St. David’s was christened in 1963 after it was established as a parochial mission of St. George’s, just a few miles away in Belle Meade.
In the fall of 1962, construction was begun. A member of St. George’s Vestry, Caleb Haun, and two other Nashville businessmen, donated a total of eight acres. Clinton E. Brush, III was the architect, and the Rt. Rev. Theodore Nott Barth, Sixth Bishop of Tennessee, had named the mission.
Upon the call of the Rev. Arthur W. Fippinger, Rector of St. George’s, the Rev. Rue I. Moore, Jr. became the Vicar in January, 1963. He set up offices in a trailer on the property at Pennywell and Currywood. A capital fund campaign at St. George’s yielded approximately $300,000, $150,000 for a church building and $20,000 for one year’s operating expenses. The balance was used to expand St. George’s facilities.
A gift of a 20-pound stone from the St. David’s Cathedral in Wales was placed in the wall beside the front doors. The first service was held Easter Day, 1963, for 85 communicants.
The members of the first Vestry were: William Ward, III (Vicar’s Warden), Robert E. McNeilly, Jr. (Vestry’s Warden), E. C. Steiner, Jr., Barlow Henderson, Overton Lea, Norman McNair, Jr., William Van Cleave, Thomas A. Webb, and William T. Fray III. On Sept. 1, 1963, with construction complete, the first regular service was held and included a blessing of the building and acceptance of the keys by Fr. Moore.
After getting the mission off to a good start, Fr. Moore accepted a call to Albany, N.Y., in May, 1965. A call was then extended to the Rev. Daniel Paul Matthews, and his first service was Sept. 20, 1965. The mission grew rapidly and achieved parish status at the diocesan convention in January 1966.
In 1968, three additions were made to the original building: three bays in the nave, an enlarged narthex, and nine Sunday school rooms.
In September 1971, the Rev. Frank W. Robert joined the staff as a part-time assistant to the Rector. His full-time ministry continued to be Librarian of the Vanderbilt Divinity School. Once year later, Fr. Matthews accepted a call to St. John’s Church in Knoxville. Fr. Frank Robert served as interim.
In 1973, St. David’s celebrated its 10th anniversary.
On June 1, 1973, the Rev. Sam Byron Hulsey accepted the Vestry’s call. The first year of Fr. Hulsey’s ministry brought a great increase in the frequency of worship services and the expansion of adult Christian education. Lay groups and committees were also expanded and strengthened. The Vestry made a triangular commitment to worship, learning, and service in the parish life.
That same year, 1973, women are first ordained in the Episcopal Church.
Early in 1974, Frank Robert resigned, and the Rev. Dr. Boyd May became part-time Assistant to the Rector in the spring of 1975. Dr. May served full-time as an anesthesiologist on the staff of Vanderbilt Hospital.
Fr. Hulsey’s ministry was characterized by a strong emphasis on lay participation. He was active in diocesan affairs, and served on the Standing Committee and on the Bishop and Council of the Diocese of Tennessee.
On Jan. 10, 1977, the Rt. Rev. William Evan Sanders, bishop coadjutor, is installed as Eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee upon the retirement of the Rt. Rev. John Vander Horst.
Bishop Sanders (shown at left) is an active member of St. David’s.
In February, 1978, Fr. Hulsey accepted a call as Rector of Church of the Holy Trinity, Midland, Texas. The Rev. Frank Robert returned to St. David’s and together with Dr. May served the parish. Dr. May resigned in May, 1978, to join a medical clinic in Richmond, Virginia.
The Rev. John Fay Rice, Jr. was called by the Vestry from the Church of the Holy Communion in Memphis. He held his first service Aug. 20, 1978. A change in tradition was undertaken at the time of Fr. Rice’s call. The rectory was sold, and the rector purchased his own home.
1979 was an exciting year that saw a lot of growth in the parish. A Christian Education Director, Elizabeth Bunch-Nichols, was hired, and she premiered an excellent adult education program and conducted a very successful Every Member Canvas.
In late 1979, the diocese began a capital campaign called Venture in Mission to raise money for the diocese. The Vestry of St. David’s also decided the time had come to undertake a major expansion of the facilities and improve upon the existing structure.
At the decade’s end, and after 51 years of use, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is replaced (by action of the General Convention) with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
In 1980, St. David’s saw its budget surpass $100,000 for the first time.
The Rev. Pete Minton joined the staff on Jan. 1, 1980, as an assistant on a non-stipendiary basis. Mr. Minton left to attend seminary in the Fall of 1981, and was replaced by the Rev. James L. Rogers. Parishioners Ann Bonneyman and Mary Jane Levitch, entered seminary at the School of Theology at the University of the South.
The successful capital campaign, “Venture in Vision,” was completed with pledges totaling $320,000. The money was designated for a contribution to the diocesan Venture in Mission campaign, refinishing of the church pews, repaving and additions to the driveway and parking lots, completion of the nave with removal of the choir to a new choir loft over the narthex, and the construction of a new parish hall.
On April 19, 1980, the Rt. Rev. John Vander Horst, Seventh Bishop of Tennessee dies.
In 1981, former Rector, the Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, is elected Bishop of Northwest Texas.
In 1982, the newly completed parish hall was named in honor of Bishop William Sanders. Abintra Montessori School became our tenant and used part of the building and Sanders Hall until 1988. St. David’s also celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The Hymnal, 1982, a revision of The Hymnal, 1940, is submitted for review to General Convention by the Standing Committee on Church Music. The Rev. Dr. Eric S. Greenwood (father of Rev. Eric “Rick” S. Greenwood, Jr.) was a member of that commission.
