The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tennessee

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The Memphis Tennessee LDS Temple

As of June 24, 2016, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 49,576 members, 12 stakes (with stake center inside the state), 105 congregations (77 wards[1] and 28 branches[1]), 2 missions, and 2 temples in Tennessee.[2]


David W. Patten and Warren Parish arrived in Tennessee shortly before 11 October 1834 and soon baptized 31 people: organizing a branch by the end of the year. These efforts were in Henry, Benton, and Humphreys counties. In 1835, Parrish worked alone after Patten returned to Kirtland, Ohio.[3]

On March 27, 1835, Wilford Woodruff, then a priest, came to assist Parrish. When Warren Parrish was called as a Seventy in July 1835, he ordained Woodruff as an elder and placed him in charge of the work in Tennessee. Woodruff was assisted by Abraham O. Smoot and Benjamin L. Clapp.

In 1836, there were about 100 members in seven branches. By 1839, 12 branches existed in the state and by 1846, missionaries had preached in 26 counties. Following the exodus to the West, little work was done in Tennessee. Hyrum H. Blackwell and Emmanuel M. Murphy visited the state in 1857 to call the saints to gather in the west.[4]

In 1870, Hayden Church resumed work in Tennessee. The Southern States Mission was formally organized in 1875 with headquarters in Nashville, then moved to Chattanooga in 1882 and remained there until 1919, when Atlanta, GA became mission headquarters.

Henry G. Boyle established a branch at Shady Grove in 1875. Mob activity increased significantly in 1879. Some converts in the South left their homes and migrated to the west in 1883.

In 1884, members were fired upon in separate incidents. Elder James Rosskelley was shot in eastern Tennessee on August 8, 1884. Elder Rosskelley would survive and his attacker was captured and bound over for trial.[5] The worst massacre of Church members in the South, however, occurred on August 10, 1884, when a mob shot to death missionaries William S. Berry and John H. Gibbs and local members W. Martin Conder and John Riley Hutson during LDS Church services at the home of W. James Conder on Cane Creek in Lewis County. Sister Malinda Conder was injured as well in the attack but recovered enough to walk with a cane.[6][7] Mission President Brigham H. Roberts donned a disguise, traveled to the tense area and retrieved the bodies of the slain missionaries. Many of the Church members at Cane Creek left in November 1884 emigrating to Colorado. In 1888, another group of 177 Latter-day Saints left Chattanooga for Colorado and Utah.

By the 1890s, public opinion became more tolerant. The oldest existing meetinghouse in the Southeast was dedicated in Northcutts’ Cove on October 24, 1909, by Charles A. Collis.[8] Ten years later, branches were listed in Chattanooga and Memphis. On November 16, 1925, a chapel in Memphis was dedicated by Elder George F. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve. By 1930, about 2832 members lived in the Middle and East Tennessee Districts.

On April 18, 1965, the Memphis Stake, Tennessee’s first, was created by Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve. On March 15–16, 1997, more than 6500 people attended a meeting where President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke in the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, several thousand Latter-day Saint volunteers, from a 7 state area (including Tennessee), went to Louisiana and Mississippi. Many of them taking time out of their jobs or came down on the weekends to help anyone needing assistance (Mormon and non-Mormon).[9][10]

Tennessee "Mormons" volunteered relief in their own area on several occasions including the April 2, 2006 tornado outbreak,[11] and the April 6–8, 2006 Tornado Outbreak.[12]

In 2007, 360 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and 65 members of the Orchestra at Temple Square performed at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville (June 30), and at the FedEx Forum in Memphis (July 2).[13]

In September 2008, Latter-day Saints from both of the Memphis stakes went to the Baton Rouge area to aid cleanup efforts following Hurricane Gustav.

Tennessee LDS membership history

Membership History[edit]

Year LDS Membership
1834 31
1890 136
1906 841
1930 2,832
1980 15,839
1990 23,007
1999 31,104
2008 43,179
2016 49,576[14]


There are 12 stakes with their stake center located in Tennessee. Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have no paid clergy, stake presidents, bishops, etc. have their own occupation.

