“‘On the Faith of Our Fathers We have risen.’ These are words found on the seal of Bethel College, but they apply equally as well to this church. We of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in McKenzie, Tennessee, have a great history. We also claim a great heritage. The church was established and maintained by sacrificial gifts of time, effort, and material. Our forebears served well. The task was begun, continued, and has been passed on to us. It is the prayer of this church that we be as faithful to the task in our day as were they.”
Taken from Historical Pamphlet written by Julia Headden in 1980
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in McKenzie, Tennessee was organized on July 17, 1867 with the Rev. J. M. Davies and 19 charter members, using the name “Bethlehem congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at McKenzie, Tennessee. In 1872 land was purchased from J. M. McKenzie on Stonewall Street for $400 (1 1/3 acres). The congregation did erect a frame building at the back of the property but met building difficulties and actually worshiped at Bethel College for some years. In 1892, after a 5-year building program, the congregation moved into their new building with Gothic architecture, high vaulted slate roof, tall steeple and memorial art-glass windows. The building still stands at 647 Stonewall Street and now houses Bethel University’s Bethel Performing Arts Center where the Renaissance Choir and Theatre have performances.
In 1920 a seven-room brick manse was constructed on the northeast corner of the church property for $8,000 and was used as a pastor’s residence through the years. The original Educational Building with Fellowship Hall named after Fannye Baxter Moore was built in 1960. This building now houses Bethel University’s Nursing Program.
In 1997 the congregation felt it was time to re-model and enlarge their facilities or build. After much research and with conflicting emotions, the session recommended that we build a new church facility. Approximately 18 acres of land was purchased at 16835 Highland Drive in McKenzie and a new church building was erected. On February 2, 2002 (the birthday of the Cumberland Presbyterian Denomination founded in 1810), the congregation had their final worship service in the old church on Stonewall St. and carried the altar, pulpit, baptismal font, brass cross, candlesticks, altar cloths, offering plates and other items to the new church where everyone gathered for a Service of Communion and a potluck dinner. The stained glass windows were also moved to the new location.