Part I - 1818-1876 - Written by W. Russell Briscoe
Part II - 1877-1968 - Written by Katherine Boies Buehler
One delves into the past mainly because of its bearing on the present, its promise for the future, and the lessons we learn or should learn, for history has an uncanny way of repeating itself, mainly because people faced with similar problems fail to note the past and make the same mistakes over again. The study of it stirs one within as he reads of the struggles to overcome the strife and adversity of his forefathers. It fills one with the ambition to overcome his ever present troubles, solve them and continue to march forward.
So, in putting down on paper the true history of the subject to be dealt with, one cannot distort the facts and, so to speak, paint a pretty picture. For one cannot gloss over with pretty pictures the facts which reveal the innermost thoughts and actions of people which make them as they are.
In writing this particular history, the history of the Second Presbyterian Church of Knoxville, Tennessee, we need to go back to the beginning of the early settlement of this area, take a look at these early people, delve into their background, the life and times in which they lived, so that we will know what manner of man founded and made up the early congregations of this Church.
In writing this brief history of Second Presbyterian Church we have shared a common objective-to try to write an account which is based as much as possible upon original sources, with an attempt to show the Church in all of her dimensions during the past hundred and fifty years. We regret, of course, the impossibility of mentioning by name all of the men and women who have served her so nobly and without whose help she could never have gone forward as she has.
Part I - 1818-1876 - Written by W. Russell Briscoe
In the late 1700s, the first settlers were beginning their trek down the valley from Virginia, over the mountains from North Carolina into what is now Tennessee-settling in spots that suited them or pushing on down the valley-and we are concerned in this history of those and their descendants, and those who came later, who settled in this area, and particularly those of the Presbyterian faith who founded the Second Presbyterian Church.
The early settlers in this area, despite the flowery thoughts of their later-day descendants that they were aristocrats, wealthy, first families, and highly polished cavaliers, they were nothing of the sort. Instead, they were rugged, self-willed, a brave and courageous people, and somewhat obstinate in their views. But, best of all, they were individualists.
Life for them was a struggle, full of dangers and troubles, as it always has been and always will be for a free people. These people were rough in appearance, wore rugged clothing and were more the color of the earth on which they trod than the pink cheeked, powdered wigged individuals that we so often picture. This was due to their constant contact with sun, rain, wind, cold and living close to the soil and their livestock.
However, do not let me give you the impression that they were an unkempt lot, for nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, they were intelligent, enterprising, hardy adventurers, who feared nothing but God, and in Him they had a deep and abiding faith. No community in this Union was ever to be settled by a people superior to them. These people were not hunters, as we think of the early explorers (here today, gone tomorrow), instead, they were artisans, preachers, farmers, teachers; earnest, serious, brave people for whom life had a stern meaning. They were to fell the forest, till the soil, build the schools and plant the churches.
Practically all of them were of pure Irish or Scottish descent, many of whom were related to the "Covenanters." These people all considered themselves equal and interpreted the Bible to suit themselves, with a perfect freedom of conscience. They did not intend to have their freedom tampered with, through either Church or State. As a result, these God-fearing men, Presbyterians for the most part, met in convention at Knoxville in 1796 to frame the Constitution of the State of Tennessee. And there they revealed their innermost thoughts on freedom, and their work is a monument to their foresight and intelligence. Though our State Constitution has been altered somewhat since that time, the first two Sections of Article 1 dealing with freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom against arbitrary power and oppression, still stand as originally written.
Perhaps there was nowhere a greater necessity for those rugged old Presbyterians to exercise their influence than here in Knoxville and the area surrounding it, for in those backwoods there were many lawless people who hated that which was good because it was approved by others. They lived lives of abandonment, tried to drive out both magistrates and preachers, and killed without scruple. In such cases, had the peaceful principles of the Quakers been allowed to have full scope, the good people of this area would have been exterminated.
The early Presbyterian preachers in this area, in common with their flock, tilled their fields with rifles only a jump away; and on Sundays delivered their sermons with as much earnestness and eloquence, if not with as much scholarship as those of the present day, and the axiom in common with their neighbors was "to keep their powder dry." They firmly believed in putting first things first and stood for no foolishness.
So much for those early Presbyterians who settled this area and founded Knoxville. They were rugged individualists who led their lives as their own consciences dictated. They were as sturdy, upright, God-fearing men, and as intelligent a race of men as history has ever known.
These early Knoxville Presbyterians had been worshipping in one place or another, often out of doors in good weather; until in 1816 they built a church building on the north-east corner of State and Church Streets. Officially, it became the First Presbyterian Church; however, its members referred to it as the "Meeting House."
All was not peace and harmony and almost as soon as the house of worship was completed, trouble began. A disaffection arose among the members and those who were dissatisfied sent up a petition to Union Presbytery for permission to organize a new congregation. One of the several points of disagreement was the matter of renting the pews. Another was in matters of doctrine. Hopkinsianism was the controversial field of those days. "Old Calvinists" and "Hopkinsians"; "Old School" and "New School"; "Original Sin" and "Imputation"-those were the battle cries among theologians. They seem like dying embers now, but they were burning issues in 1818.
The petition for a separate church organization was refused by the Presbytery and it went up to the Synod of Tennessee on appeal. A remonstrance was also sent up, which the Synod disregarded. They overruled the decision of the Presbytery and ordered the petitioners to organize the Second Presbyterian Church. An appeal was taken by the First Presbyterian Church to the General Assembly, but the decision and orders of the Synod were allowed to stand.
And, so came into being the Second Presbyterian Church in the manner set out above; but in this place, it is proper to present more of the details.
Near the close of the 18th century, the Reverend Isaac Anderson, one of the ablest men that ever preached the gospel in Tennessee, organized Washington Presbyterian Church in Knox County and also established a school known as Union Academy. It was the custom then of the Presbyterian ministers to teach as well as preach. Reverend Anderson was also the principal agent in establishing the Southern and Western Theological Seminary, which later was incorporated as Maryville College. Dr. Anderson was one of those in East Tennessee who had adopted Hopkinsianism and under his preaching, many of his hearers, not only of his own congregation, but also members of neighboring churches, were converted to his beliefs.
By some of the members of the First Presbyterian Church, he was invited to preach to them in 1818, accepted the invitation, and thus initiated the movement which resulted in the organization of the Second Presbyterian Church which was effected October 24, 1818.
The five elders chosen to the first Board were: Archibald Rhea, John McCampbell, Thomas Craighead, Joseph Brown and John Taylor.
A piece of ground containing one acre was purchased from Gideon Morgan on the west side of Prince Street (now Market) extending from Clinch to Union Avenue.
Construction of a house of worship was immediately begun. The work was so far completed that the building was dedicated by Dr. Anderson in April of 1820.
The building was built of brick, and as was the custom then in this red clay country, the brick was burned either on the site or a short distance away. It was a very unpretentious structure about 40 feet wide and 75 feet long. It stood on the south side of the lot very close to Clinch Avenue, which it faced.
It was several years before the inside was finished, but it served its purpose well, and in a very few years its ceiling was installed, pews replaced wooden benches, the walls were plastered over and it took on a finished look. Outside it was surrounded by a wooden fence made of slabs laid horizontally and fastened to the upright posts by wood pegs, then whitewashed.
The front of the Church was also whitewashed, however, the sides and back were left their natural brick finish. This method of treatment to brick structures was quite common in the early 1800s. The hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson near Nashville, is an example.
Adorning the roof at the front center was an octagonal belfry. The bell was not installed until several years after the completion of the Church. It was most likely cast in either Philadelphia or Baltimore and brought to Knoxville by wagon-train. This is only an assumption, since no known record exists of the exactness of the bell; only that one existed and since other bells were brought into Knoxville in the manner set out, it is safe to assume the first bell of the Second Presbyterian Church came here in like manner.
