A Comprehensive History
Of the First Presbyterian Church
This history is being written to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the congregation as a Church. The History covers that portion which was written for the 25th Anniversary (Part 1) and the portion covering the last twenty-five years (Part 2).
1954 – 1975
Emilane McLemore, Historian
(Written to commemorate our 25th Anniversary as a congregation)
Presbytery of Middle Tennessee
First Presbyterian Church
1954 – 1975
William Winfield VanZant, III
Drexel Baker, Clerk of Session
James E. Garrard
James N. Gore
John E. Atkins, Chairman
Edward L. Jordan
David R. McLemore
Robert H. Underwood
1. Rev. Floyd Hooker
Sept., 1954 – Dec., 1954
The reverend Mr. Hooker was the minister for the chapel.
2. Rev. Phillip Havenor (Stated Supply)
Jan., 1955 – Feb., 1956
Both the reverend Mr. Havenor and his wife were graduate students at Vanderbilt University. They lived at Monroe Harding Children’s Home in Nashville, where h was a Bible teacher and she was housemother. The mission became a church January 1, 1956.
3. Rev. Campbell Jeffries
March, 1956 – June, 1956
4. Rev. Z.T. Osborn (Supply)
July, 1956 – August, 1957
5. Rev. Wilfred Winget (Stated Supply)
Sept., 1957 – Dec., 1958
The first church building was completed during the reverend Mr. Winget’s stay. A daughter, Sharon Elizabeth Winget was born July 25, 1958.
6. Rev. William Jenkins
July, 1959 – Oct., 1962
The reverend Mr. Jenkins was the first full time pastor of the church.
7. Rev. Milner Ball
Dec., 1962 – Feb., 1966
A son was born to the Ball family during his ministry in Manchester. According to the bulletin of Oct. 10, he was Milner Scott Ball, born Oct. 8, 1965, “ tough, mean and healthy.”
8. Rev. H.H. Schultz (Temporary Supply)
Feb., 1966 – June, 1966
9. Rev. Richard Baldwin
July, 1966 – Dec., 1970
Twin daughters were born Oct. 21, 1966 and were baptized at the church Feb. 19, 1967 by visiting minister Dr. W.L. McColgan of Arkansas, the father of Mrs. Baldwin.
10. Rev. George Carter (Stated Supply)
Jan., 1971 – May, 1971
11. Rev. J.S. Hawkins
June 1971 – Sept., 1972
12. Rev. Perry Biddle (Stated Supply)
Sept, 1972 – Aug., 1973
13. Rev. William VanZant, III
Aug., 1973 – Nov., 1980
The first deacons and elders of the First Presbyterian Church of Manchester, Tennessee were elected by the congregation January 8, 1956. They were:
Earl Sandlin 1 year
John G. Russ 2 years
Robert H. Underwood 3 years
George R. Turner 4 years
A.S. Patterson 1 year
J.D. Wiley 2 years
C.L. Bohall 3 years
Elmer C. Clark 3 years
Raymond M. Jones 4 years
G.C. Troxler 4 years
Meeting Places of the Manchester Congregation
American Legion Hall Sept., 1954 – Jan., 1955
Old Farm Bureau Bldg. Jan., 1955 – Sept., 1956
Gilmore Funeral Home Sept., 1956 – Feb., 1957
New Farm Bureau Bldg.Feb., 1957 – Nov., 1958
The Sunday School wing of the present church building was occupied in November of 1958.
The Sanctuary of the present building was occupied in November, 1963.