In 1985, the Rt. Rev. George Lazenby Reynolds is consecrated the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee. That same year, the Rev. Donna G. Gafford came to St. David’s as a deacon. Also, St. David’s shared in the development of a new mission, the Church of the Resurrection in Williamson County, and the Rev. Jim Rogers was called to lead it. The Rev. Frank Robert coordinated the Christian Education program.
The choir moved into the new choir loft in 1986, and an organ fund was established. Arrangements were made to acquire St. George’s old organ, which St. George’s donated to the parish. Marjorie Harrison Proctor served as organist and choir director.
In 1987, Fr. Rice received a call from Holy Trinity Church in Huntington, W.V. The Rev. John R. Kuenneth, a member of the diocesan staff, served as St. David’s interim priest.
In the Spring of 1988, St. David’s called the Rev. Eric S. Greenwood, Jr. Father Rick grew up in Memphis where his father was Rector of the Church of the Holy Communion.
During Father Rick’s teenage years, Fr. Dan Matthews had been the Assistant to the Rector at this parish. By the time Eric, Sr. was called to Christ Church in Nashville in 1971, his son was in seminary in New York. In 1973-4, Fr. Rick served as deacon at St. John’s, Knoxville, where Fr. Dan Matthews was then rector.
In 1989, the Rt. Rev Barbara C. Harris becomes the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion.
In 1991 to aid in the work of our active parish, the Rev. Sherrill Lee Page became Assistant to the Rector. Donna Robert was Coordinator of Lay Ministries. In the same year, the Rt. Rev. George Reynolds, Ninth Bishop of Tennessee, dies.
In June 1993, the Rt. Rev. Bertram Nelson Herlong consecrated as Tenth Bishop of Tennessee. A month later, Sherrill Page received a call to the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rocky Mount, N.C. St. David’s celebrated its 30th anniversary with a parish-wide dinner celebration.
Marjorie Proctor resigned as Organist/Choirmaster in 1994. Donald E. Cornelius replaced her in early 1995.
The fall of 1996 marked the beginning of Sunday morning parish breakfasts, and there was a revival of Foyer groups.
In 1997, St. David’s began its first Education for Ministry (EFM) Class. Father Rick was the mentor. A St. David’s website was also created, and we entered age of cyberspace and e-mail communication.
In 1998, the Diocese of Tennessee became a companion of the Diocese of Litoral in Ecuador. Parishioner Judy Grace used her knowledge of Spanish to begin what would become a major thrust of ministry for St. David’s. She also served the diocese as interpreter, and led numerous mission trips to both Ecuador and Honduras. She furthered our ministry by reaching out to the growing Hispanic population in Nashville.
St. David’s turned 35 in 1998.
In 2000, the Rev. Ann Boult Walling joined the staff. Ann was ordained to the priesthood at St. David’s in October of that year, becoming Assistant to the Rector. Ann’s many gifts and talents to our parish included directing Christian Formation and mentoring Education for Ministry classes. Her beautiful farm in Williamson County hosted various church activities including picnics and Vestry retreats.
A capital fund drive called “Securing Our Future” was held in 2001. Plans included updating the physical plant to meet current codes, improve the Christian Education classrooms, nursery, and worship area, modernize bathrooms, and the addition of an elevator.
A plan for a long-desired columbarium was also considered in 2001. Ultimately, the columbarium was cleverly achieved by adding it to the exterior of the tower encasing the new elevator. In the Fall of 2003, all was completed. We celebrated the completion of this project, St. David’s 40th anniversary, and Fr. Rick’s 30th anniversary of his ordination.
On June 27, 2004, the 175th anniversary of the Diocese of Tennessee was celebrated.
In 2006, The Episcopal Church made history with the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the 26th Presiding Bishop. Bishop Katharine was first woman elected to this office.
The Rt. Rev. Bertram Nelson Herlong retired in 2006.
In January, 2007, after a long search process, the Rt. Rev. John Crawford Bauerschmidt was consecrated the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee.
During 2008, Fr. Greenwood took a sabbatical leave.
The Rev. Ann Walling (at left) retired in 2008 from active ministry, but went forward to lead St. David’s into a relationship with Mekong Blue, a Cambodian venture that assisted women in redirecting their lives with job training in the production and sale of silk products. St. David’s served as a fulfillment center through January of 2009.
The Rev. Molly Dale Smith joined the staff in 2009 as Priest Associate, and in addition to preaching, teaching adult classes, and pastoral care, she led the Monday Morning Bible Study.
In 2010, St. David’s had its largest budget ever and was able to tackle some repair and renovation projects. Among those achieved were new insulation over the nave, redecoration of the Henderson Room off the narthex, refinishing several doors and other areas, a new door and awning at the office entrance, playground renewal, and resurfacing the driveway and parking areas.
The next year, the church purchased an Automated Electronic Defibrillator and held training classes for its use. A campaign was also initiated to raise funds needed for extensive repairs and upgrades to the organ, with an eye for completion by the First Sunday in Advent.
St. David’s celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013.
In the fall of 2014, the Rev. Eric S. Greenwood, Jr., announced his retirement after more than 26 years at St. David’s.
During 2015 and 2016 the parish embarked on a journey to develop a parish profile, a mission statement, and to determine the next chapter of the parish. The Search Committee used this information to begin the search for the next rector and ended the search by recommending several candidates to the Vestry. The Vestry offered a call to the Rev. Carolyn Coleman who accepted St. David’s call and was installed as rector on November 5, 2016.