Shortly after the Church was constructed, a grave yard was opened to the rear along what is now Union Avenue on the north end of the lot and extended down the west side of the present Market Street. Many a pine box was lowered into the ground in this early grave yard, for the mortality rate was extremely high in those early days, especially among young children, for little was known how to combat the contagious diseases of childhood and many a sad procession passed through the picket gate in the whitewashed fence.
The aforementioned Dr. Anderson was the first pastor of the church and served for ten years, 1819-1829, and here it is proper to give a biography of Dr. Isaac Anderson, for it was he who was responsible for the founding of the Second Presbyterian Church.
He was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, 10 miles from Lexington, on March 26, 1780. Preacher, theologian and educator, he was the eldest child of William Anderson, who was a farmer, and Nancy McCampbell Anderson. His Scotch-Irish grandparents, both paternal and maternal, emigrated from Ireland in the early part of the 1700s. His early education was obtained in a private school and he was also a student at Liberty Hall near Lexington, Virginia. He early decided to enter the ministry and received instruction in theology from Reverend Samuel Brown, pastor of the New Providence Presbyterian Church in Rockbridge County and after his family moved to Knox County, Tennessee, he continued his instruction from Dr. Samuel Carrick.
He was ordained to the ministry by the Union Presbytery in 1802 and soon had two pastorates, that of Lebanon-in-the-Forks and of Washington Church, both in Knox County. He also preached throughout East Tennessee describing a circuit of about 150 miles around which he traveled, preaching every day. On his farm, he opened a school which he named Union Academy, which existed for 10 years and gave some educational opportunities to young men who wished to be trained for the ministry. This Academy was the predecessor of Maryville College. In 1942, the College placed a monument to mark the site of Union Academy and the unveiling and dedication was sponsored by the Simon Harris Chapter, Daughters of American Revolution. In 1812, the Reverend Anderson went to Maryville as pastor of New Providence Church, which had become one of the most important churches in East Tennessee. He continued as pastor of this church for 45 years.
During 10 years of that period, 1819-1829, he gave half his time to the Second Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, which he organized near the end of 1818. During the war of 1812, he served as Chaplain of a brigade of Tennessee soldiers commanded by General James White. In 1819, largely through Dr. Anderson's efforts, the Synod of Tennessee adopted plans for a Southern and Western Seminary. Until 1840, the chief work of the Synodical Institution was theological, in which for years Dr. Anderson was the only teacher in its Theological Department. But the College Department gradually increased in importance and by 1850 the Seminary had about ceased to exist. A Charter with the name Maryville College had been granted by the State in 1842. Dr. Anderson, in addition to his work as pastor of New Providence Church, continued as President of Maryville College until 1854 when his health gave way to such an extent that it became necessary for him to give up most of his work.
In 1802, Dr. Anderson married Flora McCampbell, daughter of Andrew McCampbell. Of their six children, only one, Samuel, lived to maturity. He died in 1841. The death of his son, followed by that of his wife in 1852, and four years later the loss by fire of his home and all of its contents, including his library, were crushing blows from which Dr. Anderson never recovered. His last years were spent at Rockford in Blount County with his daughter-in-law and her second husband, Rev. John Caldwell. He died January 28, 1857 in his 77th year, a remarkable age for the times, and was buried in the cemetery of New Providence Church. His body was later moved to the campus of Maryville College. Rev. Isaac Anderson was a man of strong belief, great courage, and untiring energy, and no history of Second Presbyterian Church would be complete without this short biography of its founder.
Between the years 1829 to 1831, the pulpit of Second Presbyterian Church was seemingly occupied by supply preachers. A gap of approximately two years existed after Dr. Anderson relinquished his post before Rev. Jefferson E. Montgomery appears on the scene. He filled the pulpit from 1831 until 1838 and no record of his background or age exists. In 1840, after another gap of approximately two years, Rev. William Mack, age 33, was engaged as pastor. He served for three years until 1844.
Reverend Mack was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and evidently a well-educated man, whose preaching ran along evangelistic lines. After leaving his next ministry at the First Church of Columbia, Tennessee, he devoted the rest of his life to evangelism. He died at Columbia, South Carolina, January 10, 1879.
Following Dr. Mack, the Reverend John W. Cunningham preached from 1845 to 1846. He was born in Washington County, Tennessee, in 1803, took a literary course at Washington College, Tennessee, and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, in 1829. For a time, he was Professor of Biblical Literature at Theological Seminary, Hanover, Indina (sic) He held pastorates at Jonesboro and Knoxville, Tennessee; LaPorte, Indiana; Nova, Lena and Naperville, Illinois. He died at Naperville, February 8, 1874.
Next to be called was the Reverend Joseph H. Myers, who was born at Waterford, New York, October 29, 1817. He graduated from the University of Vermont and Union Theological Seminary, New York. He was ordained to the ministry in 1843, preached at East Poultney, VT., St. Augustine, Florida, Plainfield, New Jersey, Milton, New York, and Fernandina, Florida, in addition to his ministry at Second Presbyterian Church, where he was called in 1847 at the age of 30 and served until 1851. He died in Washington D. C., November 10, 1890.
Reverend Joseph H. Martin, born near Dandridge, Tennessee, August 11, 1825, a graduate of East Tennessee University (now the University of Tennessee) in 1843 and from Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1846, served as pastor of Second Presbyterian Church from 1851 until 1863, when the church was closed during the Civil War.
East Tennesseans, by their very nature and background, have ever been a people to assert themselves. Taking the side in a controversy they feel is right and standing their ground, and during the years from its founding and leading up to the Civil War, Second Presbyterian Church played an important part in the shaping of Knoxville and the surrounding territory, and its influence many times spread far beyond these boundaries.
Not many years after its founding, the ugly issue of slavery poked its head over the horizon and it was to end in a blood bath.
There were few slave holders in this area, but enough, coupled with those who believed it was a man's right to own slaves if he so desired, to split the issue right down the middle. And with such a division, not one-sided, as it was in most of the South, nothing but serious trouble could ensue. When it invaded the church, it caused bitter enmities, dissensions and division among the members.
In the new school General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church held in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1857, a movement was made to discredit slave holding members of the church, and to bring charges directly and indirectly against their Christian character. With this action the roof fell in, causing intense feeling throughout the South and resulting in a Convention being called in Richmond, Virginia, August 27, 1857. Horace Maynard, an elder in Second Presbyterian Church and one of Knoxville's most prominent citizens, was unanimously elected President of the Convention.
A report was presented and adopted, a portion of it being, "Whereas, in the Judgement of the Convention there is no prospect of the cessation of this agitation of slavery in the General Assembly so long as there are slaveholders in connection with the Church, therefore Resolved:
"That the Convention recommend to all the Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church which are opposed to the agitation of slavery in the highest judictory of the Church to appoint delegates to meet at Knoxville, Tennessee, on the first Thursday in April, 1858, for the purpose of organizing a general Synod under the name of the United Synod of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America."
Representatives from 12 Presbyteries coming from Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi assembled in the Second Presbyterian Church of Knoxville and organized the Synod. The Rev. Joseph H. Martin, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, was elected permanent clerk of the Synod; thus we see the important part being played by Second Presbyterian Church in those perilous times preceding the Civil War. In 1864, the United Synod through its Presbyteries, went into the old school church, south. For some time, this church remained independent and then went back into the new school General Assembly. The old and new school Assemblies united in 1870.
Even though times were hectic and tempers flaring, the Second Presbyterian Church was undaunted and proceeded to more forward. The old church building had rendered service to a growing congregation for nearly forty years and during its life witnessed many gracious revivals and large gatherings.
The Rev. Joseph Martin, a native born East Tennessean, with all the forthrightness and courage of a man of his stature, tackled the job of building a new church in the midst of the hatreds being flamed into Civil War.
