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About First Cumberland


First Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in Chattanooga on Cypress Street on May 2, 1841. The constituting elders were Hugh McGill and Allen A. Kennedy. The presiding minister was the Reverend William B. Dawson.

On May 6, 1855, a new building was occupied on Chestnut Street where the Mountain City Club now stands. The new building cost $3,000.

During the War Between the States, the congregation was scattered and the building was vacated by the church. Historical records indicate that it was used by both the Federal and Confederate armies; first as a hospital and later as an arsenal. The church resumed activities after the war and in 1868 reported a membership of 30 members.

On May 1, 1887, under the leadership of the Reverend E. J. McCroskey, the church moved and a new building was dedicated at the corner of Oak and Lindsay Streets. The structure was erected at a cost of $20,000. The congregation had grown to almost 200 members.

A notable era for the church began in 1933 when the Reverend J. Fred Johnson, Sr. was called as pastor. He served for 45 years until his retirement in 1978. Under his leadership the church experienced dynamic growth and development.

In September 1955, the church purchased 16 acres on North Moore Road. Two years later, the Women's Club of the congregation purchased an additional 12.48 acres, increasing the area to 28.48 acres. On May 4, 1958, the first phase of a building program on the North Moore Road site was dedicated. The building included a fellowship hall, which served as the worship area, a kitchen, offices and 14 classrooms. On May 7, 1963, the sanctuary and north wing were dedicated.

The building covers more than 50,000 square feet. The sanctuary will seat approximately 1,200 people including the balcony and the north and south transepts. Initial construction cost was $1.1 million.

The church has been a pioneer in two areas beyond the more traditional ministries. The Cumberland Youth Foundation provides a full-time summer program of Christian supervised recreation.

The Child Development Center offers weekday care and training in a Christian atmosphere for approximately 80 preschool-age children.

To learn more about the history and missions of the Cumberland Presbyterian Denomination, please visit click here.

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