We Do Not Lose Heart: A Homecoming Sermon for Lindsley Avenue Church, October 14, 2007

One of the signal honors of my life was receiving an invitation to preach at the 120th Anniversary Homecoming for Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville in October 2007. I blogged about it then, and promised to upload my sermon. I do not remember why I did not upload it, but I did not. I searched, and I found it and I uploaded it to the Spoken Word page.

In 2007 I was freshly out of a deep dive into homiletics. I utilized Paul Scott Wilson’s ‘four-page‘ method to bring a word to the church. I wrestled with what to say. After I settled on a text from 2 Corinthians 4, Wilson’s heuristic gave me a way to approach how to say it. His model helped me frame the sermon. I think the sermon holds up well. I don’t think I could preach it any better today than I did then. I would not change anything except to tighten the language.

The manuscript I scanned and uploaded is the copy I took into the pulpit. It bears a few marks I inserted to help me remember where to place emphasis. I did not read it; but I preached it as written. No recording was made, so you will have to supply emphasis. Looks for the marks and you will be able to get close.

If asked how to preach an anniversary sermon or a homecoming sermon, this is what I could offer. If asked how to incorporate very local congregational history into a sermon, this is how I did it, once. Depending on the task at hand, you could do this very differently. In this case, my charge was to look as much forward as backward. In this case, I was preaching to a church very much at the margins of conventional Nashville Church of Christ culture. In this case, as is true in every case if you look closely and honestly enough, there was a great deal to discourage you. A great deal. But the hope of the gospel surpasses our disappointments. Thus the sermon.

7 December 1939 Gospel Advocate: The Nashville Special

7 December 1939 Gospel Advocate “Nashville Special”

This special issue of Gospel Advocate highlights with historical sketches and photographs several dozen Churches of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee, the City of David (Lipscomb).  In view of an upcoming lecture at Lipscomb University (I’m co-presenting with Christopher Cotten, John Mark Hicks and Jeremy Sweets), this will be the first of several daily posts of the photographs from that issue.  From now until the end of June I will post one photo daily.  Look for the portraits of Fall, Fanning, Sewell, McQuiddy and Harding tomorrow and the meetinghouses in alphabetical order beginning 23 May until 30 June 2013, d.v. …. You are invited to our sessions Monday July 1 and Tuesday July 2.  See the Summer Celebration schedule for time and place. Please come, I’d like to meet and talk with you.

Front Cover

Content Summary

[B. C. Goodpasture], “How Special Was Prepared”, page 1166:

In collecting the material for the special number of the Gospel Advocate we have sought a short history and a picture of the meetinghouse of every congregation in what might be called the Nashville district.  There are some congregations not within the city limits which have been so vitally related to the work in the city that it was thought proper to include them.  To this end each congregation was asked by telephone or letter to supply a sketch of its work and a good picture of its meetinghouse.  We are grateful that most of the congregations complied with our request, but regret that some did not.  Except where otherwise stated, we have used only the material that was sent in to us.  Where the type of meetinghouse and of picture permitted, the cuts are uniform in size.—EDITOR.


H. Leo Boles, “General History of the Church in Nashville,” 1146-1148.  Included in this brief essay are portraits of Philip Slater Fall, Tolbert Fanning, Elisha Granville Sewell, Jephthah Clayton McQuiddy and James Alexander Harding.  David Lipscomb’s portrait graces the front cover.  The bulk of the issue are the sketches and photos of the congregations and their meetinghouses.  Boles’ task is to introduce the issue with a lead-off broad historical resume.

Rear Cover

List of Congregations, pages 1148-1167

Listed below, in the order of appearance, are the congregations featured; those without an accompanying photograph marked with an asterisk [*].  I cannot discern an organizing principle, if there was one, governing the listing of the congregations.  For their relative locations consult the map on the back cover.

Lindsley Avenue Church

Twelfth Avenue Church

Old Hickory Church

Charlotte Avenue Church

Grandview Heights Church

Riverside Drive Church

Shelby Avenue Church

Joseph Avenue Church

Grace Avenue Church

Park Avenue Church

Park Circle Church

Lawrence Avenue Church

Central Church

David Lipscomb College Church

Acklen Avenue Church

Chapel Avenue Church

Eleventh Street Church

Reid Avenue Church

Cedar Grove Church

Trinity Lane Church

Fairview Church

Russell Street Church

Donelson Church

Third and Taylor Church

Mead’s Chapel Church

Highland Avenue Church

Fifth Street Church

Seventh Avenue Church

Hillsboro Church

Madison Church

Radnor Church

Whites Creek Church

Fanning School and Church

Lischey Avenue Church

Belmont Church

Waverly-Belmont Church

New Shops Church*

Neely’s Bend Church*


W. E. Brightwell, “Record Not Complete”, pages 1166-1167:

“Some congregations failed to provide a picture of their building; some prepared something, but there was a slip-up in delivery.”  Brightwell briefly recalls details about Green Street, Eighth Street [Eight Avenue, North], Jo Johnston, Twenty-Second Avenue, Otter Creek, and Reid Avenue.  Within Brightwell’s note are photographs of the Home for the Aged (overseen by the Chapel Avenue Church), Jackson Park Church and Rains Avenue Church.  He closes by asking, “What became of the sketches for Jackson Park and Rains Avenue congregations?  Gorman Avenue, Richland Creek, Edenwold, Fourth Avenue, South, Pennsylvania Avenue, Ivy Point, Dickerson Road, and possibly others within the area of Greater Nashville, failed to report, or something happened that their report did not arrive in time.”

