History of the Walnut Street Church of Christ
As early as 1880, the New Testament church was represented in Dickson, a town of less than 1,000 residents at the time, by one family, J.W. Shaw and his wife, who had obeyed the gospel in Lyles, Tennessee. They were joined in 1881 by J.M. Talley and his wife from Kingston Springs, and in 1885 by John McKnight. At that time, a Brother Stacey from the Rock Church vicinity came in on occasions and led the services. During the years from 1885 to 1891, four preachers visited Dickson and preached: A.J. Luther of Burns, John Morton, Will Morton and J.W. Grant. About this time an elderly widow, Mrs. Rachel J. Haynes, moved to Dickson. She had a knowledge of and love for the truth and she set about working with the others to establish a congregation in Dickson.
In 1888, Mr. and Mrs. Will Andrews moved to Dickson from Hurricane Mills. Through the efforts of Mrs. Andrews, Mrs. Haynes and Mrs. Bulinda Page, J.W. Grant was secured to hold the first protracted meeting. It was held in the hall over the Dickson Bank and Trust Company (House Blend coffee shop in 2006). Rent was fifty-cents per night. Grant stayed in the home of John Henry and Bulinda Page. A letter from Mrs. Bess Delk, daughter of Mrs. Andrews, states: “There were thirteen members–Mama, Dad, and eleven others. Mama said that someone in Dickson said that little church will never amount to anything as they are starting out with unlucky thirteen.” The meeting began the first Sunday in May, 1891, and lasted a month, and resulted in the organization of the congregation to be known later as the Walnut Street Church of Christ.
An article by I.B. Bradley in a 1913 edition of an old county newspaper stated about the meeting of 1891: “During this meeting there were thirty-five additions. A regular congregation was set in order in the hall, consisting of about forty members.” Possibly there were three elders appointed, certainly two. Brother Stacey and D.A. Sager, and a short time later, A.B. Williams. J.M. Talley served as one of the deacons until his death.
The congregation had little money, but in 1892 it began preparing to build a house of worship, which was constructed on Walnut Street in 1893. It contained a baptistry but no dressing rooms. The church at Pinewood gave the seats and the bell. Since the labor was donated by members, the church was left with a debt of only about $300 on the white frame building.
Before 1911 the following conducted meetings, some of them more than one: J.W. Grant, a Brother Hardin, Edd J. Meachum, E.G. Sewell, F.B. Srygley, Will L. Logan, Jim S. Dunn., Gus Dunn, Will Anderson, Brother Oldfield, J.W. Shepherd, E.A. Elam, T.B. Larrimore, F.W. Smith, James A. Allen and J.A. Harding.
Since 1911, meetings have been conducted by some of the most outstanding preachers in the brotherhood. Among them have been: C.M. Pullias, James A. Allen, Foy Wallace, N.B. Hardeman, S.H. Hall, B.C. Goodpasture, Price Billingsley, I.A. Douthitt, John Hardeman, J.T. Smith, J.T. Lewis, G.C. Brewer, H.H. Adamson, J.P. Sanders, Bro. Busby, Leon Burns, Roy Cogdill, George DeHoff, C.C. Abbott, Fred Chun, Mardell Lynch, J.P. Miller, Franklin T. Puckett, Leroy Brownlow, B.B. James, Hugo McCord, J.P. Murphree, Carroll Ellis, Leo Snow, H.A. Dickson, Robert Brooks, Jimmy Allen, Jack Duncan, Mid McKnight, Prentice Meador, Jim Bill McInteer, E. Ray Jerkins, Tom Holland, Dale Smith, Guy N. Woods, C.W. Bradley, Jack Evans, Marlin Connelly, Bill Flatt and Jack Exum, Alan Highers, Jay Lockhart, Billy Smith, Hardeman Nichols and Dan Winkler. Marshall Keeble also preached here but did not conduct a meeting.
