Sister Cloretta Lampkin is one of a rare jewel who is a long time member of FABC. She is a native of Birmingham AL who is well travelled and has lived in several cities including New Orleans before moving to Nashville. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Music specializing in Music Therapy from Loyola University (in Louisiana) and a Bachelor Degree of Science in Nursing from Tennessee State University. She has worked at Meharry Medical Center, St Thomas Midtown and Vanderbilt Hospital as a floor nurse.
Sis. Lampkin has three beautiful daughters and two godsons who all grew up in our church. That means that this “Super Mom” has always focused on making each aspect of their lives a priority and memorable from baptism to weddings and everything in between. Cloretta however, has not only been a blessing to her family, but also the children of FABC and the community.
Sis. Lampkin has been active in various ministries and community organizations. Along with church members, Gail Mays and Cassandra Williams, she served as one of the First Coordinators who created Children’s Church and the Children’s Ministry under the pastorate of the late Dr. Reverend William F Buchanan. Cloretta is also a former Choir Director for the Children’s Choir and acted in several musical productions. She provided leadership, chaperoned all types of activities for all ages from children to young adults. Not only does she volunteer at church but also for Metro Public Schools and communities through various organizations that she is member of including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and The Links, Inc. She is also a Deaconess, currently sings with the Sanctuary Choir, a member of the Sister of Faith Ensemble and the Praise Team.
Sister Nettie B. Barnes is the second eldest of 10 children. Formally educated in Madison County School System in West Tennessee. Her spiritual education in the Baptist church began early with lengthy Easter speeches. Following high school she moved to Indiana and attended Indiana University School of Nursing. Eventually, earning a B.S. in Nursing and Masters in Healthcare Administration. She worked in various capacities including Camp Nurse, Emergency Room, Surgical Intensive Care, Charge Nurse, Supervisor, ending with a 27 year career as an Health Care Coordinator at E.I. Dupont, where she oversaw biohazard medical surveillance and monitored safety hazard identification for over 6,000 employees and received her 15 minutes of
fame as a participant on a film sponsored by Safeco Insurance for the Tennessee Society toprevent blindness on "Industrial eye Safety" that aired on cable access TV.
In 1969, she married her high school sweetheart Deacon Wenford Barnes and to this union one child was born. Additionally, they were blessed with a son-in-law and 2 granddaughters and look forward to celebrating 52 years of marriage in August of this year. In her family life, Deaconess Barnes continued to stay involved in healthcare by establishing a Healthcare Provider Agency, known as Apta, Inc., and became a service provider for the State of Tennessee primarily for her baby sister with an Intellectual Developmental Disability to ensure her healthcare needs would be met, which continues today. Additionally, she provided medical oversight and chart reviews for other families with agencies for loved ones and provided caregiving needs for another sister who transitioned with cancer at her home.
Sister Barnes has been a faithful and dedicated member of 15th Ave. Baptist Church for 49 years. Serving a tenure as Choir President, member of the Graphic Arts Ministry, Deaconess, Youth Leader, Vacation Bible School Director, Masterlife Leader, member of the Church Expansion Steering Committee, and chaired the Worship Center Decor and Furnishing Committees. Additionally, she served as a church trustee for 18 years, secretary for the Community Development Corporation (CDC), and participated in other various assignments or projects throughout the years. Currently, she is a member of the Women at the Well Sunday School Class and enjoys fellowshipping with her 15th Ave. Baptist Church sisters.
Following retirement, she has enjoyed her Red Hat Group, traveling, spending time with her family and grandchildren, and finds solace in the following scripture, Isaiah 43:2: "When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow there: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
Sister Arena K. Groves is a pillar of the Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church family and her storied career has paved the way for African Americans and Women across Nashville and beyond.
A native of Bedford County, TN, Sister Groves is the eldest of five daughters born to the late Bishop Audley and Mrs. Ola D. King. She accepted Christ at an early age through her father’s ministry as a nationally renowned minister and State Bishop for the Church of God in Christ.
Sister Groves was educated in the Bedford County School System, where from grades one through eight, she was taught by her mother in a one-room schoolhouse. For high school, she attended the segregated Bedford County Training School, where she graduated third in her class.
