Christ Presbyterian Church met for the first time on January 4, 1981 under the leadership of its Founding Pastor, Dr. Cortez Cooper. On the first Sunday of January, 1981, more than1,000 people gathered to form the new church at Hillsboro High School.
The church called Cortez Cooper as Senior Pastor and Scotty Smith as Assistant Pastor. There were several decisions to make: Would we be an independent church or would we align with a particular tradition or network? Would we purchase a facility or continue meeting in rented space? Would we sponsor a Christian school? What were our responsibilities to the urban poor?
The first major decision was to join the Presbyterian Church in America, a new and growing denomination, in the spring of 1981. The second decision was to purchase land and build a permanent facility. We were a mobile congregation in those days – setting up and taking down “church” every week. We turned the High School library into the nursery, taught in classrooms and labs, and met for worship in the auditorium.
When 49 acres of land became available at 2323 Old Hickory Boulevard, we purchased the property for $450,000. The first service in our new facility was on May 13,1984.
Soon after moving into the new facility, two other significant ministries were formed. Christ Presbyterian Academy opened its doors in September 1985. In the same year, Salama Urban Ministry was founded, ministering in various ways in the Edgehill Community of Nashville. Both have steadily increased in their impact since their inception.
Dr. Cooper left Christ Presbyterian in the Spring of 1985. Our next Senior Pastor was Dr. Peter Doyle, also a writer of books for adults and children. Dr. Doyle is best known as a deep thinker, a theologian, and a teacher.
In June of 1988, Charles and Alice McGowan were called to Christ Presbyterian. Under Charles’ leadership, we were able to establish a strong identity and vision for the future. Also during 1988, a decision was made to expand Christ Presbyterian Academy to a K-12 school.
In 2004, Christ Presbyterian called Dr. Ray Ortlund as Senior Pastor. Dr. Ortlund, now the Founding and Senior Pastor of Immanuel Church, an Acts 29 congregation in Nashville, is highly regarded as a Biblical scholar, theologian, prolific writer and teacher. Ray served us as Senior Pastor until February 2007. In July of 2007, Dr. Wilson Benton came out of retirement to become our interim Senior Pastor.
Scott Sauls was called to be our new Senior Pastor in January 2012 and came on staff March 2012. He most recently served as a Lead and Preaching pastor alongside Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City.