Recent Pastors of the First Presbyterian Church
By WESLEY RIGGINS
From the time the Rev. Charles Boonstra was installed as pastor on March 6, 1977, he was popular in both the church and the community. Chuck, as he is know to many, started his ministry in 1945 after graduation for Western Theological Seminary. His stint in Huntsville came after pastoring churches in Michigan, New York, and Florida.
Rev. Boonstra is credited with revitalizing programs in the church. Attendance increased as new members were attracted. Rev. Boonstra added his personal touch to the manse built in 1950 by way of antiques, art, plants, and bird houses. He has lived in the manse (now relocated south of the church building) since he came to Huntsville.
Upon reaching the mandatory retirement age, Rev. Boonstra was honorably retired by the Presbytery. He has made his home in Huntsville and often attends church services on Sundays. He still retains enthusiasm for his personal Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Thomas M. L. Wade and his wife Betsy, along with adult daughter Pam Kenner and her son, came to First Presbvterian Church of Huntsville, Tennessee, from the First Presbyterian Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1989. They had just completed the, construction of a new church building there,
They brought a number of strong points, including: recent major fund raising for a new building; supervision of funding and construction approval from their presbytery and other agencies; working with Church Building Associates, the scheduled master planning and construction agency for the new building in Huntsville; an ability to work well with children and young people; a wealth of public relations and communication by way of the media, especially distribution of secular and church music. Rev. Wade had a wealth of contacts dating from his college time at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. He was on Presbytery and Synod committees and chartered organizations devoted to these endeavors.
Betsy Wade was a small dynamo who introduced the Chrismon ornaments to decorate the church Christmas tree. She could be found working alongside others to reclaim items from the old sanctuary as it was being prepared for demolition. Daughter Pam Kenner also quickly was drafted into church work both as a young people's Sunday School teacher and as recording secretary for the Session.
Rev. Wade was thrust into the position of leadership in the Kiwanis Club, the Scott County Fair, and helped organize the Scott County Emergency Food Assistance organization.
He introduced fund raising by having a volunteer operated tent on the Huntsville mall during the Fireman's Fourth festival. The specialty was Elephant Ears, a funnel cake-like deep fried pastry akin to beignets of New Orleans. The pastries come from commercial food service companies and are stretched before cooking to resemble an elephant's ears. The booth also had hand dipped or even home made ice cream at times. Coffee and soft drinks were also allowed at vendor spaces at that time.
There was a lot of fellowship and bonding at these events. The object was raising money for the building fund as well as promoting the First Presbyterian Church to the thousands who attended the Fireman's Fourth. Usually the busiest time was, as now, right before the fireworks display.
Soon after Rev. Wade's arrival, construction of the present church building began with the demolition of the brick structure erected in the 1940s. As pastor he was instrumental in the process of construction, bringing much experience to a complex task. By the end of 1990 the new building was ready for occupancy. Some finishing touches, such as the stained glass windows, took months more to complete, but the church worshipped in the new sanctuary in Advent, December, 1990.
In 1994 Rev. Wade resigned to accept the pastorate of the Erwin Presbyterian Church. He stayed there until his retirement. While in Erwin he and his congregation introduced the Old Christmas celebration in Erwin. It featured story telling, singing, and tapes of the stories and songs of old. This became quite a well known event and was repeated at other venues after the Wades had moved back to Owensboro upon retirement, where they now live.
Rev. Charles "Chuck Boonstra
Rev. Thomas M. L. Wade
Rev. Martha Anne Fairchild
In late 1994 the church voted to call its first woman pastor, the Rev. Martha Anne Fairchild. Born and raised in North Carolina, Rev. Fairchild had worked in law enforcement prior to attending seminary at Duke University. She was ordained in 1990 to serve yoked churches in Vermont, Topsham United Presbyterian Church and East Corinth Congregational Church. She was installed as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Huntsville on April 2, 1995, her birthday. Rev. Fairchild's grandmother, Lucile Palmer McMichael, was the first woman elder in the Synod of North Carolina in the former Presbyterian Church in the United States. This is interesting in that this church also had the first woman elder in the Presbytery of St. Andrews, Mrs. Orlena F. Foster, ordained to that office in 1931.
Rev. Fairchild brought strengths to the children's ministry and became an advocate for women in the Presbytery of East Tennessee. She serves on several boards seeking to reduce child abuse and mortality, as well as on the advisory committee for the Pastoral Care Department at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. In her work with this congregation she has struck a workable mix in her pastor and moderator roles with the Session and is well-known in the community for her preaching, especially her children's sermons, as shown on local cable access television.
FNB Chronicle, Vol. 18, No. 4 – Summer 2007
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P.O. Box 4699
Oneida, TN 37841
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