Vance Society

The James I. Vance Society was formed to recognize and honor the generosity of those in our church family who have included First Presbyterian Church in their planned giving program. By their example, society members are a visible leadership group in the ongoing effort to increase our endowment funds. There is no minimum dollar participation level required for membership. However it is hoped that members will see fit to participate in an amount of $10,000 or more. Once you have included the church in your planned giving, the only requirement for Vance Society membership is completion of the Vance Society Enrollment Form.

Who was James I. Vance?

James Isaac Vance came to Nashville in 1895 when he was 32 years old and First Presbyterian Church was his fourth pastorate. At that time our church was the largest Presbyterian church in the PCUS, or the “southern” church. He served seven years, then left for a church in New Jersey, but returned after ten years away and stayed until his death. Within three years of his arrival the second time, the executive committee of the Board of Foreign Missions moved to Nashville. The PCUS had missionaries in China, Belgian Congo, South Africa and the New Hebrides. He became the executive secretary of the Board and later built its offices into the second floor of a new Sunday school building when it was added to the church in 1919.

Since 1887, before he came to the “First” church, Vance had been active in the Young YMCA movement; this work he was to continue all his life. It would take him all over this country and during World War I, overseas, and along with his consuming interest in foreign missions would quickly make him known nationwide and worldwide.

In the early twenties he led in inviting the evangelists Gipsey Smith and Billy Sunday to come to Nashville to preach at the Ryman Auditorium. Their preaching drew enormous crowds from all the Protestant denominations of the city. In 1925 he began preaching in his own evangelistic meetings using the nearby Princess Theatre every Sunday night. These very popular services he did alone for three years, but was afterwards helped by ministers from the Baptist and Methodist downtown churches. These Princess Theatre services were broadcast over WSM, the new clear channel station of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company on a wavelength of 282.8 meters, the first in the south. So James I. Vance, now at the height of his career, became even better known and appreciated over air waves throughout the South and Eastern seaboard.

Vance wrote and published twenty-one books. One book, Being a Preacher, was required reading in many Protestant seminaries and in it he says, “The preacher, in the right sense of the word, should be a man of the time. He is a community builder and while his work is definitely spiritual, he has contact with groups whose lives cross and parallel his and whose goal is to secure conditions of human welfare which come as by-products of the Gospel. He should be a sympathetic friend to all who labor to build a better time. He must join with these and make his contribution to the common good. He does not cease to be a preacher because he lends a hand to social reform and civic righteousness and industrial fair play. He has not betrayed his pulpit nor surrendered his message because he has taken his place among those who are the foes of injustice and the friends of the weak. He is merely showing that he has a Gospel which not only talks, but works.”

© 2024 First Presbyterian Church | 4815 Franklin Pike, Nashville, TN 37220 | (615) 383-1815
Website By Worship Times