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.
Agreeably to appointment, a four day’s meeting was held at Mayslick, on the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st ult. It was supposed that on Lord’s day, fifteen hundred persons were present: five brethren engaged actively in the business of the meeting, and ten or eleven individuals were immersed.
We would just notice that the economy to be observed at such a meeting ought to be maturely considered, for very frequently our best wishes and most zealous efforts are rendered abortive for want of a proper plan, and a few moments deliberation.
The fact of commencing operations at the spur of the moment without any preconcerted plan, frequently proves injurious to our cause.
I very well recollect of three of us, a while before the actual restoration of the Ancient Gospel, standing up and in succession, with only a few minutes intermission between the last two, delivering three set speeches of from two to three hours in length each, and then sitting down without ever affording the audience a single opportunity obey the Son of God. Things, however, are very much changed since that time, and now we meet to preach the gospel that it may be obeyed by those who hear us.
How then ought the ministering brethren, who are present on such occasions, to proceed, in order to produce the greatest possible effect?
Experience suggests the following to me as the best plan to be pursued. The laboring brethren who are to be engaged should have the sole direction of this matter, and should then pitch upon one brother who is capable of handling a distinct topic. When he has enlightened the audience, and has stated, defined, and illustrated his subject, let him give an invitation to the people and be succeeded by his fellows in the character of exhorters.
Exhorters, it ought to be observed, should never introduce new topics, but only new and striking ideas on the same topic.
Exhortations should consist of such things as have a tendency to move the affections of those who have believed but not obeyed; they should be elevated, violent, or tender according to the state of the case; bold & lively, striking and animating, containing great and beautiful images, calculated to move the soul and win the world to God.
The person engaged in delivering the leading discourse should not, I think, be called on to immerse; it is on some occasions too much. The-man-at-the-fountain should be one of the other brethren.
[Walter Scott] “Meeting” The Evangelist, 1:6, June 4, 1832, p. 139.
Not long ago I listened online to my long-time friend Chris Harrell preach about Joseph. Chris is pinch-hitting for Jimmy Adcox at Southwest Church in Jonesboro, AR. For a season they are preaching through the biblical narrative from beginning to end. It appears they are at the same time intentionally tying the stories of life on the ground in Jonesboro to the narrative of Scipture and the narrative Scripture invites us to inhabit. Here is the website they put together as they work through it. I find the website a good idea and the materials on it (especially the reference chart) helpful. I admire their attempt to saturate the congregation with the Biblical story.
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