Nashville, The City of David (Lipscomb): Three issues of Gospel Advocate remember Lipscomb and his legacy

The December 6, 1917 issue of Gospel Advocate was devoted to the memory of the recently-deceased David Lipscomb.  It is a rich treasure of memories and tributes. To my knowledge this issue was the first to carry Lipscomb’s photograph on the cover. Similar covers followed in 1931 (the July 11 Davidson County Special Number) and 1939 (the December 7 special issue about the history of the Nashville congregations).

These three issues are of significant historical value. As primary sources they provide information unavailable elsewhere. As interpretive reflections they are a beginning point for how Lipscomb was remembered and how congregational history was recorded and carried forward. The 1917 issue, other than newspaper obituaries and Price Billingsley’s diary, is the first secondary source about the life and impact of David Lipscomb. The Billingsley diary (housed at Center for Restoration Studies, Abilene Christian University) contains a description of the funeral along with its author’s candid thoughts and impressions. It was not intended, at the time, for public reading.

The issue of the Advocate, however, is a product of the McQuiddy Printing Company and is most certainly intended to capture the mood and ethos in the air just after Lipscomb’s death and by way of the mails deliver it to subscribers wherever they may be. In point of time, it is the first published sustained historical reflection on Lipscomb’s life and ministry. The 1931 and 1939 special issues focus on Lipscomb’s activity on the ground among the citizens of Nashville’s neighborhoods. Here his legacy is as a church planter: an indefatigable, patient, faithful steward. He plants, he teaches, he preaches, he organizes. He observes shifting residential patterns and responds with congregational leadership development. To meet the needs of the emerging streetcar suburbs, he urges elders to take charge of teaching responsibilities, engage evangelists and establish congregations through peaceful migrations and church plants. The 1931 and 1939 issues are testimonies to the effects of this approach. Along the way they preserve details and photographic evidence that is simply unavailable elsewhere.

All three are available for download below.




Click here to download the December 6, 1917 David Lipscomb Memorial Number.

Click here to download the historical sections from the July 11, 1931 special issue about the history of the Nashville Churches of Christ

Click here to download the December 7, 1939 special issue about the history of the Nashville Churches of Christ.

Excerpts from Georgie Robertson Christian College Catalogue, 1899

These excerpts are from The Annual Catalogue of the G. R. C. College and Business Institution. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Publishing Company, 1899.  No rhyme or reason in my selection here…just some things that caught my attention.  I am pleased to see this edition and many others are available online here.