The congregation of the Manchester Mission designated the period of January 1, 1955 to April 10, 1955 as Charter Member Procurement Period. All who qualified before the Commission for Membership in the Mission up to and including April 10 would be on the list of charter members. The following 22 persons applied and were enrolled:
Enrolled January 16, 1955:
Mrs. R. L. Buckner
Mrs. Esther Hunter Gafford
Mrs. Irene Gilmore
Mr. & Mrs. Raymond M. Jones
Mrs. Ruth Keimig
Mrs. Winston Rollins
Mr. & Mrs. J. G. Russ
Mrs. Bealer Smotherman
Mr. G. C. Troxler
Mr. & Mrs. George R. Turner
Mr. & Mrs. Robert H. Underwood
Mr. & Mrs. J. D. Wiley
Enrolled April 10, 1955:
Mr. John G. Russ, III
Mr. Robert Leigh Underwood
Mrs. Arthur S. Patterson
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas W. Stringfellow
On April 17, 1955, when the Nashville Presbytery approved the plan of the Manchester Mission to become an organized church, they included in their approval the provision that all members who were enrolled by January 1, 1956 be considered charter members of the first Presbyterian Church of Manchester, Tennessee. This action brought the number of charter members to 35:
Mr. & Mrs. C. L. Bohall
Miss Sue Bohall
Mr. & Mrs. Elmer Clark
Mr. & Mrs. Paul M. Hood
Mr. A. S. Patterson
Mrs. A. G. Roddy
Miss Anne Roddy
Mr. John Wiley Rollins
Mr. & Mrs. Earl Sandlin
When Mr. and Mr. George R. Turner arrived in Manchester, Tennessee, they found there was no Presbyterian Church, U.S. in the community. Therefore, when Mr. Turner was invited to a special Session meeting of the First Presbyterian Church in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where he was still a Session member, he had a plan. Mr. Turner requested that a petition be sent t Nashville Presbytery, asking for someone to explore the possibility of establishing a mission of the Shelbyville church in Manchester. Presbytery was so petitioned and agreed.
In the early summer of 1954, Presbytery sent Miss Sarah Ashcraft to Manchester, where she canvassed the community under the direction of the reverend Mr. Floyd Hooker, minister of both Normandy and Wartrace, Tennessee. After two and one-half months of work, in August of 1954, Miss Ashcraft collected nine interested people for a meeting at the Fifth Wheel Restaurant in Manchester. Those attending were Mr. and Mrs. French Brantley, friends of the group, Mrs. Ruth Keimig, Mr. and Mrs. A.S. Patterson, Mr. and Mrs. John G. Russ, and Mr. and Mrs. George Turner. Officials in attendance were the reverend Mr. Otis Welch, chairman of Nashville Presbytery’s Home Missions Committee, he reverend Mr. Adrian Kolean, a member of the committee, Miss Ashcraft, and the reverend Mr. Floyd Hooker.
Noting the small number of interested person present, Mr. Welch and Mr. Kolean could see no clear need nor promising future for a mission in Manchester, but the group was so enthusiastic and persistent that the two men reluctantly agreed to a three-month trial period, providing the group could find a place to meet at no expense to the committee. Another deciding factor was that the reverend Mr. Hooker agreed to preach without pay.
Accordingly, the first meeting of the Manchester Chapel was held on September 5, 1954 by permission of Gold Star Post#78 in the American Legion room of the old Manchester City Hall. The room was furnished free of charge. For atmosphere, the room contained a television set, a pot bellied stove, case of cold drinks and a pool table, with a fire engine next door. According to Mr. Turner’s record, the attendance for this first Sunday was 22 with an offering of $26.75.
Each Sunday morning, George Turner and John Russ would go to City Hall early to push the pool table against the wall, piano out, bottles to the side, and set up chairs. In the winter, the congregation’s total operating expense consisted of the price of two scuttles of coal. Songbooks were loaned by the Shelbyville church, and under the pastorship of the reverend Mr. Hooker, with the musical accompaniment of Linda Lou Sandlin at the piano, the small group worshipped in the joy and fellowship that was to sustain them in the years ahead.
When the three months were up, the board was convinced, and on January 1, 1955, the group was designated by Presbytery as a mission of the First Presbyterian Church of Shelbyville, Tennessee.
The brand new mission now moved its services to the old Farm Bureau building next door, also provided free of charge. Services were held upstairs, the Sunday School downstairs.
For the period of September 5, 1954 to December 31, 1954, attendance averaged 24 persons per service. For the first four Sundays in January, average attendance was 39. The mission’s bulletin suggested: Could be that we will become Manchester’s fastest growing church!”
On January 30, 1955, at a covered-dish dinner, the congregation adopted its first budget of $1600.
