First Presbyterian Church (Greeneville, Tennessee)

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First Presbyterian Church in 2006.

The First Presbyterian Church in Greeneville, Tennessee is a historic congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) located in downtown Greeneville, TN. It was the first church established in Greeneville and is one of the oldest churches in the State of Tennessee. First Presbyterian Church was first gathered in 1780 at the Big Spring in downtown Greeneville, with the first services preached by traveling frontier minister Samuel Doak. In 1783, regular services began, and Rev. Hezekiah Balch was the first settled minister.

A log church was built near the present day Greeneville Town Hall and the church was renamed Harmony Church. In 1840, the name was changed to Greeneville Presbyterian Church. The present brick building was erected in 1847. During this time, the congregation was the only church between Knoxville and Washington College, an area of approximately 100 miles.[1] In 1928, a fire destroyed the interior of the sanctuary; however, the brick walls were fortunately left intact. In 1940, the name was changed to First Presbyterian Church, as it exists today.

In 1923, a 3-story education wing was built. Christ Chapel was built and dedicated in 1999 under the direction of the church's current minister, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Donaldson. There is a 3-manual Schantz pipe organ located in the sanctuary.

The church and its congregation were heavily involved in the abolitionist movement in East Tennessee. Rev. Hezekiah Balch freed his slaves at the Greene County Courthouse in 1807. Rev. Samuel Doak, the founder of Tusculum College, followed in 1818. Francis McCorkle, the pastor of Greeneville's Presbyterian Church, was a leading member of the Manumission Society of Tennessee.

First Presbyterian Church is the parent church of Tusculum College. It is listed as a historic place with the Tennessee Historical Commission (marker 1C-59) and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Greeneville Historic District.


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