National Society of Colonial Dames of
America in Tennessee

First Presbyterian Church - Chattanooga, Tennessee

Portrait #1502
Venable, Dr. Joseph Glass
Artist:Judd, C (or S) M.
Date Created:1939
Owner/Location:First Presbyterian Church
554 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402
Frame Dimensions:42 x 32
Image Dimensions:34 x 24 1/2
Date Documented:June 2008

Description:Subject is seated in wooden chair and wearing dark suit with white shirt and dark tie. He is facing three-quarter left, holding a Bible in his visible right hand, and his head is turned to look at the viewer. He is nearly bald, with a slight fringe of brown hair cut short over his right ear.
History of Work:
Notes:The 9th pastor of the church was the first pastor to be heard live on Chattanooga radio during a worship service. This church’s worship services are believed to be the longest continual running live worship broadcast in the United States, if not the world. During his short four year tenure as pastor, Dr. Venable oversaw the construction of the present Sunday School wings built in 1926. These wings were dedicated to Dr. Venable’s predecessor, Dr. Jonathan W. Bachman who had served the congregation over 50 years. Dr. Venable had served other pulpits before coming to Chattanooga. These include Memorial Mount Olive 1905-1907 and in a Home Mission circuit in Missouri, First Presbyterian in Moultrie, GA 1908-1911, the first pastor of Riverside Presbyterian 1912-1921 Jacksonville, FL, and First Presbyterian 1921-1924 Norfolk, VA. He had graduated from Central College, Richmond, KY with an A.B., and from Louisville Theological Seminary he was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity. He was ordained in 1905 and received a Doctor of Divinity from Davidson College in 1918. Prior to his positions in the pulpit he had been a businessman which gave him practical application.

His manner in the pulpit was described as delivering the Gospel message in a pleasant conversational voice in a practical manner and quick to the point. His sudden death at age 50 was a shock to the city and the congregation which had called him to serve as their pastor. A long-lasting appointment of Mr. Carl Scheibe as director of Christian Education and church organist insured the church’s Sunday School strength and musical witness. The new Sunday School wings were filled weekly with young and old hearing the teaching from God’s Word and enjoying the facility envisioned by a pastor so short a time in our midst. Today still the Sunday School thrives ( the church’s congregation had held the first Sunday School in the city in the 1840’s), and the music ministry is a vital part of church life, with special musical programs that include worship services open to all of Chattanooga . His vision was far – reaching, and his own family of succeeding generations continue to be a part of the life of the church, enjoying the fruit of his labor.

In the geneology of Dr. Venable is his grandfather John Cowan Venable of Kentucky who married Margaret Glass. Their son was Joseph Glass Venable (born about 1845) who married Susan McCurdy Hann. Their son was our pastor Dr. Joseph Glass Venable, named for his father, and his wife was Mary Irvine Bird, born July 17, 1882 and died January 1, 1964. Dr. Venable’s children included Joseph Glass Venable III, William Bird Venable (August1,1912 - 2004), Elizabeth Bird Venable (Farioletti), and Robert Hann Venable (born August 30,1924 and married to Mary Ruth Davies). Robert Hann Venable has served as Clerk of the Session and he, his children, and grandchildren remain active members in 2008.