Nashville Christian Churches, 1904

John T. Brown published in 1904 an encyclopedic pictorial and summative account of the Christian Churches.  Churches of Christ however was not exhaustive and underrepresented those writers, evangelists, congregations and publications opposing instrumental music in worship and Christian missionary work through agencies or societies other than a local congregation.

He provides on pp. 357ff a large and beautiful photograph of the Vine Street Christian Church along with its board of elders and a brief narrative sketch.   He concludes with a list of the other congregations in Nashville.

“There are seventeen other congregations in the city.  The following is a list:

1. South College Street [South Nashville]

2. Woodland Street

3. Tenth Street

4. Lockeland Church

5. Fourth Street [Grandview Church is first listed in the 1905 City Directory]

6. Foster Street [North Edgefield]

7. Highland Avenue

8. West Nashville

9. Carroll Street

10. Line Street [Jo Johnston]

11. Waverly Place

12. Beuna Vista [not listed in the City Directory for 1904 or 1905]

13. Nashville Bible School

Three of the eighteen are colored churches:

14. Lee Avenue

15. Gay Street [Second Church]

16. Jackson Street” [listed in the 1905 directory with the white congregations]

I compared Brown’s list to the 1904 and 1905 Nashville City Directories*.  In the list above, in square brackets, I add the names of the congregations as they appear in the City Directories.  The Directories have these additional congregations: Cherokee Park, Davis Hill, Green Street, North Spruce Street, Scovel Street and Willow Street.

I point this out only to say that both sources illuminate each other; at the same time both are incomplete and even when merged do not tell the whole story.  For example, in 1904-1905 the little mission on 12th Avenue North in North Nashville (launched from the North Spruce Street Church) was underway but it was too new for Brown and so far under the radar, it seems, as to escape notice of the Directory compilers.  There was also an African-American congregation/mission in East Nashville that no one seems to have noticed.

Also, Brown and the City Directories speak of the same congregations using different names:  Line Street and Jo Johnston are the same congregation; same for North Edgefield and Foster Street; Fourth Street is probably a reference to the mission that became the Grandview Church, first listed in the 1905 Directory; South Nashville is the same as South College Street; and Vine Street is also known as First Christian Church.

Such is the nature of the sources.

All of this to say that compiling a Name Authority for the Nashville Christian Churches and Churches of Christ requires relentless sleuthing, sifting, comparing and hypothesizing.  It has been not only enjoyable but satisfying.  Five years between revisions is long enough.  One of my 2018 goals for this blog is to publish a third revised and corrected edition of the Name Authority.

*Nashville City Directory 1904. Nashville: Marshall and Bruce Company, 1904, p. 62 and Nashville City Directory 1905. Nashville: Marshall, Bruce, Polk Company, 1905, p. 35.

 

 

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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.

Nashville_Evangelists_Lipscomb.David_GA_Memorial_1917_cover

Nashville_Research_GospelAdvocate_1931_July11_cover

Nashville_Research_GospelAdvocate_1939_Dec7.1145

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.

New Shops Church rescinds Cave’s and McKissick’s invitation, West Nashville, 1907

In 1907 R. Lin Cave and J. T. McKissick, minsters at Nashville’s Vine Street and 17th Street Christian Churches (respectively) engaged in a evangelistic tent meeting in near-west Nashville around the vicinity of New Shops Church of Christ.  This note from the July 18, 1907 Gospel Advocate clarifies that by 1907 the rift between local Christian Churches and Churches of Christ was deep and widening.  In 1907 the New Shops Church of Christ, also known as Winston Avenue Christian Church, was a young congregation in a growing working-class neighborhood.  I blogged about this congregation several years ago.  This item from the 1907 Advocate sheds light on the character of the congregation in its earliest years.  I am still in search of any scrap of information about this congregation: photographs, directories, bulletins, paper or ephemera of any kind.

