The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany celebrated its 90th anniversary this month and church leaders hope it will continue to shine its light on the community for many more decades.
The church celebrated with the theme “Shining Our Light” as a recognition of the decades of work former leaders and members have done in the community and within the church, as well as a motto for how leaders and members would strive to do in the future.
Former Epiphany priest Bill Dalglish returned to the church to deliver the anniversary sermon, noting the contrast in the church’s start and the landscape of the world.
“There was a lot of darkness around 1929,” he said. “I was just a youngster and (his parents) talked about the Great Depression 10 years before. A great deal of darkness was associated with that depression that was not only here in the United States, but throughout the world.”
The beginnings of Epiphany date back further than 1929 to about 1860, when Rev. William E. Webb came to Lebanon from Murfreesboro to minister to a handful of Episcopalians. However, the Civil War, which began the following year, disrupted services and forced the closing of the parent congregation in Murfreesboro.
In 1929, a handful of local residents convinced Archdeacon Plummer of Tullahoma to visit the area and begin services for them. The original congregation met at Seagraves Funeral Chapel, which sat at the corner of East Main Street and College Street, and consisted of Episcopal adults, as well as Cumberland University students and Castle Heights Military Academy cadets.
After the congregation met at several other locations throughout Lebanon, the church purchased 2.8 acres of land on Hickory Ridge Road at West Hills Drive and began services in the building in 1979.
Members of the congregation at the time worked to finish the construction, including painting the building.
Dalglish joined current Epiphany priest Rev. Cynthia L. Seifert in admiring several aspects of the church, including its name.
“What a name Epiphany is. Epiphany — talk about life — epiphany means manifestation. It means the light of Christ. Epiphany goes out to all for all to see,” Dalglish said.
“I love that we’re called Epiphany. I love that picture of the light of Christ and us shining his light in the community,” said Seifert, noting the church’s light shined brighter after a major construction project in Lebanon.
“When the church was built, it was sort of hidden in the neighborhood. They built South Hartmann Drive and it just opened everything up. Suddenly, Epiphany, which had been sort of surrounded and hidden, was now on a main drag for the first time. That’s why our building kind of faces away from the main road,” she said.
Seifert joined the congregation last year and said it’s an honor to be the latest leader of the church. She said the congregation primarily consists of members from Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Hartsville and Smith County.
“Most of our members do all kinds of ministries in the community,” she said. “Some of it is organized with things like food ministry, but some of it is with their personal ministries in business and through their faith in Christ, have been change agents wherever they go.”