Four years after the close of World War II, the sermons of Lee Roberson boomed out in a room at a skid row boarding house in Chattanooga. Dr. Roberson of Highland Park Baptist Church preached the good news to the commonest people. Union Gospel Mission grew out of Christian labors among these men and opened its doors in February 1950. Salvation at skid row
The Union Gospel Mission of Chattanooga laid out a welcome mat to the helpless, homeless and forgotten on Feb. 5, 1950. Though this is marked as the historic day when UGM became a beacon to men on skid row, the Lord had worked in the heart of local Baptist minister, Dr. Lee Roberson, many years before.
Early in 1949, Dr. Roberson accepted an invitation from S.E. Dooley to conduct services at a rooming house for transients on West Main Street in Chattanooga. For 13 months gospel services were held every night and many were won to Christ while other men rededicated their lives to the Lord.
A year later the Lord made it possible to secure a building at 1260 Market St., a former drug and furniture store. It was remodeled to fit the needs of 30 men sheltering there.
Meanwhile, a sister mission was opened in Dalton, Ga., under the direction of Frank Holmes. The first superintendent of the Chattanooga Mission was Jimmy Hodges. Each mission conducted daily services, helping hundreds with physical and spiritual needs.
The pulpit at the Union Gospel Mission has been filled by many, including students from Tennessee Temple University and pastors from local churches. During the 1980s the mission moved to its fourth location, a two-story home on East Main Street. While there, the mission was under the direction of evangelist Joe Shadowens and finally under the care of Rev. Jon Rector, who first began ministry there in 2003.