Our Past & Our Future

Our Plan for the Future

When envisioning the future of St. George's, leaders rallied around a set of shared values that could unify us through time. St. George's is a large parish whose members have had many varied experiences. What do we have in common? as Paul stated in Romans 12, We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually we are members one of another. Our values, mutually shared, unify us and make us one in Christ through time.

Our Mission: To receive, live, and share the abundant life of Jesus Christ.

Our Vision: To be a warm church overflowing with inspired worshipers, steadfast disciples, and passionate servants for Christ in the world.

Our Values: tradition, community, leadership, worship, mission, and steadfastness.

The Great Commission: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:19-20.

 

The Birth of a New Parish (1949-1952)

In 1929, Bishop James M. Maxim, former rector of Christ Church Episcopal in Nashville and coadjutor of the Diocese of Tennessee, and Reverend Edmund P. Dandridge, rector of Christ Church, named a committee to study the feasibility of establishing an Episcopal church in the Belle Meade area.

The Great Depression of the thirties and World War II in the forties interrupted the activities of many building projects. The new church was postponed until December 1944, when William H. Lambert was made chairman of the committee and given responsibility for developing a serious program for church expansion.

On May 27, 1947, Reverend Peyton R. Williams announced an anonymous gift of land on which a church was later erected. The donors were Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee O. Currey, who lived in the large French style house on the hill above the property donated. When the Belle Meade Committee of the Davidson County Planning Committee was formed in May 1947, Donald W. Southgate, the architect, began sketches for what was to be a Sunday School building for 250 children, plus a small chapel to seat 50 people. But by October 1947, these plans had been recognized as grossly inadequate and the size of the chapel was doubled. By the spring of 1948, the plans were revised upward again to allow the church proper to seat 300. The parish hall was also redrawn and enlarged The Greek Revival chapel was then built without delay, with Donald Southgate as the architect and W.F. Holt and Sons as contractors.

The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, October 20, 1949, with officiants Reverend Peyton R. Williams, Bishop Dandridge, Bishop Coadjutor Barth, and Reverend Mr. Mitchell, who became vicar at the end of the service. Into the cornerstone were placed a Bible, a Prayerbook, and other documents. St. George’s became a parish in January 1952. 

 

A Growing Congregation (1954-2000)

St. George’s continued to grow with the addition of a Sunday School building in 1954, the Jane Tompkins Weeks Memorial Chapel in 1967, and a new nave, sanctuary, and sacristy in 1986.

(Photo: Steeple raising, 1986)

Watch our documentary (below) about the building of the Nave in 1986-87 as told by church members, including fascinating photos of the building in various states of completion. This video marked the 25th Anniversary of the Nave, our beautiful worship space.

St. George's added a new administration wing in 2000, bringing our physical footprint to more than 85,000 square feet.

Stained Glass East Window

The East Window was fabricated and installed in the summer of 1988 by Wippel Mowbray Studios, Exeter, England.  The original design was created by the Rev. James L. Johnson and executed by Mr. Claude A. Howard of Wippel Mowbray.  All glass was hand-blown in England and France in the traditional method.  This lovely window is a gift to  St. George’s from Mrs. Kenneth E. Rush in memory of her husband.

 

The design of the window is traditional.  Beginning in the center, lower left quadrant, and reading counter-clockwise are found the shields of Canterbury, the Episcopal Church, the Dicoese of Tennessee, and St. George, together forming a golden Canterbury cross.  The middle circle of panels incorporates a grape vine design, symbolic of the Holy Eucharist and of the relationship between God and man through Christ.  The twelve outermost panels incorporate the symbols of the apostles.

 
Beginning in the upper right quadrant between the twelve and one o’clock positions, a description of the apostolic symbols is as follows:
 

St. Peter—crossed keys, symbols of Peter’s guardianship of the kingdom.

St. James (The Greater)—a scalloped shell and the staff, symbols of pilgrimage, recalling James’ zeal and missionary spirit.

St. John—a chalice, which tradition says John drank poison from without harm.  Additionally, Jesus once said that John should drink of His cup.

St. Andrew—a cross, in the style of which St. Andrew was martyred because he would not presume to be crucified in the manner of his Lord.

St. Philip—a cross supporting a basket filled with bread, recalling Jesus’ feeding of the multitude.
 
St. Thomas—a carpenter’s square symbolizes Thomas’ skill in the building of a church and a spear representing the manner in which he met his death.
 
St. Bartholomew—a flaying knife, the traditional symbol of his death.
 
St. Matthew—three purses, representing Matthew’s early career as a tax collector.
 
St. James (The Lesser)—a saw representing this Apostle who was martyred by being sawn in two.
 
St. Simon—the fisher of men, symbolized by a fish atop the Gospel book.
 
