When the Reverend James Otey founded Christ Church in Nashville in 1829, the renting of church pews to fund operating costs was standard practice. Yet by the time his son-in-law the Reverend Charles Tomes took over the rectorship of Christ Church in 1848, it was evident that the free galleries were often full to overflowing while rented pews remained vacant. Both the Rev. Tomes and the Rev. Otey (by then the first Bishop of Tennessee) felt that pews should be free to all. Following a motion to eliminate pew rentals that was blocked in a church vote, eight families chose to split from Christ Church, and thus, Church of the Advent was born. The Rev. Tomes accepted the call to be Advent’s rector, but died before preaching his first sermon. Dr. Charles Quintard, a physician-turned-clergyman, answered the call as Advent’s second rector beginning in 1857. The Rev. Quintard later served as the Bishop of Tennessee and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South.
Construction on Advent’s first home was delayed during the American Civil War, but a church was finally consecrated in downtown Nashville (near the Ryman Auditorium) in 1887. In 1911 Advent moved to a new church building at 17th Avenue South and Edgehill (now Ocean Way Studio). Dr. Prentice Pugh, rector from 1916 to 1955, was particularly beloved and guided fourteen men to the ordained ministry, two of whom later became bishops.
In 1973 Church of the Advent relocated to the suburb of Oak Hill, and the sanctuary was consecrated on Advent Sunday that year. A stone font from the 1858 building as well as the Celtic cross and several stained-glass windows from the 1911 church were incorporated in the current campus as handsome reminders of Advent’s rich history in Nashville.