Seven Islands Methodist Church – The Church Journey

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January 14, 2020

INTRODUCTION:

I spent time at the Seven Islands Methodist Church. The church was built circa 1865. As of 1994 it was being used by a non-denominational congregation.[2]  The building was listed on the National Register in 1997.  In the early days this church was tightly entwined with the community providing gospel for early pioneers in Eastern Tennessee. The congregation was founded in 1802, the first Methodist congregation established in Knox County and the church is situated on land originally granted by Huffaker family members. Next to the church there is a large cemetery dating back to the early 1700s.  Seven Islands Methodist church is one of the oldest Methodist churches in Knox county. Some old newspaper articles stated that it is supposed to be the very first Methodist church in Knox county.  This was church visit number two in 2020 on The Church Journey. 

DETAILS:   

Church Website: No website available.

Date Visited: 2020 January 7th.

Seven Islands Methodist Church is a historic church located at 8100 Seven Islands Road. The church sits on a hill overlooking the south bank of the French Broad River in Knox County, Tennessee. The open view from the church shows scenery that has not changed much in over 200 years.  Next to the church there is a large cemetery dating back to the early 1700s. Beyond the cemetery the French Broad River flows peacefully on its way to empty into the Tennessee river. On the opposite bank of the river lies Seven Islands that is isolated with the river flowing on both sides of the island.  Standing outside the church; sounds of being in the country surround you in a peaceful way.  The birds are happily chirping serenading the sound of the flowing river in the background.

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Below shows the foundation, which is made up of a pile of larger brown rocks, strategically stacked to hold up the building.

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Inside the church has rows of old wooden pews sitting on a dark brown wooden floor. Peeking through the windows you can see a heavenly mist of sunshine flowing through illuminating the inside of the worship area. 

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Below is a picture of a raised platform at the back of the church serving as the pulpit from which the preacher delivers his sermons.  The next picture shows a wooden piano that provides the music for the church service.

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FELLOWSHIP:

I was unable to establish any contacts for this church. I am not sure if it is currently used for services.  Because of the deep history I was happy to add it to the journey.  I did not have access to the inside of the church, so several of the pictures were taken through the windows. 

HISTORY:

About late 1781 the Huffaker family moved to Knox County, TN to an area called Seven Islands. Seven Islands is a few miles upstream from where the French Broad River and the Holston Rivers merge form the headwaters of the Tennessee River. Huffaker family was followers of the teaching of Bishop Francis Asbury Methodist faith.  Bishop Asbury held the first Methodist conference west of the Allegheny Mountains at Michael Huffaker’s home in the late 1780’s.  Bishop Asbury was very complimentary about the efforts of Michael Huffaker in establishing the Methodist faith in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. He gave Michael credit as being one of the founders of the Holston Methodist Conference that serves the Southwest Virginian and East Tennessee area today [3]. 

Bishop Ashbury spent many years of his life traveling the treacherous wilderness to spread the gospel (Good News) of Christ. He traveled 4,900 miles from July 30, 1801 to September 12, 1802. Here is an excerpt of his travels in Eastern Tennessee area from (Holston Methodism” Vol 1. Pages 410 -412) [3].  He attended a camp meeting, which continued for four days. There was a “shaking” some fifteen hundred people attended the meeting, and some were convicted and converted. Monday the 25th (month of October) he rode to Knoxville and bishop ordained Justus Huffaker and James Sullivan deacons. Monday November 1st with snow in the mountains and wind from the west, they had a cold ride to Little Pigeon in Sevier County, and the two preached [3]. Traveling in the pioneer days was very rugged.

This same year Bishop Ashbury had fallen sick for twenty-three days. For his sickness and sufferings, he conceived that he was indebted to sleeping uncovered in the wilderness. I am grateful for sacrifice that was made to spread the gospel in the early 1800s, as a result many churches were started just like the church at Seven Islands.

Seven Islands Methodist church congregation was founded in 1802.  It was the first Methodist congregation established in Knox County, and the church is situated on land originally granted by Huffaker family members.  In the early 1950’s the church was consolidated with the Beulah-Ridgeway charge[2]. In 1997 the Seven Island Church building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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FINAL THOUGHTS:

I am a bit of a history buff, so I really enjoyed doing the research on this church. When you reflect on old 19th century country churches this is exactly how they looked minus the upgraded metal roof. The way in which the church was founded is a vivid testimony when Christians serving God ventured off into the treacherous wilderness to spread the gospel (Good News) of Christ.  More important God owns the church, God orchestrates it, everything we have is provided by God. The people are just the stewards to what God has provided. We are blessed to be in trusted with the management of what is God’s. Through this relationship it allows the church to act as a conduit to reach out to the unsaved.

“The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” – (Psalm 24-1)

Even though I did not have access to the inside of the church I was able to proceed standing outside meditating and praying silently. It was just as gratifying visually looking at this old church in its country setting.  I thought about in the early days people traveling by horse and buggy for Sunday services. The many picnics and fellowship that transpired through the many decades.  It was satisfying observing the pulpit that severed as the focal point for many sermons to the congregation. Thinking about the grandeurs sounds of music and singing in the presents of God put a smile on my face, and all felt well with my soul. If you enjoy reading travel journals from the early 1800s, I recommend reading “Holston Methodism” the link is in my references below.

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As much as I love the history of the old churches dating back to the early pioneers. This journey will also focus on modern churches established in the 20th & 21st centuries. Each church no matter when it was founded serves a purpose providing the gospel and assistance to the community it serves.

One of the main objectives in this journey is spending time in prayer at each location. Prayer is an act of worship that glorifies God. Through living a life of prayer, we spiritually draw closer to the Lord. I challenge you to pray for our churches as they continue to face challenges in the year 2020.  There is so much to pray for. The church leadership reaching the unsaved, the planned missions, the music program, the congregation, and so forth the list for pray is immense.

May our Lord continue to bless this church in Jesus name.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  – (Proverbs 3:5-6) NIV

May this find you well and happy, God Bless

D.C. Martin

REFERENCES:

  1. (2020, January 08) Seven Islands Methodist Church. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Islands_Methodist_Church
  2. (17 May 1952) “Decoration Day Set at Seven Islands”, Knoxville News-Sentinel Page 3.
  3. N. Price  1830  “Holston Methodism” Vol 1 Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/03942748.894.emory.edu/page/n3 

 

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