Nashville Churches of Christ History Group on Facebook

Nashville Churches of Christ History group is open to anyone interested in the Stone-Campbell movement in Nashville and Davidson County.  Here is the first post I made a few days ago:

I envision this community as a place to share common interest in the rich story of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Nashville. I am conducting research for a book which will highlight each congregation of Churches of Christ and Christian Churches from the 1820’s to the present…basically the entire movement from its beginning in our city until now. I envision this group as a place to share memories, photos, news and generate discussion and interest. Please join and contribute. Please feel free to contact me directly at icekm (at) aol (dot) com.

The group is open to all.  Help spread the word and generate interest.

Save the Paper

Regular readers of this blog know that one of my research interests is Nashville’s Stone-Campbell heritage.  Judging from the folks who find my blog by searching for old Nashville churches like Foster Street Christian Church or Vine Street Christian Church or South College Street Church of Christ, I see I am not alone in my interest.  Here’s my appeal:

I am assembling information from, by and about these churches, ministers and related organizations.  Do you have paper (like directories or bulletins), photographs, sermons, postcards, old issues of periodicals like Gospel Advocate or Apostolic Times or ephemera from Nashville events like the Hardeman Tabernacle meetings or the Collins-Craig Auditorium Meeting, or the Nashville Jubilee?  Do you have photographs or postcards of church buildings?  For that matter, do you have an old map of Nashville that shows what the city was like in the 1940’s?  or earlier? Do you have clippings from the newspapers about people or events or congregations in the Nashville or Davidson County area?   Do you have memories of growing up at Vine Street Christian Church when it was still downtown?  Or Reid Avenue Church of Christ, Russell Street Church of Christ or Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ (all three are now closed)?  Would you be willing to talk with me–in person or by email or even by postal mail–to share your memories?  Would you allow me to borrow your old paper, copy it and learn from it?

Old paper is the stuff from which history is written.  And if it isn’t preserved then not only will vital data be lost but a story will be silenced.  I believe the Nashville story is a rich story, and a story worth keeping and worth telling and worth preserving.   With every funeral we lose some memory or story.  The time has come for us to assemble what remains while we can, and ensure that through its preservation the story will not be forgotten.

Check the steamer trunks in your attics, the boxes in your basements and the files in the closets.  Before you throw it away, email me.  Let’s preserve it.

icekm (at) aol (dot) com

Henry Leo Boles

Congregants, friends, former students and fellow preachers, mourners all, assembled at the Grace Avenue Church of Christ on the winter morning of February 9, 1946 to remember the life of their minister, mentor and friend, Henry Leo Boles.


Just a month earlier, Sunday January 6, he preached in the morning assembly at Grace Avenue what would be his last sermon.  Boles and Grace Avenue enjoyed a thirty-year relationship wherein he would preach for them, when in town, the first Sunday of each month.  The arrangement was typical for many churches of Christ in the days before each congregation employed a full-time “located minister.”  When H. Leo Boles and the old Foster Street Church of Christ entered into their agreement he was President of the Nashville Bible School (later David Lipscomb College, now Lipscomb University). 


Born, raised and educated in the Upper Cumberland area in East Tennessee, Boles was already an accomplished schoolteacher and preacher when he came to the Nashville Bible School as a student in 1904.  By 1906 he was teaching classes and in 1913 was named its President with approval of the school’s founder, David Lipscomb.  In addition to his teaching and service to the school as President (until 1920 and again from 1923-1932) and as a member of the Board of Trustees, he contributed to the life of the churches of Christ at large by writing regularly for, and editing from 1920-1923, the Gospel Advocate.


Holding an MA from Vanderbilt University in and serving on the Committee of Uniform Lessons of the International Council of Religious Education for nearly twenty years, he was well-qualified to author, develop and edit a series of graded Sunday School literature for churches of Christ.  As an author Boles contributed commentaries on the gospels of Matthew and Luke, on Acts of Apostles, a major doctrinal treatise on the Holy Spirit, a volume of biographical-historical studies on noted Restoration preachers and co-edited a hymnal.


In addition to his steady literary output, he enjoined occasionally in religious debate and maintained an active schedule of preaching appointments.  The great-grandson of noted early Restoration preacher “Raccoon” John Smith, it seemed preaching was in Boles’ blood.  His last illness in the winter of 1946, in fact, compelled him for the first time in 42 years to cancel a preaching appointment.  When the Grace Avenue congregation bade farewell to their beloved preacher that wintry morning, they also bade farewell to one of the more significant figures in Churches of Christ in his generation.

Foster Street Christian Church and Grace Avenue Church of Christ

Evangelist James A. Harding was already a well-known and much sought-after evangelist among Churches of Christ when he held a tent meeting at the corner of Foster and Second Streets in 1889.  Yet, lasting eight weeks, that meeting is regarded as his longest and is arguably, with 115 responses, one of his more successful.


Although the fertile riverside soil had been broken by earlier preaching and mission efforts by evangelists among Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, the Harding meeting provided the nurture and watering necessary to establish a new and immediately thriving congregation.  Ordered under an eldership, and taught by preaching of J. C. McQuiddy, the Foster Street Christian Church erected a new brick building where Harding had pitched his tent.  McQuiddy was at the time Office Editor and Business Manager of the Gospel Advocate and later would be founder of Nashville’s McQuiddy Printing Company, member of the Boards of Directors of the Nashville Bible School and the Tennessee Children’s Home in Columbia.  He divided his time between Foster Street and another new congregation at Tenth and Woodland (later known as the Russell Street Church of Christ).


By 1890 the congregation had over 200 members and was clearly an outward-focused church.  By 1905 they were instrumental in planting a new congregation on Joseph Avenue at Scott Street (the Joseph Avenue Church of Christ) and again in 1909 on Jones Avenue at Cherokee Avenue (later the Lischey Avenue Church of Christ).  The congregation in 1910 hosted pioneer Church of Christ missionary, James H. McCaleb, for a series of lectures about his work in Japan.  By 1910 the congregation was known as Foster Street Church of Christ to differentiate itself from Christian Churches who used instrumental music and conducted mission work through organized missionary societies.


Having outgrown their building, the congregation relocated to the corner of Grace Avenue and North Third Street in October 1926.  Built to accommodate 1000 worshippers, the new church was filled to capacity the first Sunday.  At this time they changed their name to Grace Avenue Church of Christ.  By the time this building was finished Henry Leo Boles had for a decade preached the first Sunday of each month for Foster Street congregation; for twenty years yet he would continue to do so at Grace and Third. 


When Grace Avenue decided to disband in 1977, true to their heritage, they looked outward and sent their remaining members to over 20 area Churches of Christ to build up the work in those congregations.