She furthered her education at Tennessee A&I State College, where she majored in Accounting and was a Spring 1959 initiate of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Chi Chapter. After graduating from Tennessee State with her bachelor’s degree in 1960, she started her career in the Business Office at Tennessee State, as well as for the State of Tennessee.
Wanting to continue her education and to elevate her career, Sister Groves went to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she obtained a master’s degree in Accounting in 1965. As one of the only African American students at the University at the time, it is believed that she is one of the first, if not the first, African American students to graduate from the School of Business. After she obtained her master’s degree, she continued to be a trailblazer, in which she became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and became the first African American in Nashville to earn that designation.
For 32 Years, Sister Groves worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a Tax Revenue Agent in the Nashville office. In this capacity, she participated in numerous tax examinations and audits for a variety of industries and clients across the southeast region. Although she retired in 1998, she continues to be active in the field of accounting, as she continues to her taxes by hand!
While attending Tennessee State, Sister Groves attended the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, which, at the time, was pastored by Fifteenth Avenue’s fourth pastor, the late Reverend Enoch Jones. Once Reverend Jones accepted the pastorate at Fifteenth Avenue in the early sixties, Sister Groves began to attend while living and visiting Nashville. In 1969, she “got tired of visiting” and officially joined Fifteenth Avenue, where she was later baptized by Reverend Jones.
For over 50 years, Sister Groves has been an active member of Fifteenth Avenue and has been involved in a number auxiliaries, including the Beautifying Club, Finance Committee, and Pastoral Search Committee for the Fifth Pastorate. Additionally, she served as the Secretary and a founding Board Member to Fifteenth Avenue’s Community Development Corporation.
However, her passion is the Sunday School, where she taught for approximately 40 years and served as the Superintendent for over 20 of those years. During this time, she taught a number of different adult courses, both on Sundays and during the week, as she was an advocate of Christian Education. She even would attend local and national conferences to continue her knowledge and to bring back best practice trends and knowledge to Fifteenth Avenue.
Sister Groves was the mother of the late Lori Groves-White, who passed in 2015 and served as a Trustee at Fifteenth Avenue. She is the grandmother of two adults – Daniel and Maya White. Aside from spending time at Fifteenth Avenue, she is an avid sports fan and loves to attend Tennessee Titans and Tennessee State football games.
Araina is the daughter of Bro. Marcus and Sis Monica Woods. She is a born and raised, life-long member of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church. Pastor William F. Buchanan dedicated her at the age of 3 months and baptized her at the age of five. She has regularly participated in Sunday School Children’s and Youth Church sang in the youth choir, participated in the dance ministry, and was part of the Pastor’s Honor Disciple (PHD) program. She is also the 2019 recipient of the 4-year Dr. William F. Buchanan ChristFund college scholarship.
Sis. Woods has also been active in her community. She was a regular volunteer at the Hendersonville Humane Society, involved in studio dance for 13 years and her school band for four years. Currently Araina is a sophomore at The University of Tennessee at Martin where she is now pursuing a business degree. During her freshman year, she was an active member of the meteorology club and traveled to Boston to attend the annual American Meteorological Society meeting. In 2021, she became a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success. We look forward to her continued growth and success in the years to come.
Rev. Melvina Webb Blanch, the youngest of three children, was born in Gainesville, Florida. She received her early educational training in the public schools of Gainesville. Upon graduating from high school, she came to Nashville, matriculated at the National School of Business, and found employment with BellSouth. She retired from BellSouth in 1999 after 31 years of meritorious service.
Not long after coming to Nashville, Rev. Blanch united with Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church serving actively in leadership as Choir President, Sunday School Teacher, Director of Christian Education, Leader of the Singles Ministry, and Leader of the Prayer Ministry. In 1982, she received a B.A. Degree (Magna Cum Laude) from American Baptist College and a M.A. Degree in Christian Education from Scarritt College in 1986. Rev. Blanch attended the Billy Graham School of Evangelism in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1986 receiving a certificate in evangelism. Little did she know what plans God had in store for her.
Under the spiritual guidance of Pastor Emeritus, Rev. Dr. Enoch Jones and the Pastor, Rev. Dr. William Buchanan she answered her personal call to the ministry and was licensed in 1998 and ordained in November 1999 by Pastor Buchanan.