Library.  Among the volumes of our Reference Library are the Britannica, Chambers’ and Johnson’s Encyclopedias, Gray’s Anatomy in colored plates, International Dictionary, twelve volumes of Encyclopediac Dictionaries, Gibbons’ Rome, Macaulay’s England, Universal Literature in twenty volumes, Histories; Works on Science, Language, Mathematics; Tunison’s latest Charts and Maps; a library of the leading Magazines, Journal, Educationals, and Dailies for the leisure moments of the students. p. 8
It must be remembered that a school year here means five terms of eight weeks each, with daily recitations in each subject of one hour each; no vacations, no holidays, no “blue Mondays,” as we have school on Saturdays.  This gives Mondays for literary and debating societies and preparation of lessons for following day.  We work every day in the week. p. 10
We never make a failure in our source in Mathematics, even with the dullest pupils.  p. 17
Physiology.–This branch is made attractive by instructive outlines, charts, skeletons, and actual dissection in the class. [18] Some student is appointed to engage from the butcher an organ to be dissected on the following day, such as the heart, lungs, eye, brain, etc.  Special attention given to alcohol and its effects.  pp. 17-18
Latin.–In one year our students read Jones’ Latin Lessons and Caesar.  Some “professors” deny this.  We [19] are ready to give living witnesses.  Four or five classes each term. pp. 18-19
A Question.  We are often asked: “For what institution do you prepare your students?”  Our answer: “We prepare our students for the Institution of Life.”  p. 19
Methods. Our methods in the class room have no superior.  The subject, rather than the book, is taught.  The subject matter is so thoroughly exhausted that our students are able to make better books than those in general use.  The outlines are alone worth the time and money of the student.  It is the “how” and “why” that make the successful student, not so much of the “what.” All methods in the schoolroom are strictly Normal.  They are the latest and best, the result of many years’ experience of the President in the leading institutions of the land.  Teacher, you cannot afford to miss the methods of this College.  Some unprincipled men have often stated that Normal teaching is not thorough.  The man (?) who makes such assertions is cowardly.  He could not be induced to meet a true Normal teacher for public investigation…Many teachers are opposed to Normalism from the fact that it exposes their false and shallow methods of teaching.  Many honest people oppose Normal schools simply because they know nothing about it.  p. 33
Coeducation.  This is a mixed School.  Both sexes are admitted, with equal rights and privileges in every respect.  It makes school government easy and pleasant.  Each sex serves as a check upon the other.  Young men become purer and more manly; young ladies, more confident, more self-reliant, more appreciative of their true dignity and worth.  That education is incomplete and dwarfed in the extreme which has been secured in a school separate and distinct from either sex.  There can be nothing more enobling and refining than the association of ladies and gentlemen under proper restrictions and in the care of responsible instructors.  In the schoolroom our students are taught to be sociable, kind, gentle, and courteous to all. No association of ladies and gentle-[34]men will be permitted out of the class room except in company with the Faculty.  Boys and girls are born together, play together, grow up together, and must live together; then why not be trained together?  Why make the period of education the only time from the cradle to the grave when isolation is necessary?  Coeducation is natural, and always succeeds when fairly tested.  p. 33-34
Government. Our students govern themselves.  All are treated as ladies and gentlemen until thy prove themselves otherwise.  They are from the best families in the land.  All rude and disorderly students are quietly sent home.  The kind, yet firm, discipline of the school never fails to win the most wayward.  The domineering, brute force is never resorted to. p. 34
Nonsectarian and undenominational.  Our students are from all denominations and those of no religious profession.  All students are left perfectly free to attend Sunday school and church where they please.  No effort is make in the schoolroom to change the faith of any one.  All are left free to think, choose, and act religiously as they wish.  Moral restraints are thrown around all, religious intolerance around none.  Our methods could not be Normal and sectarian at the same time.  We give our many hundred students as evidence to these statements.  p. 36
The Bible Department. is open to both gentlemen and ladies who wish to increase their usefulness and knowledge of the word of God.  Zealous young men soon become earnest, successful proclaimers of the gospel.  This course includes Homiletics, Exegesis, Church History, Grammar, Rhetoric, Latin, and Greek.  Young men prepare and preach at least one sermon a week.  The Bible, above all books, ought to be studied in our schools.  No book is to be compared to it in making man strong mentally, physically, and morally.  We owe all to it: civilization, liberty, and prosperity.  The Bible is the text-book.  The President has immediate charge of this department.  p. 37
Text-books.  Bring all the books that you may have; you will need them for reference.  Wait until you come to purchase others.  Arrangements will be made to supply you with such books as you may wish at the least cost possible.  You can exchange old books for new ones at small cost.  All kinds of good text-books are used.  Truth is sifted from error.  p. 37
Caution.  Owing to the rapid growth, popularity, and wonderful success of the School, a few jealous parties have taken opportunity to circulate various reports with reference to the Institution.  To them we have made no reply.  All derogatory statements have invariably come from some low, narrow, mean mind, too little for our attention; always from some one who has never been in our School and knows nothing of the Institution or its methods.  No matter what you may hear, we say: Come and see for yourselves.  If we do not do our part even better than we advertise, your traveling expenses to and from school will be paid by us.  Our students are our best recommendations and advertisement.  p. 39

Model Programme of Study, Georgie Robertson Christian College, 1899-1900

With the start of a new year and a new semester upon us, let’s take a look back at the ‘model programme’ laid out by Arvy Glenn Freed for pupils in the ‘Teacher’s Course’ at Georgie Robertson Christian College for the year 1899-1900.  G. R. C. College, in Henderson, Tennessee, billed itself as a “college for the masses”…the “largest normal college in the south.”* In 1899-1900 it sustained the following departments: Primary, Preparatory, Teachers’, Scientific, Classic, Psychology and Pedagogy, Engineering, Elocution and Oratory, Medical, Musical, Art, Commercial, Telegraphy, Shorthand, Law, Typewriting, Select, Post-graduate and Review.**

Through a carefully arranged curriculum administered in a regimented daily schedule (“daily recitations in each subject of one hour each; no vacation, no holidays, no “blue Mondays,” as we have school on Saturdays…we work every day in the week.”) students were taught not only to value time but to use all of it well.***

Here is the “Model Programme of Study and Recitation of a Student in Teachers’ Course”, p. 11.

