Central United Methodist Church was formed in 1925 when the congregations of Broad Street Church and Centenary Church decided to merge. Broad Street Church was organized in 1870. The Broad Street building was damaged by fire in 1924, and the congregation met in other locations until late that year while repairs were being made. Centenary Church was founded in 1883 and located within a mile of the Broad Street Church. Central Methodist Episcopal Church, South, as it was then known, met in the Centenary Building at the corner of Broad and Silver while a new building was constructed.

On March 20, 1927, the first service was held in the new building, located at the center of Knoxville's residential population. There were almost 2000 members who filled the sanctuary for three services that day. Located in the population center of the city, the new building was hailed for its classic beauty, acoustics, and facilities. The church building included a gymnasium, handball courts, showers, and places for scout troops and other community organizations to meet. Click here to visit the Archives Room and see old news papers and photos. The church members' loss of jobs and income in the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing "Great Depression" threatened the financial survival of the new church. The members pulled together and made personal sacrifices to overcome the financial crisis. The building was dedicated in 1945 as the debt was finally retired.

In the past years, the neighborhoods around the church building suffered from interstate construction, neglect, and the migration of families to the developing suburbs. Many of Central's families continued to worship here, even if they lived further away. Revitalization is bringing new life to inner city neighborhood, but the community needs are still here. Twenty-one senior pastors have served at Central during this time. Click here to see a list of our past and present Senior Pastors.

The church building is used regularly by community organizations, and Central's members are active in urban ministries. On November 5, 2005, the church building was recognized as worthy of preservation and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Listing in the National Register honors a historic place by recognizing its importance to its community, state or the nation.

The church's history was detailed in A History of Central United Methodist Church, written by Ottalee Smith Winegar in 1984. This volume, other church records, historical items, and memorabilia can be found in the archives room.

The Central UMC building was designed to accommodate a large pipe organ. Once the building was finished, the church began to look for an organ. A grand piano was used in the meantime. Due the financial difficulties of the young church, the first organ was not obtained until 1935. When the Riviera Theater removed its Wurlitzer pipe organ, a church member had it repaired and installed in the sanctuary.

The current pipe organ at Central UMC was installed in 1958 by the M.P. Möller Company, their Opus 9089. The instrument reflects organ building practices of this era, particularly the practices of M.P. Möller. The Möller installation was completed very professionally, thus providing the congregation almost 50 years of dependable service.

The organ consists of three manuals, 35 stops and 42 ranks spread over five divisions: Great, Swell, Choir, Pedal, and Antiphonal. The organ is ideally placed for speaking into the large sanctuary, with the main organ speaking directly into the nave. The antiphonal organ speaks to the rear window and could be considered more of an echo organ. The swell, choir and antiphonal divisions are enclosed meaning the volume of these divisions is controlled by shutters opening and closing.