Given Brightwell’s note, I thought it worthwhile to discern which congregations were absent.  It became readily apparent that there was no mention, at all, of any African-American congregation or preacher in the issue.  There is a list of six “Colored Churches” on the rear-cover map.

If George Philip Bowser’s 1942 directory is any indication, Nashville was as much “Jerusalem” for African-American churches of Christ as it was for whites.  In 1942 Nashville claimed six black Churches of Christ, the same as are listed on the rear cover of this ‘Nashville Special.’  No other city in America at that time, known to Bowser at least, had as many black congregations or as many members among them.  Were Bowser to describe these congregations, their establishment and growth and the great men and women who built and nurtured them, he might use Henry Leo Boles’ words which opens this ‘Nashville Special’: “Nashville, Tenn., has been called the modern Jerusalem. There are more churches of Christ in this city than in any other city of the world.  The church in Nashville, like the church in Jerusalem, had a small beginning, but it has grown to great proportions.”  If not, at least his data would support the claim nonetheless.

The rear cover, with map, lists sixty-five congregations, fifty-nine [white] and six “colored.”


The congregations listed below have neither photo nor sketch in the issue proper:

Bells Bend

Dickerson Road


Eighth Avenue

Fourth Avenue

Gorman Avenue

Green Street

Jo Johnston

Pennsylvania Avenue

Richland Creek

Rural Hill

Twenty-Second Avenue

Watkins Chapel

Buford’s Chapel [this is an earlier name for Whites Creek church listed above]

Neely’s Bend

Pennington’s Bend

Woodson Chapel



Otter Creek

Ivy Point

Fourteenth and Jackson

Twenty-Sixth and Jefferson

Sixth and Ramsey

Fairfield and Green

South Hill



Neither on this map nor inside are:

South Harpeth


Hill’s Chapel


Burnette’s Chapel


Smith Springs


Pleasant Hill

Little Marrowbone

Chapel Hill (possibly a variant name for Little Marrowbone)


All of these are in Davidson County, reasonably within the bounds of Goodpasture’s “Nashville district” or Brightwell’s “Greater Nashville.”

The 1939 City Directory lists a Sanctified Church of Christ at 408 16th Avenue, North and a Metropolitan Church of Christ on East Hill as a ‘Colored’ congregation.  The same directory lists Emanuel Church of Christ which I have confirmed is not a Stone-Campbell congregation.  Sanctified is entirely new to me; there is an outside chance it could be the predecessor to the Fifteenth Avenue, North congregation (est. 1955 according to the 2012 Churches of Christ in the United States).  If so then it is a black congregation…15th Ave is a plant from Jefferson or Jackson Street.  Metropolitan Church is likewise new to me.


Remember, check back daily for a new photograph.  Comments are welcome for memories, suggestions, etc.  Should you like to contact me privately, do so at   icekm [at] aol [dot] com.  Should you have or know someone who has photographs, directories, bulletins or other paper from any of these congregations, please contact me.

Name Authority for Nashville, Tennessee Stone-Campbell Congregations

Name Authority for Nashville Tennessee Stone-Campbell Congregations, September 2012

Click above to download a document listing 319 variants of time-, place- and character-names for the 227 known congregations of the Stone-Campbell movement in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee from 1812 to September 2012.

To my knowledge my work in this area is the only such compilation, and therefore, the most complete.  The initial publication of the list to this blog was in May 2010 as a first step in my research toward a book on the Restoration Movement in Nashville.  I blogged then:

With over 200 congregations in this county, the congregational research alone will take years, perhaps the remainder of my life.  If I live to be 100 I may not finish even a rudimentary survey.  It may be too much:  too many congregations, too many preachers, too much ‘story’ to tell.

But this is where I am at the present.  I publish the list here to generate interest, additions, subtractions, corrections and clarifications.  Look it over and if I need to make changes, please let me know.

While congregational history is only one aspect of this project, this is where it all played out…on the ground in the congregations on a weekly basis.  Few congregations have attempted more than a list of preachers or a narrative of the expansion of the church building.  What I propose, as I wrote above, may be too much…too far to the other extreme.  But that fact changes not one whit the necessity of it being done.

The story of these churches in Nashville needs to be told.  I ask for your help in telling it.  look over my list; I solicit your critique. Contact me at icekm [at] aol [dot] com.

(The first version of the name authority, from May 2010, can be found here.)

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.

