Our History

Goodman Oaks Church of Christ

“Where your heart has a home”

Goodman Oaks is a continuation of the Whitehaven church in Memphis. The first service of the Whitehaven church was held September 9, 1949 at the home of Wanza Johnson. This service consisted of eleven adults who worshipped there for several months before moving to the home of B. W. Belew on May 15, 1950. Plans were soon made to build a permanent meeting place. A lot was purchased on the corner of Hale Road and Highway 51 (later to be named Elvis Presley Boulevard). On November 5, 1950 the congregation moved to its new house of worship. W. S. Long served as the first minister and was sponsored by the Union Avenue church in Memphis.

During the next 20 years, the Whitehaven community experienced rapid growth which was reflected in a corresponding growth of the church. By 1970 more than 600 people were worshipping in a 750-seat auditorium that had been built by this time along with a two-story educational building. However, the 1970’s brought drastic demographic changes to the community, and by the early 80’s the attendance had declined to the mid 300’s. More and more Whitehaven members were shifting their place of residence to East Memphis and DeSoto County, Mississippi. With our base of financial strength eroding, a decision had to be made if missions and other worthy ministries were to continue.

On February 12, 1984, a proposal was made to relocate the church to DeSoto County. Well over a third of the congregation had already moved there. The congregation was polled and over 94% favored such a move. A fifteen acre site at 1700 Goodman Road was purchased for $150,000. The Whitehaven property was appraised for $1.3 million and listed for sale. However, several months of market exposure brought no buyer.

It was at this time that God’s providence was most evident in our plans. The predominantly black West Shelby Drive church was experiencing rapid growth at this time, had outgrown its facility, and needed to relocate. They approached the Whitehaven church with a desire to purchase our property, but it seemed unlikely they would be able to afford the full price. Their determination and faith, however, were impressive and inspirational. After several meetings with the leaders of both churches, the decision was made to make our property available to them for $750,000. We viewed this selling price as an opportunity to further the the cause of our Lord by helping a sister congregation. A meeting of church leaders from across Memphis was called to ask for financial help for the West Shelby Drive church. This help was obtained and within one year of moving to their new site their growth was such that they began to assume most of their support. This church, now known as the Boulevard Church of Christ, soon became a church of over 500 members.

During the construction of our new facility, we shared the Whitehaven property with the Boulevard church. We alternated Sunday School and worship hour on Sunday morning, but worshipped together on Sunday nights with the preachers from each church preaching every other Sunday night. For the mid-week service, we met on Wednesday while the Boulevard church met on Thursday. This period of shared facilities was marked by love, and a harmonious relationship always prevailed.

The first service of the Goodman Oaks church was held July 5, 1987. Ninety-seven percent of the Whitehaven membership made the move. Membership at that time was approximately 250. From the outset, it was apparent that this relocation was a wise move. Growth began at once and has not abated. By 1990 it became necessary to enter into Phase II of our building expansion, and a classroom addition of 12,000 square feet became a reality. Then in December 1996, we moved into our present worship center with seating for 1100 to 1200 worshippers.

Several outstanding men have served this church as minister. Among them are W. S. Long, C. H. Lucas, C. W. Bradley, Rubel Shelly, and Jim Woodruff. In 1975, Ken Joines began his ministry at Whitehaven.