrounding towns and communities, the attendance at Riggs declined. In 1884 the average attendance was twenty-two.
L&N Railroad built a railroad in the early 1900s that had a right of way demand, which took most of the property that belonged to the church. The old building was abandoned.
The late Doug Harris wrote a history of the church at Riggs in which he stated, "After the congregation was forced to abandon its old building, they were deeded approximately one acre of land by O.R. and Minnie Brittan." The present building stands today, on the land obtained by the Brittans.
Through the years, additional land had been purchased, and the church building has been renovated with additions of classrooms and an annex at the back.
Through the years, many well-known preachers have preached in meetings at Riggs, or preached on a monthly basis for the church. Those who have preached on a regular basis since 1970 include: Joe A. Gourley (1970-1980); Frank Carter (1980-1985); Jimmy Carver (1986-1992); James McGill (1992); A.T. Pate (1993-1996); Jimmy Carver (1996-2001); Tom Holland (2001-2014); Chris Clevenger (2013-2014); and beginning 2015 Russell Wyatt.
In 1992, Tim Pate began his work as a regular song leader for the congregation, and he still serves in that capacity and serves as one of our elders.
The church at Riggs has been blessed through the years to have capable and dedicated Bible teachers. Through the years, the church at Riggs has been involved in spreading the gospel to other places. In 2005, the church continued support for Tom Holland, so he could go to Lethem, Guyana, South America and help start a congregation of the Lord's church. The church at Riggs has sent hundreds of dollars to various mission areas.
The Riggs church has sent out two gospel preachers, one of whom was the late Gideon Wright Riggs, Jr. He moved to California and, in a few years, he had established eighteen congregations in Southern California.
The late Douglas Harris was another preacher from the church in Riggs. He preached for many years and was active in promoting the Lord's church in the Caribbean.
In 2004, a significant decision was made by the elders of the Riggs Church of Christ. Because of the deteriorating condition of the old building and the location of the old building "across the tracks," the plan to build a new church building on Highway 31-A was announced. At the same time, the elders announced that all fifth Sunday contributions would be used for a Building Fund.
After the efforts to secure land at the corner of Greenwood Road and U.S. 31-A failed, Bo and Darlene Warner agreed to sell the church five acres of land on U.S. 31-A.
Todd Warner brought in several pieces of heavy equipment ad prepared the land for the erection of the new building. His preparation of the land saved the church about $100,000.00. After several delays, the building was finally completed at the cost of $1,200,000.00. ON September 1, 2006 the church assembled for worship in the new building. Since the church moved into the new building in 2006, the church has seen numerical growth as several people have been baptized and added by the Lord to the membership and a number of people have placed their membership with the church at Riggs.
In 2011, Jonathan Pate was employed to work with the youth of the families in the church. Some members have departed this life on earth including one of the elders of the congregation, Bob Baird.
Generous contributions have enabled the church to make all building payments on time as well as make extra unscheduled payments on the new building. Even with the recession that began in 2008, payments are timely.
At the beginning of 2012, some exciting news concerned the possibility of retiring the debt on the building in 2012. (The debt was retired not long after) R.W.
The new church building is a compliment to the Lord's church, and the building is dedicated to the glory of God. The future looks bright for the Lord's church at Riggs and may the potential for doing good things for the Lord Jesus Christ be a reality.
May the dedicated and faithful service that had built and preserved the congregation continues until our Lord comes. (Much of this information comes from the records kept by the late Bessie Chrisman.)
Tom Holland, Preacher
2015 - PRESENT
by Russell Wyatt, Minister
In 2014 Tom Holland resigned his work from the Riggs Congregation and continued to preach Gospel Meetings, speak at lectureships, and further his ministry across the nation.
About 6 months later, Chris Clevenger who had taken full-time preaching position also decided to pursue other ministry opportunities.
This left the congregation without a full-time minister and the elders began an extensive search for a new full-time minister to work with the congregation.
In January 2015 I was employed by the Riggs congregation. I am thankful to be able to work with such a congregation and to see the history of it unfolding before my eyes.
Josh Webb was hired in the summer of 2015 to work full time with our youth and families and has been doing a wonderful job even since. The youth program we now have he developed from scratch is still growing and doing well. Continuing the work on vacation bible school and the area-wide worship with other congregations has improved each year, and he has added other activities such as KFC (Kids for Christ), Fall Creek Falls Camp in the Summer, Camp Ney-A-Ti, as well as other activities and devotionals.
In February 2016, the congregation finished a long project of building a new building project behind the existing church building. With this new facility we looked to have room to grow because we had outgrown our smaller facilities for fellowship. Two years later the fellowship building has been seeing use as we have hosted many things new and old from school supply give-a-ways, ladies days, our Great Day in May, and a host of other fellowship activities and bible classes.
The Lord continues to bless this congregation and is helping us grow spiritually and numerically.
(Updated August 2018)