The eight original communicants who founded St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro first met on October 16, 1892, to read the Office of Morning Prayer in a downtown space known as Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street. One of the first communicants, Mary Noailles Murfree, is a famed Southern literary figure who wrote under the pen name Charles Egbert Craddock. Along with her sister Fanny, she led the reorganization of a previously floundering Episcopal mission named St. Andrew's into the new St. Paul's. By December 1893, the first church building had been erected and the visiting Bishop Quintard noted in his journal, "the little congregation at this place cannot be too highly commended for the earnestness, zeal, and liberality which they have displayed in erecting this beautiful church."
Since the late 1920's, the campus of St. Paul's has evolved around the corner of East Main and North Academy Streets. In 1949, growth permitted and encouraged the building of a parish hall. At the time of its 75th anniversary in 1967, the parish felt it had outgrown its current facilities and planned to move to a new location and building. This decision was shortly reversed and property immediately behind the church was purchased to become the parking lot. The parish hall was remodeled and transepts were added to the church. In 1988, the Todd Furniture building next door was acquired and remodeled, to be dedicated as Ferguson Hall and used for Christian education and large meetings. To better accommodate our growing parish, additional properties on the corner of Main and Academy streets were acquired during the 1990s. In 2001, Ferguson Hall and two other buildings were demolished to make way for our new nave and nursery, which were completed and consecrated in 2002.
Since 1939, St. Paul's has been blessed by the love and dedication of seven rectors who have each led us in remaining deeply rooted in the Murfreesboro community and the Anglican tradition. We continue to benefit from the blessings of this rich spiritual tradition and history and the preservation of our historic spaces. As we grow in physical size and numbers, we strive to do so in the same spirit as those who founded our church more than 115 years ago.
Our Diocese. The Diocese of Tennessee is led by Bishop John Bauerschmidt, who was ordained as bishop in 2007. Headquartered in nearby Nashville, the diocese is made up of 50 congregations in Middle Tennessee. The University of the South ("Sewanee") and its School of Theology, the DuBose Episcopal Conference Center, and St. Mary's Convent are a short scenic drive away. There are many at St. Paul's who have claimed the "mountaintop" experience of retreats, conferences, and worship at one of these facilities.
Historic St. Andrew's Chapel. The first St. Paul's church building burned in 1912, but the chancel and nave now seen in St. Andrew's Chapel remain from the clapboard-sided church rebuilt in 1913. That building was moved to its present location and faced with Sewanee sandstone in the late 1920s. The stained glass chancel windows, altar, lectern, and altar rail were given in memory of one or more of the original eight communicants and the first person confirmed at St. Paul's.
The altar kneelers depicting the flowers of the Bible were dedicated in 1989 and represent 10 years of effort by 25 dedicated needle workers. In 2005, St. Paul's embarked on a renovation of our historic worship space and rededicated it as St. Andrew's Chapel. The chapel is now a bright and beautiful holy space used for smaller worship services and meetings.