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Blountville Presbyterian Church

Our History

The long and interesting history of the Blountville Presbyterian Church cannot be told in full for a number of reasons, one which is the burning of a portion of Blountville during the Civil War. Although the church building itself was not burned, official church records were destroyed. Soon after the War, however, a brief history was written by Colonel James A. Rhea, son of one of the three original elders.

In 1776, one of the earliest dates available for Presbyterianism in upper East Tennessee, three Presbyterian ministers were preaching in the vicinity of Blountville: Charles Cummings, Jacob Lake, and Joseph Rhea.

Joseph Rhea had been a Presbyterian minister in Ireland for twenty years before coming to America in 1770. He settled in Maryland and was pastor of Piney Creek Presbyterian Church. In 1776, he joined the Colonel Christian campaign as one of the chaplains, which brought him to Tennessee and Virginia. He bought land near Blountville and died a year later. It was in the home of one of his younger sons, Samuel Rhea, that twenty persons signed a covenant of organization that brought the Blountville Presbyterian Church into existence on September 20, 1820 – over one hundred and ninety-three years ago! Elected as ruling elders were Samuel Evans, James King, and Samuel Rhea. Their pictures hang in the narthex of our church today.

The Reverend Andrew Campbell was the first pastor. In 1821, a sacramental service was held by the Blountville congregation at which time fifteen persons were received as members upon submitting letters of certification to the Session. Five persons were received upon examination and baptism.

In 1823, a brick church was built on the hill where the Blountville Cemetery is today, which laid a foundation for worship and praise. The second church was erected in 1853.

One of the most distinguished members of the Blountville Church to answer the call to missionary service was Samuel A. Rhea, whose father financed his ministry to Persia (Iran) and who lies buried, with his son, in that far-off land.

Much interest in Christian work and earthly possessions by the members of the church in the first one hundred years of existence helped accomplish many on-going missions. James King, one of the first ruling elders, gave ten acres of land and a house for the founding of King College. Many of our members through the years attended this college.

In 1887, the third church was built on the present site.

From 1927 – 1947, this church moved into a new dimension with its ministry. Evangelism and outreach were the chief characteristics. During the ministry of the Reverend Dan Graham, this church reached it greatest influence and had an important ministry in the transformation of lives and in the establishment of churches.

In 1935, the old church building was torn down and the present was built. This building was dedicated in 1939.

In January 1968, the present Education Building was completed which includes the fellowship hall, kitchen, Pastor's Study, library, and Sunday School rooms.

Through Christian training in this church and in the home, many sons of this church have gone into ministry.

The beautiful stained glass windows we see in our sanctuary today were given by Mrs. Louise Rowland and her sons as a memorial to her parents, Mr. And Mrs. Sam L. McClellan.

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