At a previous meeting, the congregation had designated the period from January 1,1955 (the official beginning of the mission) to April 10, 1955 as Charter Member Procurement Period. On Easter Sunday, April 10, a commemorative service was planned to recognize and celebrated the establishment of the Manchester Chapel and to enroll all charter members. Among those invited were: The Home Mission Committee of Nashville Presbytery, the reverend Mr. Floyd Hooker, Miss Sarah Ashcraft, and pastors and members of Presbyterian churches at Shelbyville, Tullahoma, Decherd, Murfreesboro, and Rock Island, Tennessee. The reverend Mr. Phillip Havener officiated and Mrs. Stringfellow provided special music for the occasion. The service included the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and was held at the Coffee County Farm Bureau Building, South Spring Street, Manchester, Tennessee. Special music was provided by a solo from Mr. Stringfellow, a solo by the reverend Mr. Charles Yoder, and a quartet composed of Don Male, Robert Underwood, Robert Kamm, and Huston Hodges. Ministers who participated in the service were: Reverend Amos Burroughs, First Presbyterian Church, Tullahoma; Reverend Otis Welch, Home Missions Committee, Old Hickory; Reverend Floyd Hooker, Churches of Normandy and Wartrace; Reverend Adrian Kolean, First Presbyterian Church, Shelbyville; Reverend Charles Yoder, Decherd Presbyterian Church; and Reverend Phillip Havener, Presbyterian Chapel, Manchester.
Mr. Bealer Smotherman provided a tape and recorder and John Wiley Rollins recorded this evening service.
In the summer of 1955, Presbytery provided a Director of Religious Education for the mission. On June 2, 1955, the congregation welcomed Miss Kathryn Summers of Augusta, Georgia at a family night supper at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Wiley. Provisions were made for her to stay in the home of Mr. and Mrs. William M. McBride of 203 N. Irwin Street, Manchester.
One of Miss Summers’ first duties was the direction of the mission’s first Vacation Bible School, June 20 – July 1, 1955. (See the Sunday School section for details.)
Miss Summers was also instrumental in improving the Sunday School, organizing the women of the church, and helping with the youth of the mission. When Miss Summers’ stay was ended, the congregation held a picnic for her at the AEDC lake on July 31, 1955.
The mission was growing. As of February 20, 1955, there were 44 people in regular attendance, and 12 occasional worshippers. The Planning Committee as of this date, organized to take care of routine mission business and administration included: Robert H. Underwood, Chairman; George R. Turner, Secretary; J.G. Russ, G.C. Troxler; and Mrs. J.D. Wiley.
Mr. J.G. Russ was the Sunday School Superintendent and Mr. T.W. Stringfellow was treasurer of the mission.
At a congregational meeting September 18, 1955, it was voted that (1) The mission organize as a separate church unit in the Nashville Presbytery. (2) The mission try to employ a full-time minister, providing that the Shelbyville church and the Home Missions Committee help meet the expense.
A group of 6 members presented the petition to the Nashville Presbytery at its meeting in Madison, Tennessee on October 24, 1955. The petition was accepted and 3 elders from the Shelbyville church and 5 ministers were appointed to carry through the c omission.
On November 10, 1955, the congregation formed a committee to make recommendations of a name for the proposed church. The members of the committee were: Mrs. Jones, chairman, Ms Russ and Mrs. Bohall. On December 8, 1955, the congregation voted to name the proposed church the First Presbyterian Church of Manchester, Tennessee.
On January 8, 1956, a committee appointed by the Nashville Presbytery and composed of Rev. Otis Welch, chairman, Rev. Adrian Kolean, Rev. Floyd Hooker, and Rev. William Summers conducted the meeting which formally organized the mission into the First Presbyterian Church, U.S., of Manchester, Tennessee. Ruling Elders also present were John Hutton, John Huffman, Henry Shapard, Edward Maupin and George Crenshaw. The first deacons and elders of the Manchester church were elected on this date. (See list elsewhere.)
January 1, 1956, is the exact date of the mission’s becoming a recognized church.
