From left are Mike Eppolito; Lourdes Dunaway, organist; the Reverend Ann Markle, current rector of St. Raphael’s; and Elizabeth Fresh. On the back row, from left. are Bud Parker; Helen Parker; Victor Fresh; and the Right Reverend Charles vonRosenberg, Bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee. All of the above persons, with the exception of the clergy, were either founding or early members of the church.

St. Raphael's Episcopal Church was started in 1978 as a mission of St. Matthews, Cookeville. The church has been worshiping for the past 25 years in its present location at 1038 Sparta Hwy., Crossville. The first five years were marked with a number of moves. The organizational meeting was held in the home of Earl and Joyce Collom in the Homesteads. Earl Collom and Dr. J. Howell Peebles served as the first lay readers. Early services were held in the Masonic Temple, an upstairs room of the Laverne Building and in a converted residence at 208 Penfield (Genesis Rd.). It was at the Penfield location that the church’s name was changed to St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Paul Wanter was called as vicar of the church on Oct. 27, 1985. He served in this capacity until February 1995, when the church was elevated from a mission to a full parish status. At this time he was appointed rector of the church. During his tenure of 16 years, the church grew and prospered under his leadership. He left in 2001 to take another parish. The current rector, the Reverend Ann Markle, was appointed to St. Raphael’s on Feb. 1, 2003.

Since the church was first formed, it has been engaged in supporting many community groups. Among these is the Good Samaritans. St. Raphael’s had started an emergency food pantry on church premises. It was operated in conjunction with the Cumberland County Ministerial Association. The pantry was staffed by members of the church. It became such an active ministry that its operation was turned over to the Good Samaritans. A Bosnian refugee family, consisting of a mother and two sons, was sponsored by the church. This included providing housing, furniture and clothing.

A major current endeavor is the church-sponsored Cumberland Adult Reading Council. It is an organization dedicated to improving the reading skills of adults. Church members and other persons from the area serve as tutors. Victor and Elizabeth Fresh have spent many hours with Spanish-speaking students in teaching them English. The church now offers a computer lab on its premises to facilitate the learning process of enrollees. No fees are charged to participants.

St. Raphael’s welcomes all to come and worship with us. We are a small but friendly group. For further information, call 484-2407.

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