Rev. Blanch used her spiritual gifts as facilitator/teacher. She served as facilitator/teacher for both the Stones River District Association and the Tennessee Baptist Leadership and Education Congress. As a contributing writer for the Sunday School Publishing Board, she wrote Intermediate Lessons as well as articles for the “Christian Education Informer” publication. After serving twenty years on the staff of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church as Church Administrator and Minister of Christian Education, Rev. Blanch retired from the position. She also volunteered as tutor with one of the public schools of Nashville.
She holds membership in the Theta Alpha Epsilon Honor Society, the Delta Epsilon Chi Honor Society of American Baptist Bible Colleges and Who’s Who among Students in Colleges and Universities.
Under the auspices of The National Association of Christian Educators (N.A.C.E.), Rev. Blanch traveled with a mission group to Jamaica, each year, from 2003-2008, to share in developing and implementing a conference and school with the Jamaicans. The mission team included health providers: nurses, dentist, doctor. It was such an awesome privilege to see how God provided both for them and for us.
She was married twenty-five years to the late Richard Blanch, Jr.
Rev. Blanch serves as Associate Minister at Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church. For more than 17 years, she has served in leadership with Bible Study Fellowship International. She also serves with Church Women United. Rev. Blanch strongly believes that “to whom much is given much is required.” Her favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.”
Iyana Vanzant wrote
“When we pass a garden
and see everything in full bloom,
we don’t always think about the seeds
that were planted long before
we got there.”
The life of Barbara Toms was planted in the garden we call Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church, and at the age of 9 she was baptized in this faith community.
Growing up in Nashville and attending its segregated public schools, the system labeled her and other Black children “inferior” and “less than…”. But, in this garden called Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church, she was nurtured by the Word of God that taught she is a “chosen race, a royal priesthood.”
After graduating from Meigs High School, she received a 4-year academic scholarship to Tennessee State University where, in 1972, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and was awarded “Highest Distinction and University Scholar” honors.
Throughout her adult life, she was active in church activities: in 1973, she was selected to be its Women’s Day speaker; and, served as President of the Young Women’s Auxiliary (a group of inspired women that started the first nursery at the church), participated in the church’s Drama Ministry; taught Bible classes, and served as church secretary for several years.
In 1983, she received her law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law and was licensed to practice law in Tennessee. Over the next 5 years, she rendered public service both to the City of Nashville to serve on first on the Traffic & Parking Commission and then the Metro Social Services Commission; and the State of Tennessee under the administration of former Governor Phil Bredesen as the only Black and female Division Director under former Secretary of State Riley Darnell.
After teaching MasterLife classes at the church (a 24-week training discipleship course), she was encouraged by former Pastor William Buchanan and Dr. Forrest Harris to enroll in the Vanderbilt University Divinity School where in 2007 she received a Masters in Theological Studies degree, with a focus in Church, Ministry and Community.
In 2009, the Fifteenth Avenue Baptist CDC hired her to be its Workforce Development Consultant; and over the next 3 years more than 200 men and women received assistance and getting their G.E.D., having their driving privileges reinstated, and getting prepared to seek employment opportunities in the highway construction industry. The church supported these efforts by providing transportation to training sites, furnishing food and clothing where needed, and hosting graduation celebrations. She served as Chair of the Board of the CDC from 2009 – 2015, and used her knowledge of tax law to partner with the IRS to offer free income tax form preparation to low income members of the Nashville community.
Baking was one of her favorite hobbies; and, that interest paved the way to being invited by MAPCO in 2010 to bake and sell her 3” pecan tarts to this company’s area convenience stores. For the next 5 years, she and fellow partner/church member Herman Patton baked pies in the church’s kitchen and distributed them to over 85 MAPCO and 35 independently-owned stores in the Middle Tennessee area.
In 2011, North Nashville business association J.U.M.P. awarded Ms. Toms its “Unsung Hero” award for efforts toward community development. In 2013, a national magazine named her pecan pie 1 of 25 of the best pies in America, and in subsequent years the bakery an Ms. Toms have been featured in many food magazines and newspapers.
In 2015, she expanded her vision for community development by relocating to the bakery’s current site on Jefferson Street, bring life to God’s promise.
“A sower went out to sow, and as he sowed…seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced.”
