Our Church History

First United Methodist Church of Pigeon Forge was initially part of the Pigeon Forge Circuit in the Knoxville District of the Holston Conference. In those days, circuit riding preachers served this church among many on the circuit which also included Huskey’s Grove, Pleasant Hill, Walden’s Creek and Wear’s Valley. Worshippers of varying denominations first gathered on alternating Sundays in the morning and at “early candle lighting” in the meeting house which was a nearby log building used for school and worship. The site was once in the Joseph Huff Land Grant of 1824. It is believed that a member of the William H. Trotter family donated land for the “Methodist Episcopal Church” (as it was called in those days) which was organized in 1880. A white frame church was constructed around this same time, and by 1916, a parsonage had also been built. Lightning struck the church in June, 1919 and the building burned to the ground. The congregation continued to meet at the Pigeon Forge Academy next door. Reconstruction began almost immediately with the McMahan family of Sevierville laying the masonry, brick by brick. As the stately architecture rose from the cornerstone to the belfry tower, the congregation faced the hardships of in influenza epidemic and a great flood in 1920. One Sunday in March, with 68 members present, the offering plate held a total of only $1.28.

A “mammoth” crowd attended the dedication for the new building on July 2, 1922. Pledges of $4,000 were received for unpaid construction costs. “After a sumptuous dinner spread by the good ladies of the church, the crowd departed…delighted with a splendid day and good work,” the Montgomery Vindicator read.

A modern parsonage was constructed in 1955. On Palm Sunday in 1958, the congregation enjoyed the harmonious sounds of their new church-sized Hammond organ for the first time. The organ was funded by the Women’s Society of Christian Service and others. In 1963, an education building was completed. In the 70’s, the Men’s Club organized a medical-emergency ministry and held services at the local drive-in theater for travelers and others unable to attend regularly scheduled worship at the church.

For decades, First United Methodist Church of Pigeon Forge has been a spiritual beacon here. Years ago, Joe Ogle wrote: “Once again the annual tourist season is tapering, the colored leaves are falling and the peacefulness of the mountains in winter descends upon our community. It is a good time to pause and thank God for the many blessings we have received…. However, let us not be so contented…that we fail to see opportunities to reach out to others both spiritually and materially….”

   May 2019   
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