The History of FCPC
The story of Fountain City Presbyterian Church is interwoven with that of the community in which it was born and with those who attended its birth. Good “parents” and a “friendly environment” certainly played a large part in our early years and have continued to support and sustain us. Who were our founding fathers and mothers and when did Fountain City Presbyterian Church become a presence in this area? Let’s start at the very beginning, “a very good place to start”…
The church was officially founded on April 8, 1923; it was the fourth church to be established in the area originally known as Fountain Head, Tennessee. Shannondale Presbyterian Church on Tazewell Pike, organized in 1886 was among other churches in adjacent communities when Fountain City Presbyterian began her ministry in the spring of 1923.
Fountain Head had become Fountain City in 1890 and the steam railway commonly known as the “Dummy Line”, ran regularly to and from Knoxville, some five miles to the south. The end of the line, a loop at the upper end of the park, was just one short block from the property which a few years later would become the location of Fountain City Presbyterian Church.
There were Presbyterians who had moved to Fountain City but there was no Presbyterian church in the immediate area. Mr. N.D. Barrows, an elder in the Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Knoxville (since relocated on Kingston Pike), recognized a need for a neighborhood church in Fountain City.; he and other area residents started a Sunday School in June of 1922. They originally met in the First Baptist Church on West Fifth Avenue (now Holbrook Drive) with forty-six people present at the initial meeting. By December, it had become evident that interest and support was great enough to organize a Presbyterian Church in Fountain City.
A petition for organization was prepared and presented to Union Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. on December 20,1922. There were 13 signers, each representing a family, which constituted at least 30 prospective members. All but three of the originally signers became organizing members on April 8, 1923 and 16 other people united with the church on this charter day. Forty-nine more joined the church during the first year.
At this time the church was meeting in the Odd Fellows Hall which stood on the corner of Hotel and West Fifth (Holbrook Dr.). During these early years, 1923-1927, the church was part of Union Presbytery, PCUSA, and served by the following pastors: Rev. W.H. Butler, Rev. Theron Alexander and Charles R. Johnson, a student supply preacher.
In June of 1923 the church purchased the triangular piece of property, on which it currently stands, for $7,500. The lot included a house which was “to be used as a manse and the site for a church building or for such other purpose as might in the judgment of the officers and members seem expedient for the best interest of the Church.” The congregation wanted a building of its own and help had been promised by the Union Presbytery; some of the leaders of the Presbyery felt, however, that Fountain City was too small a community in which to invest the money needed to do this, and help was delayed.
Some of the extension leaders of the extension leaders of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (so-called Southern Church) heard of this and believed rather that a church in Fountain City had great possibilities. This led the new congregation to vote to petition Union Presbytery for transfer to the Knoxville Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the United States on June 18, 1927, and on July 18 the transfer was approved. There were certain stipulations; namel, that Knoxville Presbytery would maintain the work in this community, assist in providing a building without delay and repay some $2,500 previously advanced by Union Presbytery. On August 9, 1927, all the aforementioned conditions were accepted by Knoxville Presbytery and the transfer was complete. The Fountain City Presbyterian Church USA had become the Fountain City Presbyterian Church US.
The Rev. Dr. D.M. Larson, Home Missions Superintendent for Knoxville Presbytery, served as supply pastor until January 22, 1928, when the Rev. Fred S. McCorkle began his pastorate. In September of that year, ground was broken for the construction of a church building; although the did not make significant progress until spring of 1929, “that open hole in the ground lay there on the hillside through a long winter as a silent but effective witness that Fountain City Presbtyerians had made a beginning and seriously expected to erect a church building”
The formal opening of the new building was held October 30, 1929. The cost of the facility was $15,000 and there were 125 members at this time; the building is now known as McCorkle Chapel. Rev. McCorkle served as pastor nearly 18 years; these were years of growth and outreach, struggle and difficulty, for they encompassed the depression years and the war years. Sunday Schools were started in Raccoon Valley and the Halls Cross Roads area in the mid 1930’s. Cross Roads Chapel, build in 1937, continued as an extension of the congregation of the Fountain City Presbyterian Church for several years.
Dr. McCorkle was characterized as “a Southern Gentleman, tireless worker, a man of great vision and patient determination… as near all things to all people as it is possible to be.. A true servant of God.” He left FCPC in July of 1946.
December 1, 1946, Dr. J. Witherspoon Dunlap became the pastor. During Dr. FCPC outgreat the 1929 chapel during Dr. Dunlap’s years and a building/planning committee was named to build a new facility. The cornerstone was laid on May 21, 1950 and the formal opening of the new sanctuary was held on Sunday, January 21, 1951.
Fountain City Presbyterian Church was also expanding outwardly. The outreach program in Halls became no longer a mission project but an organized church in the fall of 1949. Sixty-one members of FCPC transferred to the new church, thus becoming charter members of Cross Roads Presbyterian Church.
On February 16, 1956 Dr. Don R. Brandon became the pastor.
The new Education Building was completed in January 1959.
In 1964 the church called its first Director of Christian Education, Nancy David; she was succeeded in 1970 by Mr. Charles L. Bailey Jr. and he, by Beth Abrams. Shirley Hitchins became DCE in the summer of 1977.
Dr. Brandon retired from active ministry in early 1978 and he and his wife, Dottie, remained in Fountain City. The Brandon Theological Fund was established by the Women of the Church in his honor and continues to this time.
On October 1, 1978 Dr. John L. Davis, II (Jack) became our pastor. Soon after Jack began his ministry, the church decided it must increase the staff in order to meet the new demands of the coming decade. In 1981, Rev. Ralph Lufkin, a retired member of the Presbytery, came to help with the visitation ministry and out-reach. Susan Lloyd moved from part time to full time secretary, Shirley Hutchins continued as DCE and Cindy Ricker joined the staff as the assistant to Susan in January 1982.
In the summer of 1983 there was a reunion between the Northern and Southern churches in our denomination making us one denomination, the PC(USA).
Rev. K Misenheimer became our first full-time Associate Pastor in January of 1984 and provided great leadership in visitation.
Shirley Hutchins left to attend seminary in 1987 and Brenda Logan became the new Director of Christian Education in February, 1988
The kitchen was remodeled in 1989 and our still successful Wednesday evening program called Welcome on Wednesday began.
In 1991 K. Misenheimer retired and Dr. W. F. (Bill) Wadsworth began to assist in visitation.
Upon the retirement of Dr. Phifer in 1990 Harry Hall became our Music Director.
The new wing of the church was completed in September 1994 and a State licensed Child Development Center was opened the following school year. The first year there were just 4 children and 1 worker. The Davis Center has grown exponentially since then.
FCPC’s Stephen Ministry began under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Ballard, who became our Associate Pastor in January 1993.
On December 21, 1997 Dr. Jack Davis preached his last sermon before retiring as pastor of FCPC.