5.00 Rising
5.00 – 5.30 Toilet
5.30 – 6.30 Study Arithmetic
6.30 – 7.00 Study Orthography
7.00 – 7.45 Breakfast
8.00 – 8.30 Chapel Exercise
8.30 – 9.00 Study Grammar
9.00 – 10.00 Recite Grammar
10.00 – 11.00 Study Arithmetic
11.00 – 12.00 Recite Arithmetic
12.00 – 1.00 Dinner
1.00 – 2.00 Drills in Penmanship
2.00 – 3.00 Recite History
3.00 – 4.00 Recite Geography
4.00 – 5.00 Study Grammar
5.00 – 6.00 Study History
6.00 – 7.00 Supper and Recitation
7.00 – 8.00 Study Geography
8.00 – 8.30 Reading Pedagogy
8.30 – 9.00 General Reading
9.00 Retire


Faculty for this course could have included A. G. Freed and/or N. B. Hardeman for arithmetic; L. B. Mather and/or A. G. Freed for orthography; A. G. Freed and/or C. B. Ijams for grammar; A. G. Freed for penmanship; N. B. Hardeman for history and geography; Freed may have supervised the course of reading in pedagogy.

All citations and quotations are from The Annual Catalogue of the G. R. C. College and Business Institution. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Publishing Company, 1899.  This catalogue is for the second session, 1899-1900, and notes that “G. R. C. College” [Georgie Robertson Christian College] succeeds “W. T. C. College” [West Tennessee Christian College]. In time this institution would be renamed Freed-Hardeman College.

*Catalogue, front cover.

**Catalogue, p. 5

***Catalogue, p. 10, with emphasis on all.

A strategy for congregational research

My Nashville research across the last ten years has evolved from an interest in Central Church (where I was then Associate Minister) to a much, much larger scope including each congregation in the county, every para-church ministry based in Nashville, and how the larger issues within Stone-Campbell history interact with local history in one city resulting in the ministry conducted on ground, in the trenches, in the congregations.  With that comes the innumerable evangelists, ministers and pastors who held forth weekly from pulpits across the city. Ambitious? Yes.  Perhaps too ambitious.  That may be a fair criticism, but the field is fertile and the more I survey the landscape and read the sources and uncover additional data, the more I’m convinced to stay the course.

In the last four years especially I have focused my efforts to obtain information about the smaller congregations, closed congregations, particularly congrgations which have closed in the last 40 to 50 years.  My rationale for this focus is that some history here is in some cases, potentially recoverable.  There are larger affluent congregations which have appearances of vitality…they are going nowhere soon.  I can only hope some one among them is heads-up enough to chronicle their ongoing history and preserve the materials they produced.  On the other hand are congregations which have long-ago closed and chances are good we might not ever know anything of them except a name and possibly a location (for example, Carroll Street Christian Church is absorbed into South College Street in 1920 forming Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ…no paper is known to exist from this church, and I can’t even find one photo of the old building, and there is no one remaining who has living memory of this congregation).  For all practical purposes Carroll Street Church of Christ may remain as mysterious in twenty years as it does now.  I’d be surprised to learn of 3 people now living in the city of Nashville who have even heard of it.

But the several congregations that closed in the 50’s-80’s (and some even in the last five years) remain accessible if only through documents and interviews.  Theoretically the paper (the bulletins, meeting minutes, directories, photographs, even potentially sermon tapes) has a good chance of survival in a basement or attic or closet.  Chances are still good that former members still live, or folks might be around–in Nashville or elsewhere–who grew up at these congregations.  Theoretically.  Potentially.  Hopefully.

Yet as time marches on there are more funerals…for example in the last year I missed opportunities to speak with three elderly folks about their memories at these now-closed churches…they were too ill to speak with me and now they are gone!  I did, however, speak at length with one woman in ther 90’s who I thought died long ago!  She is quite alive and lucid!

So from time to time I will highlight on this blog these closed congregations…closed in the recent past…with hopes that someone somewhere might look for them (I get hits on this blog by folks looking for all sorts of things, among them are several Nashville Churches of Christ).  Maybe we can stir up some interest and surface additional information.

A few days ago I posted about one such congregation, the Twelfth Avenue, North Church of Christ.  I have in the queue a post about New Shops Church of Christ in West Nashville.  There are more, several more.

Stay tuned, and remember, save the paper!

Nashville Churches of Christ History Facebook group

Nashville Churches of Christ History group is open to anyone interested in the history of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. When I began the group about three years ago I said this:

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 1810’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.

Since readership for this blog is significantly higher now than it was in 2010, let me offer another invitation.  The group is open to all. Help spread the word and generate interest. (astogetherwestandandsing…)

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.)

N. B. Hardeman preaches near Lytton High School, Nashville, August 1-14, 1932

From Gospel Advocate 1 September 1932, p. 980:

N. B. Hardeman closed a thirteen-days’ meeting on August 14, on the Gallatin road, near Isaac Lytton High School.  Seven were baptized and three restored.  The purpose of the meeting was to lay a foundation for a new congregation in that section.  It was sponsored by the churches at Twelfth Avenue, North, Trinity Lane, and Chapel Avenue, Nashville.  Some others contributed.

And so began Jackson Park Church of Christ.  Their 80th Homecoming celebration will be 7 October at 9am.