The Men of the Church
The Men of the Church group was organized April 19, 1959, and officially enrolled in the Men’s Movement of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. on May 10, 1959. The original officers were: Paul Hood, President; Russ Thorsen, Vice President; Dave Coleman, Secretary; and Jim Elrod, Treasurer.
The men enjoyed times of fellowship, learning and service. Each meeting consisted of business, a program and projects reports. The men saw to general maintenance and improvement of the church building and property, and performed services such as community surveys in the interest of the church.
The Men of the church were responsible for the beginning of work toward a permanent yard sign for the church. The members contributed a total of $43.75 for the sign and turned the money over to the church. Mr. Reeves Turney designed and built the sign. The last recorded meeting of the Men of the Church was February 5, 1966.
Women of the Church
On March 13, 1955, the women of the Manchester Mission met at the home of Mrs. George Turner to consider a women’s organization. Officers of the WC of the Shelbyville church were present to explain the organization and its purpose. Attending from Shelbyville were: Mrs. Evan Lloyd Adamson, Mrs. Grady Milholen and Mrs. Knox Pitts. Mrs. John N. Turner, past president of the Transylvania Presbyterial Synod of Kentucky was also present. Manchester Mission women attending: Mrs. George R. Turner, Mrs. R.R. Buckner, Mrs. Esther Gafford, Mrs. John Russ, Mrs. J.D. Wiley, Mrs. Earl Sandlin, Mrs. Tom Stringfellow, Mrs. Clifford Troxler, and Mrs. Robert Underwood.
On July 25, 1955, under the direction of Miss Kathryn Summers, Director of Religious Education, the women met at the home of Mrs. A.S. Patterson to organize a circle. Mrs. George Turner, was elected chairman and Mrs. Robert Underwood secretary.
On January 26, 1960, the first general meeting of the Council f the Women of the church was held with 15 members present. The president was Rita Hood and by this time the women had three circles: Ema Buckner Circle, Margaret Roddy Circle, and Zoe Wiley Circle.
In October of 1966, Mrs. George R. Turner was presented an Honorary Life Membership by the women of the First Presbyterian Church.
The Women of the Church continue to function as an important unit of the church of Manchester, contributing to the welfare and nurture of the women, the church, and the community, as well as providing an outreach to those in need, spiritually or physically in the world.
When the Manchester Chapel first formed, many of the members were couples with young children. From the beginning, the young people were taken into account. A Sunday School was formed in the fall of 1954.
Never a group to neglect talent, the chapel welcomed the organization of a junior choir in the summer of 1955 under the direction of Mrs. Tom Stringfellow. That same summer, a basketball team, the Rebels, was formed for the boys with Ray Jones as coach.
On July 31, 1955, a group of young people met at the Russ home to “experiment with a Youth Fellowship Organization.” On September 4, 1955, the youth met at the Underwood home and elected their first officers:
Charles Harris Chairman
Gary & Judy Poling Activity Committee
Robert Underwood Program Chairman
Reinhard Goethert Secretary
On October 1, 1961, a program entitled Senior High Projects and Service Fellowship began with Mr. Lewis Combs and Mr. William Jenkins as leaders.
Although no records are available to reflect the progress of the young people’s organizations through the remaining years, at present the youth still enjoy the fellowship of a group of their own.
The first record of a Sunday School meeting of the Manchester Chapel is October 24, 1954. The Chapel had wasted no time! The attendance for this meeting was 18 and the offering was fifty cents.
When the new mission moved, on January 1, 1955, to the old Farm Bureau Building, services were held upstairs and the Sunday School downstairs. The Sunday School Superintendent was John Russ.
The Sunday School received a “shot in the arm” with the arrival in June, 1955 of Miss Kathryn Summers, a Director of Religious Education sent by Presbytery. One of Miss Summers’ first duties was the direction of the Mission’s first Vacation Bible School held June 20 to July 1, 1955. Lacking facilities, the mission was granted use of the Manchester City Elementay School, College Street, and was aided in its work by Mr. Evans, principal, and Mr. Wilcox, custodian. When closing exercises were held, 21 pupils presented the program or an audience of 26. Teachers of this first school were: Miss Summers, Mrs. Clendenon, Mrs. Elrod, Ray Jones, Mrs. Rollins, John Wiley Rollins, Mrs. Shaw, Mrs. Stringfellow, and Mrs. Underwood.
