“The appointments and surroundings were not all that could be desired, but the people gladly heard the word preached.”
These words are from the diary of the Rt. Rev. Charles Todd Quintard, Bishop of Tennessee and Vice Chancellor of the University of the South, who, on August 30, 1868, conducted the first service of Christ Church in Tracy City. The “surroundings” were modest, indeed. That service was held in a sawmill shed across from the railroad depot in this frontier town fueled by coal and timber.
Worship services continued there until a community structure, Temperance Hall, was built for people of all denominations to use. In 1873, local Episcopalians erected their own church—the town’s first—under the leadership of Milnor Jones, a theology student at Sewanee. He had the financial backing of three widowed sisters. Jones was among countless Sewanee seminarians who trekked to Tracy City by train, horseback and on foot gratitude, church members fed and lodged them.
Today, Christ Church is the oldest continuously operating Episcopal Church on the Cumberland Plateau.
The Rev. Henry Easter arrived in 1891. A master carver who served Christ Church until 1896, he left his mark by carving an altar, bishop’s chair, priest’s chair and desk, lectern and communion rail. Henot only created the pieces. He also assembled and installed them. The altar was a memorial to his mother.
In 1928, a new church was built by skilled craftsmen, including church members, to replace the original one damaged severely by an earlier storm. Miraculously, Father Easter’s hand-carved works survived the storm and were installed in the new church where they remain today. Also added were three inspirational stained glass windows above the altar. St. Margaret’s Guild raised the money to purchase the windows while other windows, including one by Tiffany, were gifts of several prominent church families. The Tiffany was recently restored.
Christ Church marked a major milestone on October 5, 1952, when the Rt. Rev. Theodore N. Barth, Bishop of Tennessee, dedicated the Father Adamz Memorial Parish House. Built with donations from the church and community, the parish house honors the late Rev. Alphonso Constantine Adamz. Father Adamz, who served Christ Church from 1927 to 1941, ministered to people of all faiths on the mountain and beyond, building a congregation unequaled since. Through scouting, he inspired many local young men. Father Adamz, who attended the dedication of the parish house, died on December 28, 1952, in Tracy City.
Besides it unique church functions, the parish house serves as a community center. In 2008, some renovations were funded by the Dandridge Trust Foundation of the Diocese of Tennessee. More improvements are planned.
In 2014, Christ Church joined the Southeast Tennessee Episcopal Ministry (STEM), a consortium of five churches that also includes Christ Church, Alto; Epiphany, Sherwood; Holy Comforter, Monteagle; and Trinity, Winchester. By joining STEM, Christ Church broadened its outreach and fellowship in the community.
530 10th Street
Tracy City, TN 37387