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St. Anthony’s Anglican Church, Crab Orchard, celebrated its first anniversary as a mission church on Passion Sunday, March 25th.
Twenty-four people attended the Holy Eucharist service led by Father Ernie Pinto. A ham dinner, complete with a large decorated cake marking the occasion, followed.
In addition to the normal set of parishioners, including many from Roane County, St. Anthony’s welcomed visitors from area churches as well as visitors from Holy Cross Anglican Church in Farragut.
St. Anthony’s parishioners call its founding the “little miracle on the Plateau.”
It began when John Moore, a previously practicing and displaced Episcopalian, tried to determine if there was any interest on the Plateau to form an Anglican Church.
He placed advertisements in area newspapers in February 2001, and the fireworks immediately began.
By mid-March, the project initially named The Anglican Church of the Cumberlands had almost 30 contacts from Roane, Cumberland and Rhea counties.
Needing emergency help, he partnered with Holy Cross Anglican Church in Farragut, whose leadership quickly agreed to guide and sponsor St. Anthony’s as a mission church on the Plateau.
Father Ernie Pinto and Moore agreed that a service was needed before Easter.
The Passion Sunday service was publicized for April 10, 2011, even though there was no site identified at the time.
Using Crab Orchard as the ideal physical location to attract people from the three counties, Moore contacted about 10 churches for assistance. Only one church responded — on April 8, 2011.
Crab Orchard Christian Church had just celebrated its 105th anniversary. Thanks to Pastor Danny Smith and its congregation, a worship service was quickly pulled together, and St. Anthony’s Holy Eucharists was offered on that 2011 Passion Sunday to 17 people.
On that same date, Crab Orchard Christian Church broke ground on its new sanctuary, where it has conducted services for the last several months.
Since three of the 17 people in that first Eucharist were accomplished organists and a piano was available, music was introduced at the Palm Sunday worship service the following week.
On Mother’s Day 2011, the Anglican Church of the Cumberlands had its first mission meeting and voted to actually “slow down,” because there was no bank account, officers, budget or any of the normal things associated with a “normal” growth period.
Shortly thereafter, the Anglican Province of America accepted the church as an official Anglican mission and approved the official name as St. Anthony’s Anglican Church.
St. Anthonys now meets at 2 p.m. CDT each Sunday in the historic former Crab Orchard Christian Church at 9828 Hwy. 70.
Contact Moore at St. Anthony’s at newestchurch @gmail.com or 931-200-2411 for more about the church.