The next mention of the Sunday School in the records is in the bulletin of December 4, 1955. It listed Sunday School teachers as: Mrs. Troxler, Mrs. Keimig, Mrs. Underwood, Mrs. Sandlin, Mr. Turner, and Rev. Havener. Linda Lou Sandlin played piano for the opening assembly.
When plans were underway for construction of a church building in 1958, plans stipulated that there be provided four rooms for children’s classes and a large auditorium which could be sub-divided to provide three youth classes and one to two adult classes The Sunday School was an integral part of worship and continues so today.
Building, in Body and in Spirit
“Peace be to this house and to all who worship herein.”
- from the dedication service for the sanctuary, 1963
At a covered dish dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Sandlin on July 14, 1955, Mr. Tom Stringfellow first proposed the idea of a building for the church. His plan was that the first rooms would be a component of a complete, larger building which might have other units added at will. He proposed actual construction be done by church members and plans be obtained at no cost.
Never ones to let a good idea lie dormant, the congregation sprang into immediate action, then and there setting up a monitoring committee, appointed to located available sites, fit proposed building plans to such available sites, and make appropriate recommendations to the congregation. The committee was composed of: Thomas W. Stringfellow, chairman; Don W. Male; A.S. Patterson; Earl Sandlin; J.D. Wiley; Robert H. Underwood; and Raymond M. Jones. This basic committee, later to be known as the building committee saw several changes in leadership and membership over the years. According to the church records, Thomas W. Stringfellow was replaced as chairman by Raymond Jones November 10, 1955. Further changes are:
January 8, 1956: Thomas Stringfellow and Don Male no longer listed on committee
April 8, 1956: Paul Hood has been added to the committee
December, 1956: John Russ replaces Raymond Jones as chairman
March 9, 1958: Lewis Combs, Rita Hood and Lee Webster are added. The names of Patterson, Wiley, Jones and Paul Hood no longer are listed. Mr. G.C. Troxler is also an addition.
November 21, 1958: J.D. Wiley’s name reappears.
J. Richmond Hargis is now chairman. John Russ and J.D. Wiley are omitted. The committee is now for the building of the sanctuary.
In the final record, 1963, the names of J.D. Wiley and Earl Sandlin are omitted. John Russ reappears. Joe Sprouse is added.
January 1, 1956 saw the first deposit of $1,000 toward a building fund. The Mission was now an organized church and ready for business. On January 22, 1956, the congregation “broke 50” in attendance, a long-awaited goal, by having 57 at services. Things were looking up! On that same Sunday, at a congregational meeting, the congregation instructed Raymond Jones, chairman of the building committee, “to secure the property owned by Dr. Farrar and located behind the Healing Arts Clinic as a site for a new building.”
Rev. Llewellynn of Murfreesboro, the appointed representative of the Home Missions Committee, inspected the lot February 12, 1956, and approved.
A.S. Patterson, Paul M. Hood and G.C. Troxler were elected February, 1956, as trustees of the First Presbyterian Church of Manchester to act for the church in such legal matters as the purchase of property.
The congregation was obviously eager to obtain its own land and building, and little wonder. The thriving young church had been housed in “borrowed buildings” for a year and a half. Its first home was the American Legion Hall, generously offered free for the Mission’s use. Décor included a television set, pot-bellied stove and pool table. On January 1, 1955, the congregation moved to the old Farm Bureau Building. However, this building was destined for destruction as highway 41 moved over the site. By the kindness of Mrs. Irene Gilmore, she and her husband made available the chapel of the Gilmore Funeral Home from September of 1956 to early 1957. At this time, the congregation moved to the new Farm Bureau Building, where it remained until November, 1958, when dreams came true and the church moved into its own building. The story of this building is one of faith, comradeship, fortitude, and…elbow grease.
Plans for the original building called for four rooms for children’s classes a kitchen, two rest rooms, and a large auditorium to seat over 100, to use as a chapel and, sub-divided, as 3 youth and adult classes.
