Crittenden Drive to celebrate 50th anniversary Sunday
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

When Crittenden Drive Church of Christ celebrates 50 years with that name and at that site this Sunday, some people will be flooded with memories, not just of Crittenden Drive but of its predecessor, Russellville Church of Christ.
In January 1960 the congregation moved into its new building just off East Ninth Street/the Clarksville Road on a large lot purchased from Ewing Stuart and Ewing Wright at the edge of a developing subdivision. The church had been meeting since the mid-30s on East Fourth Street in a former Civil War hospital, which has been the office of Logan County Farm Bureau most of the time since the church moved out.
My family has been a part of this congregation since its inception. A fourth of the 12 members who met on that Sunday in 1927 when the first meeting was held were my grandparents, Lee and Mary Mayton, and my mother, who was then 15-year-old Marie Mayton.
When a committee was formed to plan the new site in 1959, my dad, James Turner, was one of the half dozen men entrusted with that honor, along with John Pedigo, Jim Starks, Harold Heaton, Ghan Smith Sr. and Chan Wilson. Pedigo, Starks and Turner were farmers; the other three were businessmen.
Just before we moved into the 600-seat auditorium which Frank Dockins had long dreamed of in the mid-90s, my (and Elaine’s) older two children, Clay and Lindsay, were the last two people baptized in the original auditorium, which now serves as the fellowship hall that is used for many community activities.
That fellowship hall is not the part of the Crittenden Drive complex which has affected the lives of the most people in the community, though. For over 30 years, the church has been the home of Russellville Christian School, which has provided the educational foundation for hundreds of youngsters throughout the decades. Many of the youngsters who spent their preschool years in the Educational Building at Crittenden Drive are now sending their own offspring to Russellville Christian School in that building.
Helen Raby, who died this year in her mid-90s, was instrumental in the formation of Russellville Christian School, as was her daughter, Janet Hall. The elders at the time were Dockins, the late Charles Cole, and the late Kenneth White, whose grandson Brian White was one of the first students. Now Brian, who is a banker and president of the Logan County Chamber of Commerce, is chairman of the school’s board and a deacon of the congregation.
Among the early directors of the school were Diane Boyles and Janet McCarley. The current director is Sharon Lewis McIntosh. Several members of her family are also involved in the school and the church.
When Crittenden Drive held its first service 50 years ago, Tom Brown was the congregation’s pulpit minister. He was a young, enthusiastic dynamo who later became well-known when he was chosen to follow the legendary “Herald of Truth” television evangelist Dr. Batsell Barrett Baxter as the minister at Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville.
Brown was followed as the congregation’s preacher by Barclay Riley, who was immensely popular among the membership. His stay was relatively short, since he was chosen to be superintendent of Potter’s Orphans Home in Bowling Green. Riley led Potter in some of its most dynamic years with the help of his wonderful wife Marilyn. They took Crittenden Drive members Orine and Pearl Lyons with them to manage the Potter farm, where stores like Rite Aid and the strip mall anchored by the Cici’s and Buckhead restaurants are located, as well as Bowling Green Junior High School.
Charlie Arnett was the preacher who filled in between full-time ministers for 30 years or more.
Other ministers came along at Crittenden Drive, including G.L. Mann, Glann Lee, Ed Anderson, Bob Brewer, Jim Shannon and Steve Blackman. The Potter board member who notified Riley that he had been selected Potter superintendent was H.R. Roney. Ironically, his son became the congregation’s longest tenured minister. Charlie Roney was in the Crittenden Drive pulpit for some 18 years, about triple the longest anyone else had served in that position.
Now Roney is one of the congregation’s elders, along with Dockins, Jim Riley, Russell Jones and Rob Sindorf. After moving to Alabama for a few years, Charlie and Pat Roney came back to Russellville for their retirement home. Barclay and Marilyn Riley were in Adairville for his final full-time preaching gig, but they are now members of Crittenden Drive, too. Dockins is a former Schochoh Church of Christ preacher, and has been Bethany Church of Christ’s spokesperson on its every-other-Sunday program on WRUS radio about 55 years. Bethany planned a reception for him a couple of Sundays ago, but that has been put on hold until the health of his wife Davy Lee Improves. Their son Harris is a deacon at Crittenden Drive but has been Bethany’s preacher for over a decade.
Two former elders of the congregation who were instrumental in its growth and in the expansion of the facilities, Dale Baugh and Glenn McGehee, are still members of the church along with their wives Fran and Doris.
