Postal card, 3.5 x 5 inches, advertising Tennessee Governor Thomas Clarke Rye‘s, “Go-To-Sunday-School-Day.”
This item is witness to a day past when Hendersonville’s three churches (known now, respectively, as First Presbyterian Church, Hendersonville Church of Christ, and First United Methodist Church; First Baptist Church was established in 1944) cooperated in a drive to motivate the villagers to “join, or attend the Sunday School of [their] choice.” That very likely wouldn’t happen today; another thing that wouldn’t happen is a Tennessee governor launching a ‘Go-To-Sunday-School-Day’ drive for Easter Sunday. Be that as it may, it happened, as this little card evinces.
The Christian Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 1917 was a congregation of several dozen members (Hendersonville was not then much more than a village…maybe 300 residents or so). Sara Elizabeth Roberts had not been born, but her parents and siblings were members at the Christian Church. James Alexander Harding drove his buggy from Nashville on April 3, 1893 to hold a tent meeting in Hendersonville. His was not the first Restorationist preaching in Hendersonville, but the results proved to be the longest lasting. It was Easter Sunday and about a dozen memebrs covenanted to establish a congregation which yet meets not a half-mile from where Harding pitched his tent. The worship on Easter Sunday 1893 was acapella, as it was on April 8, 1917, and remains so to this very day. At some point in the 1920s the congregation began to consistently use ‘Church of Christ’ to distinguish itself from those Christian Churches using instruments and supporting missionary societies. The nearest such, so-called digressive, congregation was along Gallatin Road across the county line nearer Nashville. Further in, at East Nashville, were Seveneenth Street and Woodland Street Christian Churches. Vine Street Christian Church was still downtown in 1917. But in 1917 this acapella congregationally autonomous and independnet congregation threw in with Presbyterians and Methodists to get folk in Sunday School. Of course they did, they were basically family in the village then, and all the children rotated among the various special church events. The adults did, too, particularly at revivals or gospel meetings as the case may have been. At some in that same general time frame the Christian Church at Hendersonville discontinued Christmas programs for the children.
By the time of Sara Roberts’ childhood in the late 1920’s and early 30’s young men from David Lipscomb College, students and some faculty, held forth from the Hendersonville pulpit. She did not attend DLC though she did complete the tenth grade at the little grammar school in Hendersonville. They did not award diplomae for completing the tenth grade; no matter, she eventually completed her GED–after retirement–under the tutelage of her daughter, my mother, who did go to DLC. My youngest daughter, Sara, is named for her great-grandmother.