History of St. Paul's
The Reverend John H. Normant, Deacon, was reported to have been holding services in Athens for one member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, William Burns. During the same year, Bishop James Hervey Otey, first Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee, visited Athens and assisted Normant in a series of services which included the confirmation of five persons and the baptism of one infant. Shortly afterwards, John Normant was admitted to the priesthood and transferred to the Diocese of Georgia.
Services were held periodically by Bishop Otey and by visiting clergymen from Knoxville, from other towns in Tennessee, and from Louisville, Kentucky.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Athens was formally admitted into the Diocese of Tennessee as a mission congregation.Earliest Photograph of St. Paul's Church
The Reverend Lucious N. Voight came to Athens as resident minister.
Beginning with eight communicants, the church began holding regular services in a small schoolroom and later in the Masonic Hall, the upper room of the courthouse. Father Voight reported that attendance was good and that “the flock increased until the winder of 1863, when the rebellion so affected the county as to break up all the churches.”
During the winter, Union troops occupied the place of worship and destroyed all furniture and fixtures.
Father Voight accepted an appointment as chaplain of a military hospital in Knoxville.
St. Paul’s was reorganized under the leadership of Father Voight, who had then been appointed Missionary for East Tennessee and who worked toward revival not only of the mission at Athens but of St. Paul’s Chattanooga, and St. James, Greenville.
Original Worship Space Layout
Father Lucius Voight became the rector of St. Paul’s, Chattanooga. A deed to a lot on South Jackson Street in Athens was registered on June 6, 1866; “David Cleage to William Burns, J. J. Helm, Charles M. Keith, Cyril Zimmerman, Otis B. Wattles, Thomas E. Williams, and Theodore Richmond, the vestry of St. Paul’s Church, and their successors.”
A church building was erected on the South Jackson lot.
Information concerning the church is practically non-existent for a period of about 40 years. Apparently the building was not used between the years 1890 and 1909 and fell into disrepair. The church register was burned in a fire which destroyed the home of Miss Catherine Douglas Keith in 1900.
Church building was transformed by replastering and electric lighting. Red hangings were presented by friends in St. John’s Church, Knoxville. Eucharist candlestick have also been presented.
The Reverend Thomas S. Russell reported 22 communicants of St. Paul’s.
Pastoral care of the mission of St. Paul’s remained under the direction of visiting clergymen, principally those assigned as rectors of St. Luke’s, Cleveland.
The Reverend Roland Foster was assigned as resident vicar of St. Paul’s. A one-room parish house was added to the church.
The Reverent Foster became missionary to the Philippines and was succeeded by the Reverend John R. Lodge.
St. Paul’s became a parish.
Twenty foot addition to front of sanctuary, with open-truss front gable.
Father Lodge accepted a call to Alaska and was succeeded by the Reverend Robert L. Nichols.
Father Nichols resigned to take charge of a mission in Chicago.
The Reverend Duff Green was called to be the rector.
A new rectory was purchased at 1210 Towanda Trail.
The Reverend Green accepted a call to St. Elizabeth’s, Memphis. The parish register listed 175 communicants.
A new parish hall was completed and dedicated.
Upon retirement of Father Janeway, the Reverend Walter Norcross was called to be the rector.
Church records showed 255 communicants.
The Reverend Norcross resigned to assume leadership of a parish in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Memorial Garden Consecrated the 14th day of December 1986 to the Glory of God and to the Memory of those whose Ashes are here interred.
The Reverend Robert Brodie was called to be the rector.
A major renovation to the sanctuary was completed and dedicated.
The church records listed 259 communicants.
The Reverend Robert Brodie resigned to assume position as Canon to the Ordinary for Bishop Tharpe in the Diocese of East Tennessee. The Reverend C. Allen Cooke served as the interim rector. The Reverend Michael Doty was called to be the rector.
Rearrangement of the church interior provided larger space for the growing music program, a special room for the EYC, and small chapel. A playground was constructed at the rear of the church.
In March, the Reverend Michael Doty resigned his position as rector in order to serve as Archdeacon of the Diocese of East Tennessee. The Reverend C. Allen Cooke serves as interim rector.
The Reverend Randall Morgan was called as rector. Church records list 201 communicants.
The church sold the rectory that was located on Towanda Trail. Property next door to the church building was purchased for parking and/or future expansion of the church grounds. The facilities and grounds undergo continual maintenance and improvements. Interior renovations have been started with a focus on programs and services. The rector’s office has been moved to a newly renovated space. In May, the Reverend Morgan left to accept a call in South Carolina. The Reverend C. Allen Cooke returned for a third interim.
The Reverend G. Hendree Harrison, Jr. called as rector. Church records list 240 communicants.
Children’s playground built.
We are a joyfully knit together family of Christians who seek to serve God by loving one another and our neighbors wastefully in the name of Jesus Christ.