The current deacons besides Brian White and Harris Dockins are Darrel White, David Bilyeu, Elmer Jenkins, Mitch Johnson, Brian Stratton, David Stuart, Billy Joe Coleman, Marlin Coe, Darrin Peters, Donnie Porter and Tracy Cole. Bilyeu is the only elder or deacon who was a part of the congregation in 1960, attending with his parents, Logan and Pauline Bilyeu. Russell and Pam Jones moved from Adairville to Russellville a couple of years later.
The oldest member of the congregation, 100-year-old Lucille Taylor, died a few days ago. Her son, Gaither ‘Shorty’ Taylor, is one of the current members who was part of the church when the move was made from Fourth Street to Crittenden Drive. Others include Vinie Dodson Hines and her son Darrell Dodson, Joe and Shirley Grace, David Bilyeu, J.W. and Nadine Maxwell and their son Michael, Charles Baker, Shelby Hinchee Piper, Sharon McLarty Dockins and Bobby Burchett. Rusty Burchett was technically at the first service in the new location. His dad, Russell Owen Burchett, was the song leader for that initial service, but Rusty wasn’t born until a few months later. Russ also led the singing when the congregation ceremoniously moved from the original building into the new worship center in the mid-90s.
The current member who has been part of the congregation longest is Punkin Klein. Her dad, N.L. Hendley, started bringing his daughters, Sue Belle, Punkin and Nona not long after the congregation organized 83 years ago. Sue Belle married Alpheus Hinton, whose mother was one of the 12 original members. Alpheus and Sue Belle had four children. One of their grandchildren, Kelsey Hinton, is still a member of the church.
Hendley was one of the early leaders of the congregation, along with A.R. Boyles. His grandson, Donald ‘Turtle’ Boyles, was an elder at the time of his death. Turtle’s widow Betty Sue is active in the congregation. Smiley Blake was also one of the early leaders.
From my youth, I have vivid memories at church of Dale and Agnes Harris, Jim and Zadie Starks, Cecil and Frances Starks, John and Evelyn Pedigo, Louise Epley, Ruth Page, Helen Perry, Owen and Annie Rachel Burchett, Nannie and Ethel Shelton, Harmon and Don Celsor, Bob and Jackie Howard, Nellie Whaley, Ghan and Margaret Smith, Bess and Lelia McEndree, Geneva Campbell, the Beasley Thompsons, and Buck Baker’s family. My other grandparents, Anson and Grace Turner, were also members when we moved. My cousin, Bobby Allen, helps carry on their legacy. I can still hear George Taylor leading singing, especially his trademark “Walking in Sunlight.” Pres Herndon was a Bible scholar and was able to quote hundreds of verses, even as his eyesight failed him.
The young people during my youth included Cecil, Jesse and Jody Lyons; Bobby, Mike, George and Julie Wilson; Michael and Marvin Maxwell; Johnnie Evelyn Starks and her sisters; Shorty Taylor and Gordon Taylor; Johnny, Jana, Jeannie; Mike Hinton; Rodney and Janet Raby; Carmen Austin, Charlotte Deaux; Mary Florence Darby; Mike Boyles; Margaret and Levi Hodge; Beverly and Brenda Garner; Susie Whaley; Ronnie Dillihay; Eva Dean Taylor; and Steve and Cheryl Littrel.;
In 1960, Chan Wilson was the member of the committee who oversaw the construction of the original building. His nephews, Bobby and Billy Wilson, and their families are active members of the church now. Dale Shrull was the deacon who oversaw construction of the new worship center. He and Joyce now spend much of the year in Florida, but their son Adam and his family still enjoy the fruits of his labor.
The youth program at Crittenden Drive is well-known. Logan County Youth Camp is one of the biggest in the region each year at Taylor Christian Camp. Daniel McCarley, who grew up at Crittenden Drive, is now the youth minister and has seen a large number of young people baptized in the last couple of years. His predecessors include Steve Tyree and Todd Loyd.
Andrew Phillips is the current minister of the congregation. He is young, dynamic and a compelling speaker. He has organized most of the activities planned for Sunday. Those plans include a presentation by Charles Roney during combined adult classes at 10:30 a.m. following the 9:30 worship service. Then a potluck meal in the original Crittenden Drive building will be highlighted by video presentations and copies of newspaper stories compiled by the Baughs.
Everyone is invited to attend. It’s hoped that many former members will be among those attending.

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