J.E. Choate preached his first sermon at the Wingo Church of Christ at age 22. His primary interests would become family, preaching and teaching.
He was deeply dedicated to preaching and served in the pulpit at the Oak Grove Church of Christ in Kentucky; the Churches of Christ in Dresden and Donelson, TN; as well as Reed Avenue, Eighth Avenue and Eastview Churches in Nashville. He retired from the ministry at the age of 73.
He was a professor of philosophy and religion at David Lipscomb University (1946-86). In October of 2010, Lipscomb University dedicated the front of the James D. Hughes Center as the J.E. Choate Portico in his honor. Dr. Choate was a life long lover of learning. He attended Freed-Hardeman College (1938-40), Murray State College (1940-42), George Peabody Teachers College (1946-47) and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University (1950-54), as well as a BA of Divinity (1954-58). An American western history and Restoration Movement scholar, he authored or co-authored many books. His first publication was The American Cowboy: The Myth and the Reality, reviewed in such publications as Time Magazine and New York Times Book Review.
Dr. Choate's deep dedication to the Church led him to focus on its history. These publications included: Roll Jordan Roll: A Biography of Marshall Keeble and The Anchor That Holds: A Biography of Benton Cordell Goodpasture. Since moving to Jackson, TN in 2010, he made several presentations, including church history videos for Freed Hardeman University and a lecture on Marshall Keeble at East Jackson Church of Christ.