The year 2021 marks 130 years of a legacy of faith for First Baptist Concord.
A look back at the history and growth of this church and the community is interesting. In 1854, the area that we now know as the Concord/Farragut community was sparsely settled when James Rodgers laid out a town of 55 lots along the railroad and named it Concord. By 1855, the town of Concord had its own post office.
Concord was developing rapidly, second only to Knoxville in population. By 1857, it was becoming a regional transportation center. River transportation and railroad transportation were bringing a population and development shift to the area.
By 1890, a large marble deposit had been discovered in the Concord area bringing the lure of good work and schools to marble workers from other areas as far away as Virginia. The majority of the marble workers were of the Baptist faith.
For these early settlers, what seemed to be the perfect place to live, work and raise a family was missing a place to worship. Among those workers were the Samuel Mitchell and Hal Glaspy Winfrey families.
Recognizing the need, Mrs. Samuel Mitchell and several other women of the community invited Mr. William L. Winfrey to come to Concord to hold a series of meetings. Mr. Winfrey, brother of Hal Glaspy Winfrey, had just graduated from Mossy Creek College (now Carson-Newman).
The congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Concord allowed them to use their building for these meetings. As history reveals, the Rev. Winfrey preached a doctrinal sermon regarding his belief that baptisms from other denominations were unacceptable. Consequently, the small group of Baptists were asked to find another place to worship and moved to the Masonic Hall on Second Street, which was also used as a school.
Money was scarce, but by 1891 the men of the church joined together and built the first one-story wooden structure and Concord Baptist Church was officially formed. The Rev. W.L. Winfrey became the first full-time pastor with a salary of $70 per year. This structure is still standing at 1004 Olive Road in the community of Old Concord and is owned by Jay Beeler.
By 1921, Concord Baptist was in need of a larger facility and purchased a lot at the corner of Olive and Front Street (now Lake Ridge Drive). By 1923, the church was meeting at that location in a one-story basement. Funding for finishing the church was lacking until Mr. P.W. Bevins volunteered to pay for the completion. The name of the church became Crichton Memorial Baptist in memory of his late son, Crichton.
As the marble business faded and the Knoxville and Oak Ridge areas were expanding, the church voted in 1962, under the leadership of the Rev. C.L. Capps, to take a “leap of faith” and move the church to Kingston Pike. The church was renamed to First Baptist Church Concord. In later years the word ‘church’ was omitted and now it is simply First Baptist Concord.
Major building expansions have followed including an educational wing in 1967, a second sanctuary in 1973, and a Family Life Center in 1990. While under the leadership of Dr. Doug Sager (1992-2013) Concord Christian School was founded as an elementary school in 1996 and the church built a third sanctuary in 1997. The middle school opened in 1999, followed by a high school in 2009.
Through a beautiful act of generosity, the Beeler Family has donated the bell from the original church, and it is on display at the church facility. The late Dr. Sager, known for his “Sagerisms”, defined faith as “Confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances or consequences.” The old bell, having weathered the history of the church, stands as a symbol of that faith for the people of the Concord/Farragut community and the blessings they have received throughout the years.
Information for the history and associated pictures are credited to the book “From Founders to the Future, A Journey of Faith for First Baptist Concord” by Mona Isbell Smith.
Mona Isbell Smith is a retired computer systems analyst who enjoys freelancing.