Funds for the original building were, to say the least, very limited. But Mr. George R. Turner, acting treasurer for the church, known by the congregation for his “one-step-at-a-time-in-faith” approach, drew up a letter on church finances, part of which is as follows:
So, with the congregation currently short of its operating budget by an average $1.28 per Sunday, Mr. Turner proceeded with plans for a building fund: “At the end of each month, the treasurer will balance the church books. All money above an average per Sunday of $56.60 contributed up to that time will be available for building purposes”
To set aside $100 per month for the building fund in March, 1956, the average per Sunday required was $84.55, $29.23 above the current average! But Mr. Turner challenged: “Can we do it? Evidently we can, since on one Sunday this year the offering was just $1.73 less than that amount.”
How could such a plan fail? At the end of March, the average offering per Sunday was $83.73, just 82 cents less than the $84.55 requested. Since this slight loss was offset by lesser monthly expenses, the building fund received $103.38 for March. With faith and loyalty, funding plans were underway in fine style.
On April 2, 1956, the building committee presented tentative plans to the Home Mission Committee. On April 14, the committee gave a detailed report to the congregation. On April 17, 1956, Presbytery voted to endorse the plan.
Flushed with success, the congregation decided on April 21, 1956 to purchase four acres from Dr. Farr for $6,500 and to aim for a $42,500 church building.
The original building was erected “piecemeal.” First, the church members laid the footing and this took all the money that they had. Next came the foundation, and it stood alone until weeds grew high before the members could afford to build the walls. Each step of the building required generous donations and hard work by the members of the congregation and their friends
On March 19, 1958, the Board of Church Extension, Atlanta, gave the First Presbyterian Church of Manchester a grant of $6,000, providing the church could match it dollar for dollar within a year.
The congregation voted, on May 4, 1958 to accept the grant and authorized a bond sale to match it. In six months from this date, all but $250 in bonds were already sold. On September 12, 1958, Rev. William Summers presented the check to the church.
Most of the work on the building was done by members of the congregation, free of charge. Clifford Troxler and his sons put in the plumbing, while John Russ and sons put in the electrical wiring. Also thanked in regard to this work were George Troxler, Joe Tubb, Bob and Robert Underwood and Paul Hood. The floor tile was a gift from Dr. Harry Winters and was put down by the men of the church. There are records of actual blistered knees from this endeavor. The wooden cross for the new chapel and the cornice boards were made by Dave Coleman. His wife, Lois, made the draperies, which are still in use today. To show more of this spirit of involvement, the following is an excerpt (known as “The Building Block”) from the November 9, 1958 bulletin:
The tireless congregation worked right up to the last minute. During the week of November 16, 1958, the members scheduled painting for Monday, painting and clean-up for Tuesday, clean-up for Tuesday, clean-up and finish-up for Wednesday, moving tables and chairs for Thursday, and Friday, November 21, held their first service in the new building! The event was a “harvest dinner,” a meal of true thanksgiving. A program was given by the young people. The annual Thanksgiving dinner, a birthday celebration for the church, has become a tradition in First Presbyterian Church of Manchester.
Building of the Sanctuary
In early 1960, the congregation felt ready to move forward with plans for the building of a new sanctuary. Accordingly, a Liaison Committee was formed February 2, 1960 to plan a bond program for financing. The members of the committee, Rev. Bill Jenkins, Paul Hood, and Robert Underwood were to meet with George Turner to formulate a plan.
Early plans met with a setback when Rev. Jenkins met with the Home Missions Committee to request a loan of $10,000 from the General Assembly. To obtain the security asked for the loan, the Manchester church would have had to secure a third mortgage. As this was unacceptable to the congregation, the loan was declined on July 10, 1960
On April 8, 1962, a Finance Committee for the building of the sanctuary was formed. Its members were: George R. Turner, chairman; L.G. Gardner; William Pamplin; and Charles Huffman.
However, on July 1, 1962, plans for the sanctuary were tabled for lack of funds. As the future began to look dimmer, word came from Dr. Courteney of the First Presbyterian church of Nashville that funds from his church would be available. The amount was later revealed to be $2,500. Giving by the members was also higher, so plans resumed.