J.E. Acuff was the first to serve the congregation as a stationed preacher. Anthony Derryberry, Will Hassell, and a Brother Litton served also. In 1905 I.B. Bradley and his wife came and remained until the fall of 1917.
A meeting held by F.W. Smith lasted for twenty-nine days and had seventy additions to the church. An advertisement in the Dickson Herald in March of 1911 stated: “A meeting will begin at the Church of Christ on the 3rd Sunday at 11 a.m. and continue indefinitely. Services at 3 p.m. each weekday and 7:30 p.m. Preaching by F. W. Smith of Nashville. Everyone cordially invited.”
As early as 1910 the growth of the congregation dictated enlargements in the building and facilities. A lot on the corner of Center Avenue and Walnut Streets was purchased from J.T. Holley at a cost of $200. On April 21, 1911, a committee was appointed to build a new brick auditorium on the corner of East Walnut Street and Center Avenue. The brick building was to be 50 X 80 feet. The committee was made up of seven men, C. M. Turner, D. E. Beasley, G. A. Slayden, E. W. Daniel, Oury Harris, A. H. Leathers Sr., and Dan Joslin. Work on the new building began on May 6, 1911, and it is believed the first service was held in March of 1912. The building was constructed at a cost of $15,000. While the building was being constructed, services were conducted in the county’s southern courthouse across the street (where the War Memorial Building is now located). In 1926, twenty classrooms were added to the church building.
During the four years with J.T. Marlin as the congregation’s preacher (1946-1950) the congregation greatly enlarged its program of mission work both at home and abroad. For the first time, a fulltime secretary, Bobbie Corlew, was hired to work in the church office. The church began the publication of a weekly bulletin, ‘The Chart and Compass’, which was mailed to the members. The church also began its present custom of sending food to bereaved families.
Because of a need for more space, on January 8, 1952, the elders decided Walnut Street would sponsor and support the establishment of a new congregation in Dickson. On February 17, 1952, about 100 members of the Walnut Street Church met at Dickson High School, forming the nucleus of the Academy Street Church of Christ (now Oak Avenue Church of Christ).
In January of 1955, the local radio station, WDKN, began operation, and D. Ellis Walker was the first Walnut Street minister to preach the gospel over this station. Beginning in 1955 and continuing for some time, Brother Walker’s Sunday morning auditorium class was carried on air. The church has continued to sponsor a program since that time
In 1955 a new educational building was completed, tastefully adjoining the existing facility. The addition consisted of eleven classrooms, a kitchen, restrooms, and two small auditoriums. In 1971 a new addition to the educational building was completed, adding ten new classrooms, restrooms and a large entrance area. A new nursery was glassed in on the balcony. In 1975 another wing was added on the west side of the property, facing the War Memorial Building, adding ten new classrooms.
On March 27, 1994, ground was broken for a multi-purpose building and on April 30, 1995, the congregation assembled in the new fellowship hall for worship. The addition included a large multi-purpose room, gathering room, classrooms, library, daycare facilities, kitchen and more.
The missions program of the congregation goes back many years, both within Dickson County and into the rest of the world. Efforts outside Dickson County go back to when Miss Sara Andrews went to Japan in 1916, where she received support from the church until her death there in 1961. Other past efforts include folks like: Billy Smith (Japan), Robert Wilcoxson (Nigeria), John Petty Murphree (Brussels, Belgium and Papua, New Guinea), Bill Ramsay (Korea), Gordon Makool (Beaver Dam, Wisconsin), E.C. ‘Zeke’ Maynard (Bermuda), Otis Gatewood (Iron Curtain), Carl Frazier (Wisconsin) and many other individuals or congregations. In 2006 the elders approved the establishment of a new local ministry to assist Spanish-speaking people.
