Two hundred and twenty years ago, the Reverend Archibald Scott, the pastor of a church in Augusta County, Virginia, followed friends and relations down what was known as “the great War Trail” to Craig’s Station in east Tennessee and established a church. Named New Providence, after the church in Virginia from which some of its early members came, the new congregation had no regular pastor until 1794 when Gideon Blackburn was installed. Early in his pastorate the first church building of New Providence was constructed and was “quite a large church, built of hewn logs,” according to a 1799 description. It stood at the corner of Broadway and Cates Streets.
In 1812, Isaac Anderson, a young pastor from Knox County came to New Providence to replace Dr. Blackburn. In 1918, Dr. Anderson founded the Southern and Western Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church, known today as Maryville College. Throughout their long history, the church and college have been closely associated.
The third meeting house was under construction when the Civil War broke. New Providence did not prosper during the war. Its families were divided and scattered, and its financial resources were largely cut off. When peace came in 1865, only 50 members remained of a congregation that had numbered 271 only ten years before. There was no regular pastor; there was not to be another until 1890. Despite its desolate situation, New Providence looked to a bright future. In 1886, upon turning its first century, the congregation initiated plans for a new building. In 1892 the new sanctuary, on the old Maryville College campus at the corner of Broadway and College streets, was dedicated. In 1916, an annex was completed to accommodate the growing Sabbath school, the congregation having more than doubled in size in the 24 years since the preceding building program was finished.
Following World War II, the sixth building program of New Providence Church was inaugurated to meet the needs of a membership almost doubled in 30 years. Dr. Thomas A. Graham, the congregation’s twelfth pastor, died before the building for which he had worked and prayed was completed. The first service in the sanctuary was held on Palm Sunday, 1953.
"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17
Now into its third century, New Providence is a diverse congregation in thought and action. Our seventeenth pastor, Rev. Dr. Emily Anderson, our Associate Pastor of Emerging Generations and Mission, Rev. Louden Young, our Interim Associate Pastor, Rev. Gloria Mencer, our Parish Associate Rev. Dr. Stan Rushing, and our additional program and support personnel work alongside energetic and creative lay leaders to serve a vibrant and vital congregation of almost 1200 members.
With both informal and traditional services in the Reformed tradition as well as strong ministries of education, outreach and nurture, New Providence’s congregation is growing not only in terms of members and programs, but also in Spirit and in love. Educational programs for all ages provide opportunities for spiritual growth; local and global mission initiatives invite disciples to put faith into action; fellowship activities, small groups and pastoral care teams offer support and encouragement to the entire community of faith.
With lay worship leadership and music programs for everyone from pre-Kindergarten to adult, there are opportunities for all to participate in Sunday worship at New Providence. Our informal worship service, FirstLight, begins at 9 a.m. and is a nontraditional service that mixes modern praise music with classic hymns led by a praise band. The traditional service at 11:05 a.m. is led by our Chancel Choir and makes use of our magnificent Casavant organ.
"Rejoice in the Lord, Always..."- Philippians 4:4
From humble beginnings in John Craig’s Fort to the present day, New Providence Presbyterian has been on a journey of faithfulness for many years. And yet, “Behold,” God says, “I am doing a new thing!” Blessed with a rich and godly heritage, we look with expectation toward the new places and new directions in which God is calling us. We loved to have you come and share in the new life of this church!