VAUGHN: Brother Mathis finds perfect fit at Mt. Carmel Baptist

Ralph Vaughn, The Murfreesboro Post, January 15, 2015

Dr. F. Murray Mathis, a Southern Baptist minister, has spoken and prayed with small groups and even groups of thousands on many occasions. After all, his Christian ministry stretches over a half-century.

Last year, he accepted a new challenge; one he believes is another Divine purpose. While semi-retired, he was serving as a chaplain at two area nursing home facilities; also a preacher on call when needed.

While those efforts were spiritually rewarding, he asked the Lord for more. He prayed, “Lord, I want to serve you again in the role of a pastor. You know my heart and you know my desire to serve. I will gladly accept the call to a small church that would be blessed by you through me.”

In just a few days, he believes the answer came when requested to preach Easter morning 2014 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on Manchester Highway in Rutherford County. Eight worshipers filled the sanctuary. Brother Mathis was ready and gave it his best.

The preacher and his message struck a chord with the church’s leadership. He was asked to be their regular minister. The number of attendees has grown; some Sundays up to 28.

Mt. Carmel Baptist Church was built and dedicated in 1885. Monroe Prater gave the property, helped construct the church and served as a deacon. William McKee gave the lumber for the building and for the pews. The poplar pews are still in use today. The original building consisted of one large room.

The first pastor was Brother Sanford, who received $200 a year salary. The first church records were destroyed in a fire at the home of the church clerk so most of the early history is sketchy at best.

The modern history picks up in October 1919. L.D. Agee was the pastor and A.J. Todd served as church clerk. At that time the church met the second Sunday of each month, and years later expanded it services.

In January 1952, Frank Mangrum was called to fill the pulpit full time. Some other early pastors included R.L. Whitlock, John A. Carlton, Agee, T.C. Davis, Miller Wood, J.R. Ramsey, C.M. Pickler, Burtis V. Christian, Woodrow Medlock, Fred Morgan, Donald Rutledge, Earl Dodd, Brown Smith and Frank Messick.

For Brother Mathis, Mt. Carmel represents his 13th pastorate, beginning in December 1961 at a small Baptist Church in the Leiper’s Fork Community of Williamson County. There were eight members at the time, and the young pastor made nine.

A bachelor back then, Brother Mathis had a good-intending parishioner who decided that the pastor needed help in matchmaking. He was introduced to a pretty young lady from Nashville whom he dated for a year before taking her hand in marriage. Then he got both a bride and a church pianist in Miss Loretta.

Well-known in Southern Baptist circles, he served as President of the Tennessee Convention for a one-year term in 1989. He is a former trustee of Belmont University in Nashville and currently is chairman of the Trustee Board at Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta.

Brother Mathis is optimistic about the growth for Mt. Carmel in 2015. He says, “There are many new homes being built in the area and more commercial and industrial investments are being made in close proximity. We sing from the old hymn books and the Lord’s Gospel is always relevant. We welcome the community to grow with us.”

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