In the fall of 1858, a building committee was appointed consisting of J. J. Craig, T. C. Lyons, Perez Dickinson, James H. Cowan, J. Fouche, T. J. Powell and A. A. Barnes. Perez Dickinson declined to serve and R. J. McKinney was elected in his stead. The committee raised the necessary funds which amounted to $14,236.
In 1859, the contract was let for building the new church. Mr. S. T. Atkin was awarded the contract for the brick work and Mr. Benjamin Fahenstock was awarded the contract for the woodwork. Ground was broken in September of 1859. James H. Cowan, Chairman of the Building Committee, removed the first spade of earth.
The new building was a much larger and more pretentious structure than the old and was adorned with a high steeple, which was prominent in Knoxville's skyline for many years. The building was constructed immediately behind the original church building so that it sat a considerable distance back from Clinch Street. The new church was dedicated to the worship of God on November 11, 1860. The Rev. Frederick A. Ross of Kingsport, Tennessee, one of East Tennessee's most outstanding ministers, preached the sermon.
Soon after the new church was completed, the old church was torn down and from its brick and timbers was constructed a chapel to the west and south of the new church. This chapel faced Market Street.
Then came the Civil War. In no other place south of the Potomac was it to be any more terrible than in Knoxville. It was brother against brother, father against son, for East Tennessee was to cling to the Union as best it could, even though the State of Tennessee had seceded. It was about split evenly down the middle here in Knoxville between those who stood for the Union and those who favored the Confederacy.
During these terrible times, distraction and distress came to Second Presbyterian Church. Many long-time friendships among members of the Church were disrupted.
Until the fall of 1863, the Confederate forces held Knoxville and many members of Second Presbyterian Church who favored the Union had to flee north to save their lives. Some died due to the hardships of the journey.
In the fall of 1863, General Ambrose E. Burnside, United States Army, marched in with the army of the Ohio and took over the city. With the Union forces in command, the situation in Knoxville was reversed. Those who were true to the Southern cause fled to the South.
All out war is no respector of persons or property. Burnside needed the Second Presbyterian Church building to quarter troops and to use as a hospital. His forces took over and the church as a church was closed.
By strange coincidence, General William P. Sanders of Burnsides' command was mortally wounded on the top of the hill where the present Second Presbyterian Church stands on Kingston Pike. On November 18, 1863 he and his command were valiantly fighting to hold back the Confederate forces under Longstreet, who were trying to retake the city. He died next day. That night he was buried in the cemetery of the old Second Presbyterian Church on Clinch and Market. He was buried at night by lamplight, for Longstreet had now begun the siege of Knoxville in earnest and the sound and flash of his booming cannon from their emplacements above Knoxville College split the night air as the gallant Sanders was lowered to his grave.
On July 20, 1864, the Session requested the military authorities to give them back their church. But, as such things go in time of war, the building was not fully restored to the congregation for more than another year, though the records show that a service was held in the building in August of 1864. There is no further record of any services until May of 1865.
The war had been over so far as Knoxville was involved for some time and since no fighting had taken place in this area for over a year, the Union Forces simply marched off and left the church. Indeed, it was in sorry condition, but the little band who had held the congregation so gallantly together, went back to their house of worship, did the necessary repairs, called the Rev. Rufus P. Wells and began to function once more.
The Rev. Wells was born in Whaley, Massachusetts, February 4, 1818. He was educated at Amherst College and Union Theological Seminary. He had held pastorates in various sections of the country before coming to Knoxville. He stayed for only a short time, 1865-1866, and returned to his native New England where he held three pastorates before he died in 1877.
In 1866, the Rev. Nathan Bachman was called and served for 10 years. Rev. Bachman was a native born East Tennessean and understood the people of this section of the State. He was a well-educated and lovable man and preached the gospel well. He came of a family of strong and dedicated men of God. He and his three brothers, Robert L., John Lynn, and J. W. Bachman, were all outstanding ministers.
Nathan Bachman was born near Kingsport, Tennessee, December 13, 1832. He was educated at Emory and Henry College, Virginia, a seminary course at Princeton University, New Jersey; Union Theological Seminary in New York and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Holston in 1862. He preached first to the Presbyterian Church at Kingsport, then to the Second Presbyterian Church of Knoxville. He resigned this pastorate in 1876 and became engaged in evangelistic work for the rest of his life.
Under Nathan Bachman, the church grew and prospered. He guided it through 10 harsh years of Reconstruction. During this period, if a man spoke out of turn, he was apt to be taken out and either shot or hanged.
Even though the first fifty-eight years of Second Presbyterian Church had seen perilous times, great work and great good had been accomplished. Since the day of its founding, Second Presbyterian Church had played an important part in the shaping of Knoxville and its influence had spread far beyond on many occasions.
Part II - 1877-1968 - Written by Katherine Boies Buehler
By the last of 1865, after the black days of the Civil War when the lovely new church had been used as a hospital and barracks, life once more slowly returned to normal.
The Church again put her hands to the plow and pressed forward. New names began to be added to her roll and with new members came increased zeal.
By 1881 the sanctuary as it was could not hold the congregation, so it was voted to extend the walls northward some fifteen feet. While this was being done, the board felt it might do other needed things. There were numerous major repairs to be made. Some of the windows had suffered badly during the war and it was voted to replace them with new ones. The cost of everything came to $4, 147. This seemed woefully extravagant to many of the members, but after the first service, when they looked upon the finished work, "they deemed the money well spent."
The pastor of the Church during its refurbishing was the Reverend F. E. Sturgis, D.D., who had come in 1877 after Dr. Bachman's retirement. He was an Amherst College graduate as well as a Bangor Theological seminarian. So completely had Dr. Sturgis entered into the life of the Church that there was deep regret when in 1884 he accepted a call to the First Congregational Church of Natick, Massachusetts.
Next came the Reverend W. E. Ijams, an Ohioan, who was serving a pastorate in San Francisco when he decided to come to Knoxville. Due to a delicate constitution, he remained for only one year and then returned to his Ohio home where he died a few years later.
The year after Mr. Ijams left (1885), Dr. Thomas S. Scott was called to Second Presbyterian Church from Westminister Church in Rockford, Illinois. It was during his pastorate that the Session appointed a committee "to ascertain the cost of a lot for the purpose of establishing a fourth Presbyterian church in Knoxville." Second Presbyterian Church gave generous aid toward buying the lot and helping to erect there on a house of worship. Thus came into being the Fourth Presbyterian Church which has gone forward significantly from that day.
Dr. Scott remained with Second Presbyterian Church for only two years and following him came a Canadian, the Reverend Robert R. Sutherland, who ably served the congregation for nine years. Upon his arrival, Dr. Sutherland was surprised to find there was no pastor's study in the church, so it was unanimously voted in 1888 to build and furnish one. At the same time, a new organ-a pipe organ-was purchased, much to the delight of the church members, as well as to the entire Knoxville community. The cost of the organ was the then stupendous sum of $5,996.
In 1892 the trustees were empowered to incorporate the church as The Second Presbyterian Church of Knoxville, Tennessee.
After Dr. Sutherland left in 1896, Dr. Robert Bachman, a brother of Dr. Nathan Bachman, came to fill the pulpit.
Just before the turn of the century, Second Church fostered several mission churches, as actually she had been doing since the Civil War and was to continue doing. In 1898 a school was established for the mountain children in Jones Cove of Sevier County and the Knoxville congregation raised $300 for the first year's salary of its teacher and organizer.
The year 1901 showed the Church continuing her mission program with the erection of a school house far back in the southern mountains at a place called Juniper. The cost of building was $1,600 and for some years, its teacher received from the Church the annual salary of $400. The school soon had an enrollment of a hundred scholars, many of whom later entered Maryville College.
Not only did the Church spread her help into educational and spiritual enterprises nearby, but in 1892 she started what she termed "A Parish Abroad" in supporting a mission in Chining-Chois, China. This was but the beginning of glorious witnessing in the foreign field which the Church has continued doing through the span of a century and a half.
