Religious Intelligence from 1882 Nashville

Nashville’s Daily American listed details of Sunday church services, provided such notices were received by 7pm Saturday evening.  The 25 June 1882 “Religious Intelligence” column lists two Christian Churches:

Elder R. L. Cave will preach at 11 A. M. in the Church-street Christian Church.

J. H. Jackson, of the North Nashville Christian Church, Barracks school-house, will preach to-day, at 11 A. M. and         8 P. M. Morning subject: “Does the Bible Teach the Idea of Endless Punishment?”  At night, subject: “The Foundation of the Church.”

This item is helpful since the Nashville city directory for 1882 knows nothing of a North Nashville Christian Church.  Rather, Church Street Church and Woodland Street Church (Elders R. L. Cave and E. G. Sewell pastors, respectively) are the white congregations and Second Church, Rev. H. S. Berry, pastor, is the sole “Colored” Christian Church in the book.  The same holds true for 1883, -4, and -5.  In 1886 Nashville City Directory lists for the first time North Nashville Christian Church, Elder J. P. Grigg, pastor.  By the following year the first meetinghouse for this congregation is built; its replacement (below) came in 1942 on the same lot.

I suspect further evidence may confirm my hypothesis that the congregation met in ‘fits and starts’ until elders and deacons were appointed and regular weekly assemblies were maintained for the purpose of taking the Lord’s Supper.  Here is one piece of evidence that they were meeting as early as the summer of 1882.  I also glean from this Intelligence the name of the school house (former Union Army barracks) where early services were conducted.  Now I can chase down the location of this school house, maybe even locate a photograph of it.  Discovery leads to discovery; questions beget questions, leads go on and on.

It is admittedly small piece of information yet every little bit helps.  I also have a name, albeit otherwise unknown to me, but I have a name.  J. H. Jackson, who are you, whence, whither…?  And I have two sermon titles.  I don’t have sermon mansuscripts, I don’t even have outlines.  I have titles and that is more than I had this time last week.  Before this clipping my assumption was that, according to other sources (like Churches of Today, vol. 1:233), the congregation began in 1887.  I don’t doubt it.  At the same time it began earlier; at least it appears to have existed in a missional form five years before it “began.”  Again, I think the explanation lies in the (likely I think) ordination of elders and deacons in (about) 1887 when the first building is completed…thus a fully organized congregation.  This happened at South Nashville…they were basically a mission for thirty years before elders and deacons were set apart which coincided with the completion of the first meetinghouse.

All this to say you go with what you have, form hypotheses, test and weigh them against new discoveries, reform your hypothesis, and keep looking.  Always pay attention to the details.


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