The Scenic City offers more than just a great location and stunning backdrop – it also boasts a beautiful mosaic of cultures and religions where all faiths are welcome. Residents and visitors alike come out in masses to nurture their faiths at diverse and engaging places of worship, nonprofit ministries with a mission to help others, and faith-based educational institutions.
According to a recent study by Barna Group, Chattanooga ties for the top spot among American cities when it comes to church attendance, with 59% of its population attending a church service over the last week at the time of publication. While a wide range of faiths are represented throughout the city, the following are among the most prominent and offer an array of resources to anyone living, working in, or visiting Chattanooga.
Members of the Baptist church make up over a quarter of Chattanooga’s religious population. At over a hundred churches in the Chattanooga area, they make up the largest number of churchgoers in the city and offer a variety of resources for everyone. Ministries include the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at University of Chattanooga (UTC) as well as chapters at other local colleges. In addition, many churches offer small groups, Sunday school, and children’s ministries. Some also offer counseling for individuals struggling with issues such as the death of a loved one or mental health. The Baptist community here in the Scenic City has an abundance of schools for children of all ages. Some of these include Brainerd Baptist School, Berean Academy, and Silverdale Baptist Academy. These schools offer a wide variety of spiritual enrichment programs, including weekly chapel services and Bible classes.
Local Catholic parishes include the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, St. Jude Catholic Church, and St. Stephen Catholic Church. Youth programs are active among these parishes and occasional retreats are held. In addition, Spanish services are available as well as plenty of opportunities to serve all around the Scenic City. Charities that are supported by local Catholic churches include The Food Bank, Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and Good Samaritan. Catholic schools in the city include the St. Jude School, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), and Notre Dame High School. Mass services are held frequently and the curriculum is centered around a Catholic foundation.
Church of Christ
For those looking for a Church of Christ house of worship, there are locations on offer all over Chattanooga, including the downtown area, Red Bank, East Brainerd, St. Elmo, and more. Central Church of Christ has been established downtown for over a century, and they offer ministries for youth, college, young adult, and senior worshipers. The East Brainerd Church of Christ also offers small groups for attendees of all ages, as well as worship and Bible classes for Spanish speakers. Through their community service ministry, the church packs snack bags for underserved school children at the beginning of each month. There are also many mission programs sponsored by local members of the denomination, such as Red Bank Church of Christ, that serve countries in Central America, Asia, and Africa. Other Church of Christ locations of worship in the area include East Ridge Church of Christ, Clear Creek Church of Christ, Avondale Church of Christ, and Brown’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, all of which offer ministries and services for a variety of age groups.
The Episcopal church also has several established places of worship in Chattanooga’s religious community. They have made their mark in the city with plenty of resources for members and non-members alike. Grace Episcopal Church, located off of Belvoir Avenue, hosts the Brainerd Farmer’s Market for nine months of the year starting in April and ending in December. They also host plenty of services and camps for children and small groups for adults in all walks of life. Other notable Episcopal churches in the area include St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Christ Church, both located in downtown Chattanooga. Christ Church offers a hospitality hour that allows for members of the congregation to meet after the service for a time of prayer and conversation. Local schools include St. Nicholas School and St. Peter’s Episcopal School. Both schools have chapel services varying from daily to weekly meetings.
There are three Islamic places of worship in the Scenic City. The Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga is the largest mosque in Chattanooga, with hundreds of people coming to pray on Fridays. The mosque offers many different resources and services to its congregation, such as Sunday school for children, Halaqa (a study circle), and radio programs that air every Sunday morning. In addition to these resources, the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga also has a school for young Muslim children called Annoor Academy. Other area mosques include the Islamic Center located on Cemetery Avenue and the Al Kalem Bih Islamic Center, located on McBrien Road. Monthly prayer times can be found on the Al Kalem Bih Islamic Center’s Facebook page, with prayer starting as early as 6:18 in the morning and going as late as nearly 7 in the evening.
While there may only be a handful of Jewish synagogues in the city, they are abundant with worship. The Chabad Jewish Center of Chattanooga has become a hub for those looking for a church and aims to strengthen the local Jewish community by promoting Jewish pride, study, and celebration. They offer traditional synagogue services and weekly readings of the Torah among other resources. Other synagogues are also located around Chattanooga such as the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga and the Mizpah Congregation. The Mizpah Congregation offers study groups and studies on the Torah for its members and even has a book club for those interested. With the Chabad Jewish Center, the Hebrew School offers a vigorous education for Jewish children. Serving children aged 6 to 13, the Hebrew School’s mission is to provide education that inspires their students and nurtures a genuine understanding of Judaism.