Since its founding, Second Presbyterian has moved forward significantly on many fronts. She has sent out missionaries both to her home fields, as well as to far flung ones across the globe. Those who have labored long and faithfully and who have represented the Church are too numerous to mention, but they are gratefully remembered in the hearts of all of her members.
The missionaries who represent Second Church and who are dedicatedly serving on our home and foreign fields today are:
Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Cassady, Kadaikanal, Madras State, India
The Reverend F. S. Dick Wichman, San Francisco, California
Mr. Enrique Trenzado, The United Presbyterian Spanish Center, Miami, Florida
In addition to other outreaching enterprises during the years of Dr. Bachman's pastorate, the organization of the Knoxville Y.W.C.A. took place in the chapel of The Church in the year 1899. Representatives of other churches in town were invited to attend the organizing-meeting and Mrs. Florence Kephart Payne, a member of Second Church, was elected its first president.
Each summer during these early years, the church sponsored a congregational picnic which was attended by all ages from great-grandfathers to babes in arms. For days ahead the ladies got out their picnic-baskets, ironed their linen cloths to spread upon the ground and, as the great day drew nearer, they fried chicken, baked hams and cakes and mad sandwiches galore. On several occasions the picnic was held on the spacious grounds of the Perez Dickinson home on Dickinson Island near Island Home. It was about four miles from town, but perhaps longer by water. Colonel Dickinson, a devoted and generous member of The Church, had flowers sent in from his beautiful formal gardens for almost every service.
To take the members out to the picnic, boats were chartered and these were boarded from the foot of Prince Street. Everyone was in holiday mood. Whistles blew, children shouted, some cried and the picnickers sallied forth in high fettle. At the late hour of ten o'clock at night, the boats bearing a tired but happy group returned safely to the improvised wharfside. Second Church members not only prayed hard, but they also played hard!
In 1902 the Session of Second Presbyterian established a mission church at Oakwood, a suburb north of Knoxville and Mr. C. B. Atkin generously offered a lot, provided the church would agree to build a chapel upon it. This was done at the cost of about $800, which was enthusiastically subscribed by church members. Some of the ladies got up early in the morning, took the dummy-line train out to Oakwood -- a Sabbathday's journey then -- to help with the teaching and organizing. Several years later, the chapel was sold to the Methodist Church for the original cost.
From time to time during the years around the turn of the century, the question arose as to the advisability of selling the whole or part of the church lot on Prince Street. This caused heated discussion and even some bitter dissension among the members. Many offers were received-some of them very enticing-and the members who favored selling talked of the encroachment of business upon the church and of the ever-increasing street noises.
Prince Street (now Market), upon which the church was located, was very narrow and as it was becoming more and more traffic-congested, the city government made the trustees of the church an offer to buy a strip thirteen feet wide the entire length of the property for the purpose of widening the street. The sum offered was $3,700 and was made with the proviso that the Church would give sufficient footage for a sidewalk. The proposition was accepted and the trustees forthwith deeded the property to the city in May of 1901.
In order to widen the street, it became necessary to cut down a row of fine old trees on the east side of the lot, which added insult to injury to those who did not favor the transaction. Also, the widening of the street necessitated the removal of a few graves from the northeast corner of the grounds. The trustees immediately purchased lots in New Gray Cemetery to which the remains in the graves were removed.
A few years after this, offers were made for the entire church property and more meetings were held to discuss what should be done. Tempers flared. In the year 1905, a tempting offer of $103,000 was received, but after due deliberation, it was rejected.
About this time congregational minutes of the church show the following notation: "Our church edifice is too small for the needs of the congregation, there not being enough pews for the use of the members who are willing and able to pay for the same and no pews for the members of the church who may not be able to pay and no vacant pews to meet any demands which additions to the church membership may render necessary."
During the latter part of 1905, another offer was made by F. L. Ambrister and B. H. Sprankle, as agents, for the church and lot. The price was $136,501 and it was accepted. Immediately after the transaction, the trustees were instructed to proceed with the removal of the remainder of the graves to various cemeteries about the city (Old and New Gray, Woodlawn and Greenwood), or to give individuals the privilege of removing their own dead if they so preferred. Tombstones were also to be relocated. The Church still holds the deeds of those burial-lots, some hundred and fifty in number.
In the purchasing agreements the Church reserved the right to worship in the old building for one year (until July 28, 1907) before giving possession to the new owners. An arrangement was also entered into whereby the buyers and their assignees could not use the building for any business or commercial purpose in whole or in part unless it was changed as to bear no resemblance to a house of worship.
A committee was now appointed to look into the question of buying a lot for a new church, as well as sufficient space for a manse to be built adjacent to it. In November, 1905, the lot was found and on an affirmative vote of the congregation, was bought. The property, comprising 154 by 150 feet, was at the southwest corner of Church and Walnut Streets, and the purchase price was $48,000.
Mr. John B. Minnis was elected chairman of the Building Committee. The new lot with the estimated cost of the church and manse and the furnishings of the church cam to $141,788.29. Added to this was the cost of a new or rebuilt organ, one large stained-glass figure window, chimes, pulpit, ladies' parlor and furnishings of the manse, which would bring the grand total to $151,070.99.
Isaac Purcell of Philadelphia was secured as the architect for the new building and the local supervising architect was George E. Matthews of the firm of Matthews and Broome. The church was to be constructed in Gothic style and made of Bedford stone. At first, it was hoped to build it of Tennessee marble, but this proved too expensive.
The first brick in the new foundation was laid by the pastor, Dr. Bachman, on June 11, 1906 and, with impressive formality, the corner stone was laid on August 15th of the same year. Most of the parishioners attended the service. The stone was placed in the northeast corner of the church and contained an hermetically sealed copper box in which were placed records due to be of vast interest to future generations.
Now the question was considered as to whether to buy a new organ or to renovate the old. It was finally decided to use the old one after making suitable additions and repairs as required to put it in good condition. A Mr. Ryder, who had originally built the organ for the old church, agreed to do the work for $2,335.
The figure-window of the original plan was to be placed in the east side of the sanctuary, but later, the committee decided upon a much more beautiful window depicting the resurrection of Jesus, which was ordered at the additional cost of $1,000. This window, made by Tiffany and Company, was a masterpiece and was placed on the Walnut Street side.
The chimes for the church were made possible through the efforts of Miss Elsie Bachman, the minister's daughter (now Mrs. Frederick H. Clymer of Doylestown, New Jersey), who secured subscriptions. The amount of $450 was allowed for the bell which hung in the old church and which had to be recast. The entire cost of the bells (ten in all) with their installation came to $5,150. They were manufactured by the McShane Foundry Company of Baltimore. It is interesting to note that their acquisition led in later years to Second Presbyterian Church being know as "the church of the chimes."
Bell #1-The weight of this bell is 3,100 pounds and its note is D. It was given in memory of Maude Powell and the inscription upon it is: "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation."
Bell #2-This bell weighs 2,100 pounds and the note is E. It is the old bell of the second building, recast, and is in memory of departed members of the church. The inscription upon it reads: "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."
Bell #3-The weight of this bell is 1,550 pounds and the note is F. It was given by Mr. W. J. Oliver in memory of J. H. Bibb, a railroad engineer, who declined aid in a railroad wreck, saying: "I am dying. Look after the women and children." When whiskey was offered him by a physician, he said: "I have never touched it and will not now." The inscription on the bell reads: "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life."
Bell #4-The weight of this bell is 1,250 pounds and the note is G. It was given in memory of Margaret C. McClung and Belinda C. McClung. The inscription reads: "To call the fold to church on time, we chime. When joy and mirth are on the wing, we ring. When we lament a departed soul, we toll."
Bell #5-This weighs 950 pounds and the note is A. It was presented by E. J. Davis, father of Howell J. Davis. The inscription is: "I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."
