.PECK'S MEMORIAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Peck's Memorial United Methodist Church
Peck's Memorial United Methodist
Church, located on Wilkinson Pike in Maryville, Tennessee, was established in the early
1820's. This church was first known as Peck's Chapel and met in four different buildings
until the present structure was built in 1939. This fifth building and the church was
henceforth known as Peck's Memorial Methodist Church. A matching parsonage of Tennessee
pink marble was built in 1945.
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1826 - 1976
Peck's Memorial United Methodist Church
by Rev. H. B. Hauk, Jr. (Bio)
November 7, 1976
|The following paper
is an attempt to write a brief history of Peck's Memorial United Methodist Church as a
part of her Sesquicentennial Celebration. We are proud of our age, and share a great deal
of pride in the fact that we are one of the senior churches of Blount County, Tennessee.
Our history has not always been carefully recorded, as is often the case with people who
are busy establishing a history, and seldom pause to record their ventures. There are
several sources for this work, but, two must be considered primary. In 1956, Squire E. L.
Wilkinson, a longtime, prominent church member, and citizen, provided vital information
enabling Dan Lawson, then a student at Maryville College, to write a paper entitled, My
Local Church, and on June 1, 1944, the Sweetwater District Methodist carried an historic
sketch of Peck's Memorial. The latter, by its own declaration, was the "Official
organ of The Sweetwater District, Holston Con- French) the Methodist Church." The
Sweetwater District Methodist carried the historic sketch along with an article concerning
the District Conference to be held in the Peck's Memorial Church on Tuesday and Wednesday,
May 23-24, 1944. This District Conference was to host three hundred fifty (350) delegates
with overnight lodging, and meals to be served by the host church for a "nominal
fee." The Rev. J. F. Barnett was the pastor at the 1944 Conference, and on Thursday,
October 16, 1975, we again hosted the District Conference. It had by then become the
Maryville District Conference, and the host pastor was the Rev. H. B. Hauk, Jr. That first
District Conference had lasted two days; the second, hardly two hours. The preachers for
the 1944 Conference were the late Dr. J. Homer Slutz, and the late Dr. Marvin Franklin of
Highlands Methodist Church, Birmingham. Dr. Franklin was later elevated to the episcopacy.
The District Superintendents were Dr. Floyd B. Shelton in 1944, and Dr. H. Walter Willis
The context of one's history is important, so let's look briefly at our relationships to the Conference and District. United Methodism is know as a "connectional church," and our history cannot be divorced from that of Holston Conference.
Holston Conference was formally established by the General Conference of 1824. The first session was convened on November 27, 1824, in Knoxville, and Bishop R. R. Roberts was the presiding officer. Prior to 1824, the Holston Country lay primarily in the Tennessee Conference. The new Holston Conference, according to Dr. R. N. Price, was "made to include all that part of the State of Tennessee lying east of the Cumberland Mountains, and that part of Virginia and North Carolina embraced in Holston District; and also Black Mountain and French Broad Circuits, previously belonging to the South Carolina Conference." In 1824, there were three districts in Holston: Abingdon, Knoxville and French Broad. Maryville would have been in the French Broad District, and the churches around Maryville would have been on the Little River Circuit. The Rev. Jesse Cunnyngham was Presiding Elder, and the Rev. George Ekin was appointed Pastor.
The Methodist work in Maryville, and the surrounding countryside, was to grow and prosper. In 1835, Maryville was listed in the first tabulation of membership in Sunday School. Maryville had four Sunday Schools, and one hundred "scholars." Some of these were, no doubt, from our church.
America was seething over the great controversy centering around slavery. Methodism with her great constituency all across America was not to escape the ravages of this painful, and shameful, era. In 1844, Methodism split over slavery. By October, 1845, the Holston Conference, meeting in Athens, Tennessee, was to be related to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The area of Holston was borderline (neither North, nor Deep South), and it is nothing short of remarkable that strong, courageous men were able to hold Holston together in one Conference until the inevitable separation came in June, when Holston was to split over Union and Confederate loyalties. During 1844 - 1865, the leaders of Holston had never been unanimous in their agreement over the issue of slavery, but their great love for the Church, and each other, held Holston together for twenty-one years after Methodism had already officially separated. In June, 1865, there were to be two conferences: Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. From 1844, until 1939, when all three branches of Methodism (M. E. Church, M. E., South and Methodist Protestant) united, Peck's Memorial was to find her destiny with the M. E. Church, South. This accounts for our still close proximity to our sister church, Pleasant Hill, which belonged to the M. E. Church. In 1968, the Methodist Church united with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, and we all became a part of the now United Methodist Church.
Peck's Memorial United Methodist Church is located approximately two and one-half (2-1/2) miles southeast of the Blount County Courthouse on the Wilkinson Pike. The church, a lovely stone building, and the comfortable Parsonage, constructed of the same materials, stands next to the church. Both church and parsonage are located in a beautiful grove of majestic oak trees that constitutes one of the loveliest scenes for a church and parsonage in Holston Conference. The church cemetery is located across the road from the church and parsonage.