Mission efforts as of 2008 include: Forrest Chapman (North Georgia); Jerry Sawyer (Farmville, Virginia); Christian Student Centers (Knoxville, Murfreesboro, Martin, Clarksville and Cookeville); Guyana, South America; Savusavu, Fiji Islands, South Pacific; Adam Barr (Scotland); Graham McDonald (Scotland); James D. Judd (Central Africa); Roger Michael (Albania and Georgia); Dino Tzanetos (Athens, Greece); Trevor Williams (England); Wayne Pruette (Guyana); Charles Moore (Italian Literature Program); Jerris N. Bullard (India); Keith Purcell (Quebec City, Canada); Eastern European Missions; World Christian Broadcasting; World Bible School; and www.studyJesus.com.
New auditorium completed in 2007
In 2006 the corner of Center Avenue and Walnut Street displayed the beginnings of the congregation’s largest building efforts yet: the razing of the old historic auditorium and the building of a new one capable of seating more than 1,500 people—along with classrooms to allow for classes of all ages. Extensive remodeling was done to the education wing built in 1955. A chapel, nursery, and preschool classrooms were placed in this wing. The original bell from the small frame building, along with a bell donated by Elmer and Pearl Dunn, were installed side-by-side in the new bell tower.
The following men have served as ministers of the Walnut Street congregation: J.E. Acuff, Anthony Derryberry, Will Hassell and a Brother Litton (__ -1905), I.B. Bradley (1905-1917), J.T. Smith, E.F. Watson and N.E. Horton (1917-1929), A.J. Bachman (1929-1939), Leslie G. Thomas (1939-1942), I.A. Douthitt (1943-1946), J.T. Marlin (1946-1950), Bond Stocks (1951-1954), B. C. Goodpasture filled in temporarily (1954) D. Ellis Walker (1954-1960), E. Winston Burton (1961-1968), Gynnath Ford (1968-1982), Gary Colley (1982-1984), Bob Terrell (1984-1990), D. Ellis Walker and Jim Bill McInteer (Jan.-Aug. 1990), Clarence DeLoach (1990-2001), Steve Baggett (2001 – __ ).
Larry Snow was hired in 2002 to work with the congregation as the involvement minister. Bob Spencer (since 1987) and Alan Ragan (since 1996) volunteer as the youth ministers.
Some of those who have served the church as elders and passed on are as follows: J.E. Stacey, D.A. Sager, A.B. Williams, G.F. Easley, W.M. Hogin, D.E. Beasley, J.T. Register, Dan Joslin, W.A. Meadow, E.W. Daniel, Oury Harris, W.P. Morrison, John Halliburton, John B. Leathers, J.D. Fussell, W. R. Pewitt, Joe Larkins, Albert Nicks, James Nicks, J.R. Downey, Finley Duncan, J.C. Erranton, Gilbert Brown, J.C. Canady, H. Clyde Fussell, Sr., J. Mitchell Hayes, Dan Hall , Glynn Daniel, Bob Gardner, Prince Aydelott, and Lyle Farrell.
As of March 18, 2017, there are six men still living who have served as elders in the past, but no longer continue in that capacity: Dale Ragan, Billy Shelton, Jimmy Taylor, Charles Deberry, Jere Bass and Dan Erranton.
There are currently eleven men serving as elders. They are listed here, with the date they began to serve in this role: Gaylan Brown (2008), Gary Brunett (2008), Bobby Cathey (December 1995), George Caudill (January 1976), Joe Corlew (June 2003), Robby Harmon(2013), Tim Hogue(2014), Brian Ragan (2008), Tim Spann (2014), Bob Spencer (December 1995), and Ted Williams (2008).
These men have as top priorities, attending to the needs of the congregation and overseeing numerous mission efforts at home and around the world with a mission statement of “To manifest the spirit of Christ by saving the lost and serving mankind to the glory of God.”
This history of the congregation was compiled by Alan Ragan from oral and written information given by: Mrs. Eddie Williams Swank, Mrs. Bobbie Page Corlew, Mrs. Rosemary Page Brown, Mrs. Karene Larkins Harris, Mrs. Lettie Lee Page Moore, old newspaper articles, church bulletins, Skits and Bits, Dickson County Archives and others.