Historic Markers Across Tennessee

First Baptist Church Pigeon Forge

Marker ID:  
Location: intersection of Householder Street and Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, TN
County: Sevier
Coordinates: N 35° 47.199    W 083° 32.654
  35.78665    -83.54423333
Waymark: None


First Baptist Church Pigeon Forge

Memories of First Baptist Church Pigeon Forge bring to mind a congregation whose fellowship was warm and rich, like an old homecoming and so much at ease, recalled one former pastor, Dr. William W. Cope. Baptists began meeting on River Road at a meeting house shared by other denominations and the local school by 1869. In those early years, a sign of the times was the Baptist support for prohibiting Sunday wagon travel from Sevierville to Knoxville.
Area circuit-riding preachers pastored churches which met one weekend a month. Pigeon Forge met the third Saturday and the following Sunday morning. After harvest, a revival called “The Big Meeting” was often held for two weeks in the morning and afternoon. School lessons were interrupted so that students could attend, and new Christians were baptized in the Little Pigeon River following the services.
Samuel and Mary Large and J.A. and Elizabeth Householder donated just over an acre of land to the church on December 29, 1913. Trustees serving at this time were Perman Franklin, Henry S. Marshall, Andrew T. Householder, Thomas Pardue, Steward Loveday, Marion Robertson, and James A. Householder. Pigeon Forge Baptist Church was now officially organized, and the new building was dedicated October 4, 1914. The first pastor was Rev. Sam C. Atchley, and the first church clerk and treasurer of record was Hiram L. Franklin. Early deacons were James A. Householder, Steward C. Loveday, Henry S. Marshall, Marion Robertson and A. Joseph Householder. By late 1914, church membership totaled sixty-two. In February of 1915, the first person, infant Edna Davenport, was buried in the church cemetery.

The little, white, wood-frame building housed worship services here from 1914 until October of 1959. Members had purchased approximately eight acres of land for $25,000 on October 22, 1956. On April 3, 1960, dedication services were held for a new brick building at present-day 3290 Parkway. Rev. James Lauderback was pastor at this time when membership totaled approximately 500 worshipers. Wayne Ogle purchased the dismantled building and later donated the early church bell back to the congregation. The bell graces the grounds of the newer church and is a reminder of days gone by when it signaled emergencies, tolled for the dead, and called people to worship.

First Baptist Church Pigeon Forge Pastors
Rev. Samuel C. Atchley • Rev. J.R. Dykes • Rev. W.A. Weaver • Rev. S.M. McCarter • Rev. John T. Barbee • Rev. L.S. Carnes • Rev. W.A. Masterson • Rev. Walter F. Ownby • Rev. W. Ed Watson • Rev. Sam P. White • Rev. A.A. Carlton • Rev. Vernon Dutton • Rev. Charles Crawford • Rev. M. Willard Little • Rev. Clyde Whaley • Rev. James Lauderback • Dr. William W. Cope • Dr. Morris Anderson • Dr. Jeffrey L. Brooks • Rev. Keith K. Walker • Dr. Dale Ellenburg

James Lauderback • Dr. William W. Cope • Dr. Morris Anderson • Dr. Jeffrey L. Brooks • Rev. Keith K. Walker • Dr. Dale Ellenburg
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new church on the Parkway was held in 1959. Pictured, left to right, are charter member Gertrude Householder Roberts, youngest member Linda Sue McCarter, Pastor James Lauderback, and oldest member Sam Ownby. Photograph is courtesy of Bashor’s Photos of Sevierville and Sarah Ball.
Dr. William W. Cope (photograph at right) served as pastor from 1964 through 1992. After many years, he said, “I have been with many of the old saints going to glory land. When I look out from the pulpit, I can still see the faces and where each one sat.” Photograph is courtesy of Karen Cope Dawsey.
Rev. Sam C. Atchley (photograph at left) was the church’s first pastor. In his day, large numbers were baptized in the river with friends and family singing, “Shall we gather at the river, where bright angel feet have trod.” Photograph is courtesy of Richard Atchley family.

2016 by City of Pigeon Forge.