On April 21, 1963, the building committee met with an architect in Nashville to discuss plans for the sanctuary. The building was to be constructed by Cumberland Industries. By May 19, 1963, the church funds were:
Ground breaking ceremonies were held at 7:45 a.m. on May 28, 1963.
The reservation book for bonds was opened at family night supper June 23, 1963. This was supposed to be the “kick-off” for the bond sale, but it turned out to be more than that, as this next excerpt from the bulletin, recorded by Connie Payne, shows: “the ‘kick-off’ became the ‘play that won the game’ as members and friend of the congregation bought all the bonds on the spot!”
The cornerstone laying service was held August 12, 1963 at 4:30 p.m. The cornerstone itself was donated by Mr. W. Ralph Ward of the Manchester Marble Company.
Finally, the long awaited day arrived, and the new sanctuary was dedicated on November 24, 1963 in a beautiful ceremony. The reverend Mr. Norton Dendy, Moderator of Presbytery, presided. Former Ministers Bill Jenkins and Floyd Hooker were also asked to participate. The congregation celebrated its traditional Thanksgiving Dinner afterward, with yet another milestone marked in the growth of the Manchester church. A hymn entitled “Unless the Lord Build the House: was composed especially for the dedication by Mr. Charles Huffman.
The saga of the building of the church sanctuary came to a close with a bond-burning ceremony held at the church on March 9, 1975. The reverend Mr. William VanZant opened the service with prayer. A short history of the building of the sanctuary was given by the moderator, Mr. Jim Gore. Letters from friends and past ministers, including the reverend Mr. R. Richard Baldwin, Wilfred Winget, O.F. Hooker, and Perry Biddle, Jr., were read by Rita Hood. Mrs. George Turner presented a plaque to the church listing the names of the members of the building committee and of the finance committee. After the service, members filed out into alight rain to burn the bonds. Reeves Turney led in prayer a congregation grateful for this concrete reminder of its blessings.
Building of the Manse
From 1954 to 1974, the ministers of the First Presbyterian Church of Manchester lived in a colorful variety of housing. The first minister to live in Manchester, the reverend Mr. Campbell Jefferies and family occupied the former home of the Don Male family at 605 Larrimore Drive The Wilfred Wingets lived at 1514 Rogers Circle. Rev. William Jenkins and family moved to Evins Street n September of 1959. The Milner Ball family resided first on Evins Street and then on Iris Drive. The reverend Mr. Richard Baldwin and family occupied a house on Thoma Street. Rev. Stimp Hawkins and family lived on McArthur Street. The VanZant family camped out for a brief period and lived in a duplex on McArthur Street until the present manse was completed.
The first step toward a manse was taken on February 17, 1974, when the Session agreed to present the matter to the congregation and ask for the appointment of a building committee.
The congregation met on March 3, 1974 and elected the following building committee: Session Representative and chairman: Drexel Baker; from the church at large: Reeves Turney, Lloyd Badman, and Ruth Amburgey.
The Session requested that the committee go to the Home Mission Committee as official representatives before April 1, 1974, to requests financial aid.
A second congregational meeting was held on March 24, 1974, and the committee reported to the congregation, presenting a statement of intent and a floor plan for consideration. Both were accepted and approved. The congregation voted to empower the trustees of the church, Robert Underwood, Drexel Baker, Mrs. George R. Turner, and Reeves Turney, to execute all legal papers necessary to obtain a loan and to act on the Deed of Trust.
On April 7, 1974, the Session recommended that a copy of the material concerning financial aid for the manse which was submitted to the Home Mission Committee also be submitted to the Eakin Fund. An amount totaling $1,000 as obtained from the Home Mission Committee and $20,000 from the Eakin Fund. In addition, the church obtained a loan from the First National Bank of Manchester, Tennessee
Construction began on the manse April 1, 1974 and ended in July of 1974. It was constructed by Dewey Powell and Reeves Turney. The William VanZant family moved in on July of 1974, marking the culmination of another phase of work in the life of a congregation which has shown itself to be dedicated to faith in God and to human effort.