First United Methodist Church is a community of faith nestled in the heart of downtown Dandridge, Tennessee. The beauty of God’s mountains enfolds the current church campus located at the corner of Meeting and Main Streets. Although the first deed held by Methodists in Dandridge dates back to 1829, the ministry of the church has not been bound by a building or allowed to be stifled by outside struggles. The original part of the current building dates to about 1890 and was built by the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church. It stands as a constant reminder of the congregation’s ties to the Union during the Civil War as well as of the fact that besides dividing families, the war divided churches. In the early 1940s, the construction of Douglas Lake took the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church’s building. However, the money that the Southern Church received from Tennessee Valley Authority was given to the Northern Church to be put toward the building fund for a new church site. World War II restrictions on construction impeded the process of building a new church for the growing congregation. Finally in 1949, ground was broken on a new lot. Soon TVA filed suit saying that the proposed building would cover their easement to a storm drain. After years of preparing and waiting for to build a new church, the congregation resolved – in a December 1950 meeting of the full membership – to renovate its current facilities. Many renovations and additions have followed.
Our story is not the story of a building; it is a collage of people, faith, and the movement of the Holy Spirit. It is the story of those faithful Trustees in the 1940s and 50s who had a vision for a new church to accommodate the needs of the congregation and growing community. It is the story of Victoria who, during the Civil War, hid a wounded Union soldier in a secret room of her attic until he was well enough to be returned to the Ohio regiment. In more recent times, our collage has included Thelma who taught Sunday School for decades without missing a Sunday, Luther the faithful usher, and Hazel and Tom who spread joy by giving hugs and smiles to everyone who gathered at any church activity. It is the story of Fred, who worked tirelessly to take the church out into the community and to invite the community in. Our story is the story of people seeking to do the will of God through ministry, and it lives on. Today the struggles in the world continue. We still cling to the Good News, and we are still working on our collage. You are invited to join us for prayer, worship, and fellowship. We all need some Good News!