January 26, 2014
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ‘S HERITAGE
by Peggy Hagler
As the Psalmist says in Psalms 16, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup…I have a goodly heritage.”
First Presbyterian Church has had an exceptionally wonderful heritage for over 220 years. Many changes have taken place in our facilities since our beginning, as the result of many generous members of this congregation. Today we are truly blessed to have the bequest from Mrs. Kaptola “K” McMurry which will allow us to accomplish a major renovation to our facilities. Again we can say Jehovah Jirah – The Lord will provide.
Due to the McMurry bequest, Session authorized a much needed repair and renovation of our church facility. A Building Vision Team was formed, which was charged with making the selection of an architectural firm to carry out the wishes of the church members, and Johnson Architects were selected. Our church is composed of six buildings that have been constructed at various times, all of which are in use today. First Church is a historic landmark in the City of Knoxville, and we are blessed to be able to worship here every week in the very “first church in Knoxville”. Thanks to all of you and our many former members, we are still a viable part of our city.
Even though we have the McMurry bequest, in order for us to have ownership in the renovation, a capital campaign was approved by Session. A survey was sent to all our church members asking them for their input on the issues that were most important to them. Your voice was heard. Architectural plans have been prepared, presented and approved by Session, and your issues addressed, namely,
– the major repair of these wonderful old buildings in order to keep them safe
– easier access into the building
– better utilization of the space within our walls, and
– easier wayfaring within the church.
Upon completion, we will have a beautiful renovated facility, but we must never forget the Bible teaches us in Hebrews “do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” This is a part of the heritage of this church – doing for others, whether locally or in foreign lands. We not only minister to our congregation, but we have a long history of starting or assisting in the growth of new Presbyterian churches in Knoxville, such as Fifth Avenue, Little Brick, Sequoyah Hills, John Sevier, Lake Hills, Fairmont and others. Also due to our ministry many of our young men and women have dedicated their lives to serve as ministers, Christian educators, and missionaries. We also consider our church to be part of our Home Missions effort, as more than fifty different groups use our facilities – either on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. We want this ministry and our presence to continue into the future for downtown Knoxville.
We are asking each member of our church to prayerfully consider a three-year pledge towards this effort. Many people have provided for us in the past, and now it is our opportunity to prepare this historic church for future generations. As one of the saints in our church said many years ago, “May God keep before us a vision and give us the grace to care greatly for His Kingdom in the City.”