Tusculum Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee

Nashville Presbytery

Tennessee Synod

1852 - present

Tusculum Cumberland Presbyterian Church

477 McMurray Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37211

The old brick meeting house at Tusculum and the lot on which it stood was deeded to a Board of Trustees made up of Hays Blackman, Enoch Ensley, Jr., Edward N. Ensley, Thomas Bell and Com. L. Ewing by Enoch Ensley, Sr. Mr. Ensley's expressed purpose in deeding this property to these men was so that there could be a Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Tusculum. This property was then on the east side of the highway; the highway was known as the Nolensville Turnpike at history's date of November 21, 1851.

As an interesting side note, the name, Tusculum, came from the name of the home of Judge John Haywood which stood in the midst of his property to the north of the church property. Judge Haywood chose this name from the works of the Latin writer, Virgil.

The church was not organized until 1852. Services were held in the brick meeting house until 1865. During the war it was used as a hospital by the Federal troops. When they moved out they destroyed the building by fire. The burning of the building is recorded to have been carried out by Puckett's Cavalry. This Mr. Puckett was a brother of Mrs. Thomas Calhoun, a member of the church. Historical record also states that the church was originally a Presbyterian U.S.A. church.

The early records of the church were destroyed when the home of Tom Calhoun burned. This home was located near the site of the home of Judge Haywood. Perhaps, Mr. Calhoun was the pastor of the church at this time since he was a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher during these times. From information given by the oldest member of the congregation, Mrs. Fannie Griggs, the old sanctuary a frame building was constructed around 1870. This fact was verified by a non-member who remembered that his father had worked on the job. This frame structure was placed on the site of the old brick building. Mrs. Griggs recalled that, as a youngster, she had attended a meeting of the Presbytery in the new structure before windows and doors were installed.

Little is known of the history of the congregation after the completion of the new church building until 1906. This year brought a disturbance to the membership of the congregation at Tusculum as well as to the churches throughout the denomination. The issue of merger with the Presbyterian Church caused a division in the membership. Those who wanted to reunite with the mother church from whom their forefathers had felt God-led to separate, left the church and selected a site about a mile to the south and built a Presbyterian U.S.A. church.

The congregation at Tusculum, like so many of the other congregations, was left weak and struggling. The years from 1906-1951 were years which were difficult to the point of almost not being able to minister to the members. The pastors during these years: A. L. Thomas, J. E. Powers, C. C. Craig, Herschel Jones, Joe Ben Irby, Minor Powers, Milford H. Smith, Kermit Neal, and Z. N. Clinard, were truly shepherds of the flock. The power of the Holy Spirit kept the vision alight through the lives of these ministering elders and the faithful few who came to study and worship. There were very few new people entering the community. Most of the families in the community were landowners having had their property within the family for years. The names Jones, Goodrich, McPherson, and Turberville, are some of the old family landowners.

During the thirties an upsurge of interest came into the church through the young people in the church and the community. This seemed to be the beginning of a new life for this congregation. Though the progress was so very slow, it seemed these were the years when the vision began to become more clear. Young adults became active in the leadership of the church in the forties, and though there were less than fifty members in the entire congregation, there was a loyal group who loved their God and His church in their community and were determined under God's guidance to see it through.

In 1951, Rev. James W. Dancer was called to the pastorate of this church and his coming marked the beginning of a long line of action which is still going on. When he came, the one room frame structure with a single front door, a double aisle, a chimney on either side, a small closet by the front door TCPC store kindling and coal, and a raised chancel, accommodated six classes for Sunday School each Sunday morning and worship services two Sunday mornings each month.

Regular worship services were provided in 1952 and by 1953 the church had entered into a building program. This was a milestone in the realization of the dream for the church. The project was estimated to cost $14,000, but through the efforts of the membership in doing much of the work, and outside friends contribution of labor in the digging of the basement, the laying of the concrete blocks for the foundation walls of the basement, as well as the plumbing and electrical work, the job cost the church $9,000. Only $5,000 had to be borrowed to finish paying for the entire construction.

In this project, the church building was moved forward thirty-five feet. A basement the full length and width of the building provided a fellowship hall, six classrooms, a kitchen, and two restrooms. The sanctuary was remodeled and redecorated. The entire membership and friends of the church spent much of their time these days in this work.

