Clinton First Wesleyan Church has a unique and rich history. Founded in the early 1920′s by a lady named Kennie Dawn Adams, CFW became the first Pilgrim Holiness church in the entire state of Tennessee.
“Kennie Dawn” was a fiery lady who had a passion for lost. While praying one day, God showed her that He wanted her to go to a town in Tennessee to plant a church. When she asked where, God replied, “Clinton.” She had never heard of the town before! In faith, Kennie Dawn packed her bags, gathered her family, and headed to the train station. One year after her arrival, she began holding services in her two-room apartment. But soon it became clear that, if the young group were to survive, they must move elsewhere. In 1926, the small congregation bought a piece of property in North Clinton. CFW had begun.
The church’s beginnings were humble. The first church was heated by a pot bellied stove, had only an organ for music, and was adorned with homemade benches that had been cobbled together by a local member. The seats didn’t even have back-rests. But what was lacking in material was made up for in spirit. Soon the small congregation had grown to almost 80 in attendance and new members were joining each year!
By 1931, the church board had decided that a new location should be selected. The pastor’s salary was only $10/week. Finances made the obstacle of locating and building a new church seem insurmountable. But the congregation pressed on. By 1943, the church had managed to purchase a lot on Fowler Street, one block from the original church. They sold the first church in faith for $1,000 and began meeting in tents on the new site later that month.
World War II was now in full swing and building supplies were short. But God continued to bless the zealous congregation. The new sanctuary was completed in 1944 and finances began to increase allowing the church to raise the pastor’s salary to $35/week. The 1950′s saw the construction of the present-day parsonage and paved the way for the future of the church.
In 1961, a young pastor from Indiana by the name of Samuel Condon and his wife, Pauline, assumed the pastorate at CFW. For the next 38 years, they faithfully poured themselves into the church. Under “Brother Condon’s” leadership, the Fellowship Hall was constructed, parking lot paved, new properties acquired, and many improvements made to the church including HVAC, carpets, lighting, and the addition of the church porch. In 1999, Brother and Sister Condon retired and another young pastor by the name of Troy Keaton moved his family to Clinton to lead the church.
Pastor Troy’s ministry was blessed by God and under his guidance the church began to grow. New members were added each year and giving increased. Under his vision, many major improvements were made to the church facilities including a major overhaul of the sanctuary and a remodeling of the church basement. Many of the members today remember Troy’s days with fondness.
We celebrate our past at CFW. Our history has been marked by the presence of God. And by His grace, so will our future!