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Members of Rockwood First Presbyterian Church are gearing up to celebrate the church’s 140th anniversary.
The anniversary of the city’s oldest-established church was officially in April, but the congregation is planing a formal homecoming celebration this summer to mark the church’s years of service to Jesus Christ.
The church began shortly after the founding of Rockwood in 1867 when E. Riggs Forsythe, a Presbyterian layman, took it upon himself to organize a union Sunday school.
The small group met under sheds and in rooms of a large sawmill plant built by Roane Iron Co.
Gen. John T. Wilder, founder of Rockwood and of the Roane Iron Co., authorized the construction of a structure at Trinity and Forsythe streets when he built the plant. This building was to be used for worship services by any and all denominations.
Forsythe organized the group of 18 Presbyterians who met there in April 1871 and established Rockwood First Presbyterian Church.
The small group continued to meet at the Trinity and Forsythe location until 1889, when H.S. Miller, company store manager and church elder, suggested erecting a church building.
Roane Iron Co. donated a piece of land on Rockwood Avenue for the construction of the church, where it remains today.
The church, in a quaint brick structure, is at 429 W. Rockwood St.
Rockwood First Presbyterian has taken advantage of many opportunities to extend a helping hand in the community and beyond.
In its mission statement, the church as a whole upholds the idea that the “purpose of our life and ministry as a congregation is ... the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fel-lowship of God's children, ... the promotion of social righteousness ... that we may fulfill our chief end of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.”