Bell #6-This bell weighs 650 pounds and the note is B. It was given in memory of Oliver Perry Temple and Caledonia Hume Temple.
Bell #7-This bell weighs 550 pounds and the note is C. It was given in memory of Martha Lynn Rhea, Robert Morrison Rhea and Charles McClung Rhea and the inscription reads: "Holiness unto the Lord."
Bell #8-The weight of this bell is 500 pounds and the note is C#. The inscription is: "My tongue shall speak of Thy praise forever."
Bell #9-The bell weighs 400 pounds and the note is D. The inscription upon it is: "All glory be to Thee, Oh Lord."
Bell #10-The weight of this bell is 350 pounds and the note is E. It was given by James H. Cowan, Mary Cowan, James D. Cowan, Nannie Meem and Perez Dickinson. The inscription upon it is: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to men."
In 1946 the chimes were electrified through a gracious gift of Mr. Arthur H. Steere in memory of his wife, Lillian E. Steere.
It is interesting to note in the early records that the Ladies' Committee for the new building was allowed $15.00 for finishing the floors of the Ladies' Parlor and a range for the kitchen was purchased for the sum of $37.50. For excavating and removing the dirt around the outside of the building the Church paid $19.50. One item taken from a list of costs for building the manse which seems amusing to us today is a stairway from the second to the third floor which came to $88.50.
The last wedding performed in the old church was that of Miss Hallie Davis, who married Mr. Eugene Gaylon and who lived to serve long and faithfully in the new church.
On Sunday morning, September 23, 1906, the last sermon in the old church was preached by Dr. Bachman. At that time he gave a history of the Church from the time of its birth on October 24, 1818. That morning found very few dry eyes in the entire congregation. The thought of leaving the old church was a sad one-the lovely old church which had been a sanctuary to its members for almost fifty years. During those years they had experienced within its sheltered walls the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow. They had seen their young people walk down the aisle to be united in marriage. Before its simple altar their babies had been baptized and to everyone the sacrament of Holy Communion had been administered. Comfort and hope to sorrowing hearts had been given at the time of death and people of all ages had taken their solemn vows when they united with others in membership. Yes, to leave the place which had sheltered them for nearly a half century was hard indeed.
Soon, however, the people turned their eyes and their endeavors toward the future and to the building of a new church-home which would serve them as another stronghold in their continuing service to God. For almost a year afterward the congregation worshipped in the chapel on the old church grounds.
Finally the day came, on Sunday, October 20, 1907, when the doors of the new church were opened for worship although the structure was far from completion. The furnace had not been installed and the October air, blowing across the freshly plastered walls, was damp and cold, but the hearts of the people were warm. God had been good and a new house of worship was soon to be dedicated.
The day of dedication came on January 26, 1908. At two-thirty in the afternoon the chimes began to ring out from the high church tower for the first time and Knoxville citizens everywhere raised their heads to listen. After the initial exultant pealing came the sound of beautiful old hymns of the church-Holy, Holy, Holy: How Firm a Foundation: Lead Kindly Light and many others.
The responsive readings that afternoon were appropriately taken from the twenty-fourth Psalm-"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in." This was followed by a Litany of Dedication which was participated in by both the clergy and the people and later, the sermon was given by Dr. Charles L. Thompson, National Secretary of the Board of Home Missions.
Concluding the formal dedication of the new church was the dramatic ceremony of the Passing of the Keys. The builder of the church handed the keys to the Chairman of the Building Committee with these words: "Having fulfilled my contract in erecting this church, I now hand you its keys and congratulate the officers and members of the congregation for having such a beautiful and commodious house of worship."
The chairman, upon receiving the keys, transferred them to the trustees of the church who accepted them with fitting words. The dedication closed with the benediction and the people made their way from the sanctuary as the late winter sun streamed through the stained-glass window across their happy faces. They were in their new church home!
Only two days after the dedication, the beautiful wedding of Miss Elizabeth Price to Mr. Joseph John Galbraith was performed. It was on Tuesday evening, the twenty-second of October, and the lovely young bride was the first to go down the long aisle in the sanctuary of the new church. Mrs. Galbraith is an active member of the Church today.
In 1909 Dr. Charles Perkins was made superintendent of the Sunday School where he served with loyalty up until the time of his death in 1945. Dr. Perkins gave generously of his time and of his talents through those thirty-six years and he was truly beloved by everyone. Following him as superintendent was Mr. Richard William Riggins who wore his predecessor's mantle well and who for many years gave of himself untiringly in the work of the Sunday School.
In 1911, after fifteen years of loyal service, Dr. Bachman resigned as pastor of the Church. His influence is well shown from this quotation from an old record: "The entire city felt the loss of a fearless exponent of civic righteousness and a champion of every good cause."
The resolution drawn up the by the Church Session states: "We are confronted with the loss of a faithful Christian minister who has with boldness preached the everlasting gospel of God's Kingdom and with the loss of a beloved pastor, always a welcome visitor in our homes, who has visited our sick, ministering unto them in holy consolation and who has tenderly committed our dead to the grave."
A committee was now appointed to secure a new pastor and the Reverend Herbert Booth Smith of Rochester, New York was called. According to the minutes of the Session: "We have seen a practical demonstration of his ability to build up, not only the Church proper, but the Prayer Meeting and Sunday School as well.: He accepted the call and took up the ministerial reins in 1912.
For the following four years Mr. Smith served an able pastorate and the records show a consistent growth of the church. He was diligent in visiting the sick of the congregation and, during the early years of his ministry, he could be seen on his bicycle in almost any part of the city making calls on his parishioners.
An interesting notation from the Session minutes of May 1915 was that "the elders voted to a man to suspend the evening service on the thirtieth, in response to a request from the faculty of the University of Tennessee to allow the members of the Church to attend the Baccalaureate sermon on the Hill." There has always been a very close relationship between Second Church and the University.
In October of 1916 Dr. Smith accepted a call to Immanuel Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles, the largest Presbyterian church on the west coast. It was during his ministry there that he became Moderator of the General Assembly. In years following, two other ministers of Second Presbyterian Church were to become Moderators -- Dr. Roy Vale and Dr. Clifford Barbour. Thus the Knoxville church has served the church-at-large in a distinguished manner.
It was in February of 1917 that the congregation of Second Presbyterian Church called Dr. Roy Ewing Vale of Somerville, New Jersey, to become its pastor. The budget for that year was $12,301.76 and the minister's salary was $3, 000, in addition to the manse. That year saw America plunged into war and Dr. Vale was constantly called upon to speak before civic groups, not only in Knoxville, but throughout East Tennessee. He took a fatherly interest, although he was a very young man himself, in all of the boys who went from the Church into the battlefields of France, writing to them regularly and keeping them in touch with home. Some fittingly said that "he threw his whole soul upon the altar of his country."
Many young men went out from Second Church to France and two of them, Charles D. Johnston and Carrick Yeager, gave their lives.
When the good news of the signing of the armistice came in the middle of the night of November the eleventh, 1918, it is remembered that Dr. Vale climbed into the high belfry of the church (the chimes were not electrified then) and rang the bells. Those thundering notes of rejoicing were heard all over the town.
October 24, 1918, was a significant day in the history of Second Presbyterian Church. It marked the anniversary of her birth one hundred years before. Much had taken place in that rolling century. The Church, after struggling through her birth pangs, had become a stalwart force in the community. A fitting service of worship was planned to do honor to the occasion and with bowed heads and thankful hearts, the members of the congregation prayed that they might be worthy of the 127th Psalm: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."
In January of 1921, after four years of vigorous leadership, Dr. Vale accepted a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park, Illinois, and Dr. Horace Cady Wilson, from the First Presbyterian Church of Aurora, Illinois, was asked to become the pastor of Second Presbyterian. He accepted, and also coming at the same time as the church's first Director of Religious Education was Miss Alfreda Zarges, who served in that capacity until 1928.