Deacon Onie Moore a Native of Dallas Texas and is the oldest of four girls to Oneal and Cora Wynn. She graduated from Killeen High School located in Fort Hood Texas and attended William College of Business in Santa Monica California with a focus on Business Administration
Sis. Moore met her husband, Coetee G Moore, in Killeen Texas and they later relocated to fort Bragg, N C where they were married. In August of 2020 they were blessed to celebrate 56 years of marriage. Their union produced three children and six grandchildren. After a short time they relocated to Ford Campbell Kentucky and soon after to Nashville, TN in 1965. After relocating to Nashville, Tn., Sis. Moore attended Nashville State and completed courses in Organizational Management and continued her education at UT Nashville and Tennessee State University
In 2001 Onie retired from Ford Motor Company, Nashville, after 30 years of service. She began her career as an administrative Assistant in the Purchasing and Traffic Dept. and was ultimately promoted to “Buyer” for parts and accessories in the making of automobile glass for cars and trucks. As Regional Buyer Onie was responsible for purchasing parts for Ford Motor Company Southeast.
After retirement Onie tended to one of her granddaughters for 18 Months before returning to the workforce on a part time basis in a Dental office as Office Manager.
Deacon Moore has been a member of Fifteenth Avenue for about 55 years. She is a daughter of God, who seeks to continue to know God through the reading of his word, attending Sunday School, and Bible Study.
Throughout the years of as a member of Fifteenth Avenue Onie has served God and the Church in multiple capacities including Editor of Church Newsletter, President of the Women's Auxiliary ,President and Secretary of the Deaconess and is an Assistant Sunday School Teacher to the Carlyle Hall Sunday School Class. She has also participated in and attended classes and seminars in the NBC and the Stone District Association Ministry.
As a Christian pioneer Onie was ordained as one of the first of four female deacons of Fifteenth Avenue in March 1998. Another extraordinary first, Onie served as the first female Chair of Deacons from 2014 to 2018.
Deacon Moore's favorite Bible verses are Psalms 37 and Isaiah 40: 28-32. Her hobbies are sewing, reading and watching a good Lifetime drama on TV. But her most favorite pastime is enjoying time with her family especially her grandchildren.
Donnetta Strayhorn Butler has been an active member of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church for 55 years. During those years, she has served in many capacities including Youth Director, President of the Young Women’s Auxiliary, choir member, Chair of Women’s Day; Chair of the Financing Committee for the Worship Center and Vice Chair of the Search Committee for the Sixth Pastor. She initiated relocating the Child Learning Center from Meharry Medical College to the Church and facilitated the relationship for the Church to become a lead partner with the North Nashville Community Development Corporation, the prelude to the FABCDC. She has served as a Church Trustee for 27 years and for the past 7 years served as Chair of Trustees.
Sis. Butler grew up in McKenzie, Tennessee and relocated to Nashville after marrying her high school sweetheart, Bro. George Butler. They worked, pursued their education and career goals, and had a family. They will celebrate 58 years of marriage this year and were blessed with two sons, George, Jr., and Stephen Sean. Spending time with Stephen, his wife Lamona and their three children, CJ, Cassidy, and Hayley is her favorite pastime.
Sis. Butler went to Tennessee State University and received the Bachelor of Science degree (with High Distinction) in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. She began her career working in the Accounting Department at Tennessee State University and over a 25-year period rose through the ranks of various finance and accounting positions in higher education.
In 1994, she was named vice president for finance and administration at Meharry Medical College becoming the first woman to lead the College’s Finance and Administrative Departments. While working at Meharry she earned a Master of Business Administration through the Executive MBA Program in the Massey School of Business at Belmont University. In 2004, at her retirement, she reflected on her tenue by then as senior vice president and her accomplishments.
Following retirement, she spent time on Hilton Head Island and became a Financial Advisor with Merrill Lynch providing wealth management advisory services for individual clients, non-profit and for-profit entities. Following a two-year respite, a former colleague enlisted her to come to Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta where she served as senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer.
Interaction with nature through gardening of herbs and flowers always provided a source of release and relief for Sis. Butler during her education and work career. She stills centers through her contact with nature and has revived lessons learned from her mother of canning and preserving fruits and vegetables.
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