Searching for the colorful autumn leaves takes many of us up north to view the beautiful red and orange foliage. If you find yourself in northeast Tennessee near Bristol, you may consider a brief detour to visit Elizabethton, Tennessee. Elizabethton is the historical site of the first independent American government (known as the Watauga Association, created in 1772) located west of the Eastern Continental Divide and the original Thirteen Colonies.
But, in this small and unassuming town is Sinking Creek Baptist Church — the oldest church in Tennessee. The church has been standing for more than 200 years and comes with a fascinating history. Known affectionately as the ‘Old Log Church,’ this building has been standing since 1783. The structure still consists of its original logs.
During the late 1700s, life was filled with hardship, and survival was the highest priority. It was during this time that this small farming community began gathering together to worship and eventually built the church together. It was a simple log structure with flat, wooden pews and a wooden altar.
In the early days, written accounts state that services were halted because of Native American attacks. Nearly a decade later, services were paused again because the Civil War began in the United States. Unfortunately, the Civil War had ravaged the land, but miraculously the church survived relatively unscathed. Because of its deep historical past, it is now a historical landmark.
Sinking Creek Baptist Church has held continuous worship services since it was built in 1783, except for during the Civil War. However, the congregants now have a much newer building. A new church building was erected in 1963, but the congregation never abandoned their roots. The new building is located on the same property and quite literally adjacent to the original church.
Over the years, countless people have traveled from all over the country to visit Sinking Creek. The church still has a guest register dating back to the 1960s that shows the names of people who have visited it.
Sinking Creek Baptist Church is located at 2313 Elizabethton Hwy. For more information, visit www.sinkingcreek.org.