The history of this church is rich, and perhaps it is best to begin by
first focusing one’s attention on the large Bible that rests on a
pedestal in the Pastor’s office. Turn to the front of it’s cover and you
will see that it was given to The Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church in
1871, by Richard Bradshaw, who was a charter member. It was, most likely,
used on the day when the church was dedicated. Turn back the front cover
and you will see that this Bible was printed by The American Bible
Society in 1869, the year in which the foundation and first walls of
the church were built. Today, The First Presbyterian Church of
Jefferson City,TN, stands as the oldest building in town.
Now consider, the year is 1788, Cherokee Indians freely roam the hills south and west
of the mountains swathed in blue smoke.
The Revolutionary War has just come to a victorious end. George Washington has not as yet been inaugurated
as the first president. Tennessee is still part of North Carolina – Watauga Country.
A flat boat slips quietly down Holston River and bumps ashore at a place that would be called Mossy Creek.
Aboard the flat boat are Adam and Elizabeth Sharkey Peck, their children, their slaves and their belongings.
Within a year after their arrival, it is reported that Elizabeth, with the help of her children and slaves,
built a log structure for a house of worship. It was located in the oldest part of Westview Cemetery
and was called “Elizabeth’s Chapel.” Its first preacher was Uncle John, a negro slave, of whom his owner
and others said “He was the best person they ever knew.” Although the Pecks were Methodist, people of
all denominations were welcomed and encouraged to worship there.
The Presbyterians and Methodists continued to meet together until October 1867 when the
Presbyterian Church at Mossy Creek was organized with 49 members, 5 ruling elders and 3 deacons.
Trustee S.N. Fain, R.H. Ashemore and A.M. Newman were empowered to buy land from the John Branner
estate for the use of the church.
In 1869, according to an article in the Knoxville Press and Herald of December 1871, “They began to
build a house of worship and carried up the walls to the square of the house, but on the 17th day of
January, 1871, just when they were ready to begin putting on the roof, a violent storm blew the walls down.”
The membership of 64, undismayed by the calamity, went to work again with renewed energy and burnt a
kiln of 200,000 bricks. Before the year was over, the walls were in place again, now much thicker
and sturdier than before, and under roof. On December 16, 1871 the dedication ceremonies began with
the Rev. James Park of Knoxville delivering the message. On the following day, Sunday the 17th,
the sermon was preached by their first pastor, the Rev. Joseph Martin of Jefferson County.
His text was, “Ye Are the Temple of the Living God.” The church cost $8000.