Teach the truth of God's Word as it is revealed in the Scriptures, and by this souls might be led to Christ.
Very few congregations even know the history behind their congregations, much less have such a interesting history as the church at Leiper's Fork.
In 1815 there was a plot of land given by John Dobbins and a house of worship built thereon, called "Union". This house was to be used freely by all denominations. At that time the Primitive Baptists were largely predominant in that community. Affairs moved along very amicably for some years, as there were few denominations represented in the community who cared to use the house. In 1829, Andrew Craig and Joel Anderson, Baptist preachers, were withdrawn from by neighboring congregations for preaching heresy, "or Campbellism". These preachers had been preaching for the Baptists at Union regularly. They had preached the New Testament record of conversion and had urged people to do just what the apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, told them to do. This was branded by their fellow preachers as "Campbellism." They had preached the same at Union. So, on January 2, 1830, these two men assisted in forming a church of disciples after the New Testament pattern from the excluded Baptists of that community and the neighboring vicinity. This congregation is considered the oldest church in the South, south of Nashville, Tennessee.
These pioneer preachers in Tennessee published a declaration of their convictions and gave the names of their co-workers or fellow disciples. It is as follows:
We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, being the professed disciples of Jesus Christ in the vicinity of Leipers Fork, do hereby agree to live together as a congregation of the Lord, to be denominated "the church of Christ on Leiper's Fork", and we do hereby agree to take the Bible to be the word of God in such a sense as to hold ourselves bound to believe all it declares, do all that it requires of us as Christians, as well as to abstain from all it forbids. We do consider it the only rule of faith and practice in matters of religion. So there is no occasion for any other judge of controversies, or for creeds, confessions of faith, traditions, or acts of councils, to supply its supposed defects. We take that Book for our creed in all matters pertaining to us as a church and individuals.
[Signed] Jacob Carl, Nancy Brown, Mary Huggins, Frances Potter, Polly Meador, Elizabeth Allen, Merritt Brown, William Sparkman, Bird Dodson, Judas Dodson, Polly Walker, Elizabeth Hunter, and Margaret Dodson.
It will be noted that there were five men and eight women who constituted the first church at Leiper's Fork. Some of the descendants of these charter members still live in that community and worship at the Leiper's Fork church.
In March, 1831, Elder Seth Sparkman and wife were baptized by Andrew Craig. These were the first to be baptized for the remission of sins south of Nashville, Tennessee. Seth Sparkman became a very stong preacher of the gospel in his generation. He did much to build up the congregation there. The cause grew rapidly in that community through his influence and teaching. It was not many years until the congregation was considered a powerful influence for the Restoration Movement in the South. The church endured persecution by the sects around them and in the midst of fiery trials continued to grow steadily and increase in favor with God and men. In 1855 the congregation decided to form another congregation at Boston, about four miles south of Leiper's Fork. This suited the convenience of a number of the members. One thing is to be noticed in establishing the congregation at Boston, about four miles south of Leipers Fork. The brethren and sisters took into consideration the spread of Christianity and the convenience of each other, and agreed, without any hard feeling or alienation, to separate and build another congregation. These early disciples in Tennessee set an example which the congregations throughout the country should follow. Seldom do we find congregations separating and some changing place of worship to establish another congregation without bitter feeling arising and strife being engendered. We commend most earnestly the example of the brethren and sisters at Leiper's Fork in establishing the congregation at Boston. There are now splendid congregations at Leiper's Fork and Boston.
Twenty-one years after the church at Boston was established, or in 1876, quite a number of disciples from the Leiper's Fork congregation helped to form a congregation at Berea, four miles east of Leiper's Fork. This separation also was done in peace, and all rejoiced that the cause of Christ was spreading so rapidly. There is today a splendid congregation at Berea. The Leiper's Fork congregation is the mother of the church at Boston and at Berea. There is Christian fellowship between these three congregations today, and, so far as the history of all these congregations shows, there has never been any strife between them. Their example can be followed with much profit by all congregations today. It would be well for many large congregations to separate into smaller ones.
There is a bit of interesting history connected with the building of their church house. It will be remembered that the first house, built in 1815, at Leiper's Fork, was called "Union", and all denominations had free use of it. In 1845 this old house was pulled down and another one built upon an adjoining lot, which was also still called "Union". It was deeded to "Baptists, Methodists, Cumberland Presbyterians, and Christians". Each one of these was to have a Lord's day and week in the month. In 1877 this last house was very much in need of repair. At that date the Baptists, Methodists, and Cumberland Presbyterians all numbered so few that they proposed to sell their interest in the house to the "Christians". The "Christians" had no house of their own, but they continued to grow and increase in number so that they established congregations at Boston and at Berea. Though they had no house which they could call their own and hand possession of the Union house only one Sunday in the month, yet they met regularly on the first day of the week to break bread. On the Sunday that belonged to one of the denominations they would meet in the evening or afternoon, but on their day they would meet in the morning. Sometimes they would meet from house to house on the days when the house was occupied by the denominations, and sometimes they would meet in the schoolhouse. They were severely persecuted; but persecution has never hurt the churches of Christ, but the Lord has blessed them through persecution. In 1880 the church at Leiper's Fork numbered more than two hundred.
E. G. Sewell, F. H. Davis, James Litton, and E. B. Cayce did much to instruct and encourage the church there while it was struggling through the fires of persecution. The memory of these good men still lingers in the minds of a few of the present congregation. May the churches at Lieper's Fork, Boston, and Berea be encouraged by this bit of history of their congregations and continue steadfast in the service of the Lord, ever abounding more and more in love for each other and in the work of the Lord.
(H. Leo Boles, Gospel Advocate, 12/11/30)