Nashville_Congregations_NewShops_1907_GA_07.18.#29_p.16

W. J. Cullum, “A Statement,” Gospel Advocate, July 18, 1907, p. 16.

Leander Moore preaches at Central Church of Christ (Deaf), 1960s

Several years ago I was given a few photographs and other paper items from the estate of Owen Pryor, one of the early ministers to the deaf at Nashville’s Central Church of Christ.  Among them is this photograph of Leander Moore preaching to the deaf congregation.  It is as fine an example of chart preaching as I have seen.

Photograph, Leander Moore at Central Church of Christ (Deaf), 1960s. Nashville, Tennessee.

Photograph, Leander Moore at Central Church of Christ (Deaf), 1960s. Nashville, Tennessee.

Nashville Churches of Christ in 1885

I have at hand Year-Book of the Disciples of Christ, Their Membership, Missions, Ministry, Educational and Other Institutions. Cincinnati: General Christian Missionary Convention, 1885.

This was not the first attempt to gather statistics, but we may regard as the first of its kind and scope.  Earlier attempts did quite well to list preachers and names of congregations. The 1885 Yearbook lists congregations in 38 American states and territories plus Canada, Great Britain, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.  Under each state, territory or country, the congregations are listed in nearly alphabetical order by the name of the church.  At least all the names starting with the same letter are grouped together.  Not truly alphabetical, but close.  Also included are lists of preachers and descriptions of mission activity, higher educational institutions and literary output.

What sets the 1885 book apart from its sporadic predecessors is that for each congregation it also provides names of elders, Post Office [the closest thing in 1885 to an address as we know it], the frequency of preaching [tri-monthly, monthly, semi-monthly, weekly, irregular or no data provided], number of members, number of Sunday School pupils, number of officers and teachers [presumably within the Sunday School arrangement], value of church property, the amount raised in 1883 for local work, the amount raised in 1883 for missions, and the name of the regular preacher in 1884.

At 159 pages the document is by a large margin the largest and broadest such directory undertaken thus far among the Stone-Campbell movement.  However, it has significant limitations.  The compiler, evidently Robert Moffett of Cleveland, Ohio, states in the first sentence of the General Introduction that “It can not be too forcibly enjoined on all who examine this Year-Book, that no pretensions to completeness are made for it.  On the contrary, it is expressly claimed that its statistics are very incomplete.”  He cites the organizing committee’s utter lack of financial resources and serious disorganization as factors mitigating against a fuller or more accurate compilation.  As a ” work of purely voluntary goodwillI…” Moffett states, “it may well be regarded as surprising that they have accomplished so much.”

The committee relied upon the personal-informational network put in place by advocates of missionary societies to gather their statistics: “That only in States having well-established and vigorous State organizations–such as Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia–has it been possible to obtain even approximately full lists of the churches; and much less their statistics.”  In short, the advocates of the Society kept track of the churches in their area.  Some states, such as Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, Texas and Arkansas, “there has not been the same pains taken by the State organizations to gather statistics.”  Finally, “in other quarters–such as Tennessee and the majority of the Southern and far Western states and Territories–they have been obliged to depend on individual aid–generally on such preachers as were known to them.  Hence their work must be regarded as merely a beginning.”

There are 264 Tennessee congregations listed.  None of those in Nashville are among this number.  Not Church Street or Second Christian downtown nor Woodland Street in East Nashville.  Outlying county congregations like South Harpeth, Philippi, and on out to Lavergne, Franklin and Owen Chapel are also missing.  Tucker’s Crossroads or Bethlehem in Wilson County is there, along with Bush’s Chapel in Sumner County up on the ridge and Sycamore over in Cheatham County.  But no Nashville congregations, not a one of them.

The list of preachers for Tennessee was hastily added late, after the majority of preachers were compiled into the main listing.  Of the 2620 preachers listed, here are those with Nashville addresses: R. Lin Cave [who was at Church Street in downtown], J. P. Grigg [who preached all over but chiefly in 1885 at the infant North Nashville, or 8th Avenue North congregation], David Lipscomb [a member at Church Street in 1885], William Lipscomb [listed in Brentwood, but still very close], W. J. Loos [who was at Woodland Street in East Nashville as a regular preacher], J. C. McQuiddy {who was at the infant Foster Street mission in North Edgefield], a Rawlings [who knows?], E. G. Sewell {an elder at Woodland Street], Rice Sewell [listed as Donleson, in Davidson County], and E. S. B. Waldron [listed as Lavergne, on the Davidson/Rutherford county line].  No other Tennessee city has as many resident preachers as Nashville.  One one African-American preacher was listed in Tennessee, H. Hankal in East Tennessee.

