East Tennessee Church Celebrates 100 Years

By: Mike McCarthy Email
By: Mike McCarthy Email

Knoxville (WVLT) - It was not just a happy, but a holy birthday for one Knoxville church.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy was there.

Gillespie Avenue Baptist Church celebrated 100 years of serving God on Sunday.

The church was founded in 1907 and still sits on the same street corner.

In song, in laughter, and in a few tears, Gillespie Avenue Baptist Church turned 100 years old.

"It means everything to me," said church member Edna Patterson.

At 93-years-old herself, Edna Patterson's the church's oldest living member.

"I learned a lot of things here that helped me through life," Patterson said.

She was back in the packed sanctuary Sunday.

"Look back, reminisce, and remember those that made it possible for us to have this day," said Pastor Wayne Hubb.

A day that began like the first service a century ago, under a tent.

"There's definitely friendship and love there. It's truly amazing," said church member Emily White.

On the church steps, the congregation posed where so many have stood before.

"We are very close, just like one big family," said Bill Warick, also a church member.

It was a celebration, but also brought back sad, even painful memories of when the church burned down in 1961.

"The bell coming out of the tower. The organ coming through the floor," said Jesse Blair. "It's sad."

When they rebuilt, they recaptured their past.

The congregation relived it by opening a time capsule

"This is a church bulletin from 1954," said Blair.

Just a few years after Blair started attending the church.

"It's changed my life completely," said Blair.

The church's mission to share the gospel is far from done.

"Sometimes it's tough to know that I'm the future," said Emily White.

Patterson says just have faith.

"I hope the church goes on to be a light on the corner. So that it'll shine for other people like it has for me," said Patterson.

U.S. Congressman John Duncan and State Senator Tim Burchett also attended the ceremony.

They both read proclamations honoring the church for it's dedication and service to the community.

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