In celebration of its 155 years of service to the Nashville community, Tulip Street United Methodist Church is hosting a homecoming on October 9, 2016 to honor the historic church, the clergy who have served, and the congregation who have worshiped there over the many years.
Tulip Street United Methodist Church was founded in the Edgefield Community of East Nashville in 1859. Its service continued through the Civil War, the Great Fire in East Nashville, a tornado and various changes in the neighborhood.
The homecoming service will honor its treasured history before having to close its doors as a result of low attendance numbers, financial struggles and recent building disrepair. Beginning at 11 am, the celebration will include a special worship service and reflection, an organ concert and lunch and fellowship.
On June 15, 2016, the Cabinet of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church passed a resolution at the Annual Conference to close Tulip Street United Methodist Church, effective November 7, 2016.
In an article published in the Tennessean about the possibility of the church closure, Rev. Harriet Bryan, the district superintendent, said “We never want to close a church. Many of our churches are rich in history and have wonderful stories of community involvement in their past. It is painful for a once-thriving congregation to face closure. However, sometimes it is the route we must take.”
Despite their low numbers, Tulip UMC has managed to run a number of charitable efforts benefiting the neighborhood around them, and host weddings, community events and nonprofit organizations. In the same Tennessean article, Tulip Street trustee and wedding director Joan Greene defends the church’s attendance numbers against the congregation’s impact. The approach is come as you are, when you can, and many people, including tourists, were in and out as they were able to attend.
The cornerstone of the historic building was laid in 1891, with completion and dedication in 1892. Since its completion, the church building and its members have endured many joys and tribulations.
In 1916 the Great East Nashville Fire ravaged the entire Edgefield community, leaving only two churches remaining: Tulip Street United Methodist and St. Ann’s Episcopal. To save the church building from the devastation of the fire, church members left their burning homes to form a bucket brigade to keep the intense heat and flames from reaching the church.
The most recent disaster to strike this historic congregation was a tornado in April 1998, which demolished the entire east wall of the sanctuary, but left the rest of the sanctuary’s interior unscathed. Shortly after the storm, “Amazing Grace” echoed from the bells in Tulip’s tower, offering comfort and hope to the devastated community. With the help of volunteers, scaffolding was erected in place of the east wall for structural support, allowing regular Sunday services to continue in the sanctuary without interruption throughout the rebuilding process.
Glorious stained-glass pieces, recovered from the original windows, were used in the newly reconstructed windows. Decorative terra-cotta moldings had been crafted to return the building’s exterior to its original character. Although the bell tower withstood the high winds of the storm, further inspection revealed serious structural damage. By April 2000 all repairs were completed and the bells within Tulip’s tower have echoed songs of faith throughout the community throughout its many years of service.
All in the community are invited to attend Tulip Street UMC’s Homecoming Celebration services at 11 am on October 9. Guest are asked to RSVP if you plan to join for lunch at WeddingDirector@tulipstreet.org with “Homecoming” as the subject line.