Can you name the first church in Hawkins County?
Who can claim the title “oldest church” in Hawkins County?
Someday soon there will be a book available that can answer all these questions and more.
The Hawkins County Genealogical and Historical Society (HCGHS) is collecting material for its next book project: preserving the histories of the county’s churches.
Book Committee Chair Dr. Carol Jones noted that in the early settlements, churches were the first social institution to organize and became the center of community activities.
For our God-fearing ancestors who never got into trouble, church documents can be the only written record of their existence, Jones noted.
“We’re looking for copies of anything and everything a church is willing to share with us about their history: pastors and church officials, organization documents, Sunday School lists, previous histories, directories, whatever they have,” Jones said. “It doesn’t cost the churches to participate. We will come to them, by appointment, and bring a scanner to copy their original documents. Any church publications they want to share would be great.”
HCGHS mailed 230 letters to county churches explaining the project details and contact information, including a form to help organize materials.
Collected materials will generate 1-3 page histories for the HCGHS church history book. Afterwards, the informational items will be added to the Church History Collection at the Hawkins County Archives.
In addition, HCGHS set up a Facebook page — Hawkins County Church History Book — for people to share memories, information and, of course, photos of religious events from Hawkins County history.
“It also lets our community follow our progress on this important project,” Jones said.
Any church whose letter went astray, and any individual with stories to share, can email HCGHS at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Materials can also be sent to HCGHS, P.O. Box 429, Rogersville TN 37857-0429.
As for the answers to the questions at the beginning of this story:
* There are currently 247 churches in Hawkins County.
* The first church was Mooney Church — a log structure built by Edmund Mooney on his farm in 1769. It later was moved, was enlarged and became Liberty Presbyterian.
* And the oldest church is, of course, New Providence Presbyterian at Stony Point near Surgoinsville.