Specific dates vary as to the exact founding of the church. However, the best evidence would seem to indicate the church was founded sometime around the year 1826., Thus, making 1976, our Sesquicentennial Year, and America's bicentennial.
The church owes her origin to the desire of one man to build a church to meet the spiritual needs of his wife. John Wilkinson was the Attorney-General, and one of the first commissioners of the City of Maryville. General Wilkinson, like most of the Scots-Irish who settled the area, was a Presbyterian. However, Mrs. Wilkinson was a Methodist who longed to worship in a Methodist Church. Peck's Chapel, a one-room, log structure, was erected on General Wilkinson's land, allowing his wife to worship in a church of her own denominational persuasion. This primitive, log church was to be the first of five structures which were to be used for the worship of the Almighty.
The origin of the church's name (Peck's Chapel and later Peck's Memorial) is something of a mystery. The Sweetwater District Methodist, records that the church was named after a friend of General Wilkinson by the name of Jacob Peck. Jacob Peck was a much respected jurist from Jefferson City (Mossy Creek at that time) who sat on the Tennessee Supreme Court. Judge Peck was an active Methodist layman, and the most likely theory is that the church was named in his honor. Another, interesting theory centers about Judge Peck's brother, the Rev. Wiley B. Peck. Wiley B. Peck, according to Dr. I. P. Martin's, History of Methodism In Holston Conference, was admitted to the Tennessee Conference in 1820., and transferred to Mississippi in 1826, where he later united with the Protestant Episcopal Church. The Rev. Mr. Peck served the Little River Circuit in 1820, and this was the area that Peck's Memorial would have fallen under.
Still another theory put forward by Dan Lawson in My Local Church is that the church was named for a Mrs. Peck who occupies the first marked grave in the cemetery. It would seem likely, however, that the church was named for Judge Jacob Peck, or, for both he and his brother, the Rev. Wiley B. Peck.
Some years later, after General Wilkinson's death, the original building was torn down, and another, better, building was planned. The second building was a frame structure, heated by a small stove instead of the fire place used in the log church. History tells us this building was never completed. Regrettably, there are no dates concerning the life of the second building. The third building contributed to the failure to complete building number two. This building, known as the "Kennedy Church," was moved from the Wildwood Community, and, being of superior quality, was to replace the still uncompleted second church. This third structure was to stand until it burned around 1900. Sometime following the Civil War, the property was deeded by General Wilkinson's son, Edward Scott Wilkinson, to the Holston Conference.
This occasion of transferring the deed gives rise to a very interesting aside. As was previously noted, Holston Conference remained united until 1865, when she was separated into two conferences. Peck's remained with the M. E. Church, South. Following the war, carpetbaggers made an attempt to take the church for the northern branch. However, Peck's had never been deeded to the Conference, and it remained in the name of the Wilkinson family until it could be safely transferred by Edward Scott Wilkinson to the M. E. Church, South.
After the third church burned around 1900, a new frame structure was built that served the congregation's needs until 1939, when the present building was constructed. Again, the generosity of the Wilkinson family was evident when they deeded a beautiful tract of land across the road from from the previous building.
On the fourth Sunday of November, 1939, the bell from the old church rang out from the belfry of the new. It was calling the Methodist people of the community to the first worship service. This beautiful building is constructed from Tennessee marble cut from the large scraps remaining from the construction of the Mellon Memorial Building in Washington, D. C. The sanctuary, fellowship hall, and classrooms were completed, and on July 12, 1942, the debt-free building was dedicated by Bishop Paul B. Kern, and the leaders of the church.
The sanctuary was remodeled in 1972, and the fellowship hall was renovated in 1973. The sanctuary will seat approximately two hundred fifty per sons. Figures vary concerning the cost of constructing the present building but the highest figure is $22,000.00. Regardless, the value of the present building many times exceeds the cost of construction. The 1976 Journal of Holston Conference places the value of the church and furnishings at the much greater figure of $163,000.00. The value of the parsonage currently (1976) is $48,000.00. These are conservative figures, especially the church value.
In 1939, when L. E. Hoppe was District Superintendent the name was changed from Peck's Chapel to Peck's Memorial. Brother Hoppe suggested this change as a tribute to those members, and pastors, who had served the church so well, and had joined the Church Triumphant. Parenthetically, old habits die hard, and this writer still occasionally hears someone refer to the church as Peck's Chapel some thirty-seven (37) years later.
A history of Peck's Memorial would not be complete without recognizing one the church's most illustrious sons. Squire Edward Lee Wilkinson was the son of Edward Scott Wilkinson. For more than forty-five (45) years he serve as Sunday School Superintendent) and died December 7, 1958, after living more than ninety-three (93) years. much of the material in this history was the result of his keen mind and memory, and was passed on to family, and Dan Lawson for his paper. Certainly, he stood as one who was a vital link connecting us with our history, and at the same time seeing us into the modern era.
At least, three bishops have preached at Peck's Memorial. Bishop Kern in 1942, and on September 8, 1974, Bishop L. Scott Allen was the preacher for the worship service. Bishop H. Ellis Finger is to preach on the occasion of the Sesquicentennial Celebration on November 7, 1976.
