By Mike Steely
How do you celebrate 150 years of church history?
Founded the year following the end of the Civil War the First United Methodist Church of Knoxville has a long and proud history. During the years the congregation has had many notable pastors and has worshiped at three different locations, now located at 3316 Kingston Pike.
As you drive into the church the first thing you will see is a large cornerstone sitting on the ground near the chapel. The huge stone has the dates 1866-1893, the dates of the first two churches.
The first church was at the southwest corner of Clinch and Market Streets downtown and the second was on the corner of Church and Locust Streets, also downtown. The first services of the early Methodist followers were held on July 8, 1866 in the Circuit Courtroom of the old Knoxville Courthouse and was organized by Rev. J.B. Ford and 30 followers. One of the first trustees was William G. (Parson) Brownlow, then a circuit riding Methodist minister.
On Saturday, July 16th , the celebration of the church’s long history starts with a potluck dinner on the grounds complete with music, games, videos, pictures, a special program, an alumni choir rehearsal and much more. The festivities begin at 5 p.m. at the pavilion behind the church.
On Sunday, July 17th, there’s a brunch at 9:30 in the Fellowship Hall followed by a special morning worship service at 10:45 in the Sanctuary. A former minister, Rev. Darris Doyal, will be speaking and the alumni choir will perform.
The church will also have an updated archives display in the Fellowship Hall on both days that will include slideshows and videos of past church events and a sharing of memories. Anyone with items or photographs they would like to be included are asked to contact Lauren Robinson at the church office. You can call her at (865)525-0435.
You can find more information online at www.firstunitedmethodistchurch.org.