The church building at 118 Summer Street called Central Christian Church was actually started as a work of First Christian Church of Greeneville, TN.
First Christian Church in Greeneville was the outgrowth of a five-year evangelistic program of the First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. On September 21st, 1921, J.S, Raun came to Greeneville and set up a tent for the purpose of organizing a congregation here. They then started meeting in a large warehouse (probably one of the many tobacco warehouses in Greeneville). About 75 people attended and the First Christian Church of Greeneville was formed.
The church met in the county courthouse from October 1921 to July 1922. The congregation was ministered to for a year by teachers and student ministers of Milligan College near Johnson City. In September 1922, G.H. Easley was called as the first regular minister and served until August 1923.
During that time period, it was decided to build a permanent place of worship so the property at 118 W. Summer Street was purchased and building started while the congregation was still meeting in the courthouse. The basement was dug and used for a period of time as a place of worship. In 1924 the building was completed and the congregation experienced tremendous growth in the first few years.
On May 2, 1924, there was an article about the dedication service in the “The Greeneville Democratic Sun”. Then on Sunday, May 4,1924, the church was dedicated as the First Christian Church, with C.B. Livesay as Pastor.
Quoting from the Greeneville Democratic Sun’s article of 1924 “The building is of Gothic Design, and modern throughout. The plant has a Bible-school department with some 15-20 classrooms and has beside, kitchen, dining hall, pastor’s study and other rooms. The auditorium is finished in mission oak. The property has a valuation of $35,000.”
To put that valuation into perspective, we had the front wall refinished recently, and it cost substantially more than the entire building was worth in 1924.
At the dedication of the building, C.W. Cauble from Indiana officiated. C.W. Cauble was the State Secretary of the Christian Church in Indiana. The trip he made and the roads he had to travel on to get to Greeneville certainly showed the level of sacrifice he made to get here, as it was probably quite an ordeal at that time.
The newspaper article went on to say “the minister extends a cordial invitation to the public for all the dedicatory services and the revival, which is to follow.” Dinner was also served to visitors at the church.
A few other interesting features of the church include the stained glass windows, and the pipe organ. The stained glass windows were part of the original building, and the organ was donated to the church by Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church in Bassett, VA in the early 1990’s.
The church also has a parsonage, located on Skyview Dr. in Greeneville.
In the middle 195O’s, the church grew at a rapid pace and there was talk of constructing a new church building on the property purchased on Gregory Avenue in Greeneville, but the officers decided against it at that time.
Then in 1961, Glen Daugherty was called to be the minister. In the early 1960’s again the church officers began to talk about constructing a new church building on the Gregory Avenue property, and in 1964 construction began on the new church building.
In 1965, First Christian Church moved from 118 Summer Street to 1130 Temple street, where it meets Gregory Ave. On May 2, 1965, dedication services for the new church building were held.
Then First Christian Church had an idea about forming a new Christian Church at 118 West Summer Street. So a nucleus from First Christian returned to Summer Street to establish a second Christian Church in Greeneville. In April 1966, the dedication services were held for Central Christian Church.
The date on the masonry stone near the door says 1966, which commemorates the dedication of Central Christian Church.