Who We Are Today
Woodland Presbyterian Church is an open, inclusive community of faith, seeking to include everyone equally in the life of the church and its leadership, regardless of gender, ethnicity, social status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political persuasion, valuing each person’s life experience and point of view.
We welcome insights from other religions and spiritual traditions as important contributions to the ongoing development of our Christian faith.
We view the Bible as a collection of texts bearing witness to the faith of ancient Israel and the early Christian community, which are indispensable for keeping us connected to the roots of our faith but needing to be interpreted with critical awareness of their historical and cultural contexts.
We worship in a style that combines formal liturgy with informal spontaneity, with music, spoken word, and significant periods of silence, inviting full involvement by the congregation in every aspect of worship.
Woodland Presbyterian Church was organized in 1858 as Edgefield Presbyterian Church, in the community of that name across the Cumberland River from Nashville. When Edgefield became part of Nashville toward the end of the 19th century, the church was renamed for it’s location on Woodland Street. When its grand second building, completed in 1890 at Fifth and Woodland Streets, was destroyed by fire in 1916, the congregation voted to relocate “near the edge of the city” — the present location at North 11th Street and Gartland Avenue. The main part of the present building, constructed during World War I, was dedicated November 10, 1918.
Until the mid-1940’s the Woodland congregation experienced steady growth and financial stability, disturbed only slightly by the Great Depression of the 1930’s. But as urban populations all over the country began migrating to rapidly expanding suburbs after World War II, the East Nashville neighborhood began to decline, and Woodland’s membership began to decline with it. In spite of this trend, in 1952 Woodland dispatched more than a dozen of its families to help organize a new Presbyterian Church in Inglewood, which then competed with Woodland for members until it was dissolved in 1988.
In 1972, responding to continued social and economic upheaval in the community, Woodland joined other churches to form the East Nashville Cooperative Ministry, through which we continue to help people in need. In the early 1980’s the phenomenon of widespread homelessness began to have a heavy impact on the churches of East Nashville and the East Nashville Cooperative Ministry; and when Room in the Inn, a city-wide interfaith program of overnight shelter for homeless persons during the winter months was begun in 1987, Woodland Presbyterian quickly became part of that effort also.
After the “urban pioneer” movement came to East Nashville in the late 1970’s, Woodland began a series of building renovations to mark its 125th anniversary in 1983, with financial help from former members and the receipt of several significant bequests. At the same time, the church began to make unused space available to a variety of non-profit groups serving the community, including the Lockeland Springs Neighborhood Association.
The Centennial wing of the building, added in 1958, was renovated by the Martha O’Bryan Center in 1994 for their use while a new building was added at their South 7th Street location. In the spring of 1998, a tornado swept through East Nashville, seriously damaging the Woodland Church building and setting renovations back by several years. After repairs were completed 18 months later, the Centennial wing began to be used by Community IMPACT!, a non-profit organization working with inner-city high school students, and by Linden Corner School, a Waldorf education program for young children.
In July of 2003 Woodland began a commitment to share its building with The Village Church, an Afro-centric Presbyterian congregation organized in 1998 at the Martha O’Bryan Center. In return for such sharing, Village Church and the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee funded further renovation of the Woodland building for use by both congregations.
From 2008 to 2014, the Homeless Outreach staff of Park Center, a mental-health agency,used space in the Woodland building for their offices.
In 2010, a recently-organized parent’s-day-out program relocated from another church to Woodland, taking on the name El Jardin de los Ninos/ The Children’s Garden, reflecting it emphasis on Spanish language exposure. That program continues to operate at Woodland as an independently-organized and operated entity.
Woodland also provides space for several twelve-step groups and a number of nonprofit organizations.