There are a dozen churches around the city dedicated to the Lutheran denomination. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has three different services to choose from on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. They also offer Bible studies and have an outreach program for the homeless population of Chattanooga. Their ministries include an active youth program for students ranging from 6th grade to college and a children’s ministry called Kingdom Kids. Other ministries for adults include a quilting ministry for members of the church, a partnership with other local churches to feed the homeless, and a hospital outreach program for feeding people in local ICUs. First Lutheran Church, another highly regarded option for those of Lutheran faith, has many outreach ministries to connect with the people of Chattanooga. Church members frequently volunteer with the Chattanooga Community Kitchen and have a food pantry that they keep stocked for those who need it. In addition to their outreach programs, they offer various Bible studies and Sunday school classes for kids and adults.
Local schools include Belvoir Christian Academy, formerly the Lutheran School. Weekly chapel services are offered and Bible classes are included in the required curriculum.
With around 30 churches in the area, Methodism has been well-established in the city. Major churches include Christ United Methodist Church, which has a congregation of over 5,000 people. The church has plenty of resources for its members to stay connected, as well as a host of outreach programs established with other local churches and ministries. In addition to their outreach programs, their youth programs are quite active. An array of events designed for children take place on Wednesday nights and Sundays, and the youth program offers small groups that meet every week. Another major Methodist church in the city is First-Centenary United Methodist Church (FCUMC) which has a congregation of over 2,700 people. FCUMC has a lot of resources for their members, including a variety of Sunday school classes for adults and children, an active youth program, and much more. There are choirs for both adults and children to become involved in, and there are also multiple outreach programs, including Family Promise, which is an overnight shelter program that FCUMC partners with.
Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints)
Mormons make up a small amount of the church crowd in Chattanooga, as the only two temples in the entire state are located in Nashville and Memphis. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of chapels and meetinghouses here in the Scenic City, and the Mormon church has continued to grow over the years, with churches popping up in Ooltewah, Hixson, and Cleveland. Other sites are located downtown and can be found on Wilson Street and Plumwood Road. Resources that local churches have to offer range from women’s groups, youth groups, children’s classes, and other programs targeted to the entire congregation such as Ministering, a program that focuses on making sure that each member of the congregation has someone they can lean on for support at all times.
The Pentecostal Church is another popular denomination in the area. With other major denominations such as The Church of God and the Assemblies of God deriving from Pentecostalism, churches can be found in many different areas of Chattanooga that offer services and many resources for members and non-members, and the Pentecostal church is one of the fastest growing religious groups in the world. Prominent Pentecostal churches in the area are located in East Ridge, McDonald, Cleveland, and North Georgia. Churches like The Pentecostals of East Ridge have many different ministries, including a ladies’ ministry, children’s ministry, Spanish ministry, and YoungLife ministry. Other churches in the area have similar programs, and Heritage Fellowship has a college ministry along with a discipleship program. Schools in the area associated with the Pentecostal Church include Lee University in Cleveland. Chapel services are held twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and other worship events are held frequently.
There are many Presbyterian churches to be found across the city. Prominent churches include First Presbyterian Church, with a congregation topping 2,000 people. The church has plenty of resources for its members, such as women’s groups, small groups for children and adults alike, and a 13-week grief workshop. Other prominent Presbyterian churches in Chattanooga also include Second Presbyterian Church and Covenant Presbyterian Church, each with their own ministries for its members. Second Presbyterian has partnered with the Chattanooga Community Kitchen to form the St. Matthews Shelter, a program focused on taking in homeless people to help them get back on their feet. The shelter is open from 5:30 p.m. every night until 6:30 a.m. the next morning. Other ministries offered include the Moccasin Bend Worship Companions, where every third Sunday members of the church attend a chapel service with those living at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institution. While many other local churches also participate, Second Presbyterian Church has been a part of the program for 25 years.
Seventh Day Adventist
Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) churches can be found all around Chattanooga, with churches located in Ooltewah, Harrison, Georgetown, and Rising Fawn. Some of the resources that one local church, Ooltewah Seventh Day Adventist Church, offer include an active choir complete with a brass ensemble in accompaniment. Sabbath School is another resource that many SDA churches offer to their congregations, all of which have different meeting times and places. Furthermore, children’s and youth programs are also offered in addition to Sabbath School and the regular service. Some of the local schools in the area include Southern Adventist University, located in Collegedale, Avondale SDA School, and Ooltewah Adventist School (OAKS). OAKS is associated with the Ooltewah Seventh Day Adventist Church, as are several other schools in the area.