The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tennessee

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tennessee

As of year-end 2006, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 40,501 members, 9 stakes (with stake center inside the state), 60 wards, 25 branches, 2 missions, and 2 temples in Tennessee. [ [ LDS Newsroom (Statistical Information)] ]


David W. Patten and Warren Parish arrived in Tennessee shortly before 11 October 1834 and soon baptized 31 people: organizing a branch by the end of the year. These efforts were in Henry, Benton, and Humphreys counties. In 1835, Parrish worked alone after Patten returned to Kirtland, Ohio. [ [ David W Patten's Journal] ]

On March 27 1835, Wilford Woodruff, then a priest, came to assist Parrish. When Warren Parrish was called as a Seventy in July 1835, he ordained Woodruff as an elder and placed him in charge of the work in Tennessee. Woodruff was assisted by Abraham O. Smoot and Benjamin L. Clapp.

In 1836, there were about 100 members in seven branches. By 1839, 12 branches existed in the state and by 1846, missionaries had preached in 26 counties. Following the exodus to the West, little work was done in Tennessee. Hyrum H. Blackwell and Emmanuel M. Murphy visited the state in 1857 to call the saints to gather in the west. [Jenson, Andrew. "Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", p. 867]

In 1870, Hayden Church resumed work in Tennessee. The Southern States Mission was formally organized in 1875 with headquarters in Nashville, then moved to Chattanooga in 1882 and remained there until 1919, when Atlanta, GA became mission headquarters.

Henry G. Boyle established a branch at Shady Grove in 1875. Mob activity increased significantly in 1879. Some converts in the South left their homes and migrated to the west in 1883. In 1884, members were fired upon in separate incidents. The worst massacre of Church members in the South occurred on August 10 1884 when a mob shot to death missionaries William S. Berry and John H. Gibbs and local members Martin Condor and John Riley Hudson during Church Services near Cane Creek in Lewis County. [ [ The Cane Creek Massacre] ] Mission President Brigham H. Roberts donned a disguise, traveled to the tense area and retrieved the bodies of the slain missionaries. In 1888, a group of 177 Latter-day Saints left Chattanooga for Colorado and Utah.

By the 1890’s, public opinion became more tolerant. The oldest existing meetinghouse in the Southeast was dedicated in Northcutts’ Cove on October 24 1909 by Charles A. Collis. [ [ Northcutts Chapel] ] Ten years later, branches were listed in Chattanooga and Memphis. On November 16 1925, a chapel in Memphis was dedicated by Elder George F. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve. By 1930, about 2832 members lived in the Middle and East Tennessee Districts.

On April 18 1965, the Memphis Stake, Tennessee’s first, was created by Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve. On March 15-16, 1997, more than 6500 people attended a meeting where President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke in the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, several thousand Latter-day Saint volunteers, from a 7 state area (including Tennessee), went to Louisiana and Mississippi. Many of them taking time out of their jobs or came down on the weekends to help anyone needing assistance (Mormon and non-Mormon). [Latter-day Saints to Mobilize Another 4,000 Volunteers in Chainsaw Brigade’s Second Wave [] ] [Joining Hands as Neighbors and Now Friends [] ]

Tennessee "Mormons" volunteered relief in their own area on several occasions including the April 2, 2006 Tornado Outbreak, [Church members help with clean-up, roof repair (April 29, 2006) LDS Church News [,2407,,00.html] ] and the April 6-8, 2006 Tornado Outbreak [Aid rendered in wake of tornadoes (April 15, 2006)LDS Church News [,2407,,00.html] ]

In 2007, 360 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and 65 members of the Orchestra at Temple Square performed at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville (June 30), and at the FedEx Forum in Memphis (July 2). [Mormon Tabernacle Choir Announces 2007 Canada-Midwest U.S. Tour [] ]

In September 2008, Latter-day Saints from both of the Memphis stakes went to the Baton Rouge area to aid clean up efforts following Hurricane Gustav.

Membership History


On November 12 1994, a letter sent to priesthood leaders announced plans to build a temple in Nashville. However, after three unsuccessful years of trying to gain approvals, Church leaders announced on April 25 1998, they would move ahead with plans to build a temple somewhere else in the Nashville area, and said the temple would be substantially smaller in size. That fall, on September 17 1998, the first presidency announced it would build a second temple in Tennessee, this one in Memphis. The temple in the suburb of Bartlett was dedicated on April 23 2000. The Next month, on May 21 2000, the Nashville Tennessee Temple, in the suburb of Franklin, was dedicated.

Prominent members connected with Tennessee

*D. Todd Christofferson now a member of the first quorum of the seventy was a lawyer based in Nashville, Tennessee. He also was the chair of the Middle Tennessee Literacy Coalition and the chair of Affordable Housing of Nashville. ["LDS Church News", April 19th, 2008]

See also

* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints membership statistics (United States)


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