The years 1953-1955 were spent deepening the spiritual life of the congregation. Time was spent on planning the church program to provide Bible Study, prayer meetings during the week, youth meetings on Sunday evenings, missionary auxiliary meetings, and various class meetings. The church entered into the first steps of its ministry to the community.

Increased attendance and participation in Sunday School and the total church program were inspirations in the purchase and installation of a Hammond electric organ in the sanctuary, the construction and graveling of a driveway encircling the church, the grading and sodding of the lawn, and the erection of an electrically lighted bulletin board on the lawn. Additional space for classes became a need and in December of 1955 the church membership launched again wholeheartedly into a new building project. A two-story addition was constructed behind the existing building making available ten classrooms. in the basement of this new structure was built a new kitchen. One room on the first floor became the church library, another the pastor's study. The nursery was placed on the second floor.

The year of recognition of the church by the denomination was 1957. The General Assembly bestowed two honors, one on the church, the other on one of its own members. Adam Strasser was the superintendent of the year, and the church became the rural church of the year. The membership was grateful to God for His direction and leadership and wanted only to minister to its community.

Rev. Dancer was called to another pastorate and for a time the church felt greatly the loss of its leader. Rev. Alfred Bennett came on the field as pastor, leaving his position of Public Relations Director at Bethel College to come to lead the congregation on to becoming a better informed people and a people who appreciated the heritage of their local church. Tusculum will always be grateful to Rev. and Mrs. Bennett for their love which they gave so willingly in restoring the beauty of the cemetery, the church building, and the lawn surrounding the church building itself.

The community was suddenly becoming urban; old land holdings were sold for new subdivisions. Almost overnight the community was populated with new families. During these years of change many new families came into the church. The church was not equal to the demands thrust upon it by so rapid growth. Leaders needed training, visiting needed to be done; the church membership was frustrated. God's guidance was sought so diligently in finding someone to fill the pastorate after Rev. Bennett was called to another pastorate. When Rev. Maury Norman accepted our call, the session and the membership felt that the Holy Spirit indeed was present.

In July 1961, Rev. Norman came to Tusculum Church and when he came, the church was able to organize its program so that it could continue its ministry as it trained its members for places of needed leadership. The way has been clear, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has been present, and growth has taken place.

In July 1963, a new sanctuary's foundation was started and by November 24, 1963 the congregation had its first worship service in the new edifice. This structure was placed in front of the old sanctuary and was constructed of brick. The full basement affords space for a new kitchen, two new restrooms, a fellowship hall, and four classrooms.

In 1968, Rev. Norman accepted the call to another church and the Rev. Ralph Matlock accepted the call to become the pastor of Tusculum. The next few years saw the need for additional church school rooms. The decision was made to tear down the old sanctuary building and build a two story educational building. This educational building was completed in 1971. It was during this period of time that the parking lots were paved.

In 1972, Rev. Matlock accepted the call to another church, so for several weeks the church was very much in prayer asking God to lead the church to the proper person. Those prayers
were answered and Rev. Wayne Parks came to Tusculum from the Mt. Pleasant Cumberland Presbyterian Church. God's guidance was again sought so diligently in his leading the church the months and years ahead.

In 1976, Rev. Parks received the call to another church and Rev. Ronnie Pittenger accepted the call to be the pastor at Tusculum. In 1979, the church purchased a new manse at 547 Southcrest, to serve as the pastor's home. The old manse was turned into church office space.

During this time, many things have happened in working for God's kingdom at Tusculum, but probably the most significant event was the birth of a new congregation at Nolensville. Several people (64) left the Tusculum congregation and began meeting at Nolensville with Bro. Ronnie serving as the beginning minister. It was very evident from the beginning that God Almighty was
guiding the Christians in these endeavors.

In 1986, the Tusculum church was able to secure an exchange of sites with the Whispering Hills Baptist Church. This opportunity allowed us to speed up our goals for growth and provided a wonderful vehicle for answering the needs of the community. This is our present site at 477 McMurray Drive.

In July 1992, a Building Committee was formed to study and make recommendations to the Church Session and the congregations as to building needs to better serve God in the community. The Session approved plans to add to the educational building including classrooms, additional church offices, and library and fellowship hall with a kitchen. In March 1996, construction began and the additions were completed with the building dedicated in May 1997. It is our sincere hope and prayer that we are letting God lead us in our efforts here at Tusculum.

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Updated April 4, 2006