History of the Oakwood Road Church in Charleston, West Virginia

Ron Halbrook

I have held two gospel meetings for the Oakwood Church of Christ in Charleston, West Virginia (April 1986 and October 1995), and when traveling in the area I have of-ten stopped to visit with brother Vestal Chaffin. This congregation began in the 1880s. Brother Chaffin worked with the Park Avenue church in Charleston from June of 1957 through July of 1961, but Park Avenue went into liberalism. Brother Chaffin returned to Charleston in April of 1982 to work with the Oakwood Road church but suffered a stroke in November. After a period of recuperation, he continued his work as best he could for a number of years. He now lives with the family of his son Ronald, who preaches for the Chesapeake church several miles from Charleston. Frank and Carolyn Linville (son-in-law and daughter of Vestal) are members at Oakwood Road and make it possible for him to continue to attend the services there.

Two ladies who have been at Oakwood Road through the years prepared brief histories of the church which are both interesting and instructive. One was written by sister Noreen Hall and the other by sister Clara Mullins. The history by sister Hall includes a list of some of the men who have labored full time with the church. In recent years those men are: Vestal Chaffin (April 1982-present), Lowell Kibler (September 1983-October 1989), Bill Robinson, Sr. (Fall 1990-Fall 1991), and Shannon Shaffer (September 1992-present). On October 23, 1995 brother Shaffer left for his second month-long preaching trip to Russia (near Moscow). Several members of the church at Oakwood Road are ninety or older and are still active for the most part.

Below the short histories by sisters Hall and Mullins are reproduced.

A Brief History of the Oakwood Road

Church of Christ

873 Oakwood Road

Charleston, West Virginia 25314

by Norene Hall

About 1884-1885 George Ogden came to Charleston from Fayette County, West Virginia. On hearing that a meet-ing was being held, he went to the small meeting place on Joplin Branch, two miles south of Charleston (at that time). The meeting place was known as the Joplin Branch School House. The Bible Center Church on Route 214 is now located on this same property.

Brother Dial, a minister from Lincoln County, West Virginia was engaged to hold a meeting for the church meeting in the Joplin School House. Several men from this locality obeyed the gospel during this meeting.

The church continued to grow and minister, Marion Covert from Logan County, West Virginia preached for them until he became ill and passed away. In 1903 the members decided it was time to construct a building for the congregation.

A lot was donated by Mrs. Ellen Hoffman Mullins, the mother of Clara Mullins and Rose Mullins Corner, two of our present members. The members donated material, money, and labor for the building. A carpenter was given a year's free rent on a house the Mullins family owned for the construction work. Bid Hall gave freely to the work.

In the beginning of the new congregation the minister named the place Mt. Pisgah. It now bears the name of the road it is located on.

For a short time during the 1920s, the doors to Mt. Pisgah were closed, as there were no ministers available, and no capable teachers who were willing to conduct services. During this time, the members worshiped with the congregation located at 618 Virginia Street West in Charleston. However, before long Ira C. Moore brought a young preacher by the name of Reid Robinson from Moundsville, West Virginia to work with the congregation. The church has held regular services since then.

With the help of Bernice F. Covert, who gave of his time and talent to the work in the 1930s, the Bible Class attendance had outgrown the existing building, so a room was added to the rear of the building. Also, a toilet room was added. Later, a baptistery was added and the old doors and windows replaced. Later on, two more classrooms were added to the side of the building and the exterior was stuccoed.

In the mid-1970s, Harvey Hall, Frank Linville, Jim Sherwood, and others of the congregation paneled the auditorium walls, and added a large classroom, nursery, two toilet rooms, and an entrance hall to the front. All of these men donated their talents and labor and did most of the construction. This congregation, like many others, has had its trials and tribulations.

Some who have labored full time with the Oakwood congregation are: Reid Robinson, J. Nowis Taylor, Donald Jarrett, Dean Miller, Fred Dinkier, A.H. "Bob" Young, Joel Scott, Ronald Chaffin, Ronald Henderson, Hoy L. Cavender, Eugene Jopp, Jr., Charles Degenhart, Robert Strange, John Felker, Donald Bunting, Leslie Underwood, Vestal Chaffin, Lowell Kibler, Bill Robinson, Sr., and Shannon Shaffer.

A Brief History of the Church of Christ

873 Oakwood Road,

Charleston, West Virginia 25314

by Clara Mullins

One day early in the 1880s, my grandfather, Leonard Hoffman, a Methodist, and a neighbor who was a Baptist were discussing baptism in the presence of a new neighbor, who was a member of the Church of Christ in Lincoln County, West Virginia. After listening a while, he told them that they were both mistaken and explained to them scriptural baptism. He received their promise to attend a gospel meeting that he would soon arrange to be held in the Joplin School House. A minister from Lincoln County held the meeting, and both my grandfather and the Baptist neighbor were baptized. Soon after, a congregation was meeting in the school house and many from this and surrounding neighborhoods obeyed the gospel. They engaged a minister, Marion Covert, who preached for them until he became ill. and passed away.

In 1903, the members decided to construct a building for the congregation. A lot was donated and many of the members donated material, money, and labor for the building. A visiting preacher named it Mount Pisgah Church of Christ, but it was later changed to the Oakwood Road Church of Christ.

After a few years, a digressive minister came to preach for them and an organ was brought in. It, of course, caused division, which was only settled when two of the sisters in the congregation took it upon themselves to silence it once and for all. They cut the straps leading to the bellows al-most through and when the organist, who was not a Christian, began to pump, one pedal went "Kaplop" and then the other one. That was enough for the digressives, who immediately left and went to the First Christian Church. Later, they attempted to sell the property, but my (Clara Mullins) father, J.D. Mullins, and Robert Hall (Harvey Hall's and Alma Peet's father) engaged an attorney and thwarted their effort. The attorney remarked that he fixed it so that no one could ever take it from us. I pray that it shall be as a light that is set on this hill, until time shall be no more.

Guardian of Truth XL: No. 19, p. 8-9
October 3, 1996