As whispers of a Second World War began in Europe in 1939, prayer warriors rose up within the Nelsontown community of Kingsport. As a result of a large tent revival meeting, the Cedar View Independent Methodist Church was organized and soon began a powerful prayer assault for those in battle. The War Mothers Prayer Group, which began at the onset of World War II, continues to this day.
Reba Nelson, 103, is the oldest living member of Cedar View. She said that at times during the war, people met at the church to pray all night for their young men who were in battle.
“An all- night prayer vigil was held on the eve of the D-Day Invasion. This has remained true throughout the Korean and Vietnam Wars and every conflict since,” she recalled. Amazingly, she says no one from Cedar View whose name was on the prayer list has ever been wounded or killed in service for their country.
Pastor Jim Fields, who has been Cedar View’s pastor for nearly 49 years, said his name was once on that prayer list when he was a young man in the Navy.
“This church has been blessed with some of the most dedicated and Godly women that I’ve ever seen. I would rather have those women praying for me than anybody I know,” he said. “I freely admit I’m very prejudiced when it comes to this church. They are a wonderful group of people.”
Cedar View celebrated its 80th anniversary on Oct. 13. Amazingly, they have had only two pastors in all those years. The first, W. R. Dillon, mentored Pastor Fields as he grew up in the church. “He had a big impact on me, and I was converted under him in a revival that he had,” Fields confirmed.
Pastor Fields said that he began memorizing scripture when he was only 2 years old. “I was blessed with an eidetic memory; a recall of facts. Pastor Dillon found out about that and by the time I was 4, I was on his radio broadcast reciting whole passages of scripture,” Fields explained.
Not only does Pastor Fields enjoy memorizing scripture, he loves teaching it. He has served as an adjunct professor of Theology, Church History and Bible. He and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, who passed away last year, were co-founders of Cedar View Christian School in 1971. The school, which started with just nine students, now enrolls 230 students.
Janice Ferguson of Kingsport has attended the church since she was 12 years old.
“We had a great youth group and I think that kept me on track when I was a teenager,” she recalled. She and three other friends that grew up in the church have remained close after all these years. Most are now in their 80s, and Janice said the fellowship with the youth group is what bonded them together. She and her husband, Doug, were married in the church and their son, Mark, now leads the singing and teaches Sunday school. “It means a lot to have such good memories,” she said.
Janice spoke highly of Pastor Fields and his dedication to the congregation. “He is always there for you. He has always taught and preached the Word. I really appreciate that,” she said.
Cedar View has been very involved in foreign missions throughout its history. Pastor Fields has made 17 trips to the mission field; organizing churches and ordaining ministers. The church has been involved in missions in many South American countries, Jamaica and Malawi, Africa.
“Our mission is unique in the fact that we believe the best way to serve on the mission field is to train the indigenous people, because they understand their culture,” he explained.
When asked how he would like Cedar View to be known 80 years from now, Pastor Fields replied, “I hope the church stays where it’s been for 80 years — with the same doctrinal truths; same foundations; same following of the charge that Paul gave to Timothy: to preach the word of God in season and out of season.”
“I’m standing on the shoulders of those who founded this place; whoever follows me will be standing on mine,” he said. “I hope I’ve left some strong shoulders for them to stand on.”
Eighty years later, Cedar View Independent Methodist Church continues to be front-line prayer warriors, dedicated mission workers, and teachers of the Word of God. Whether during times of war or peace, Pastor Fields calls the charge to spiritual battle.
“We must not forget the fact that we really are in a spiritual struggle. This church has always stood for truth. Pray to God that it always will!” he said.