TN: 200 years of history at First Presbyterian Church

SHELBYVILLE — On the ground floor of the historic First Presbyterian Church, there is a small chapel. The room, which is occasionally used for small weddings and Bible studies, is now a repository of historic memorabilia, the Times-Gazette reports.

Families from the community have taken scrapbooks, documents, photos and more to the church in preparation of the upcoming 200th anniversary. Members of the anniversary committee meet to discuss event plans and do a little reminiscing of their own among the piles of history in the chapel pews.

Bailey Little, the official church historian, hands out a packet of information he prepared from many documents, including a book, “Written on Many Hearts: The History of The First Presbyterian Church from 1815-1965.” In the information Little provides, it is easy to see the influence of First Presbyterian in the surrounding community from its early inception. First Presbyterian Church was founded in 1815, five years after the founding of Shelbyville.

The first pastor, the Rev. George Newton, moved to Bedford County to establish the first school of which there is any record. After his death in 1840, he was buried in the old Shelbyville Cemetery behind First Baptist church.

The church also played an active role in the Civil War — a role the members are proud to acknowledge. “The church was used as both a Union and Confederate hospital,” Wayne Bomar, chair of the anniversary committee, says with pride. “That’s the reason it wasn’t burnt down — because both sides used it.”

FOR MORE: Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Features: 200 years of history: First Presbyterian celebrates (09/20/15)

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