history of munsey
1871 - Munsey began as East Market Street Methodist Church, built of handmade bricks at a cost of $4,000. The church was part of the heritage of the early Methodist circuit riders that brought the gospel to the pioneer settlements of the American frontier.
By the turn of the century, the church had grown to the point that a new sanctuary was needed, and our current location of the corner of Roan and Market was purchased. The magnificent new sanctuary was circular, with beautiful stained glass windows and a copper dome ninety feet high.
1908 - The congregation named the church in memory of the Reverend William E. Munsey (1833-77). Born in Virginia, Munsey was the son and grandson of Methodist preachers. Munsey was largely self-taught but became a brilliant pulpit preacher. He retired in Jonesborough where he died at the age of 44.
Munsey Church grew rapidly, with the membership doubling in only three years. Young people were attracted to the modern gymnastic equipment, and men liked to visit the church to take advantage of the new invention - the shower - after their Saturday morning haircuts.
1949 - The church expanded again, but this time construction included an indoor swimming pool! Munsey was forced to close the pool in 2001 because of structural issues. To this day, we are still known for the pool, which was an integral part of the Johnson City community.
1950 - The church began a preschool program, which is still thriving today. It is the oldest state accredited preschool program in Tennessee.
1955 - Once again, the church outgrew its sanctuary, so a new one was built on the same site. This necessitated the demolition of the beloved round church. Some of the stained glass windows from the round sanctuary were given to other churches and some were stored for potential future use. Several of those windows are now in our Chapel. Stained glass windows in the new sanctuary convey stories of Jesus, John Wesley, and Munsey Church.
1989 - On Christmas Eve, a horrific fire caused the deaths of sixteen residents of the John Sevier Center, a low-income residential high-rise across the street from the church. Munsey became the hands and feet of God in a very real way as it transformed into a triage center for those escaping the smoke and flames and a location for families to be reunited. Christmas Eve services were cancelled, and our congregation spent the evening bringing food and blankets to the victims and first responders. The days ahead were helping to locate temporary housing and providing essentials for the displaced residents.
After the fire, members of the church committed themselves to showing Christ’s love to the residents of downtown Johnson City by providing a Saturday morning breakfast. From that, the Melting Pot ministry was born. Before long, Munsey and Good Samaritan Ministries began a cooperative daily lunch program in the Melting Pot. Lunch is served five days a week and breakfast is served every single morning.
2004 - We began the Open Door worship service in the Melting Pot as an outreach to our downtown neighbors.
To this day, Munsey continues to take an active approach to meet the needs of our congregation and community. We strive to seek new paths for ministry and mission, not only in Johnson City, but also throughout the world.