St. Thomas sees progress in 75th anniversary year

John Thompson • Jan 16, 2018 at 7:19 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Looking back on St. Thomas Episcopal Church’s 75th year “Diamond Jubilee” in 2017, Father Timothy Holder, pastor of the Elizabethton congregation, counted the successful year with a simple statistic.

He said the church celebrated 42 baptisms, confirmations and new members during the year. Holder said it was a “year like never before, full of promise, celebration and new life in the work and sacrament of Jesus Christ.”

Holder said other numbers also added to a rebirth of the spirit of St. Thomas. He said the church has “grown in two years not only increasing numbers of people, services, activities, giving and resources, but in spirit and ministry throughout the Elizabethton, Carter County and across the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee.”

“We welcome all God’s children and we celebrate each and everyone as uniquely, divinely created with a purpose on this earth,” Holder said.

To illustrate the openness, Holder quoted one parishioner as saying “on a typical Sunday service you might be sitting next to a member of the church’s founding family, perhaps a new Spanish-speaking family, a homeless person or two, all kinds of children, newly retired persons moving into Carter County from out of town, a young millennial couple, you never know.”

Although St. Thomas just competed its 75th anniversary celebration, the first Episcopal Church in Elizabethton can be traced backed to 1858 and Cavalry Episcopalian Church existed in downtown Elizabethton in the 1890s.

St. Thomas traces its beginning to 1942, when it moved into the building of the old Southern Methodist Church.

Kathy Smith, senior warden of the church, said some of the highlights of the 75th anniversary included improvements on the building, replacing roofing and gutters, putting in new windows and restoring the foundation on the west side entrance. “A beautiful new parish garden blessed it all,” Smith said.

One longstanding tradition has found a new home. For many years, the church, in alliance with other churches, held the Food for the Multitude at St. Thomas. That dinner is now held at the more spacious TLC Community Center, but the church members remained active in the work.

The church has also welcomed Hispanic newcomers with bilingual services and a countywide “Latino/a Partnership.”

Easter is always the highlight of the church year and even more so during the Diamond Jubilee, churches of Elizabethton crowded into St. Thomas on Wednesday of Holy Week, April 12, to hear Pastor Todd Hallman of First Baptist Church and enjoy a garden luncheon. Holy Week and Easter services saw over 500 worshippers enter the doors of St. Thomas.. That included a Palm Sunday march of the congregation to the Doe River Bridge to re-enact the events of Palm Sunday.

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