If you take a walk down Franklin’s heavily visited Main St, you’ll quickly recognize why such charm and beauty rewards the town with annual recognition and accolades. But what if some of the beauty of Franklin was sight unseen? What if the friendliness of the town had a deeper spiritual backing from previous generations that prayed for Franklin? These are the questions that local native Laura Beth Peters began to ask in 2013 when she first had the idea to launch a spiritual heritage tour with an emphasis on praying for Franklin.
“I saw the droves of people coming to visit and thought to myself, ‘if we only have 48 hours with someone in our town, wouldn’t we want to showcase the immense amount of spiritual history we have here rather than just let them aimlessly walk the streets of our quaint city?’” said Peters.
The short-term Franklin resident and civil war chaplain, E.M. Bounds, alone provides enough content from the years he spent here to create a whole tour. Bounds served as Franklin’s First United Methodist pastor from 1865-67, but he originally came here from Missouri under John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee. Bounds is most known for his books on prayer including Power through Prayer, Prayer and Praying Men, The Essentials of Prayer, and The Possibilities of Prayer. It’s said that E.M. Bounds stood only 5 feet tall, but shouted encouragement during the Battle of Franklin. His heart for Franklin grew and after the battle he had himself assigned to pastor the Methodist church plus he took it upon himself to spearhead the effort to properly bury the 1500 soldiers whose souls he had once tended.
The brand new Franklin Prayer Walking Tour is a free tour covering the revivals that have occurred here, the integrated prayer meetings that happened (and are still happening) on the town square, and the various people groups that have had spiritual impact on Franklin. The self-guided tour is a walkable 1-mile loop with 6 stops and begins and ends at the Franklin Prayer House (236 2nd Ave S.) To access the tour, visit https://franklinprayerhouse.com/prayer-walk/ where you’ll find a map and audio clips for each stop with history and ways to pray.
“This is a great time of year to get outside and go for a walk. The beauty of this tour is that you can do it on your own, with a friend or with your whole family. It’s totally customizable as to how much time you want to spend on it and I would encourage any person of faith to take a listen to the rich spiritual history that has lived here,” said Peters.
Franklin Prayer House executive director Ryan Hall said, “I’m excited for people to learn about all facets of the history of Franklin, including the prayer movement and revivals. We think the walking tour is the perfect way to introduce people to our fine city.”