Stakes with their stake center in Tennessee and their current stake presidents are as follows:

Stake Organized Stake President Occupation
Chattanooga Tennessee May 21, 1978 Richard G. Youngblood[15] chief operating officer for Blood Assurance
Cookeville Tennessee May 1, 2016 David O. Day[16] attorney
Franklin Tennessee December 2, 1979 William P. Grayson[17] executive director of St. Thomas Medical Group
Kingsport Tennessee January 13, 1980 Sean Stewart McMurray[18] chief executive officer at Johnston Hospital
Knoxville Tennessee June 25, 1972 Benjamin Todd Morgenegg[19] district sales coordinator at AFLAC
Knoxville Tennessee Cumberland November 17, 1996 Thomas Dahl Jr.[20]
Madison Tennessee June 9, 2007 Peter J. Abernathy[21] general counsel for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation
McMinnville Tennessee August 18, 1991 Cordell H. Crawford[22] Grant writer
Memphis Tennessee April 18, 1965 Steven Moyle Dorius[23] tax attorney at International Paper
Memphis Tennessee North September 14, 1980 CE. Zobell[24] general counsel for Peabody Hotel Group
Murfreesboro Tennessee November 3, 2012 Kevin Mackenzie Tipps[25] claim manager with Travelers Insurance Co.
Nashville Tennessee December 6, 1970 David R. Watson[25] owner of Sonic Drive-In franchise


The Southern States Mission was formally organized in 1875 with its headquarters in Nashville. Then in 1882, the headquarters moved to Chattanooga, until in 1919, it moved to Atlanta, GA. Tennessee remained in the Southern States Mission until the creation of the East Central States Mission in 1928. In 1975, the Tennessee Nashville Mission was organized. In 1993, the Tennessee Knoxville was organized from the Tennessee Nashville Mission.

Mission Current Mission President
Tennessee Nashville Mission Kyle R. Anderson [26]
Tennessee Knoxville Mission Steven P Griffin


On November 12, 1994, a letter sent to priesthood leaders announced plans to build a temple in Nashville. However, after three unsuccessful years of trying to gain approvals, Church leaders announced on April 25, 1998, they would move ahead with plans to build a temple somewhere else in the Nashville area, and said the temple would be substantially smaller in size. That fall, on September 17, 1998, the first presidency announced it would build a second temple in Tennessee, this one in Memphis. The temple in the suburb of Bartlett was dedicated on April 23, 2000. The Next month, on May 21, 2000, the Nashville Tennessee Temple, in the suburb of Franklin, was dedicated.

Memphis Tennessee Temple 01.JPG

80. Memphis Tennessee Temple edit


Bartlett, Tennessee, US
September 17, 1998
April 23, 2000 by James E. Faust
10,700 sq ft (990 m2) and 71 ft (22 m) high on a 6.35 acre (2.6 ha) site
Classic modern, single-spire design - designed by Dusty Driver and Church A&E Services

Nashville Temple.jpg

84. Nashville Tennessee Temple edit


Franklin, Tennessee, US
November 9, 1994
May 21, 2000 by James E. Faust
10,700 sq ft (990 m2) and 71 ft (22 m) high on a 6.86 acre (2.8 ha) site
Classic modern, single-spire design - designed by Robert Waldrip and Church A&E Services

Prominent members connected with Tennessee[edit]

  • D. Todd Christofferson, called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 5, 2008, was senior vice president and general counsel for Commerce Union Bank of Tennessee in Nashville. He was also active in community affairs and interfaith organizations. He was the chair of the Middle Tennessee Literacy Coalition and the chair of Affordable Housing of Nashville.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b LDS Meetinghouse Locator
  2. ^ LDS Newsroom (Statistical Information)
  3. ^ David W Patten's Journal
  4. ^ Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p. 867
  5. ^ James Rosskelley
  6. ^ The Cane Creek Massacre
  7. ^ The Cane Creek Massacre
  8. ^ Northcutts Chapel
  9. ^ Latter-day Saints to Mobilize Another 4,000 Volunteers in Chainsaw Brigade’s Second Wave [1]
  10. ^ Joining Hands as Neighbors and Now Friends
  11. ^ Church members help with clean-up, roof repair (April 29, 2006) Church News
  12. ^ Aid rendered in wake of tornadoes (April 15, 2006) Church News
  13. ^ Mormon Tabernacle Choir Announces 2007 Canada-Midwest U.S. Tour
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ New stake presidents (June 15, 2002) Church News
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ New stake presidencies (November 21, 2009) Church News
  18. ^ New stake presidents (November 24, 2007) Church News
  19. ^ New stake presidents(June 3, 2006) Church News
  20. ^ (October 2015)
  21. ^ New stake presidents (January 2, 2010) Church News
  22. ^ New stake presidents (June 5, 2010) Church News
  23. ^ Correction — Memphis Tennessee Stake (July 12, 2008) Church News
  24. ^ New Stake Presidents (January 3, 2009) Church News
  25. ^ a b New stake presidents (November 17, 2012) Church News
  26. ^ New mission presidents (June 9, 2013) Church News
  27. ^ D. Todd Christofferson (April 19, 2008) Church News

External links[edit]