It was during Dr. Wilson's pastorate that a new organ was bought for the church. The Sunday School grew to such an extent at this time that the manse (no longer used as the minister's home) was converted into Sunday School rooms and many were the feet treading up and down the stairway which had once cost the startling sum of $88.50 to build.
Dr. Wilson gave of himself completely in sacrificial service and someone beautifully expressed it by saying that he had "the true heart of a shepherd." In February of 1927, he accepted a call to Warren Memorial Church of Louisville, Kentucky, and once again, Second Presbyterian found itself without a pastor.
One year later, on February 22, 1928, Dr. Clifford Barbour of the Herron Avenue Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh was extended a call to Second Presbyterian and he accepted, coming to Knoxville in April of that year. Dr. Barbour remained at the church for twenty-three years, where he worked with devotion and untiring enthusiasm.
Soon after Dr. Barbour came to Knoxville, the School of Religion was organized at the University of Tennessee and he became one of its first instructors. Thus, the Church reached her long arm out more and more into academic life.
In November of 1928, Second Church was fortunate in securing the services of Miss Edith Harbaugh as Director of Religious Education. Miss Harbaugh received her degree in Christian Education at Auburn Theological Seminary and came to Second Presbyterian from the First Presbyterian Church of Saratoga Springs, New York.
Second Presbyterian has always encouraged young men interested in entering the ministry and has given financial help to some who would otherwise have been unable to go into it. Richard Williams went out from the Church to Princeton Theological Seminary and in 1935 returned as Second Presbyterian's first summer assistant. He later became a curate at the National Cathedral in Washington. In the summer of 1936 Edward Dalstrom came back to the church for the summer (from Princeton where he had been studying) and was prevailed upon to remain in Knoxville, Dr. Barbour being ill. Other fine young men have gone into the service of the ministry from Second Church: Ralph W. Lloyd, Robert Johnston, Robert Sherrill, Charles Houk, Elbert Gronseth, Carl Kinnard, William Jay Donaldson and Charles Daniel Batson.
It is amusing to read in the minutes of the Session that the church was constantly being plagued by the noises of the street and the following letter was sent by the Clerk of the Session to the Director of Public Safety: "We would like to request that you enforce as completely as possible an existing ordinance prohibiting unnecessary noises near the church-noises such as the tooting of horns, racing of engines and near wrecks." Another request which seemed to have been ignored by the City Fathers was that a policeman be stationed a the corner of Church and Walnut to "keep things quiet."
Prayer Meeting was a very important service of the Church in those days and few things were ever allowed to interfere with it. Parishioners came out in sleet and snow, in the rain and on hot summer nights to offer their praises to God and to seek His Divine guidance. On December the fifteenth of 1935, the Session voted, after much heated discussion, to omit the meetings on Christmas night and New Year's night as in that year they fell on Wednesday, the usual night for the service. Many, however, were not happy over the decision, as they felt the meetings were too spiritually important ever to be abandoned.
On February 5, 1936, the Communion Committee reported to the Session that the preceding Sunday found more people partaking of the elements than at any other Communion service in the history of the Church. "The capacity of the trays of wine was reached" and it was recommended that more trays and glasses be purchased.
Also in 1936 was found this notation: "It was voted to clean the rafters in the sanctuary as soot collects in abundance and falls down upon the worshippers."
Second Presbyterian Church has always been known for its excellent music and has had some of the finest choir directors and singers in this entire area. Mrs. Harry Shugart came in the capacity of organist and choir director not long after the Church moved to Church Street and she served faithfully for over thirty years. After Mrs. Shugart resigned, Mr. William Byrd became choir director and following him came Mr. Edwin H. May.
In January of 1937, it was voted to help finance the teaching of the Bible in the public schools and this has been continued down through the years.
By 1938, the membership of the Church had grown to such an extent that the sanctuary could no longer hold the congregation, so chairs were set up each Sunday in the assembly room adjacent to it. An amplifying system was installed and it was even seriously considered having a balcony built over the sanctuary, but this was never done.
It was decided in the spring of 1938, after the preceding Holy Week services were so well attended, to change the Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting to a Wednesday noonday service to be held from twelve-five to twelve-thirty-five. This was enthusiastically participated in by the people of the community as well as by Church members.
This same spring, the city was confronted with the probability of having Sunday moving pictures and this prospect so shocked the Church that she armed herself to fight. A resolution was drawn up by the Session and sent to the City Council, the latter part of it reading as follows: "As the session is elected by, and representative of the one thousand members of the Church, it is unequivocally opposed to the operation of moving picture shows by commercial interests on the Sabbath Day." It was also voted to allow the women of various churches in the city to use the Church facilities in their organization to fight such a move.
Maryville College was always of special concern to Second Presbyterian Church. The two founded within a year of each other, often shared mutual hardships and joys. In February of 1938 the church received a letter from Dr. Ralph Lloyd, president of Maryville College, concerning the February Meetings (as their religious-emphasis convocations were called). He thanked Second Church for all of the help which she had given to the College since the meetings began in 1877. She had not only offered interest and encouragement, but in 1918, a generous endowment fund had been established by the Church to help in the promotion of these meetings.
About this time, several changes were taking place in the "order of things" at the church. One was a vote by the Session to allow the use of the church for weddings only to those who were willing to use the nuptial service as approved by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. As many couples desired the reading of the Episcopal Service as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, this change naturally brought on some arguments.
Another change was that the Apostle's Creed was to be introduced in the Sunday morning worship service for the first time. It was also voted to broadcast the service over a local radio station, thereby allowing the shut-ins the privilege of sharing in the worship. Some heartily approved of so doing, while others were equally vocal in their disapproval.
Now came the time when Second Presbyterian, along with churches everywhere, was suffering through the horrors of another war in which the world was engulfed. Every week young men and women from her membership were going into the service of their country, four of them never to return. Through letters and printed sermons, Dr. Barbour kept in close touch with them wherever they were-in the Pacific, in Asia or in Europe-and he sent to each one who went out a leather pocket Testament combined with the Psalms.
Every few nights the harrowing wail of the sirens could be heard throughout the city as Knoxville shrouded herself in blackness. Second Church went on record suggesting, both from the pulpit and through the press, that the "blackout periods" be used by the citizens as moments of silent prayer, appealing to Almighty God to guide America as she struggled through her dark and bitter night.
The four boys from Second Presbyterian Church who nobly gave their lives in order to help keep their country free were: Benjamin H. Testerman, Jr., Joe R. McCready, Thomas Zachary Crews and Robert D. Martine.
On August 14,1945, Japan surrendered to the United States and the war in the Pacific was over. Second Church had not only asked for God's guidance through the war but, now that it was over, she opened wide her doors, rang the bells from the high tower and led her people in a service of thanksgiving and praise.
In October, 1943, while the war was still going on overseas, Second Presbyterian celebrated the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of her founding. A special communion service was held in commemoration of that Sunday, October 24, 1818, when a little handful of worshippers in their tiny church on Clinch and Prince Streets met together for the very first time in communion and praise. Three major wars had taken place since that long ago day and now the world was engaged in still another one. At the right of the pulpit on this anniversary morning hung the Christian flag, while at the left, surrendering her place only to the Banner of God, was the American flag. It was a beautiful service, declaring, through the sermon and the music, the unspeakable goodness of the Lord to the Church through that hundred and twenty-five year span.
At this significant anniversary in the life of the Church a letter was received from the Session of her sister Church, the First Presbyterian, which is noteworthy. It is addressed to the Clerk of the Session of Second Presbyterian Church and reads in part as follows:
"By order of the session of the First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville, the undersigned have been instructed to bring to you, and to the members of your congregation, greetings and felicitations upon this, the celebration and completion upon the part of your church, of a century and a quarter of service in the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the extension of His Kingdom.
