Divine 7

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It’s been over 2 months since my last post. Things have been really busy in my corner of the world. Between work, the weather, dad and husband duties, I can’t seem to find a lot of dedicated time for photography. I have to admit that my motivation has taken a hit also. Maybe it’s just the winter blues. However, I do feel my drive coming back with Spring just around the corner. I’m trying to figure out some projects that will push me out the door with my cameras. I have some things in mind, so stay tuned.

Another avenue of project work is my wife. She often sends me out on assignment. That was the case with this post. She was working on the next edition of The Antiquarian, the Historic Maury newsletter. This edition featured a write-up about the First United Methodist Church of Columbia. Instead of searching the internet for pictures to use in the newsletter, she asked me to create some pictures for her. It was also a great opportunity to see if I could capture more images for my 2nd edition of my Iconic Maury Calendar that I will publish later this year for the 2019 calendar year.

So, what is “Divine 7?”. A simple google search will tell you that the First United Methodist Church started out as the First Methodist Society in 1820 with only 7 members. This small group of congregants reminds me of Matthew 18:20:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” 

A church was soon built under supervision of master builder Nathan Vaught who was also a member of the church. I have discovered over the years through my photography endeavors that Nathan Vaught left his mark on many structures in the area including structures in Nashville. The church in this post is actually the third and final building erected in this area. The first church building was completed in 1821. This building was replaced by a second building in 1836 at the site of the present church. Unfortunately, that church burned in 1874. Construction of the present day church started n 1875 and was completed in 1876.


First United Methodist of Columbia – Downtown Columbia, Tennessee – Olympus E520 / Olympus Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8


These photos were a few hours in the making. I initially drove downtown during the morning hours. This was a scouting mission as I knew there would be people and vehicles out in front of the church on a Sunday morning, and I did not want people or cars in the shot. I also wanted to see how the light was falling on the building. I took a few snap shots to show my wife so she could decide what perspective she wanted to use in the newsletter. The plan was to come back later that afternoon when the church service was over and the sun was heading toward sunset in the West. The photos in this post were my final shots taken later that day.

While I was studying the building, as expected, there were people arriving for the morning service. There were also ushers outside handing out programs to the members as they walked down the sidewalk passed the church to the adjacent building. Yes, people were walking passed the church, more on this later. I also noticed a sign of the times. Posted outside in front of the church was a Sheriff Deputy. I don’t know if this has always been the practice for the church, but given recent events, I think it’s a good idea.


First United Methodist of Columbia – Downtown Columbia, Tennessee – Olympus E520 / Olympus Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8


After taking snap shots from across the street, I crossed the road to get a closer look. When I reached the other side, I was greeted by one of the ushers. He introduced himself as Mack. While talking to me, Mack was greeting church members and handing out programs as they passed. He even introduced the members to me. There was not one person that passed by for whom Mack did not know their name. In between greetings, Mack gave me a short history of the Church. I found out Mack handled a lot of the building work. He talked about the condition of the church bell and how he keeps it greased. I found out that the wooden doors of the church that are flushed with the brick face used to be recessed. The doors had to be changed due to fire codes. However, they later found out that because the building was a historical site, the doors didn’t have to be changed. Mack talked about the hand made bricks of the original structure verses the bricks of the adjacent buildings. I found out that the members were bypassing the church because of the maintenance work that was underway inside. I mentioned that I would love to see the interior. Mack told me I was welcome to come back when the work was complete. He also invited me to join them for service. It was a real pleasure talking to Mack. Before I said goodbye, Mack told me I had a new friend. You gotta love good ole Southern Hospitality!


First United Methodist of Columbia – Downtown Columbia, Tennessee – Olympus E520 / Olympus Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8


As you can see from the photographs, the streets were clear when I returned. Before I took my first picture, I met a gentleman who came walking from the church to where I was standing. I was actually setting up my tripod near his parking spot. It turns out that he used to be a member of First Methodist. He told me that he was a church member 30 years ago. He moved away and finally came back, but moved to a neighboring county. He was in Maury County for other business that afternoon. I found out that there used to be a gas station to the left of the church where the other church buildings are located and a cable business to the right of the church. He said that he loved Maury county back in the day, but coming back after 30 years, he didn’t like what he saw. His discontent was mainly because he didn’t know anyone. Our talk continued for a few more minutes before he was on his way.

Getting back to the history of the church, here is the write-up my wife wrote for the Antiquarian. Play close attention to the description of the rose window. I have a close up shot of the window toward the end.

First United Methodist Church began in 1820 as the First Methodist Society. While a Methodist Church has stood on the present site since 1836/7, the current building was built in 1876. In August 1875 W.K. Dodson was announced as the architect. It wasn’t until March 1876 that Anthony Gholson began the foundation and brick work, completing it six months later. Master Builder Nathan Vaught recorded details of the construction: “the foundation of the building is of the following dimensions, the audience room is 70 ft. long and 41 feet wide inside, and 28 ft. 8 in. to ceiling. The front is put up in modern style, with two towers one of which is one story high, the other is three stories high, to accommodate a fine bell and a spire to rest on.”

One of the most prominent features is the large rose window in memory of President James K. Polk. The likeliness of the 11th United States President is in the center of the window. Above the center is a white dove descending, while below is an open Bible.

Local folklore maintains that the wooden frame around the window is from lumber at Polk’s old house, which stood a block and a half away. Other folklore states the frame is from a window where Polk slept when he heard he’d been nominated as a presidential candidate.


First United Methodist of Columbia – Downtown Columbia, Tennessee – Olympus E520 / Olympus Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8


The next two images are the ones my wife chose to go into the newsletter. Here’s the shot of the rose window.


First United Methodist of Columbia – Downtown Columbia, Tennessee – Olympus E520 / Olympus Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8


The final image is my favorite. In fact, this will be a candidate for my next Iconic Maury Calendar.


First United Methodist of Columbia – Downtown Columbia, Tennessee – Olympus E520 / Olympus Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8


Below is a shot of the actual newsletter.


The Antiquarian – Olympus E520 / Sigma 30mm f1.4


This is a beautiful church with a rich history. I hope I have captured some of that beauty. If you think you might be interested in my next Iconic Maury Calendar, let me know. You can see a collage of the images I used in volume 1 here. You can also scroll through some images of the final product here. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog!


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