Christ Church History

Watercolor of Christ Church

Christ Church had its beginning in 1876, when a group of English foundrymen met in a pattern room of the Southern States Coal, Iron, and Land Company's shop for religious services in the fledgling town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, the town is at the southern end of the picturesque Sequatchie Valley, nestled at the foot of the Cumberlands. Under the auspices of St. Paul's Church in Chattanooga and with the guidance of Bishop Charles Todd Quintard, Christ Church became a parish in May of 1887. In those early years, the people of Christ Church were led by a group of hard-working, committed young men; Joseph Lodge was among them. In the subsequent one hundred twenty-seven years, the descendants of Joseph Lodge have continued the building up of God's kingdom and our Episcopal heritage with other hard-working, committed men and women in the Sequatchie Valley.

Bishop Quintard asked the building committee to “put up a graceful and churchly building,” and the people in South Pittsburg certainly complied with his request. The gracious, white frame building has wood paneled ceiling and walls, lovely stained glass windows and handsome furnishings. The church was completed, debt-free, in 1884; the first rectory in 1888; and the Parish Hall about 1889. In 2002, the historic nave has undergone an exquisite restoration - the wood interior, walls, trim and ceiling, and the pews, which are original, have been refinished and now gleam with a luster and patina that had been lost to a hundred plus years of coal-and oil-burning furnace residues. Improved lighting and new carpeting and pew and kneeling-rail cushions enhance the beauty of the graceful and churchly building built by the loving hands of the forefathers of Christ Church.

The church founders were among the founders of the town of South Pittsburg, and members of their families are still active in the community and the parish. The 125th Anniversary of the parish was celebrated in 2001, and a church history book was published in conjunction with that event.

Christ Church has enjoyed a long and beneficial association with the School of Theology at the University of the South. During years that the parish has been without a full-time rector, the seminary has often provided interim clergy. The parish has also served as a field education site for seminarians for more than thirty years, something that has brought many rewards to both the parish and the seminarians and their families.

Nine men have been ordained deacon and/or priest at Christ Church. Three of those also served as Rector for the parish. A total of twenty-one resident clergy have served Christ Church over the past one hundred twenty-seven years. The Reverend Henry C. Salmond and the Reverend John H. Bonner III each served for fifteen years - the longest tenures in parish history.

Letter from History Book Committee

April 19, 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The compilation and publication of the history of Christ Church has been an insightful and heartwarming experience. To read and record the details of 1500 sacramental and liturgical rites was, in itself, an unbelievably enriching experience. Researching the biographical information of the clergy who served in this place for 125 years was a challenge and a joy. Reading and transcribing the year by year details of vestries and churchwomen activities created a sense of actually being present with our spiritual ancestors as they served God from our parish in their day. And the ultimate of uplifting and humbling experiences came in the entering of the stories of what Christ Church has meant in the lives of the people who have been a part of it. The “writing” of this book has taken many hundreds of hours of work on the part of many people. We give thanks to God for the opportunity of having this work to do.

Despite every effort otherwise, we have made some mistakes in the book. Some dates are wrong, some information that was submitted has been omitted, and there are probably other errors and omissions. Please be assured that these were not intentional; in fact, we tried very hard to accurately transcribe all the information that we gathered and collected. Our goal was to correct any errors that were in the previous history, and to report all new information as correctly and kindly as possible. We hope that you will forgive us for any mistakes that we have made.

Many thanks to all of you who have purchased copies of the book. We are pleased with the overall result, and believe that our efforts were worthwhile, albeit imperfect.

The Christ Church History Book Committee


Christ Church Episcopal
South Pittsburg, TN
A History: 1876 - 2001

Over 125 years in the making, the history of Christ Church from 1876 to 2001 has been compiled into a new book.

This will make a wonderful gift for anyone who has a connection to Christ Church or is interested in the history of South Pittsburg.