Less than three years ago, the earliest members of the High Point Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Fellowship were worshiping in Dennis Li’s family living room. The group has grown rapidly, however, establishing itself as a spiritual presence in Ooltewah.
While attending an Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries convention in 2017 in Texas, out of hundreds of attendees, Li, a December 2019 Southern graduate, happened to be assigned to sit at dinner with members of the Su Casa Spanish-American Church in Collegedale.
That September, the Chinese congregation began to meet at Su Casa for Friday vespers and in room 3009 of Brock Hall for Sabbath morning church services. More Chinese families, students and community members started to attend the worship service. Slowly, the attendance began to grow from just a dozen attendees to around 20 to 30 people. Today their congregation continues to have consistent attendance between 50 and 80 people.
After some time of prayer and conversation, in September of 2019, the Chinese congregation, Su Casa congregation and a strong volunteer force started renovations at High Point Church on Camp Road. They finished enough to start holding Sabbath services on Oct. 5.
“We felt a burden to start a ministry in this area,” Li said. “We wanted another place to minister to students; somewhere local where they feel that they belong. Anyone willing to be used by God can get involved. It’s about the church.”
They have rapidly developed ministries including a youth ministry, a children’s ministry, a prayer ministry and a hospitality ministry. Additionally, non-Christian members of the community have attended church services simply to experience Chinese culture and community.
“We are a young church. Students are our pianists, tell our children’s stories, lead our Sabbath schools and some help in the kitchen,” Li said.
In December, they held a Christmas Show where some Southern students played instruments and sang.
“It was amazing. The music was so good,” said Emma Jordan, freshman health science major who attended the concert.
Marcus Abejar, a senior studying marketing, admired that “it was another Asian church in the area that was family-based, had potluck and [his] group of friends easily got involved.”
Nando Welan, a senior studying marketing at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, has attended nearly every Saturday since the church’s public opening.
“One thing I noticed is that they have good energy; super warm, and welcoming,” Welan said.
On Sunday, Jan. 19, they hosted a Chinese New Year celebration in the church’s parking lot. The celebration featured a traditional Chinese “Dragon Dance,” Chinese cuisine, red lantern decorations and more.
According to Li, the church looks forward to providing Chinese lessons, an English as a Second Language program, cooking classes and more community events in the future.
Address: 3450 Camp Road Apison, Tennessee 37302
Sabbath Service: Saturday 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Main Service: Saturday 10:15
Vespers: Friday 7-8:30 p.m.
Prayer Meeting: Tuesday 7-8:30]