The Block River [could be Black River] church in Connersville, reported 250 members with no pupils in Sunday School; they did not report the amount spent in local or mission work. They heard preaching monthly by Joseph Hill.

The Catby’s Creek [almost surely the Cathey’s Creek] church, at Isom’s Store, reported monthly preaching by T. I. Brooks.  A congregation of 300 members, they had 25 Sunday School pupils, taught by four teachers.  With property valued at $2000, this congregation spent $100 for local work and $40 for mission work in 1883.

The McMinnville congregation, meeting weekly for preaching by George W. Sweeney, had 350 members, 125 in a Sunday School taught by five teachers.  Their property was valued at $5000.  They spent $2500 at home and $100 for mission work in 1883.  I have a neat old photograph of the McMinnville meetinghouse.  It reads ‘Church of God’ in the stone tablet high above the front door.  I will have to post it here sometime.

There are a few other congregations reporting memberships between 100-200, but in Tennessee, the Block river, Cathey’s Creek and McMinnville are the largest as recorded in the 1885 Year-Book.  The McMinnville congregation tied with Fayetteville in terms of the value of church property ($5000) and with the Memphis congregation for the amount spent in local work ($2500).  A few other churches show property valued above $1000, but McMinnville and Memphis are far and away the leaders in expenditures, as reported in this book.

22nd Avenue Church of Christ, Nashville, TN

Among the Churches of Christ recently (within the last 40 or so years) closed in Nashville is the 22nd Avenue Church in North Nashville.

Begun as a mission from Twelfth Avenue, North Church in the early 1920’s, Twenty-Second Avenue was always a rather small congregation and never a wealthy or affluent one.

The earliest record I can find of it in the Nashville city directories is in 1926 when it met at 1609 22nd Ave. North.  The 1937 City Directory lists the congregation as meeting at 1626 22nd Avenue North.  On 14 October 1932 the building, presumably at 1609, burned.  In debt and poor (“our membership is composed mainly of people who have little of this world’s goods…”), they met in private homes and a former automobile repair shop on 21st Avenue until funds were raised to buy the corner lot at 1626 22nd Avenue and Osage Street.  Upon it they constructed with donated labor and supplies a small frame meetinghouse. See Gospel Advocate 1933:93.

The photo below is, I assume, of the second building at 1626 22nd Avenue, North:

in 1933 the congregation had three elders, W. T. Phillips, H. V. McCool and A. B. Sweeney, with G. A. Helton serving as Treasurer.  They supported, partially, a “Brother Jones” in Metropolis, Illinois and maintained a “small fund for foreign mission work” in addition to local benevolence ministry.

From 1933 to 1979 my trail grows cold.

By 1979 I understand that 22nd Avenue relocated north of the Cumberland River to 3903 Milford Road.  Alas! I see from Google Maps that whatever structure existed at 3903 Milford Road, it has very recently seen the business end of a wrecking ball.  Milford Road Church of Christ does not appear in the 1983 Where the Saints Meet. A Google search turns up Rose of Sharon Primitive Baptist Church using that address.  Yet if Google Maps is any indication, there is no one meeting in any building at 3903 Milford Road today.  I may have missed my chance to photograph the Milford Road building by a few months.

Who might have information from 22nd Avenue Church of Christ: bulletins, directories or photographs?  Who could fill in any information, at all, in the forty year gap from 1933-1973?  Who has a photograph of the first building at 1609 22nd Avenue? Or of the Milford Road structure?  Who preached for this congregation?  Where did the members go when they disbanded?  Are any former members still living?