Church History

Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church (SHPC) was organized with seventy-eight (78) charter members on May 22, 1947. The church was established by the Knoxville Presbytery under the sponsorship of the First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville. The organizing pastor, Dr. Julian W. Spitzer, was called as the first Pastor on November 2, 1947.

Under Dr. Spitzer’s leadership, the church grew rapidly. Construction occurred in phases, the first of which included the chapel, offices, and classrooms. Services were first held in the Chapel in December 1949. The sanctuary was completed in March 1954, and the first education building in November 1956. In turn, the Sequoyah congregation sponsored the organization of the Lake Hills Presbyterian Church in 1957 and the West Hills Presbyterian Church in 1963. SHPC was also instrumental in negotiating a relationship between Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and the Knoxville Presbytery, as well as being involved in the formation of Camp John Knox.

Dr. Spitzer retired in March 1979, and Dr. William R. (Bill) Barron was called as Sequoyah Church’s second Pastor in March 1981. In September 1985, ground was broken for construction of the administration building which included a fellowship hall and the expansion and remodeling of the Sanctuary.

During these years, SHPC experienced a tremendous growth in young families in our church community. We opened our doors to several community groups such as the Boy Scout and the Girl Scout troops, neighborhood meetings, exercise and art classes, a monthly community luncheon, many senior activities, and several 12-Step programs. In 1994, Stephen Ministry was established at SHPC serving church members and community friends who were experiencing difficulties in their lives.

Supporting outreach projects and mission work has always been an important part of our church tradition as we share our time, talents and financial resources within the Knoxville community and across the globe. As SHPC supports missionary families around the world, we also have taken mission trips to Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, Appalachia, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In addition, our congregation is involved in many local and regional activities and services, such as Habitat for Humanity, the Appalachian Task Force at Rose’s Creek, FISH, West Knox Food Pantry, and ministries to the homeless.

As we were outgrowing our facilities in the late 1990s, SHPC’s “Building for Tomorrow” campaign raised almost $5 million (goal: $3.4 million) to fulfill our commitment to an expanded Christian education program. In October 2000, construction was completed on the Spitzer Education Building, a three-level state-of- the-art facility which ushered in a new era of educational ministry. The lower level, called the Kingdom, is devoted to classrooms for the rotation model of Christian education for elementary-aged children. The main level includes a library and has classrooms for nursery aged through preschool children. The upper level is dedicated to adult and youth ministry. In 2003 a new preschool program called the Sequoyah Hills Early Enrichment Program (SHEEP) began operating as a ministry to those in our community. Today, SHEEP is recognized as one of the top early childhood enrichment programs in the state.

In August 2005, Rev. Mark D. Lampley was installed as Associate Pastor of Young Adult Ministries and Dr. Michael V. Stanfield was installed as Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries.

After serving SHPC faithfully for over 27 years, Dr. Barron retired in June 2008. At his retirement celebration, the fellowship hall was renamed Barron Hall in his honor.  In November 2008, Dr. Bruce Lancaster began serving this congregation as our interim senior pastor.

Dr. L. Holton Siegling, Jr. was installed as Sequoyah Church’s third pastor on March 6, 2011. He served through June 2017.

Rev. Rachel Hamburger was installed as Associate Pastor of of Older Adult Ministries in September 2016.

Dr. Steve Eason accepted the call to serve as the interim pastor and began working on January 2, 2018. He faithfully served through June 2019.

Dr. John F. (Jay) Howell III was unanimously voted to be Sequoyah Church’s fourth Pastor/Head of Staff. Dr. Howell was installed on September 8, 2019.

As an active church in the Presbytery of East Tennessee and the Knoxville community, the twelve hundred (1200) members of Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church look forward to serving Christ in our church, our community and the world as we strive to be inwardly strong and outwardly focused.