Like all United Methodist Churches of long origin, Peck's Memorial has not always been a station church. Starting out on the Little River Circuit she was to be related to several circuits, and for a time was related to the Broadway Church in Maryville. By the pastorate of the Rev. J. F. Barnett (1942-1945) the church was virtually a station as Brother Barnett gave one Sunday per month to serve the Trundle's Cross Roads Church. In October, 1945, the Rev. Charles H. Williams was appointed to the station, and was the first pastor to live in the new parsonage.
The church is organized according to The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, and counts herself among the many local churches of the Maryville District of the Holston Conference.
Our cemetery is maintained on a perpetual care basis, and is governed by a duly elected board of trustees. The cemetery is located across the road from the church, and dates back more than one hundred twenty-five (125) years. The actual date of the beginning of the cemetery, like the church, was hot known. Mrs. Peck, as previously mentioned, occupies the first marked grave. The first graves were unmarked, and often poorly maintained. Today, the cemetery is clean and well-kept.
In My Local Church, Dan Lawson has described her well. "Although Peck's Memorial (United) Methodist Church is not a large church, nor, is it so prominent in comparison to others, it looms both large and prominent in the lives of those whom it serves. For the church has been built not with the purpose of greatness in mind, but rather with love of God, and a purpose to serve those people in the community whose babies she has baptized, whose sons and daughters she has joined in marriage, and whose loved ones she has laid to rest in peace. Peck's Memorial is the small, typical community church, like many others in the world which owe their success to the fact that God has built the church, and thus, the people have not labored in vain."
From the vision of one man, to the labors of a large number of people, has risen a church... a part of the Body of Christ. Emil Brunner, the great German theologian, once said, "We have not been called to be successful, but we have been called to be faithful." Certainly, the people (and they are the Church) who have constituted the Peck's Memorial United Methodist Church along with her dedicated pastors, have been faithful for these one hundred fifty years.
We thank Almighty God for the years of life as a church and pray that as long as there are people to be served, she will continue to serve faithfully. May her history push her ever into the future, because her service is essential.
Pastors Since 1888
I. P. Martin
W. W. Hicks
J. C. Bays
W. R. Snider
A. M. Hoyle
C. T. Davis
J. P. Dickey
D. T. Miles
D. C. Carn
J. E. McCampbell
J. C. Bays
J. E. McCampbell
P. H. Talley
J. W. Browning
T. C. Schuler
J. R. Brown
Jesse F. Benton
Roy E. Early
Z. B. Randall
G. K. Patty
R. 0. Eller
D. B. Wright
J. F. Barnett
Charles H. Williams
B. L. Chastain
Cass M. Turner
Perry T. Rule
D. A. Warner
T. R. Roach
M. C. Phillipi
Melvin Gene Kirk
H. B. Hauk, Jr.
John K. Thierbach
Dennis E. Milligan
C. Mack Turner
|October, 1888 - October, 1890
October, 1890 - October, 1892
October, 1892 - October, 1895
October, 1895 - October, 1899
October, 1899-January, 1900 (transferred)
January, 1900 - October, 1900
October, 1900 - October, 1902
October, 1902 - October, 1903
October, 1903 - October, 1904
October, 1904 - October, 1905
October, 1905 - October, 1908
October, 1908 - October, 1909
October, 1909 - October, 1910
October, 1910 - October, 1911
October, 1911 - October, 1915
October, 1915 - October, 1919
October, 1919 - October, 1924
October, 1924 - October, 1925
October, 1925 - October, 1927
October, 1927 - October, 1929
October, 1929 - October, 1933
October, 1933 - October, 1936
October, 1936 - October, 1938
October, 1938 - October, 1941
October, 1941 - October, 1942
October, 1942 - October, 1945
October, 1945 - October, 1947
October, 1947 - October, 1949
October, 1949 - October, 1951
October, 1951 - June, 1955
June, 1955 - June, 1956
June, 1956 - June, 1958
June, 1958 - June, 1962
June, 1962 - June, 1966
June, 1966 - June, 1971
June, 1971 - June, 1973
June, 1973 - June, 1979
June, 1979 - November, 1984
November, 1984 - November, 1989
November, 1989 - June, 1991
June, 1991 - June, 1995
June, 1995 - June, 1998
June, 1998 - June, 2003
June, 2003 - June, 2005
June, 2005 - June, 2008
June, 2008 - June, 2012
June, 2012 -
Presiding Elders and District Superintendents Since 1808
|A. J. Frazier
S. D. Long
C. 0. Jones
John C. Orr
T. J. Eskridge
E. A. Shugart
J. E. Wolfe
M. B. Carico
E. D. Worley
L. E. Hoppe
J. A. Bays
C. E. Lundy
Floyd B. Shelton
D. Trigg James
Ben B. St. Clair
|Edgar A. Eldridge
Robert L. Wilcox
George E. Naff
H. Walter Willis
Frank M. Bostick
Charles W. Maynard
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