Lee Roberson

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Lee Edward Roberson (24 November 1909 – 29 April 2007), was the founder of Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Camp Joy, in Harrison, Tennessee.

Roberson was born in a two-room log cabin and spent his first two years on a farm near English, Indiana, a small town in the southern part of the state. Originally named Leverne Edward, he was known throughout his life as "Lee."[1] In 1911, his parents, Charles E. and Dora (Sego) Roberson, took him to a farm near Louisville, Kentucky, where his father farmed, worked on streetcars, and built homes to make a living. In 1923, at the age of fourteen, he was led to the Lord by his faithful Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Daisy Hawes, and joined the Cedar Creek Baptist Church near Louisville.

After spending two years at the Louisville Male High School, where he received a diploma in public accounting when he was fourteen years old, Roberson then attended the Fern Creek High School, where he played football and graduated after four years.

Roberson entered Old Bethel College in Russellville, Kentucky, in 1926, and completed one year there. 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 continued his education at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he studied under Dr. A.T. Robertson. At the age of nineteen, he was called to a church in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, but he did not accept.

In his early years, 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 served as a soloist on the staff of radio station WHAS of Louisville and WSM in Nashville, Tennessee. Doors also opened in the field of secular music. Roberson was offered a contract by Gaetano Salvatore de Luca at the Nashville Conservatory of Music. After a discussion with De Luca, Roberson decided to give up musical performance, and declined on grounds that such a music career was not in accordance with his divine calling to the ministry.[2]

The first church that Roberson served as pastor was in Germantown, Tennessee, while he was in college. In 1932, he was called to be pastor of the Temple Baptist Church in Green Brier, Tennessee. It was there that he began emphasizing the Second Coming of Christ. After three years with the Green Brier Church, Roberson entered full-time evangelistic work in 1935. He served as evangelist of the Birmingham Baptist Association; and within two years, he conducted some fifty revivals in the Birmingham area.

It was in Birmingham that he met Miss Caroline Allen, who, on October 9, 1937, became Mrs. Lee Roberson.

On the first Sunday in November 1937, Roberson became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fairfield, Alabama.

In 1939, Roberson was asked to be the state evangelist for Alabama, but he declined.

After five years with the Fairfield church, Roberson was called to the Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga in November 1942. Four years later, Roberson founded Tennessee Temple University and Zion College. Two years later in 1948, a theological seminary, Southeastern Baptist Seminary (later renamed Temple Baptist Seminary in 1954) was added. His ministry would continue to branch out into the areas of radio, a citywide bus ministry, and the founding of Camp Joy. Highland Park Baptist Church would grow, at one point, to be one of the largest churches in the United States.

He preached his last service as pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church on April 27, 1983, but continued preaching across the nation and publishing many books. He continued this work until his death.

Roberson died two years after his wife's death. His legacy includes strong preaching, Bible based standards, and an uncompromising devotion to God.



Reese, Edward. The Life and Ministry of Lee Roberson. Glenwood, Ill: Fundamental Publishers, 1975.

Terry, Lindsay. A Daring Faith in a Hazardous World: Build a Courageous Lifestyle with Lee Roberson. Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International, 2006.

Wigton, James H. Lee Roberson -- Always About His Father's Business. Xulon Press, 2010. (ISBN 1609579887)


  1. ^ High School diploma of Leverne Edward Roberson, Louisville Male High School, Louisville, Kentucky
  2. ^ Roberson, Lee. Double-Breasted. Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1977. pg. 36