May 4, 2020, Susan Harber, The Daily News Journal
When I research church history, my intent is to study the very earliest material on hand. Thus, we will delve into the originations of two prominent Church of Christ congregations abiding in Rock Hill and La Vergne.
Rock Hill Church of Christ in Readyville was built in 1887. The namesake of Rock Hill on the north side of Bradyville Road near the Donnell’s Chapel community derives its name from ‘large flat rock forming the road and building foundation.’
The white church nestled off Bradyville Road was constructed at the crest of a hill overlooking a deep valley. The beautiful, scenic location was a special place to worship.
The original building was erected in 1877 on land bequeathed from Hiram Murray. Francis Youree gave all lumber that was dressed by hand on the building site; and all work was achieved from tight-knit, caring members of the community. James Price Grigg and Francis Youree were on the building committee. The structure has been well tended through the years; and the original straight wooden pews with their solid backs and seats have been in use for decades. The Auditorium today can seat 300.
The first service was held on a 4th Sunday in August, and there were three exciting services with dinner on the ground. In the beginning, there were 10 active members.
The building was one-room (34 x 44 feet) and covered by a roof with gables at front and back. Two entrance doors and three windows were on each side. Inside were three large posts in the center of the building to support a roof in the two-story interior.
Some of the earliest ministers were Ben Young, J.L. Bryant, James Tidwell, E.G. Sewell, W.L. Logan and C.M. Pullias. In 1905, Pullias conducted his first meeting at Rock Hill. Early Sunday School teachers included N.P. Lowe, C.S. Denton, Gum Puckett, Belle Lowe, and Susie Belle Jones.
In 1954, three classrooms were added; and, in 1962, a 4th classroom addition and gas heater were new improvements. Moreover, in 1965, padded pews and hardwood flooring were laid down for an Auditorium. In 1967, an air conditioner was an enhancement; and, in 1970, a new ceiling was included followed by a vestibule in 1986.
By 1962, there were 100 members on the roll. Granville Brown, Ira Adams and John Young were minsters in this time frame. The oldest member in 1962 was Mrs. J.B. McFarlin, who joined the congregation in 1890. In recent times, Joey Ferrell has led the church in an excellent ministry.
Rock Hill Church of Christ has remained an incredible house of worship today and continues to thrive on the large rock that bound the foundation of 130 years ago.
La Vergne Church of Christ
Our second congregation of La Vergne Church of Christ holds an endearing berth within our county. This church first met in Buchanan Springs in the 1840s and began as a congregation in 1855. The original building was destroyed during the Civil War. Materials were utilized by Union soldiers to create lean-tos and make-shift housing.
After the war, a building was erected near the site of the La Vergne Telephone Company (present in the mid-20th century). In 1885, this structure (Christian Church) also burned. Because there was insufficient hitching space for horses, a new one-room white building was erected in 1886 close to the road on the site of the present-day church. Two doors served as entrance for men and women. Land for the new structure was donated by Billy Goodman. Longstanding members in this time frame were Jesse Owen, Nathan Carter and William Sobel.
An old large cedar tree in front of the church was a gathering place for folks to talk before worship. In a gospel meeting, David Lipscomb baptized two members William and Alice Sutton. Leonard Jackson and Charles Taylor preached at this time.
Thirty-five years after the Civil War, the U.S. Federal Government settled a claim for damage inflicted on the original building during the war. The awarded sum enabled congregants in 1925 to remodel the building that still stands. The building was removed from the edge of the road and bricked and equipped with a coal furnace.
In 1944, remodeling continued, as hardwood floors were laid; and ceiling and walls were restored. In 1951, Sunday School rooms were added along with electric heat, water fountains, and a baptistry. A needed well was also dug at this time. In 1959, new pews were purchased with matching pulpit and table. Moreover, in 1960, a vestibule was added.
This church sponsored mission trips into the mid-1900s on a high level. They supported overseas work in Africa, Korea and Panama, as well as continued support to the Sand Hill Colored Church near La Vergne. By 1952, 100 members were in attendance. By 1986, the Auditorium seated 600. Joshua Pappas serves as an exciting minister in 2020.
Both Rock Hill and La Vergne Church of Christ have displayed strong forbearance over the past 160 years. Their bold persistence to move beyond obstacles and remain intact as a force for goodwill has reached great heights in our county history.