Come to North Boulevard Church tonight

I look forward to speaking tonight at North Boulevard Church of Christ. We’ll be surveying the story of the Nashville Churches of Christ in the 19th century…Philip S. Fall…Church Street Christian Church…Tolbert Fanning…David Lipscomb and the mission to the emerging post-Reconstruction-era suburbs.  Ultimately, we’ll talk about how our history can inform our mission.  Join us at 6:30 pm in Murfreesboro.

Genealogical Workshop

Religious Archives-Registration Form (2)Genealogists in the Nashville area will want to know about this event:

Located in the buckle of America’s Bible belt, Nashville, Tennessee is home to several major repositories of religious records.  Denominational archives, publishing boards, and local congregations offer a wide array of research opportunities.  In addition to documenting de­nominational histories, religious archives also preserve information that tells the stories of the individuals and families who comprise each faith. This workshop provides an overview of historical records, manuscripts, and other documents in Nashville’s religious archives.

PDF flyer: Religious Archives-Registration Form (2)

Christian Scholars’ Conference 2009

With its organizing theme as The Power of Narrative, this year’s conference drew to Lipscomb University about 400 conferees to hear over 230 presenters in 70 sessions. Topics ranged from studies in specific biblical texts to theology to poetry to literature to history to ethics to science to ministry to teaching (and beyond). Presenters represented something like 100 universities and institutions.

Plenary addresses by Hubert Locke, Barbara Brown Taylor, Billy Collins and Marilynne Robinson were superb.  Tokens old-time radio show was most outstanding.  The luncheon honoring the memory of Mike Casey was touching.  Meeting new folks, renewing acquaintances and seeing old friends was a true joy.  I even met some followers of this blog…all three of them!  (No books this time, we’re on a tight budget at the Ice house.  I’m trying to read the ones I already have…what a novel idea and if faithfully pursued will take care of my reading for the rest of my life without a single future purchase)

I took in these sessions:
The Impact of the Written Word: The Place of Editors in the American Restoration Movement with presentations on Isaac Errett by L. T. Smith, on David Lipscomb by Robert Hooper and Austin McGary by Terry Gardner.

New Explorations in Race, Peace, and Justice: Recent Dissertations in Stone-Campbell History, a session I chaired with papers by Wes Crawford on African American in Churches of Christ and on B. U. Watkins by Ray Patton and responses to the above by Barclay Key and Vic McCracken.

And the Word Became Flesh: Studies in Restoration History in Memory of Michael W. Casey, with papers by Thomas Olbricht on Recovering Covenantal narratival Theology, by Jerry Rushford on the Christians in Klickitat County Washington, and by Carisse Berryhill on the Rhetoric of Alexander Campbell’s Morning Lectures (some of which were published under the title Lectures on the Pentateuch).

Another installment of the Restoration Studies in honor of Mike Casey with papers on R. W. Officer by David Baird, J. W. McGarvey’s “The Authorship of Deuteronomy” by Mark Hamilton and Hoosiers, Volunteers and Longhorns by John Mark Hicks.


Reflections on Theological Education: Ministry and Ecclesiology with papers by Tom Olbricht surveying the past 75 years of theological education in Churches of Christ, on their experiences in the academy by Abraham Malherbe and James Thompson.

This was my first time to attend CSC.  I’m already making plans to attend next year.


With this update of the CSC my blogging hiatus, I think, may be over. The flooding at work the last week of April threw a monkey-wrench into our collective and individual routines. Nothing was lost, and what was damaged has been totally salvaged. This is fantastic news. It turned out to be a real headache, and never were we so thankful to have a headache rather than a disaster. I think I am now back into a routine…just in time for the summer research season (one of my favorite times of year).

The end of the academic year has its own set of rituals, routines and events. The Ices had our fair share.  The long and short of it is that blogging wasn’t even on the list the last six weeks, much less down on the list.

But I intend to to resume.  On deck is the latest installment in my “First Reads” series. This one is a guest post courtesy of my friend, fellow blogger and partner in crime when it comes to Nashville church history, Chris Cotten. Chris kindly agreed to reflect on the literature by, from and about the non-institutional churches of Christ. I have found his list, and his comments about each item on it, very helpful.

TSLA Workshop Materials Available

Just added to the Spoken Word page are one presentation and three handouts from yesterday’s workshop. 


I spent a few in the reading room after the workshop.  I will post sometime this week another installment in the Dorris Research Unanswered Question series.


If you have not already heard about it, check out this article at DisciplesWorld concerning our week at DCHS (hence my absence from the blogosphere).  The article pretty well covers the bases.  Needless to say we have a mess on our hands, but a local company is taking care of it in good order.  I suspect by sometime this week we should be back at a good level of functionality.  My office on the other hand…it may take a couple weeks to get all the stacks of paper back in proper disarray.  Thankfully only a few rather unimportant working files got damp and nothing truly important was damaged at all.


I’m teaching Philippians and Colossians again this quarter at church.  The intro to Col has been up at the Spoken Word page for a few weeks.  I will add the presentation on Phil next week.