“May God’s blessing attend every sermon preached and every exhortation delivered over this sacred board. God bless every child of God at Joseph Ave. and crown their every (effort) for the advancement of the cause of Christ made by them in harmony with His will. This the prayer of an humble child of God,” inscribed B.C. Wilkes, Sept. 25th, 1905 on the underside of the pulpit he made for a new congregation.
A relatively young church itself, the Foster Street Christian Church in 1905 saw a need as the neighborhood developed to the north. They greatly encouraged Joe McPherson in his tent meetings. A new congregation was formed and later that same year, on the same lot, the church completed a building on the west side of Joseph Avenue at Scott Street (now Richardson Street). The congregation of about nine families assembled to be taught and exhorted from Mr. Wilkes’ pulpit.
By 1921, the building being too small, the congregation built a larger building and moved across the street to the east side of Joseph Avenue. This building still stands, serving the neighborhood in gospel preaching and the care of souls; it is now used an outreach center and Children’s Bible Theater by Nashville Inner City Ministry, an outreach of local Churches of Christ.
The work of the church consisted of preaching the gospel, caring for sick, the poor and the needy, and supporting missions, both foreign and domestic. Revivals were held by some of the best-known writers, editors and evangelists in Churches of Christ, such as (among others) James A. Allen, D. H. Friend, R. H. Boll, Charles R. Brewer, C. E. W. Dorris, J. S. Ward, S. H. Hall, and Hall Laurie Calhoun. Converts and additions to the church during these early years number into the hundreds. By 1939, Joseph Avenue Church of Christ had a membership of about 450.
In the early 1970’s plans were made to relocate further north to the Madison-Bellshire area. The congregation is now known as Kemper Heights Church of Christ and has worshiped on Tuckahoe Drive in Madison since 1974. Mr. Wilkes’ pulpit is yet in use in the teaching and exhorting ministry of the Kemper Heights Church.