The First Christian Church will hold a combined worship service at Freedom Hall on Sunday to celebrate 150 years of the church’s ministry in Johnson City.
Reverend Ethan Magness, senior pastor of the iconic rooftop church at 200 E. Mountcastle Drive, said the 10:30 a.m. event will mark the church’s 150th anniversary by underscoring its determination to continue its mission of serving the community.
“It’s not about our memory, it’s about our ministry,” Magness said. “First Christian Church has been a servant and lover of this city for 150 years and we want to be here for our community for another 150 years. “
The first Christian church was established on November 12, 1871 in William Young’s home at 1117 Cedar Place. The colonial-style brick house, which was built in 1812 by James T. Young, still stands and is now the oldest occupied house in Johnson City.
Magness said four families with roots in Carter County and Boones Creek helped found what would become First Christian Church.
The congregation met in several other locations before finding a home in downtown Johnson City in 1874. First Christian moved to its present location in 1972.
“This decision was made when the city started to develop north,” Magness said.
He said the church plans to celebrate its legacy of “planting churches” during its 150th anniversary celebration. Magness said First Christian helped establish 40 churches in the area in its first 50 years of existence, and 40 more in the next 50 years.
“And we’ve established 20 or more in the past 50 years,” the minister said.
Magness said his church was also a “committed partner to Johnson City and our community.” This includes helping preschool programs and helping organizations that feed the hungry and help the homeless.
“We want to be a blessing for our community,” he said. “A lot of organizations use our space. They know we love them the way we treat them.
Magness said parishioners are “proud to call First Christian Church home” and are determined to “make others feel at home and welcome” into the congregation.
He said the 150th anniversary celebration “energized” the church, which decided to offer anniversary gifts to community organizations as part of the 150th anniversary celebration.
This includes a $ 50,000 donation to River of Life in Brazil, $ 50,000 for a new Family Free home and $ 50,000 for church preschool scholarships.
Magness said First Christian also plans to spend an additional $ 150,000 in 2022 to plant a new church, invest in long-term maintenance of its Mountcastle Drive building and support a ministerial endowment at Milligan University.
“We strive to faithfully carry on our ministry of the past 150 years,” said Magness.