Loudon Avenue Christian Church is located at 730 Loudon Avenue, NW. For some years it was located on Gainsboro Road, NW, and has served residents of Gainsboro for many decades. It was founded in 1898 to serve members of the Disciples of Christ who had migrated to Roanoke and wanted a local church congregation.
The church’s organizational meeting was held in Ole Time Reformer’s Hall on Commonwealth Avenue, NE, followed by meetings at Old South Hall on Ninth Avenue, NE. Once organized,
the congregation began to meet in the Primitive Baptist Church, which was located on Gainsboro Road, NW. The church’s first minister was Rev. Reed Spencer. Later, the congregation moved to Ninth Avenue, SE, and took the name Ninth Avenue Christian Church.
In 1947 the congregation moved to its present location on Loudon Avenue and changed its name to match. This church building was formerly the First Church of the Brethren. Over the years the church has been updated and expanded, and an administrative and education wing was constructed in 1994.
Reverend Bill Lee and His Mission
Reverend William L. Lee took over the pastorate in 1977, beginning a 39-year term with the church. Rev. Lee attended Virginia State College and Duke Divinity School. He encouraged the congregation at Louden Avenue Church to establish connections throughout the city and across racial lines.
Loudon Avenue sponsored the first HIV-AIDS awareness interdenominational ministers’ conference in the Roanoke Valley. In 2004 Rev. Lee took his AIDS outreach to a new level. He stood in the pulpit and took an oral AIDS test to raise awareness of how the condition affected Black Virginians, specifically in Roanoke. After his own test was completed, he announced that Loudon Avenue Church would start offering confidential HIV/AIDS testing. Rev. Lee wanted his congregation to not turn their backs on another marginalized group, those in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2007 AIDS activist Dale Anthony presented Rev. Lee with the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Adams, M. (2011, December 2). Pastor named citizen of the year. The Roanoke Times.
Jackson, T. (2004, February 23). Pastor uses pulpit to open dialogue on HIV among blacks. The Roanoke Times.
Loudon Avenue Chriatian Church. (1996). Loudon Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) membership directory. [Pamphlet]. Gainsboro Branch Library Vertical Files, Roanoke, VA, United States.
Macy, B. (2005, February 20). The Rev. Bill Lee. The Roanoke Times.
Marcy, J. (2007, January 5). Pastor honored for AIDS-related work. The Roanoke Times.