But here is where in our history God suddenly intervened. At this time some of the classes were meeting in different corners of the sanctuary, while others met in the two-story Lookout Mountain School next door. The plans to enlarge the building first submitted in 1924 were still in the "conversation stage" when God totally rearranged the equation.
In November 1927 the plans for a Sunday School annex were submitted to the session again. Wheels began to turn in earnest. On January 17, 1928 the session decided to appoint a finance committee and call a congregational meeting on January 29th, to present the plans and ask for the support of the members.
But it was not to be, for on the intervening Sunday, January 22nd, while the congregation was singing the opening hymn, the custodian reported a fire in the basement! Deacon Con G. Milligan walked quickly to the pulpit and ordered the congregation to vacate the building in an orderly fashion, in what has become known as his shortest speech ever. By the time the fire engine arrives the congregation have managed to rescue most of the contents of the building, including - thankfully - the original minutes of the session.
So the meeting called for the 29th never happened. Instead, the session invited the deacons to a meeting the very next night at elder W F Smith's house. They first settled on the idea to remove the foundation and rebuild the church turned ninety degrees to face Bragg Avenue better. But then their thinking shifted to a totally different plan. The elementary school next door was already holding classes across the street in a former house for the 7th and 8th grade. So they decided to ask the town to swap properties so the school could expand on one side of the street and the church could have more room on the opposite side. So the called meeting for January 29 never took place. The town agreed and for once things moved quickly. They even took out a mortgage for $45,000 this time, breaking ground in May and holding services in the new auditorium in November of 1928.
The church built in 1928. For more information about this building and
its architectural details, especially in the chancel, click Appendix here.
It was during this time in the Spring of 1928 that the Episcopalians in our congregation, including the beloved "Aunt Jennie" Linn, decided it was the logical time to build a church of their own: the Church of the Good Shepherd. Up until that time this church had truly been a community church for the mountain, although always under the Knoxville Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS). Not until after World War II would the other denominations build their churches: the Baptists in 1945, Catholics in 1947, and Methodists in 1953.
The membership dropped to 147 in April 1928, reflecting the loss of those departing to start the Episcopal church. There were 148 in SS and the total budget of $10,914 included benevolence of $3,865 (the church had not yet reached the 50-50 policy).
Unexpectedly for sure, but by divine providence, we now can see that our church was lifted up and transplanted from where it could not grow to its present where it now owns most of the large triangle of land circumscribed by Bragg avenue, Watauga Lane and Lincoln Street. By patiently acquiring adjacent lots as they become available, the church has expanded its realty several times and still does not foresee outgrowing this location. We can give thanks in reckoning that this is where God wants us to be.
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