By 1810, early settlers of various denominational backgrounds began meeting together in what is now the southwestern part of Warren County. They called themselves Christians and practiced baptism for the remission of sins; and patterned their worship on what they could read in the New Testament. They became known as the Old Philadelphia church. This independent Restoration Movement was not originally associated with the Campbell-Stone effort, but later they discovered they were following the same aim of “Speaking where the Bible speaks, and being silent where the Bible is silent.”
In 1835, some Old Philadelphia disciples, including R. J. Rice, moved into what is now Coffee County, and a church was formed on Beans Creek. By the 1860s, disciples were living in Manchester, the county seat, and a congregation was formed shortly after the Civil War.
Jesse L. Sewell, one of the pioneer preachers in Middle Tennessee, had by this time moved to Warren County and settled near Viola and the Old Philadelphia Church. He preached all over Middle Tennessee and was instrumental in starting many present-day congregations. He, together with Rees Jones and his son, “Captain” Isaac N. Jones (merchant and preacher), William Davis and “Pap” Carnes are credited with initiating the work in Manchester. Brother Carnes was at one time president of the University of Tennessee. H. Leo Boles, in “Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers,” wrote of brother Carnes as follows: “We next find him in 1865, shortly after the close of the Civil War, serving as president of Manchester College, Manchester, Tennessee. He served in this capacity seven years. During his residence in Manchester, he established a church and did much evangelistic work in and around Manchester.”
Records show that by 1872 a lot on East Fort Street was purchased from Ella Rice and conveyed to S.M. Briggs and D.P. Rathborn who were deacons in the church of Christ. This property was just behind the home of “Captain” Jones, who resided on the spot now occupied by the old historical United States Post Office. A building was constructed sometime later, and in 1925 additional space and new classrooms were needed and added. In 1950, the building was again expanded. By the late 1950s this building was inadequate, and rooms over the old Henley’s Department Store were used for additional classes. By 1961, the 201 East Main Street property had been purchased and the present building erected, with an auditorium with a seating capacity of 500, and an educational building of 24 rooms. In 1974, an additional wing was built, which added 15 more rooms: including classrooms, library, workroom, and a fellowship hall accommodating 400, as well as a small chapel.