First German Evangelical Lutheran Church, U. A. C., of Knoxville, Tennesee, was organized on October 12, 1869. (U. A. C. stands for "Unaltered Augsburg Confession.") Our name changed to First German-English Evangelical Lutheran Church, U. A. C., in 1903, and then to First Evangelical Lutheran Church, U. A. C., in 1919.
Peter Kern (former Knoxville mayor and businessman), seated middle above with some of the original men who helped established First Lutheran in 1869.
Beginning in 1813, Lutheran missionaries made regular trips through East Tennessee. First Lutheran Church was organized at a meeting of about 20 Lutherans in Peter Kern's Hall at No. 7 Market Square on October 12, 1869, as the First German Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation, being of German heritage, conducted services in the German language into the 1890's when it was decided to begin services in English also.
The church has resided at two previous locations since its organization: at the corner of Broad and Asylum Streets from 1870-1901 (see below, now Broadway and Western Avenue, on the old L&N Station site), and the corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway from 1901-1946 (see below). Then the Francis house at the corner of Broadway and Wells was purchased, and services were held in the house until the school building was completed in 1947. The current Gothic-style building (see below) was dedicated on May 15, 1955.
Original church building from 1870-1901 (above), located at the corner of Broad and Asylum (now Broadway and Western, where the old L&N Station is located).
Ladies' Aid Society (above) from around 1890.
The second church building (above) located at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue from 1901-1946.
Inside First Lutheran's second sanctuary (above), 1901-1946.
The third and current church building (above), dedicated in 1955, is located on the corner of Broadway and Wells Street.
True to the historic principle of Lutheranism that there can be no real education without religion, a Christian day school was immediately started in 1869. It was closed for a few years but reopened in 1892. A major renovation project was completed in 1979 with the addition of another school wing housing not only classrooms but also a new gymnasium. Its program now covers preschool age 3 years through 8th grade and and includes before- and after-school care.
The congregation celebrated its 140th anniversary in October 2009. Since its establishment, First Lutheran has had 17 pastors. It has produced 4 daughter congregations: Grace Lutheran in 1959 in the Bearden area, Christus Victor in 1967 in the Norwood-Powell area, Holy Trinity (now Celebration!) in 1964 in Seymour, and Christ of the Cumberlands in 1986 (previously a preaching station since 1974) in Harrogate. In 2005, First Lutheran adopted the Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Tennessee and called an associate pastor to serve the congregation and the campus community. Today, First Lutheran's congregation stands at 440 souls and continues to be involved in the neighborhood surrounding the church both physically and spiritually.
Earliest Sketch of the History - pdf (3.74MB)
50th Anniversary Booklet (1919) - pdf (7.66MB) | html
75th Anniversary Booklet (1944) - pdf (6.52MB)
Service Bulletin, October 8, 1944 - pdf (2.91MB)
Dedication of New Church Building (1955) - pdf (1.79MB)
100th Anniversary Booklet (1969) - pdf (7.15MB)
Historical Milestones, 1939-1968 - pdf (452KB)
Service Bulletin, June 15, 1969 - pdf (950KB)
Centennial Supper, September 26, 1969 - pdf (1.34MB)
Centennial Banquet, October 11, 1969 - pdf (1006KB)
Divine Service, October 12, 1969 - pdf (1.68MB)
Centennial Directory, 1969 - pdf (6.09MB)
Dedication of the New School Building (1979) - pdf (4.29MB)
125th Anniversary Booklet (1994) - pdf (5.86MB)
Service Bulletin, January 14, 1944 - pdf (1.03MB)
Walther League Rally Service, May 11, 1947 - pdf (1.40MB)
Stained Glass Windows - pdf (2.68MB)
Organ History - pdf (388KB)
Christmas Card - pdf (757KB)
Walther League Portfolio, 1920's to 1969 - pdf (605KB)