A History of St. Bartholomew's
St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church started in 1936 as a dream of the rector of Christ Church, the Rev. E.P. Dan-dridge. Rev. Dandridge envisioned expanding the Episcopal Church in the Lealand area, a fast-developing part of Nashville. Due to committee delays and World War II, it took more than a decade for the outreach vision to be-come reality. In 1951, the Rt. Rev. Dandridge, who was now bishop, formed a planning committee.
The first concrete step came with a large donation by Brownlee Curry, from St. George’s Episcopal Church. The funds were designated for church expansion. Accordingly, in 1953 St. George’s Church bought, for $36,000, the current 18 acre St. B’s property that faces onto both Granny White Pike and Belmont Park Terrace.
In 1954, a petition was drawn up and presented to Bishop Barth to establish a mission. The petition was backed by the signatures of 134 people (approximately 60 families) of Episcopalians living in the area. Authorization was grant-ed by the bishop on September 14, 1954 and by the plan-ning committee on October 6, 1954. An organizational meeting was held on October 24, 1954, at Burton School. Here, 107 people signed a transfer of membership to the new mission.
The first service of the new mission was held in Glendale School, November 7, 1954, with Bishop Dandridge officiat-ing. Sewanee seminary students took services, with monthly communion provided by the Rev. Nutt Parsley. The communion wine was made by Bob Chilton. Because classrooms could not be used, Sunday school classes were conducted in the hallways. St. Bartholomew’s was admitted as a parish at diocesan convention, January 19, 1955. The church had an identity, although no priest until September of 1955 – Bayard Clark.
The property saw groundbreaking on the church site on Sept. 6, 1964, and the cornerstone laid March 6, 1965. The rectory, built in 1961, was already in place, as was the par-ish hall, where services had been held since April 17, 1957. The new parish was in the school only 17 months before moving to its own facilities.
Groundbreaking for the sanctuary took place September 6, 1964, with the first service held one year later, on September 5. Two weeks later, on September 19, the building was dedicated to Bishop Vander Horst. The parish hall was offi-cially named Wallace Hall in honor of the 100th birthday of the church’s oldest member, Louis Davenport Wallace.
The church continued to grow in body and spirit and on November 20, 1977, ground was broken for an extension on the parish hall that included a gymnasium and additional classrooms.
Those early years in the new building coincided with a world-wide movement of the Holy Spirit and St. Bartholomew’s became fully involved in the movement, particularly after a weekend put on by Faith Alive. The Rev. Chuck Murphy, who became priest during this period, embraced the charismatic expression of Christianity and St. Bartholomew’s was known for many years as a leader in the Episcopal charismatic movement.
The years that followed saw continued growth, but some tough decades for clergy, who did not, for various reasons, remain at St. B’s. The programs, however, were robust and St. B’s has had strong children’s, youth, adult and music ministries.
Things changed dramatically for St. B’s in the spring of 2004, when approximately half the congregation left the Episcopal Church and started Anglican Church of the Re-deemer. The Rev. Jill Zook Jones filled in as interim until, the Rev. Dr. Jerry Smith arrived in January of 2005. Over the past decade, the church has regrown, rediscovering its Episcopal roots while affirming its evange-listic and evangelical theological leanings. The Rev. Dr. Jerry Smith completed his tenure at St. B's on May 15, 2016. The Rev. Dr. Christian Brady served as Interim Rector from October 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
Learn more about St. Bartholomew's through a booklet prepared by Marjie Smith for St. B's 60th anniversary. Hardcopies are available through the church office.