A Message from William Pender, Senior Pastor
The prophet Jeremiah, speaking for God, says: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The Session of First Presbyterian Church has sensed God’s call to proceed with a building renovation that will be true to the heritage of James White’s turnip patch, fit with our heart for Christ’s mission in the center of Knoxville, and claim our hope for ministry here for future generations. We are now embarking on a venture of Heritage, Heart, and Hope, preserving historical assets such as the graveyard and sanctuary, addressing major deferred maintenance items, and vastly improving the flow and function of our facilities.
Heritage: Legacy gifts have marked our history: a turnip patch from James White led to our current location, a bequest from Sophia Churchwell led to the building of our sanctuary in 1903, and now a bequest from Kaptola “K” McMurry bestows an opportunity to match four-to-one our gifts toward this building campaign. Mrs. McMurry wanted us to continue to fulfill our responsibilities to support the ministries and missions of our church, but her gift to the church allows us to do so much more.
Heart: Our motto is “For Christ in the heart of Knoxville.” In good times and hard times, this congregation has remained connected to the heart of the city of Knoxville. Our facilities undergird our worship and nurture within the congregation…but allow us to serve others as well. More than 80 percent of those who come through the doors of our church are non-members—Community School of the Arts, Parents’ Day Out, FISH Pantry, AA and Alanon, Tennessee Stage Company, and many more. Our buildings serve over 50 different community groups.
Hope: With this building program, we are putting down even deeper roots and branching out for better community use of our facilities. A survey in 2011 by an outside consultant reported $4 to $5 million in deferred maintenance issues. Good stewardship mandates that we take care of the assets we have and address issues such as entry points, flow, and way-finding. This Master Plan provides facilities for future generations to worship God and to continue the ministries and missions of the church. In the words of Psalm 122, we will hear: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”
I am grateful to be part of the Heritage, Heart, and Hope of First Presbyterian Church. My prayer is that you will join me in your generous support of this capital campaign as we continue in our 3rd century of being “For Christ in the heart of Knoxville.” For more information about Heritage, Heart, Hope, visit our 2014 Capital Campaign pages or take a look at the Building Design Concepts.