Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated its milestone centennial anniversary by looking not only to the past, in celebration, but to the future with the breaking of ground for its newest planned addition.
Though the timeline is still not certain, the three-story building will provide new day care facilities and Sabbath school classrooms for adults and children to break into groups by age.
The church was chartered by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in the spring of 1917, following the move by a group of students, a pastor and his family from Graysville, Tenn. They came to the area to start not only a church, but a school: Southern College, which would later become Southern Adventist University.
Longtime church member Joyce Dick said the founders lived in very primitive conditions upon arriving. The church raised the funds to purchase the property where it and the school are still located, then called the Thatcher property, with a "$1 per member" campaign — a great deal more money during the 1915 and 1916 fundraising campaign years.
Dick estimated she has been a member of the church for nearly 50 years. Hers is one of many such families who have raised their children in the church. Most notably from that group, she said, is the McKee family, the producers of Little Debbie snack cakes and descendents of late church members O.D. and Ruth McKee, who began selling cakes out of the back of a car following their graduation from Southern College.
"Many at the centennial celebration [and groundbreaking] had relatives who attended Southern College and were members of the church as early as 1917," Dick said. "O.D. McKee and his wife met at Southern College in the 1920s, and many of their family are members."
The church has grown from its original 50 members to more than 3,400, and from a meager farmhouse to a 76,800-square-foot church.
"It is important to remember how God led the school and church to be in this place and to survive through some very tough years of the first and second world wars and the Depression," Dick said.
For more information, visit collegedalechurch.com or call 396-2134.