Minute for Mission: January 19, 2014

January 19, 2014
Capital Campaign Minute for Missions
Bill Morrow

In Deuteronomy 15 we read, “Give generously and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this, the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” 

In the late 1700s when James White, the founder of Knoxville, gave his turnip patch for “a church and a burying ground,” I do not think he would have envisioned that more than 220 years later members of First Presbyterian Church would still be here doing the Lord’s work.

In 1903 church members, led by Mrs. Sophia Churchwell, decided that a new, larger sanctuary was needed.  Mrs. Churchwell pledged $5,000 if church members would raise the remainder of the money needed.  Church members contributed the additional $30,000 it took to construct the sanctuary that we are still proudly using today.  In today’s dollars, Mrs. Churchwell’s pledge would be equivalent to $300,000 and the cost of the sanctuary would exceed $2 million.  What a legacy these earlier First Presbyterians have left for us.

But pledging money did not end there.  Members raised money for our education buildings in the 1920s, our chapel in 1962, and our Fellowship Hall in 1988.   We continue to be blessed by and are able to minister to others because of what has been provided for us by these saints who have gone before us.

Now it is time for us to renovate our buildings so that ministries to our members and to others outside of our congregation can continue to increase.  Later, in Deuteronomy 16, we read, “Everyone shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.”

Our Heritage, Heart and Hope Capital Campaign is now underway and will continue for the next three months.  We want everyone to see and hear about the wonderful opportunities which will be in store for us when the Master Plan is implemented.  Brochures about the Master Plan and our capital campaign are available at the entrances to the chapel, the sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, and on the church’s website.  Please take one home with you.

Our members and others can truly see God’s love in the way use our buildings in His service.

Envision with me:  our becoming an even brighter beacon in downtown Knoxville.

Envision with me:  the new welcome center filled with natural light and overflowing with people.

Envision with me:  our own youth groups and youth groups visiting from other churches with vastly improved facilities.

Envision with me:  an enlarged courtyard filled with the laughter of children.

Envision with me:  an outdoor concert in the new elevated outdoor gathering space.

We are being called to raise $2 million in our capital campaign over a three-year period.  Our pledges will be matched four-to-one up to $8 million from the McMurry Memorial Fund which was created through a generous bequest from Mrs. Kaptola “K” McMurry.  What a blessing we have received.

During this capital campaign, we pray that the Lord will lead you to join with us in pledging your support.  Now is the time for our members to show our gratitude for our many blessings by continuing this wonderful legacy at First Presbyterian Church.

Joining with the saints who have gone before us, let us walk arm-in-arm serving Christ in the heart of Knoxville.  There is an old hymn that should guide us.

O Master, let me walk with Thee in lowly paths of service free;

            Tell me Thy secret; help me bear the strain of toil, the fret of care.

            In hope that sends a shining ray, far down the future’s broadening way;

            In peace that only Thou canst give, with Thee O Master, let me live.

Amen