In 1977, two visionary brothers, Alvin Adkisson and Thomas Gill, Sr., had the idea to organize a state-wide conference to provide Tennessee youth with encouragement, knowledge, and the spiritual ammunition to navigate through life. From their vision, the conference became an annual event, patterned after the National Youth Conference, including conference themes, pageants, and Bible Bowl competitions.

The State Youth Conference adopts the theme of the National Conference each year. Over the years, many young people have been recognized for their talents and Bible knowledge.

Alvin Adkisson was born on December 7, 1926, in Bell Town, Cheatam County, Tennessee. He was born to Phillip Jeremiah Adkisson and Effie Ann Robinson Adkisson, the fifth of five children.

Bro. Adkisson attended the following schools: Ashcraft Elementary School; Washington Junior High School; and Pearl High School, where he graduated in 1945. His college education included a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Tennessee A & I State University, in 1950, and a Master’s in Education Administration from East Tennessee State University in 1958.

He taught at Pike County Agricultural High School in Magnolia, Mississippi, in 1951. He served as Principal at various schools. He was the Principal of Pike County High School and later the Principal of Eva Gordon Attendance Center from 1959 to 1964. He was the Principal of O.H. Barnard High School in Centerville, Tennessee, in 1964, and Principal of Hickman County High School from 1969 -1970. He later moved to the Central Office of the Hickman School System, where he retired in 1992. His love for children enabled him to put several young men who drove for him through college.

In 1961, he was instrumental in organizing a youth trip for the children of Nashville Churches of Christ to attend their first National Youth Conference in Houston, Texas. He became a Youth Director for the National Youth Council in 1963.

Alvin Phillip Adkisson entered eternal rest on August 10, 2006, after a long illness.

Thomas Edward Gill Sr. was inspired by the word of God as a child. He was baptized at the age of nine at the Jefferson Street Church of Christ. He states that, “the only thing a youngster was allowed to do in those days was to collect song books after each service and stack them on a table,” Many of the elderly Christians encouraged him and had a great deal of influence on his life. When Thomas was about twelve years old, his parents began working with the 15th Avenue Church of Christ, where Thomas served as one of the song leaders for many years. In 1956, he graduated from Hayes High School and attended Tennessee A&I State College (Tennessee State University).

In later years, he and his parents placed membership at the Whites Creek Pike Church of Christ, where he continued to work in the church. It was there that he met and married the late Mattie Sanders Gill, and this union lasted until her death. They had two children, Brenda and Thomas Jr. (Tommy).

In 1974, Thomas and his family placed membership at Schrader Lane Church of Christ, where he continues to be very active. He has a special “love” for the young. He assisted Alvin Adkisson as youth coordinator. Together, they organized the first Tennessee State Youth Conference in 1978.

In 1982, Thomas was ordained as a deacon and served in that capacity for fives years. In 1987, he was ordained as elder. Presently, he is retired after working as Area Supervisor of Operations for Metropolitan-Nashville Public Schools for thirty-eight years. He loves the outdoors, and his hobbies include gardening and “braking for yard sales.” He is married to Barbara Smith Gill. In addition to Brenda and Tommy, their blended family consists of two other children, Sharon Smith Segovia and Ronald L. Smith. Their family also includes a daughter-in-law, Donna Gill, son-in-law, Condell Segovia; grandchildren: Jasmine, Juston Gill, and Patrick Segovia.