The Signal Mountain Church did not just happen one day. It came into being as a result of many hours of prayerful preparation.
After a community survey indicated that mountain residents were interested in organizing and supporting a local church, a Commission of the Knoxville Presbytery organized the Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church on April 7, 1929, with 140 members, including four elders and seven deacons.
Worship services were initially held at the Signal Mountain Grammar School, with the Reverend Malcolm R. Williamson as the church’s first full-time pastor. At a congregational meeting on May 17, 1931, it was unanimously voted to accept the offer of Mr. W. L. Marr to erect a church building to be known as the Marr Memorial Chapel, which would be a gift to Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church from the Marr family. Construction was begun in September of 1931, and the first service held in the new building occurred on Easter Sunday, 1932.
After Mr. Williamson’s resignation in 1941, the church called Dr. William S. Thorington as its pastor. Dr. Thorington served Signal Mountain Presbyterian for more than 25 years, assisted during that time by Rev. Harold Patterson and Rev. H. Howard Smith, respectively. Growth during these years necessitated the addition of an educational building, which, in 1992, became known as the “Thorington Building”.
Following Dr. Thorington’s untimely death in 1967, a Staff Advisory Committee administered church operations until Dr. R. Eugene Randolph became pastor in 1968. Rev. David Russel and Rev. Frank Holsclaw were associate pastors during Dr. Randolph’s five year ministry.
It was during the tenure of Dr. Fredrick Z. Woodward, the church’s fourth pastor, that a new sanctuary was built and dedicated in 1980. Rev. Jerry McElhinny assisted Dr. Woodward in ministry during the fifteen years of his senior pastorate.
Dr. William E. Dudley came to Signal Mountain Church in 1989 from Montgomery, Alabama. During the 25 years that Dr. Dudley served as Signal Mountain Presbyterian’s Senior Pastor, significant growth took place with regard to membership, as well as facilities for ministry on the church campus. In 2000, the Cornerstone Building, which houses Dudley Hall, dining facilities, our Presbyterian Day School, and Sunday School classes for adults and children was completed and dedicated. In the fall of 2008, we were blessed with the completion of the Keystone Building, which serves as a multi-function area for youth activities, as well as space for other ministry opportunities. In 2014, our congregation was blessed with the construction of a beautiful Memorial Garden and Columbarium. Upon his retirement, Dr. Dudley was honored by the congregation with his election by the members as the first Pastor Emeritus of SMPC.
Our current Senior Pastor, Scott Bowen, was called to Signal Mountain Church in August of 2014 and began his ministry in October. Scott previously served as Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Opelika, Alabama, and brings to Signal Mountain Church a deep passion for the Word of God, a strong devotion to the Lord, and a steadfast and abiding love for His people.
The 1900 member congregation today is led by Scott Bowen and the following staff members:
- Margaret Ferguson ~ Associate Pastor of Congregational Care
- Andy Cornett ~ Associate Pastor of Families
- Joey Sherrard ~ Associate Pastor of Discipleship
- Jean Smith ~ Director of Christian Education
- Steven Ingram ~ Director of Music Ministry
- Camille Ward ~ Youth Director
- Amy Meller ~ Director of Presbyterian Day School