It was my pleasure to speak yesterday at Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville for their Homecoming Sunday. Lindsley Avenue is the oldest Church of Christ in Nashville, having grown from the preaching of David Lipscomb in South Nashville (as early as 1855). By 1877 they purchased a lot at the corner of Third Avenue South (then known as College Street) and Ash Street. A decade later they completed a brick building (which is no longer standing) and under the preaching of T. B. Larimore the congregation was set in order. That was November 1887, so this years’ homecoming marks their 120th Anniversary. From what I can gather they can legitimately claim to go back to the 1850’s although they existed for years as a “mission” church. It seems that they did not have elders and deacons and may not have met every week to observe the Lord’s Supper and carry out a program of ministry until Larimore’s meeting gave them a real boost in 1887. Although not set in order, they did have an active Sunday School (which was quite large) even though they conducted in rented quarters until the building was completed.
It was this congregation that David Lipscomb served as elder from 1887 until his death thirty years later, in November 1917. This church piques my interest becuase it is one thing to read what Uncle Dave writes each week in the Advocate; this church’s story shows what life is like in a congregation, week in and week out, under Lipscomb’s pastoral care. I’m not suggesting there is a disconnect between what he writes and what he practices; I suggesting that this church provides a wider frame of reference for understanding Lipscomb that simply the pages of the Advocate. At any rate, having outgrown their building, they purchased the Presbyterian meetinghouse at Second and Lindsley Avenues in 1920. At that time the Carroll Street Christian Church (which had swarmed from South College Street) returned and the two congregations took the name Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ. The building is an eclectic Romanesque example of 1890’s church architecture, originally constructed for the Grace Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1894. The older photo to your right is from 1896, when the Grace Church and her pastor were featured in the Centennial Album of Nashville (the same Centennial which gave us, among other things, Centennial Park and the Parthenon).
I’ll have more to say about this congregation, the building, and the area of town (not to mention the ministry Uncle Dave pastored) in future posts. Needless to say, I have a new research interest. Tomorrow I’ll try to post additional photos of the interior of the building I took yesterday. I’ll also post my sermon.