In the later 1700’s, a community later named Ball Camp was taking shape. The exact date of the community’s origin is unknown, but history reveals it to be one of Knoxville’s oldest communities. The Knoxville Gazette, December 22, 1793, reports that Creek Indians killed Nicholas Ball, firing “seven bullets through the clothes of Mr. Ball previous to the one which put an end to his existence.” Later the community would be named for Nicholas Ball, who served in The Revolutionary War. Little is known about the community, until Joel Calloway Morris and his wife, Nancy established a tannery on the banks of Plumb Creek in the mid 1800’s. Joe’s uncle, William, donated land in 1841, for the rebuilding of Beaver Ridge Baptist Church, later known as Ball Camp Baptist Church.
The church records prior to 1818 are unknown. However, Beaver Ridge Church existed in the August, 1797 minutes of Holston Baptist Association. Twenty-one church members were present as messengers, which indicates that the church was already in existence. Among the early church members were William Robertson, Jesse C. Councill, Thomas Hudeburg, Obed Patty, William Johnson, Francis Hamilton and Aquila Low. The church became a charter member of the Tennessee Baptist Association in 1802. The name was later changed to Knox County Association of Baptists in 1917, and the church has retained membership therein.
Records reveal that the church has had three different names, culminating with the name Ball Camp Baptist Church from 1887, to the present. There have been five houses of worship, the first of these being built in 1815, in the Beaver Ridge Community on Emory Road. This log building was used by other denominations, and it was also used as a public school. The second building was constructed in 1830, out of logs, at our present location in the Ball Camp Community. The third building was constructed in 1839, and was made of brick. This building was damaged during the Civil War and would be replaced with a white clapboard building in 1877. It was not until 1960-61 that the present sanctuary would be built. Education buildings were added in 1954, 1976, and 1988-90.
From the earliest days, Ball Camp Baptist Church had demonstrated its missionary zeal. Ball Camp partners with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as well as other agencies to be the presence of Christ around the world. Some of our recent regional mission efforts have been assisting tornado victims in Alabama and remodeling low-income family homes in eastern Kentucky. Ball Camp currently has international partnerships with the Podgaisky family in Ukraine, Eastview Baptist Church in Ottawa, Canada, and with an unreached people group in Northern Africa. Locally, teams are currently involved with the Baptist Center at Western Heights, Lost Sheep Ministries, Family Promise, and Habitat for Humanity.
Today, Ball Camp Baptist Church is poised for a bright and shining future. Dedicated members and leaders, responding to the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit, have increased the church’s stature to the point of being a leader in the local community in many ways.