"Blessed through the years, by reason of the faith and precepts of the Scotch-Irish immigrants who first planted seeds of Christianity and civilization in what has grown to be our beloved section, we remember with pride some of the objects of their origination which have survived and, in nearly every case, they are either churches of the Living God or institutions devoted to the fields of education."
* * * * *
It is therefore fitting we join you in the happiness of the present hour; in the recollections of the years of signal service which you have enjoyed and achieved; in the memories which crowd upon each other as we review the blessings which have been ours; and then, as one congregation to another, we covenant with you in memory of all those things, that we shall mingle our prayers with yours in that we both may be 'made perfect in every work to do His Will, working in us that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.'
In closing this communication we have the honor and the pleasure and the sincerity to be,
The Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville
October the twenty-first, Nineteen hundred and forty-three"
In January of 1946, Mr. Earl Crawford came to Second Presbyterian as an assistant minister and in October of the same year, he was installed as an associate. Mr. Crawford's sympathetic concern for all endeared him to the congregation and genuine regret was felt when he left in January, 1950, to become minister of the Wichita Falls Presbyterian Church in Wichita Falls, Texas.
About a year and a half after Mr. Crawford came Miss Dorothy Neal (now Mrs. Charles Duggan) joined the staff as Young People's Director where she ably served until August of 1950. She also did outstanding work at Hillside House, a mission which the Church carried on for many years. Others who have held the post of Young People's Director have been: Mrs. James Bevan, Mrs. Mary Wheeless, Miss Joreen Jarrell and Miss Sue Binnion.
Second Presbyterian Church has been blessed with unusually competent secretaries who have come and gone through the years, a fact which has made possible smoothness and efficiency in operation. The one who has served for the longest period of time is Mrs. Howard Hunter (affectionately known as "Miss Louise") who came to the church in 1933. At present, she is secretary for the senior minister.
The year 1949 was a signal one for the Church as her pastor, Dr. Barbour, was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA which held its meeting that year in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Barbour was granted a year's leave of absence so that he might speak at the many other churches of the country, as well as perform his numerous moderatorial duties.
Coming to Second Presbyterian in July of 1950 as an assistant minister (later to be made an associate) was Mr. John R. Rodman, who remained until February, 1953, when he resigned to become pastor of the Ensley Highland Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Alabama.
In 1950 came the Korean War, and once again, young men and women from Second Presbyterian Church went into the service of their country.
One of them, W. Russell Briscoe, Jr., gave the last full measure of devotion-his life.
One of the most outstanding pieces of work which was ever performed by Second Presbyterian has been in the field of counseling. Such a service was actually begun during the pastorate of Dr. Barbour who pioneered in combining religion with psychology and thereby helped people with their problems not only in the Church, but in the entire community as well. The work was greatly augmented in 1953 through a generous gift which made possible a full-time trained counselor.
It came about in this way. Two sisters, becoming interested in the need for church counseling, underwrote the salary of a special counseling pastor for the period of six years. This was done as a memorial to their brother. At the end of six years the Church received the income from a trust which was set up for the Church by this brother before his death. Through such generosity, the service became an integral part of the ongoing program of the church and the first counseling pastor to be secured was Dr. William Crane of the Ruffner Memorial Church of Charleston, West Virginia, who was a man with keen insight and depth of perception in counseling. He began his ministry with Second Church on October 1, 1954, and remained in that capacity until his retirement in September of 1964.
The year 1951 terminated the long and fruitful pastorate of Dr. Clifford Barbour when, on July 18, he asked to have his pastoral relationship dissolved in order to accept a call to the presidency of Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. For twenty-three years he had worked with single-minded devotion toward building up the Church, ever keeping before his eyes the vision of a strong and spiritual institution working to the glory of God.
It was not until March 1952 that a new pastor was secured, Dr. Joseph J. Copeland from the First Presbyterian Church of Denton, Texas. Soon after Dr. Copeland came, Mr. Frederick Kling was secured as assistant pastor where he remained for a little over a year, resigning to accept a fellowship at Princeton University.
Sometime in 1950, the thought of more room for an expanding program was again in the air and some members began to talk of either building a new church or remodeling and enlarging the present one. Mr. Ben Testerman was made chairman of a committee to probe the possibilities of remodeling the plant on Church Street and he worked up a brochure for so doing and presented it to the congregation. The plans called for a new building, four stories high, immediately west of the church and also for an education building. The old manse was to be torn down and the building would extend from Church Street to the alley in the rear. The estimated cost of this remodeling would be in the neighborhood of $300,000. After some deliberation, the conclusion was reached that it did not seem feasible to undertake building at the present and the matter was temporarily dropped.
The seed of the idea of some kind of change did not die, however, and soon lots were being explored in various places with the thought of building a new church. One parcel of land, comprising nine acres, was seriously considered. It was on a view-commanding hilltop on Kingston Pike and was owned by the Phillip Briscoe, Jr. heirs. After much discussion on the part of the congregation and the session, it was decided to buy the lot for the sum of $50,000 "and to build a new church thereon with proper and suitable furnishings at a total cost not in excess of $700,000 in addition to the lot." Mr. Eugene C. Fretz was made Chairman of the Building Committee.
As is so often the case where a major decision is at stake, particularly when it concerns the moving of a church, varying opinions were held. While some members favored the move, others were just as conscientiously fervent in their desire to remain at the old location. Some thought that the Church could better go forward away from the city which was fast encircling it and where there could be room for a more diversified program. Others contended that there was a real need for a downtown church and they were greatly opposed to moving to the western part of the city. Some were agreeable to the purchase of the lot, but felt that time should be taken before rushing into a building program. Feelings ran high for a time and there were even some who favored a division of church property, a plan which would allow those who wished to move to do so and those who favored staying to remain. The Session went on record as feeling that none of the suggestions which came from the group opposing the move "would be conducive to the peace, purity and unity of the Church."
In May of 1954, a congregational meeting was held for the purpose of taking a vote as to whether or not to begin the immediate building of the new church. The result was a slight majority in favor of so doing. Later, Presbytery approved the plan and also that of selling the old church for not less than $250,000.
The firm of Barber and McMurry was engaged as architects, while Johnson and Gaylon were the contractors, and the work began. The church was to be cream-colored brick with a slate roof and would comprise 46,000 square feet of floor space. The estimated seating capacity was 910, which included not only the nave and transept, but also the balcony and the church parlor. There would be a Recreational or Fellowship Hall which could hold 350 seated at tables and which would be built with a permanent stage. In addition to the sanctuary, the plans called for a chapel and two additional units for educational purposes. The total cost, which was voted at first not to exceed $700,000, rose to $790,000 in order to complete the tower and to partially complete the chapel. The final cost, without air conditioning (which came later), amounted to $850,000.
The old church building was sold to the Sanford Realty Company for $256,000 and it was later sold to the First Congregational Church. Second Presbyterian reserved the right to retain the organ, the cornerstone with its contents, all memorial plaques, the door step and the chimes in the tower. After June 19, 1957, the Church felt it would be able to conduct worship services and Sunday School activities in the educational units of the new plant and in Fellowship Hall.
On a wintry day in November (the 24th) of 1957, the cornerstone of the new church was laid with impressive ceremony. Dr. Horace Cady Wilson, a former beloved pastor said "We are this day to lay the cornerstone of this new and sacred House of God. Earlier, the cornerstone was a keystone to the edifice. Today it carries historic symbolism. The Christian Church has but one true cornerstone, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of Man. Other foundations can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ." He concluded, "this stone now symbolizes Jesus Christ."
Placed and sealed within the cornerstone were:
- Articles from the old Cornerstone Box of 1906 which included:
- An American Standard Version of the Bible
- Historical Sermon of September, 1906
- Knoxville Sentinel of June 28, 1906 and August 14, 1906
- The Journal and Tribune of August 15, 1906
- Two English coins and on American coin
- Silver communion cup
Also in the box were placed:
- A copy of Presbyterian Life
- The Knoxville Journal of November 23, 1957
- The Knoxville News-Sentinel of November 23, 1957
- A glass jar with soil from the ground breaking ceremony
- Silver microfilms
- List of all church members, Sunday School members and organizations
Fittingly, the hymn selected for the occasion was The Church's One Foundationafter which Dr. Copeland gave an historic sketch of the church from its founding until the present time.