St. Jude—a ship, by which this Apostle traveled on his missionary journeys
 
St. Matthias—a double-headed ax represents this Apostle who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot; tradition states that Matthias was beheaded.
 
Finally, the clear blue found throughout the window represents the color of the sky and recalls heaven, while the purple is associated with royalty and reminds us of the “King of kings.” Thus the window brings together in concert our Lord Jesus Christ, His presence amongst us, the roles of His Apostles, and the relationship of St. George’s to the whole Anglican community.
 

The Flood of 2010

In 2010, Nashville was ravaged by rainfall of over 13 inches in two days. On Sunday morning, May 2, a small group of dedicated worshippers gathered for the 7:30am church service, braving the downpour and early signs of flooding in the area. Just as they were preparing to celebrate the Eucharist, water began to seep inside the church doors. The congregation raced to save as many valuable items as they good from the water, including the office computers. When there was nothing more to be done, the group retreated to the second floor and gathered once more to celebrate the Eucharist together. 
 
(Photo: View of Church parking lot and Harding Road under water.)
 
Every portion of the facility on the first floor was flooded with several inches of water. In addition, we faced the devastating loss of stalwart and beloved church members Frankie and Bill Rutledge who perished in the flash flooding. As we struggled with the loss of our dear friends and the damages to our church home, we also united in kindness, compassion, and generosity toward one another. 
 
By the following Sunday, May 9, we had cleaned the Nave to gather again for worship. Even though there was much to be done, we were reminded that our most important task was to continue to come before God and remember his ultimate gift to us.
 
Over the next years, we embarked on our mission to revive the church, plant seeds for future ministries, and reach out to our community though a new campaign called Living Waters: Our Source and Our Strength.  "The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13).
 
Read more of our documentation and images of the days after the flood.

 

May 6, 2012: The 25th Anniversary of the Nave

  

Music as Mission

This unique book, released for our 25th Anniversary of the Nave celebration, tells the history of music at St. George's Church.  It can be purchased in the bookstore.  All proceeds are split evenly between the bookstore and the Music Scholarship Fund.

Formed as a mission of Christ Church, now Christ Church Cathedral, some 60 years ago, St. George's has from its very beginnings seen music as a prominent element of its worship.  This book traces the course of that story from its beginnings to the present day and offers glimpses into the future.  The writers were a group of parishioners bound together by their love for the church and its music, and they represent more than 150 years of choir service.  The book opens with an essay on the Anglican Church music tradition, and that element is woven into the fabric of the musical history.  The middle chapters relate the history of music staff and choirs, and the final chapter covers organs and bells.  Financial considerations, current music administration interviews, a long-range planning report, and furture plans are included in the appendices.  There is a helpful index of personal names. This book will be of interest not only to St. George's communicants but also to others in the local and regional musical community.  Churches of all denominations will find it a useful template for their own musical histories.

Rectors of St. George's

The Reverend Jonathan Mitchell
Vicar 1947 - 1951

The Reverend Robert Morgan Shaw
Rector 1951 - 1958

The Reverend Arthur William Fippinger, Jr.
Rector 1958 - 1966

The Reverend Thomas Adams Roberts
Rector 1967 - 1971

The Reverend James Lawrence Johnson
Rector 1972 - 1989

The Reverend Edwin Cabaniss Coleman
Interim Rector 1990 - 1991 and 1993 - 1994

The Reverend Joel T. Keys
Rector, 1991 - 1993

The Reverend Doctor William Robert Abstein
Rector 1994 - 2004

The Reverend R. Leigh Spruill
Rector 2005 - Present

Who was St. George?

St. George is believed to have been born to pious Christian parents in Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) in the year A.D. 270. At the age of seventeen he joined the Roman army and soon became renowned for his bravery. He served under a pagan Emperor but never forgot his Christian faith. The Emperor Diocietian gave him many important missions, and it is thought that on one of these he came to England. It was while he was in England that he heard the Emperor was putting all Christians to death and so he returned to Rome to help his brother Christians. He pleaded with the Emperor to spare their lives. Diocletian did all he could to persuade St. George to give up his faith, but he refused. After being tortured and performing many miracles, St. George was finally beheaded on 23 April, 303.

In 1222, the Council of Oxford declared April 23 to be St. George's Day, and he replaced Edward the Confessor as England's patron saint in the14th century. In 1415, April 23 was made a national feast day. 

The banner of St. George, the red cross of a martyr on a white background, was adopted for the uniform of English soldiers possibly in the reign of Richard 1, and later became the flag of England. Today the Episcopal Shield bears the red cross and white background and symbolizes our connection to the Church of England.

The legend of St. George slaying the dragon is a Christian myth often displayed in icons and religious art.