Jackson First is located in historical downtown Jackson, KY. Its physical location is 1022 College Avenue, though this is not its first location. The history of the church dates back to 1834, when an itinerant Methodist minister named Reuben Landrum began the first Methodist ministry in Jackson. Ministry continued in the area, but little is known about it until the Rev. John J. Dickey’s ministry in 1883. Rev. Dickey had a great interest in the education of the mountain youth, and it was through his efforts that the Jackson Academy, a Methodist school, was established and grew through the years to become what we now know as Lees College.
The first established church came under the leadership of Rev. B. E. Lancaster where the Old Methodist Episcopal Church South was built in 1893 on Court Street and the church was actually chartered at that time. This church was caught up in the downtown fire of 1918; only the organ and some pews were salvaged from the fire. The present building was begun in 1922 on College Avenue under the leadership of Rev. W. S. Vanderpool and completed under the leadership of Rev. Griffy. Twenty-seven pastors have served the Jackson church since the days of Rev. Griffy including Rev. Tammy Smith who now serves as pastor there.
The Jackson First church has made its mission to work and serve the children and young people of the area and continues with that mission. The Tommy’s Place youth center came from the church’s mission focus, and God continues to bless this particular ministry that is under the direction of Mary D. Smith, the Conference Church and Community Worker.
In recent years the church has joined forces with its neighboring churches in celebrating several events such as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. In the last two years, Jackson First has shared a joint service with Guerrant Presbyterian Church on the Sunday before Christmas. One year the service is held at the United Methodist church and then it is held at the Presbyterian Church. This has been well received and attended by both churches.
During Holy Week of this year, Jackson First, along with the Presbyterian and Christian churches in town, hosted a Passover Service in which Rabbi David Liebe, a Messianic Jew, led the congregations in the thre- hour event, which included dinner.
Jackson First has had its times of being slow in physical growth, but we are now showing signs of new growth not only in numbers but also in spiritual growth. The church is now involved in the Natural Church Development (NCD), and we are excited about God’s possibilities and where God will be leading us next.
Rev. Tammy Smith, pastor, Jackson First UMC