Our church began with a dream. In early 1947 a vision appeared to Rev. Jack Campbell. He dreamed that a large red ball burst over the Sunnyside Community in what he felt was a sign calling him to start a church. Under his leadership, others in the Sunnyside Community began to donate their time and talents to begin a new church. Mr. E. Hooven provided the lot for the new church site.
In the spring of 1947, Rev. Campbell and Grant Greene approached Lewis Chase, the Superintendent of Sullivan County Schools, for permission to hold Sunday School meetings in the old Sunnyside School Building. The first Sunday School meetings began in June 1947. The services had to be held at 2:00 PM to allow Rev. Campbell time to preach at the other churches where he ministered. Fourteen people met to become the charter members of Sunnyside Baptist Church on September 14, 1947.
On September 23, 1947, at 8:00 PM, the members met at the home of Ben Lawson for their first business session. The members elected officers and planned the future of the new church. Early church staff and officers included:
Pastor Rev. Jack Campbell
Church Clerk Grant Greene
Trustees Jack Campbell, A. J. Greene, Dan Sizemore
Secretary/Treasurer Dan Sizemore
Perhaps the most important decision at that first meeting was the motion by A. J. Greene and seconded by Vivian Greene that the church borrow $6,000 from First National Bank of Kingsport for the construction of a new church building. The motion was approved by the members with Grant Greene, Ben Lawson, and John Greene being elected as the Building Committee.
Anticipate Great Things for God
In October of 1947, Rev. Campbell sent a letter to all Missionary Baptist Churches in the Holston Association requesting help for the building campaign of Sunnyside Baptist. Rev. Campbell stressed in his letter that while the church only had a membership of 16, "we anticipate great things for God. . ."
At times members asked friends, neighbors, and co-workers to contribute to the building of the church. Many people, some of whom were not members, donated money so the church could obtain windows. Many members donated their time and talents such as carpentry, masonry, and finishing work to complete the actual construction of the church. Some of the members spent their vacations working on the building while others donated lumber, bought light fixtures, or donated time on the electrical and plumbing work.
A Glorious Past
Sunnyside Baptist Church continued the tradition of growing for Christ. Under the pastorate of Richard Ratliff, the church voted to build that which is now the Ratliff Auditorium. The auditorium was dedicated on Sunday, July 7, 1974, after a building period of one year and a cost of approximately $160,000. The church was debt free again in four years.
The church continued to grow at a rapid pace. After much thought and prayer, the Building Committee was hard at work again with construction plans for the Family Life Center. The center was built at a cost of $154,000 and contains a gymnasium, kitchen, and eleven classrooms. The mission growth under Pastor Ratliff continued to expand. The church built a Sunnyside Baptist Church in India in 1981 with the first Sunday's attendance of over 300. Another Sunnyside Baptist Church was built in Africa in 1984. Then, in 1988, the church voted to build another church in Western Samoa.
As new plans and opportunities arose, Sunnyside continued to grow under the subsequent pastorate of Dr. Jack C. Parrott. He assumed the leadership position in October, 1989. At that time, the church developed a long-range building and expansion plan, completed beautiful stained-glass windows for the existing sanctuary, upgraded the heating and cooling system, put in place a playground for the children and developed/adopted the following mission statement:
"Magnifying Jesus and Sharing His Love"
Worship * Discipleship * Evangelism * Ministry * Fellowship
Under the leadership of Dr. Parrott, Sunnyside Baptist Church aimed its vision on building and equipping the saints to spread the Gospel. The Pastor, along with Education and Youth Ministers, made available the best programs possible to implement this vision. Dr. Parrott, who had served on the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, also led us to stretch our influence beyond our own community. This emphasis on missions helped us reach other parts of the world with the Gospel. In 1995, the Pastor and a team of missionaries received financial support from Sunnyside to help build a church in Mexico. In the following year, Sunnyside reached out to help finance the building of a church in Africa. In 1997, the membership helped finance the purchase of property assisting a church in Michigan. During this same time period, Sunnyside chose to increase it's educational and office space at a cost of over $1,000,000. Beginning in 2000 through the current year, Sunnyside has been supporting both construction and evangelistic mission trips to Somatilla, Nicaragua.
Sunnyside Baptist Church is a living testament to the power of Christ. Throughout its history, Sunnyside has shown that miracles can be accomplished when Christians join together to do God's will. Because of their tireless efforts, their hard work, their generosity of times and tithes; the original charter members of Sunnyside Baptist Church and those who have come later have proven that God can accomplish great works in the lives of His people.
Rev. Jack Campbell
Rev. Milburn Morelock
Rev. Joe Pittman
Rev. Gary Jennings
Rev. Richard Ratliff
Dr. Jack C. Parrott
Dr. Roy D. Graves