For over 65 years the well-known, historic campus of Tennessee Temple was nestled in the Highland Park community of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since its beginning in 1946, over 100,000 students have come to prepare for their calling in life and have called this place home. The mission of Tennessee Temple University has always been clear; to provide Christ-centered higher education that transforms lives academically and spiritually for the glory of God.

In 1942, Dr. Lee Roberson accepted the pastorate of a small Baptist church in Chattanooga named Highland Park Baptist Church. The leadership and direction of Dr. Roberson brought growth to the church and on July 3, 1946, they voted to establish Tennessee Temple College where preachers, missionaries, and other Christian workers could receive training, led by the Highland Park Baptist Church in the organization of Tennessee Temple Schools.  On January 26, 1948 the church voted again, this time to start Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary which was later renamed to Temple Baptist Theological Seminary.

Tennessee Temple University was originally conceived as a two-year college and Bible school but was soon expanded to incorporate a four-year college. The school experienced steady growth and reached a peak of over 5,000 enrolled.  University status was achieved in 1979 and accreditation was received by the American Association of Bible Colleges (now ABHE) in 1984. In 2000 Tennessee Temple received accreditation by Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).

The church, University and Seminary became larger life under the leadership of Dr. Roberson and was considered the “Cadillac” or “standard for Christian Education”. The ministry became an inspiration for many including a young Jerry Falwell and served as a model for his vision of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Dr. Lee Roberson served as the first president of Tennessee Temple Schools until 1984 when he began to serve as the chancellor of the University. Dr. Roberson served as Chancellor Emeritus until his death at the age of 97. Succeeding Dr. Roberson in the presidency were men such as Dr. J. R. Faulkner, who had served at the side of Dr. Roberson in the leadership of the church and the school for many years, Dr. J. Don Jennings, Dr. L. W. Nichols, Dr. Roger Stiles, Dr. David E. Bouler, and Dr. Danny Lovett. Dr. Steve Echols assumed the leadership role as president of Tennessee Temple University in January 2012.


Temple Baptist Theological Seminary

On January 26, 1948 the church voted to start Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary which was later renamed to Temple Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Roberson served as president, and Dr. Alfred Cierpke as dean. Five years later, the name was changed to Temple Baptist Theological Seminary since the Southern Baptist Convention founded a seminary by the former name. In 1962, Dr. Douglas Cravens became the dean. Dr. J. Don Jennings was selected as President of the school and seminary in 1985 and Dr. Roger Martin as dean.

In June 1993, the university and the seminary were restructured, placing each under the supervision of a separate Board of Trustees and administrative leadership, while maintaining the identity of each as owned by and a ministry of Highland Park Baptist Church. With respect to the seminary, Dr. Lee Roberson was reappointed chancellor, Dr. David E. Bouler, who had been the senior pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church since August 4, 1991, was named vice-chancellor and Dr. Barkev S. Trachian was elected president. The seminary charter was amended in August 1993, to make the name Temple Baptist Seminary official.

April 2005 saw the university and seminary restructured a second time, reuniting the two under the supervision of a single Board of Trustees and the administration of Dr. J. Danny Lovett, the seventh president of Tennessee Temple University, with Temple Baptist Seminary re-establishing itself as the premier graduate division as originally envisioned by the founder, Dr. Lee Roberson. This restructure was confirmed in late November 2005 by the university’s and seminary’s accrediting agency. Fixed firmly to its foundations, Temple Baptist Seminary was committed to training qualified candidates for dynamic leadership in Bible-believing churches and related field ministries, to shaping His shepherds, and to developing disciples with the unchanging Word of God on a global scale.

From the outset, the seminary was committed to upholding the biblical faith historically believed by Baptists. In addition there has been a strong emphasis upon Bible teaching, Christian education, evangelism, and ministry endeavor. With the theme “Preparing for Leadership,” TBS continued to expand its efforts to equip both church leaders and laypersons for the work of the ministry. Most all of Temple Baptist Seminary’s courses are available on-line, enabling studies anywhere worldwide!

Temple Baptist Seminary matriculated students from almost every state and from many foreign countries with many graduates distinguishing themselves as pastors, military and civilian chaplains, teachers, educators, missionaries, and evangelists.

In 2012, TTU realigned its academic programs into three colleges of schools and the Seminary became a part of the School of Theology and Ministry. Also in September 2012, Highland Park Baptist Church announced its visions to relocate to Harrison, TN and change its name to Church of the Highlands. During this transition, changes to the TTU by-laws were unanimously ratified by both the Board of Trustees of TTU and the deacon body of the Church of the Highlands. These by-law changes have ended the formal relationship between the two entities. Yet the heritage of Highland Park Baptist Church will remain an essential part of the lasting legacy of TTU.

In 2013, Dr. Howard D. Owens became the Interim Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry, under the presidency of Dr. Steven F. Echols.

Dr. Steve Echols stated, “Merging with Piedmont International University is a once in a generation opportunity to join with an outstanding Christian institution of higher education that has done incredible good for the Kingdom. The two universities share a connection that stretches back to their founders, Dr. Charles Stevens and Dr. Lee Roberson. The forefathers were close friends who echoed each other’s founding visions. Remarkably, Dr. Roberson once told Dr. Howard Wilburn, then president of Piedmont, “Dr. Stevens and I were great friends, and we established Piedmont and Tennessee Temple within months of each other. The two of us had a gentlemen’s agreement that if either school ever faltered, the two would come together.” Others have also cited Dr. Roberson making mention of this agreement.”

As of April 30, 2015 Tennessee Temple schools merged with Piedmont International University. Piedmont brought over several degree programs like Sign Language Interpreting, as well as The School of Leadership and Temple Baptist Seminary. All TTU alumni and family members will receive a substantial scholarship when they continue education at Piedmont International University.