Sinking Creek Baptist Church celebrates 250th anniversary
Published 2:18 pm Thursday, September 8, 2022
From Staff Reports
Sinking Creek Baptist Church, the oldest church in Tennessee, will celebrate its 250th anniversary Sunday, Sept. 18, at 10 a.m., when Chosen Road will sing. The group recorded an album in the original log church, which is still standing.
There will also be streaming messages from Gov. Bill Lee and Randy Davis, President and Executive Director of the Tenn. Baptist Missions Board, Sen. Rusty Crow, and other officials.
According to the church website, Sinking Creek Baptist Church is named for a tributary of the Watauga River. The church is located on the Old Elizabethton Highway in Carter County and is the oldest church in the state of Tennessee still in existence at its original location. It was organized in 1772 in Washington County (now Carter County).
The church is located at 2313 Elizabethton Highway and was originally called Watauga River Church.
The same year that men from the Watauga Settlement met at Robertson’s Station to organize and form a free and independent government in the beautiful valley of the Watauga River, a small band of religious settlers met at Sinking Creek to establish a church.
The Sinking Creek Baptist Church has stood for 225 years as a landmark of the faith exemplified by this small band of Christians in their community. The organizational meeting of the church was held 17 years prior to George Washington becoming our first president and 24 years before the state of Tennessee was admitted to the Union. It took place in 1772.
The roster of early members include among others the names of Hendrix, Humphrey, Hendry, Parker, Pugh, Bowman, Wright, Buck, McNabb, Whitson, Hunt, Dunlap, Hopson, Edwards, Lyons, Nave, Pierce, Lincoln, Bowers, Lacey, Tipton, Renfro, Cooper, Kite, Boyd, Edens, Little, Kelly, Young, Hunter, Peters, Stevens, Evans, Cobb, Taylor, Hampton, Love, Lipps, Lewis, Fletcher, and Hyder.
Matthew Talbot was the first pastor. Worship services have continued through the years with the exception of an Indian uprising in 1776 and during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
In 1778 evangelists Charles and John Chastain, brothers from Virginia, held a revival here and the need for a larger church was realized. Pastor Talbot, Joshua Kelly, and a Mr. Maulkey planned and erected what is now known as the “Old Log Church” that still stands today with many of its original logs intact. Church members in the past worked diligently to keep the building open over the years ever since the church stopped using it for services in the early 1960s.
Because of its legendary past it is now a historical landmark and shares the same grounds as the new church built in 1962.
The church was reorganized, remodeled and enlarged from 1923-24. The Christian Family Life Center was built in 1985. Judgment House began in 1996. The pavilion was built in 2003, followed in 2005-06 by a makeover of the church sanctuary.
E. Reece Harris was the longest-standing pastor to the congregation. He served from 1962–2012.
Over the church’s 200-plus years of existence, there is no doubt that the gospel has been preached and lives have been transformed.
The Rev. Chuck Babb is the present pastor.