Christian Normal Institute, January 1920

Sometimes kind serendipity kisses you on the lips.  Some of my neatest finds come while I’m looking for something else.  Here is a serendipitous find from the January 20, 1920 issue of Christian Leader.  It is a short newsy item sent in by R. B. Neal about an infant school, Christian Normal Institute, in the eastern Kentucky mountains.  Grandad went to CNI in about 1926, and his father (my great-grandfather) Dr. KC Ice taught biology there gratis.  The school was oriented towards training teachers and preachers, not necessarily in that order.  It was then, and is now, a “Christian Church” school.  That is, it was established and supported by and considered as “one of our schools” by Stone-Campbell folks who favored the use of instrumental music and missionary societies.  It appears from this notice that from the very beginning they were a good deal more conservative than the Disciples who operated schools in Lexington, Hiram or Bethany.   It is now Kentucky Christian University and remains affiliated with Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (sometimes called Independents, or 4C’s).  Interesting that Neal writes to the Leader, a moderate Cincinnati paper aligned with acapella Churches of Christ.  It would seem that the lines were not in 1920 so clearly drawn as the came to be in subsequent decades. I find the appearance of this notice in CL significant for that reason in addition to what light it sheds on the life of the school which trained my grandfather.


Our Bible school took a collection yesterday of over $300 for the building of the new church home.  The new home will cost us about $10,000 more than we counted on, owing to the high cost of lumber and labor.  We have in marble in front, “Church of Christ.” The old building had “Christian Church,” which was an eyesore to many of us.

The Christian Normal Institute for mountain boys and girls has been incorporated.  We had a fine attendance last year.  Look for much better this year.

Grayson, Ky., Jan. 5.  R. B. Neal


Is the building shown on this postcard the “new home” mentioned in this notice?  May well be.  If so, by the time the building was finished and the card issued, it was known as the Christian Church, not the Church of Christ, in Grayson, KY.

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