The actual laying of the cornerstone was done by the Chairman of the Building Committee, Mr. Eugene Fretz, after which the closing prayer was give by Dr. William E. Crane, Counseling Pastor.
The first service in the new sanctuary was held on Sunday morning, December 1, 1957. The music of rejoicing was particularly beautiful and the subject of Dr. Copeland's sermon was "Christ's Body of Believers."
As symbolism is such a vital part of our Christian living and worship today, it seems fitting to explain a few of the lovely symbols in painting and carving used in Second Presbyterian Church in the sanctuary and in various part of the new building both without and within:
- Sprays of wheat-used to symbolize the Bread of Life and the Bread of Holy Communion
- Bunches of grapes-symbolic of the communion between Jesus Christ and the believers
- Pomegranate-symbolic of the resurrection of Christ and His believers
- Rose of Sharon-symbolizing the Nativity of our Lord
- IHS-The English meaning "I have suffered." The Greek stands for Jesus
- Alpha and Omega-the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet
- Eagle-denotes the evangelist John
- Dove-is symbolic of the Holy Spirit
- Five Point Star-symbolizes the Star of Epiphany
- Crown-symbolizes Jesus as Lord and King
- Anchor-the symbol of hope
- Heart-symbol of Christian love and service
- St. Andrew's Cross-according to tradition, the type of cross upon which Andrew was crucified
It was with genuine regret on the part of the congregation when, in May of 1958, Miss Edith Harbaugh retired as Director of Christian Education after thirty years of devoted and outstanding service. Following her as Director came Miss Margaret Bruner in January of 1960 from Webster Groves Presbyterian Church in Webster Groves, Missouri.
Miss Bruner served until May 31, 1965, when she resigned to pursue her graduate studies at Vanderbilt University. She was succeeded by Miss Carolyn Gass who came in August of the same year, but who left in 1966 to be married. Following her in November of the same year came Miss Laura Bell who is now serving as Director.
Mr. Scott McClure, who had come to Second Presbyterian in April 1957 as assistant and later associate pastor, rendered able service to the Church, primarily in the field of evangelism, until he resigned in October of 1964 to accept a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Waukesha, Wisconsin. He was followed by Mr. Carl Kinnard who came in July of 1965. In March, 1966, he was made associate pastor.
In January of 1960, Mr. Arthur Steere, the oldest member of the Church, made it known to Dr. Copeland and later to the joint boards that he was giving his home on Kingston Pike to the church. As it did not seem feasible to use it as a manse, the house and property were sold for $38,000 and this amount was used to purchase a manse in a more desirable location.
It was in March, 1961, that Dr. Copeland was called to become President of Maryville College, one of the most outstanding church-related schools of the country, and on April 24, he accepted. In deciding to enter the academic field, Dr. Copeland felt that he would be further extending his ministry. Not only would he continue to preach and speak, but he would be a leader of young people and an instrument in helping a college to grow. He remarked with humor, as well as with feeling, that he wished he might be like Dr. Isaac Anderson, the first pastor of Second Presbyterian, who found himself serving in two capacities-as minister of the Knoxville Church and also as President of Maryville College.
The pastoral relationship between Dr. Copeland and Second Presbyterian Church was dissolved by Union Presbytery on July 11th. Once again the church was left without a pastor until February 25, 1962, when Dr. John C. Page, Jr., of the First Presbyterian Church of Billings, Montana was extended a call. Dr. Page accepted and came to Knoxville the following June.
It was decided about 1961 to establish a weekday kindergarten at the church by using the educational unit facilities and by opening the membership to children of the community. At first the enrollment was limited to twenty-four but since its beginning, the work has grown enormously and it has served a real need in the city.
In September, 1964, Dr. Crane retired. His counseling ministry had been felt all through the community and there was deep regret on the part of all when he left. He was followed in October of 1964 by the Reverend Robert Phillips from the Edgewood Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The following April Mr. Phillips was installed as associate pastor with counseling as his chief responsibility.
Perhaps a brief word should be said about the present activities of the church in the community. For some years a Fellowship Club, consisting of the handicapped persons of the city, has been meeting at the church for programs of music, other forms of entertainment and devotion. A few of the ladies of the Church have given unsparingly of their time and have brought enrichment into otherwise empty lives.
In cooperation with other churches of the city and with students of the University, Second Church began what has come to be known as Fort Sanders Community Center. This has been operating during the academic year for three periods each week to minister to underprivileged children of the area. A similar group, comprising needy children of the immediate area of the church, has been meeting twice weekly at the church.
Perhaps the best known of these endeavors as the Playmobile (see Presbyterian Life, August 15, 1968, issue) which has been going out into the city and working with children of the lower economic classes at three different locations.
For the past six months several members of the church have been serving as counselors to girls released from correctional institutions of the state. These efforts, small as they be, indicate a concern for the unfortunate of the community and it is to be hoped that those served will in this way develop lives of greater purpose and meaning.
Second Presbyterian Church has been known far and wide for its beautiful music and the records show that the church has had three new organs during the past hundred and fifty years, in addition to the rebuilding and reconditioning of them. The last one, installed in 1967, is a three manual instrument built by the Schantz Organ Company of Orrville, Ohio, at the approximate cost of $52,000, including the installation. It was dedicated on Sunday morning, October 8,1967, with an impressive dedicatory ceremony and the next night a beautiful recital was given to which the entire Knoxville community was invited. Mr. George Markey, one of the leading organists of the country, was the visiting artist and the program was arranged in cooperation with the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Once again the sons of Second Church have been called into service of their country-this time to the war in Vietnam. John Ruggles, III, gallantly gave his life that others might live in freedom. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend."
During the life of the Church, from its birth to the present, many beautiful gifts have been given by those who have loved her. Some have been given as memorials to loved ones who have gone. Others have come just because the givers wanted to make more beautiful the House of the Living God. Some have been perishable. Others have been enduring. All of them are worthy of mention, although space, unfortunately, does not permit. Greater than material gifts, however, have been the dedicated hearts of the members who have given freely of their love, their time and their talents.
As these hundred and fifty years have come and gone, the memories of them have twined themselves like golden threads about the hearts of all who love Second Presbyterian Church. Through her history we are enabled to see the goodness of God and how He has accomplished His work through us and at times, in spite of us. As for the future, we cannot know what it may hold, but this we do know: God holds the future and He shall continue to make all things work together for good for those who love Him. We thank Him for all those who have gone before us, as well as for those who labor in this beloved church today. We pray for steadfastness to commit our lives to Him and to give Him all praise, honor, and glory.
To the founders of this church who, by their faith and devotion, have laid for us a firm foundation;
To our former pastors who have sacrificed and labored for us;
To those who have gone from us into the Church Triumphant;
And to the members today who take up the torch which has been thrown to them --
We Gratefully Dedicate this Book.
The following books were used as references in preparing the History of Second Presbyterian Church:
- Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee
- Rule's History of Knoxville
- Temple's East Tennessee and the Civil War
- Hume's Loyal Mountaineers
- Life as It Is, a short sketch of life in Knoxville in the Early 1800's
- Moore's History of Tennessee
- Knox County, a book published in the mid 1880's
- Pamphlets of East Tennessee Historical Society
- Various papers, letters and pamphlets collected over a number of years
- Presbyterians in the South by Ernest T. Thompson
- Presbyterian Historic Almanac: Volumes I & II. 1858, 1859, and 1860
- Historical Sermon Second Presbyterian Church, Robert L. Bachman, 1906
- The French Broad Country by Mary U. Rothrock
- Minute Books of the Second Presbyterian Church