Our History

A Brief History of Higher Ground

On September 4, 1988 six people met in a home in East Carters Valley, located just north of Kingsport, Tennessee near the Virginia state line. They shared their vision and their dreams of a church that would win souls, glorify the Lord and exalt Him.


On September 27, 1988 the group met at the East Carters Valley Fire Hall to make plans for the church. They voted to officially adopt the name, Higher Ground, appoint a temporary treasurer, a secretary, and a group of men to start the search for suitable property on which to build a church. At that meeting, $26,775 was pledged toward a land purchase, and the first “collection” of $807.02 was received. The first service was held in the Warehouse of Toys building on Wednesday, October 26, 1988. The church was officially charted with the State of Tennessee as Higher Ground Baptist Church.

The next step of faith was 3 acres of property that was found to be for sale at 1625 Lynn Garden Drive and purchased for $150,000. By December of 1988, only three months after its inception, Higher Ground Baptist Church was occupying its new building, which seated 300 worshippers. From the first service, the building was full. After discussing the church growth, two portable buildings were purchased and used to accommodate the Sunday School and Children’s classrooms. Immediately, work began on the new sanctuary for 850, and new classrooms. This was finished and moved into in the early part of 1990.

Higher Ground was known for its unusual services. The Jesus that was preached was real, and the Holy Spirit was welcome in every service. People were saved on a regular basis, and it was not unusual for 15-20 people to come for church membership weekly. The church continued to grow, and a church staff was needed to assist in the day-to-day responsibilities. By 1995, the ministry staff was in place, and an additional classroom and office building was built.

Through God’s provision, the property adjoining the church (14 acres) was purchased, and a parking lot was developed. It was then, a vision was cast for a much needed Worship Center. Within 1 ½ years, over one and a half million dollars was donated to begin construction. Groundbreaking was held on September 14, 1997 and construction began on a 3,500 seat Worship Center. In July 1998, Higher Ground moved into its new $5.8-million-dollar facility.

In 2007, construction was completed on the $2.5-million-dollar Family Life Center, which consists of a gymnasium, a walking track, and 21 classrooms. Higher Ground Baptist Church now has 14 acres with a complex worth 15 million dollars, and a membership of almost 4,000.

In May of 2015, Higher Ground called Dr. Ronnie Owens as the new Senior Pastor. Through different ministries and outreach the church has continued to grow. God continues to move in the services through His power and His Spirit. Souls are saved weekly, believers are being added to the membership, and the ministry heart and outreach of Higher Ground has never been greater!