The life of a faithful Christian minister and founder of Union Gospel Mission
Here is a brief summary of the life of Dr. Lee Roberson by J.R. Faulkner in his work, “Get a Glimpse of the World’s Largest Church,” 1973.
Dr. Lee Roberson, pastor of the Highland Park Baptist Church, and founder and president of Tennessee Temple Schools in Chattanooga, Tenn., is world-renowned in religious circles. He was born in a two-room log cabin on Nov. 24, 1909, and spent his first two years on a farm near English, Ind., a small town in the southern part of the state. In 1911, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Roberson, took him to a farm near Louisville, Ky., where his father farmed, worked on streetcars and built houses. At age 14, he was led to the Lord by his faithful Sunday School teacher, Daisy Hawes, and joined the Cedar Creek Baptist Church outside of Louisville.
After spending two years at the Louisville Male High School, where he received a diploma in public accounting when he was 14, Dr. Roberson then attended the Fern Creek High School and graduated after four years. While a student, he played football with the high school team.
Dr. Roberson entered Old Bethel College in Russellville, Ky., in 1926, and finished the first year. There he worked at various jobs from washing dishes to scrubbing floors to pay his way. From Old Bethel College, he went to the University of Louisville to complete his college work with a major in history. He also completed work for a degree at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
In his early years, Dr. Roberson was well known as a singer. Having studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and with the well-known teacher John Samples of Chicago, his services as a vocalist were in great demand. He was a soloist on the staff of radio station WHAS of Louisville and WSM in Nashville. Doors were opening in the field of secular music. Dr. Roberson could have signed a contract with man in Nashville who, in every probability, would have led him to the top in music world. However, he felt that this was not the thing the Lord wanted for him; so he declined to sign the contract.
His first church was in Germantown, Tenn., while he was going to college. In 1932, he was called to be pastor of the Temple Baptist Church in Greenbrier, Tenn. It was there that he discovered the truth of the second coming of Christ. After three years with the Greenbrier Church, where the Lord wonderfully blessed his work, Dr. Roberson in 1935 entered full-time evangelistic work. He served as evangelist of the Birmingham Baptist Association and within two years had conducted 50 revivals in the area.
It was while he was in Birmingham that he met Caroline Allen, whom he married in October 1937.
On the first Sunday in November 1937, Dr. Roberson became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fairfield, Ala.
In 1939, Brother Roberson was asked to be the state evangelist for Alabama. He felt this was not the Lord’s will for him at the time, so the offer was not accepted.
On May 2, 1941, Lee Anne, the Roberson’s oldest child, was born.
After he had been five years with the Fairfield church, Dr. Roberson in November 1942 was called to the Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga. Dr. Roberson was a man of God at home as well as at church. He has set an example of faithfulness and devotion to his family and to his convictions before his church and to the entire world. At home, he has sought to teach his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord around a daily family altar, which has reflected itself in the lives of the children.
Dr. Roberson’s devotion to duty and to his convictions laid upon him a demanding schedule that has caused him, throughout his life, to get up early and to burn the midnight oil in prayer and study of the Word of God and the writings of others that he might maintain his burden to reach as many souls for Christ as he could, by every possible means. Sermons constantly poured from his soul, and new books from his pen.
Whether he spoke from the pulpit of the Highland Park Baptist Church, the chapel platform of Tennessee Temple Schools, to a men’s Bible class, or at one of many other special services, his messages were always fresh, fervent and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. In speaking of him, someone has said, “He is truly the Spurgeon of our times.”
Dr. Roberson’s daily schedule began with Bible study and prayer at 6:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and devotions with his family, an soul-long broadcast beginning at 8:30 a.m., and a chapel service at Tennessee Temple Schools at 10. His morning hours were filled with private conferences with church people and students of Tennessee Temple Schools. His daily visitation program took him to numerous hospitals of the city as well as homes of the church members.
Dr. Roberson died in 2007 at age 97.
We praise the Lord for the way in which He blessed Dr. Roberson’s ministry at the Highland Park Baptist Church and The Union Gospel Mission.