Standing on a hill, about three miles east of Downtown Knoxville, I experienced a sense of timelessness. This particular hill enjoys a dramatic beauty. It sits on the northwest side of the Forks of the River—where the Holston and French Broad rivers form the Tennessee. From it, you can see farmland and forest cut by the Tennessee River and above them all, the skyline of Knoxville. This hill was part of a federal land grant given to George McNutt, one of Tennessee’s earliest frontier settlers and a founder of Knoxville. Parcels of the original grant have stayed in the family to this day.
One of George’s descendants was known for never wasting a thing. When a storm downed a tree, he would take it to the local mill and have it cut into lumber. These boards were then stacked in a shed on the property. Whenever he had need, there was always an ample supply of oak, cherry, and walnut. After his passing, this collection of lumber stayed in the family and it was anonymously offered to Apostles Anglican Church for creating a new altar.
Our old altar was from Mars Hill Baptist Church, the church that built our current building and used it until 2006. In 2013, an anonymous volunteer wanted to make a new altar for Apostles. They were looking for an altar that carries a sense of weight, artistry, and ownership that came with making this building our own.
They worked with others to find a design and draft plans. They picked out walnut boards cut from trees on George McNutt’s old settlement and used them to build our new altar. The anonymous woodworker delivered the altar to Apostles just before Easter 2016 and it will be consecrated, along with the high altar above the columbarium, on June 12, 2016 by Bishop Frank Lyons.
Looking at the new altar, I get the same feeling as on that hillside once belonging to George McNutt—a sense of timelessness and beauty. Standing there, I couldn’t help but think of the generations who’ve come before me; of the people who’ve come and gone; and of the land that remains. When we worship, we too are in a timeless and beautiful place. We are joining with the saints who’ve come before us to worship the God who is and was and is to come.
by Stephen Nelson