The Situation in Tennessee, The Apostolic Way, March 1, 1929

The work done in Tennessee in years that have passed and gone, by such men as Harding, Lipscomb, Shrigley [sic, should be Srygley], Sewell and others make one who was well acquainted with their work and who now realize the deceptions, false doctrines, misrepresentations, and untruths that are being handed to the people under the guise of religious tolerance, and devotion; I say, it makes such a one feel sad, sad indeed. [There are several grammatical errors in this article.  I have not called attention to them, MI].

These apologists are so afraid of their position that no amount of persuasion will lead them into a written discussion.  They will refer to those opposing the Sunday school with sneers, as brother James A. Allen did in Gospel Advocate under date of January 24, 1929.  Brother Allen is a splendid writer.  He writes many good things, with which we agree.  But so far, has not intimated that he would, under any consideration, discuss the Sunday school question.  Why?  Oh, of course, he may have a “holier than thou” feeling, or “I am too big to fool with you,” but such is unbecoming to Christian.  The brotherhood at large have heard of this issue.  If he and other writers of the Gospel Advocate did not feel the pressure of our opposition to the Sunday school, they would not occasionally mention it.  But the very fact that they mention us and our opposition in a sneering manner shows that they are feeling the pressure, but haven’t the courage to let us be heard in their own columns.  All right, Brother Allen.  You are a great writer.  If you will not let us tell your readers that the Sunday school is wrong, maybe you will tell our readers it is right, and publish just one side like Firm Foundation did with the Early Arceneaux articles, but all right, do so if you will, but we will give both sides; we will let our folks read what you say and then read our reply.  Will you do that much, Brother Allen?

Brother J. P. Watson of Cookeville, Tennessee, a good man, a clean man, an able preacher, has been making desperate efforts under great handicaps of bad health and lack of support to call the churches back to the primitive Christianity, and he has been misrepresented, abused, until many brethren in Tennessee who have never heard him and know nothing of the position he advocates, would hesitate to have him in their community.

Incidentally, we will mention that a few very poor brethren in his community are endeavoring to build a house of worship.  They haven’t the means with which to build.  Some of our readers may have a letter from them asking for help.  I wish these brethren would have sufficient support and assistance as to enable them to get behind Brother Watson and support him for two years without a stop to preach in school houses, on the streets, anywhere that he could get a hearing in the state of Tennessee.  Such an effort on his part would arouse that state more than any other one thing that seems possible of accomplishment just now.–R. F. D.


R. F. D. [R. F. Duckworth], “The Situation in Tennessee” The Apostolic Way, March 1, 1929, p. 4.


I am unsure whether the little band of “poor brethren” in the community of, in or near Cookeville, Tennessee ever got their building off the ground.  In the 2009 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States, there is one NC (Non-class or Non-Sunday school) congregation in Cookeville and it was established in 1984.  Perhaps some reader from Cookeville can provide additional information.

In Nashville, in James A. Allen’s community, the Westlawn Court Church of Christ was established in 1941.  It appears to be the oldest NC congregation in town.  Westlawn Court is in west Nashville, not far from what used to be the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ (and as things look now…the soon-to-be parking lot that used to be the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ…).  Other NC congregations in Nashville are the Fox Glove Drive (est. 1950’s? and now defunct) congregation which was near the old Harding Mall area and the Southside congregation (est. 1971) on Bell Road in Antioch.   Before Mac Lynn began, in the early 1980’s, using a system of letters to code the churches it is quite difficult to determine whether a congregation is “mainstream”, “non-institutional”, “mutual edification”, “one-cup” etc.  It may be that in 1929 one or more of the Churches of Christ in Nashville was of the “Non-Sunday School orbit.”  But I don’t yet know what congregation/s.  So, if Allen was feeling any pressure locally, I am unsure where it was coming from.  It may be that Westlawn Court Church was formed as a “Non-Sunday School” congregation, or it may have evolved sometime between 1941 and the 1980’s into an NC church, or maybe something else?  I can’t say yet.  It may be that J. P. Watson preaches in Nashville.  If anyone has heard of J. P. Watson, I would be very grateful to learn what you know.  Please comment or email me at:

icekm (at) aol (dot) com

11 thoughts on “The Situation in Tennessee, The Apostolic Way, March 1, 1929

  1. See first

    A Written Discussion On The Sunday School
    Class Question Between J P Watson and
    O H Tallman (Cookeville, Tenn.: J P Watson,
    [1931]) 148p.

    At the end of this work we can see several pages of excerpts from “Letters of Commendation” for JPW and a response from JPW himself, wherein we learn that his “home congregation” is McBroom Chapel in Cookeville. The book is available in the libraries of Christian Theological Seminary, Lipscomb University, and Harding Graduate School of Religion.

    JPW shows up in the 1922 and 1931 “Preachers List,” but i do not see him from 1943 onward.

    God’s Peace to you.


    God’s Peace to you

    • Just was wondering if “eirenetheou” was related in some way to James Peter Watson? I do have a copy of this pamphlet you spoke of. I am his great grand daughter. Thank you for sharing.

      • Thank you for the comment Susan. I do not believe Don is kin to Watson, at least not in the flesh.

  2. I am looking for a history of the Non-Sunday School churches of Christ. First, the history of the groups in general and, second a history of the non-class movement in Georgia.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    • Thank you, Tom, for stopping by. There are some researches about the Non-Sunday School churches in print and online. I will look into it and post the results to this blog as a separate post.

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