Sinking Creek Baptist Church, oldest church in Tennessee, is in need of saving

Tri-Cities Original

Sinking Creek Baptist Church is so old that at one time, according to church historian Eddie Fields, services had to be canceled due to attacks by Native Americans.

“We are standing in the sanctuary of the oldest church in the State of Tennessee,” Fields said while giving News Channel 11’s Josh Smith a tour of the historic structure. “It’s a really special place. A lot of history here.”

Situated along the banks of Sinking Creek on Elizabethton Highway, the church was founded in 1772. In 1783, the early settlers of the region built a church using logs.

That building still stands to this day.

“They were people of valor, hard-working, and common sense,” Fields said.

In the 1960s, the congregation moved into a new church building next door. The original church was damaged when a runaway truck slammed into the building, but church members came together and repaired the historic landmark.

“Its’ pretty amazing it survived all that…Indians and wars and trucks. But it’s still here,” Fields said.

Many people have been saved within those log walls, but now the church itself needs saving. The walls are sagging and foundation sinking. The original church is too unsafe for people to gather inside anymore.

“We want to be able to say that building is a place where more ministry can get done,” said Pastor Jayson Hoagland.

Saving the church comes with a $100,000 price tag, but the congregation isn’t worried. They have almost 250 years of proof of what faith can do.

“This is a very special place…it really is,” Hoagland said.

And you can help save the church. A benefit concert to raise money for the restoration project will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the church, located at 2313 Elizabethton Highway.

Click here to learn more about the church.

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Born and raised in the Tri-Cities, Josh Smith has been a member of the WJHL team since 1999. His family roots go deep in the region, and he’s traveled through almost every part of it covering news on local TV since 1995. When he’s not on the job, he’s with his wife, two sons, and daughter.   “They’re the best part of me,” he said.   You may run into them biking on the Tweetsie Trail, hiking around Bays Mountain Lake, or browsing the shelves at the local public libraries.

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