South Harpeth Church of Christ, Davidson County, Tennessee

Gordon H. Turner’s article from the 21 May 1950 Nashville Tennessean, page 9 B:


More extensive research and data collection since 1950 reveal that South Harpeth is not the second oldest congregation among Churches of Christ, although it is among the oldest. Excluding Christian Churches and Disciples (among which there are several equally old congregations) the 2009 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States has these congregations older than South Harpeth:

Parksville Christian Church, Parksville, KY, 1796
Pleasant Hill Church of Christ, Edmonton, KY, 1800c
Dry Fork Church of Christ, Glasgow, KY, 1800c
Milburn Church of Christ, Milburn, KY, 1800c
56th Street Church of Christ, Philadelphia, PA, 1800c
Kelton Church of Christ, West Grove, PA, 1800c
Corders Crossroads Church of Christ, Kelso, TN, 1800c
Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ, Pleasant Ridge, TN, 1800c
Rhome Church of Christ, Rhome, TX, 1800c
Saint Jo Church of Christ, Saint Jo, TX, 1800c
Sancho Church of Christ, Hundred, WV, 1800c
Rock Springs Church of Christ, Celina, TN, 1805
Rocky Springs Church of Christ, Bridgeport, AL, 1807
Wilson Hill Church of Christ, Lewisburg, TN, 1811
Bethlehem Church of Christ, Lebanon, TN, 1812
South Harpeth Church of Christ, Nashville, TN, 1812

There are many others as you move into the 1820’s.  Yet Gordon Turner was not too far off. South Harpeth is tied with Bethlehem as the fifth oldest Church of Christ still meeting in Tennessee.  There are old, old Disciples congregations (dating back to the 1790’s-1810’s) still meeting as congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  The same is true for Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.  Additionally, there are countless congregations now closed which were established very early in the 19th century.  In the 19th century the lines of division which obtain today were still in a process of formation.  Nonetheless, 200 years of continuous existence is uncommon.  The 2009 directory has the total number of Churches of Christ congregations at 12,963 yet only 23 of those were established prior to 1820.

South Harpeth is the oldest active congregation congregation in Davidson County; furthermore, my research-thus far-leads me to the conclusion that it was the first one established in Davidson County.

By the late 1820’s Nashville’s Baptist Church of Jesus Christ, later the Church Street Christian Church, became arguably the most influential Restoration congregation in Middle Tennessee, if not the state, and perhaps the South.  That congregation exists today as Vine Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Belle Meade.  But Vine Street is not the oldest…that honor goes to the band of Christians meeting in the little red brick meetinghouse in far southwest Davidson County.  On 20 May 2012 they will celebrate 200 years of ministry.  I will present some reflections on their history at the Sunday School assembly.

11 thoughts on “South Harpeth Church of Christ, Davidson County, Tennessee

  1. Curious–are the dates above self-reported? If a congregation wants to claim a date, does anyone follow that up or ask to see research?

    • Yes 🙂

      Thus far I cannot find any definitive Baptist or Presbyterian roots, though I think there may be some. Given a choice I’d go with Baptist over Presbyterian due to a McConnico connection. Right now I am staying with the recieved tradition that it is a RM congregation. However, I am hot on the trail of a Stoneite connection in the person of Barton W. Stone himself. There is work yet to do, though.

  2. I grew up going to South Harpeth Church of Christ. That was the late 1950’s into persent day. I still go back when I visit Tenn. It feels like home. There is an old book (although I have never seen it), with member’s names from years before. It may have more information about the history of the church? I remember there were baptizims in the South Harpeth River that flows behind the church. There were two entrances of the old part. One for Men, the other for women, or that’s what I was told. We kids used to sit on the big rock that ladies would ride up to, to step off their horse, or carraige. It has another step down before stepping onto the ground. The back of the church used to be the front, facing the river. When the “newer” part was built, the main entrance now faces the road. The cemetery is mostly a family cemetery (Linton). Some of the Linton family still attend South Harpeth. Growing up, I was always told that South Church of Christ was the oldest Church of Christ in Davidson County. I plan on going back for the anniversary. I can’t think of any place else I’d rather be, than celebrating this milestone in God’s House.

  3. Mac,
    Glad to hear you are coming. My Mom has attended South Harpeth all of her adult life. She has been giving me updates on what the congregation is planning. They hope to get at least 200 people to attend. It’s a small congregation, what an honor it will be to be to be apart of history. Look forward to meeting you as well. Hope some of the people that read this blog will be in attendance as well. Grace & peace to you as well. Kelly

  4. Hi, Mac,
    I’ve just found your site & it is impressive! If I were in Nashville on May 20, I would join you at South Harpeth, bet it will be a great day.
    Best to you. Carol Kaplan

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