Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 17, 1959
NUMBER 19, PAGE 2-3a

They Make It A Test Of Fellowship

Roy E. Cogdill, Nacogdoches, Texas

From June 10 to 17, I assisted the Haywood Road Church in West Asheville, North Carolina in a gospel meeting. It was a very pleasant experience for me for the most part for the reason that I had never been in that section of the country before though I had been around it on all sides. In many respects, I think, Western North Carolina is one of the most beautiful sections I have seen anywhere. The wild flowers of the lower Appalachian Mountain range are in full bloom from the middle to the last of June, usually, and those who have not seen the Rhododendrons, Mountain Laurel, and Flaming Azaleas when they cover the mountain sides in that country have missed a wonderful sight afforded by the God of all creation. It is breath taking in its natural beauty both from the viewpoint of the mountains, trees, and flowers.

Then I was interested in the fact that my father's people had left that part of the country to settle in Texas not too long after the close of the civil war. Whether it is to North Carolina's and Eastern Tennessee's credit or not, there are more Cogdills in that section of the country than anywhere else I have ever been. I did not spend much time getting acquainted with them but I did look through the Register of Deeds records of some rather ancient transactions involving some of them in that section a long time ago. I remember reading an article by Albert Payson Terhune in the American Magazine a good many years ago entitled "My Family Tree". In a full page illustration there was a great tree with a monkey hanging by its tail and on the other side a convict hanging by his neck. Underneath was the statement, "I have always been afraid to look too closely at my family tree for the reason I am afraid that I might find some of my forefathers hanging by the wrong end". I have always been just a little that way.

The fact is that I was much more concerned with my spiritual relatives in my trip to that section and in my work there. For some reason the Carolinas have been much neglected and the churches have not prospered in that section as they have in some other. There are few self supporting churches in the western part of North Carolina that I could hear about. Most of the preachers in that section are supported by congregations in some other part of the country. The churches are weak and the buildings they have were in good part built by others.

The Haywood Road building is the oldest building in the city belonging to our brethren. Two other groups meet in the city, as far as I could learn, one on Vance Street, where I understand a preacher by the name of Waymon Love, works regularly. This group officially extended us no recognition whatever though several of the members came individually in spite of efforts to keep them away from the meeting. There was considerable attendance from Hendersonville, which is a splendid town not too far away. Brother Roy Fudge, brother of Bennie Lee Fudge, is the preacher in that town and there is a good group of brethren carrying on their work at that place. Brother Herbert Winkler from Nashville, who with his good wife were with us through most of the meeting at Asheville, preached in Hendersonville on Sunday during the meeting.

One other preaching brother in a nearby town told some of the brethren that he would like to talk to me about some things which he had heard about me, but he couldn't afford to come to the meeting and give us encouragement in it. I haven't been that prejudiced against sectarian meetings at any time in my life that I can remember. I would not go under false pretenses, of course. This good brother made it over the last day but did not give us notice of his coming until about an hour or so before he arrived and we didn't make connections for the talk. I am sorry for I would have appreciated the privilege of branding as a complete falsehood the stories he had read in the Gospel Advocate and been told by others concerning my being a "church splitter" and an "anti", etc.

Brother Neal Smith preaches full time for the Haywood Road Church. He is a graduate of one of "our" schools and grew up in Nashville but he came through honest and respectful toward the Word of God and has his feet planted on New Testament scriptures and their authority. He is being supported half time by the little group at Haywood Road and the other half comes from other churches. He is energetic, possessed with a splendid personality and ability, completely sincere, and is doing a fine work. Not too long ago he gave up other work to devote his time fully to preaching and the work of the Lord.

During the early part of this year the Vance Street Church decided to get the television films made by the Herald of Truth, raise from other churches in that section and elsewhere, I suppose, enough money to buy time on the local television station and carry on the Herald of Truth locally in this manner. Of course that sort of a section is not ordinarily covered too well by the Herald of Truth programs. In such a mission field if a small group wants these programs put on, they often have to finance it themselves. I found it to be so in Canada and it is true in Asheville. Of course the Vance Street congregation, preacher and most of the members, have the Gospel Advocate brand of religion. They go along with most anything and in their arrangements for this television program they are the sponsoring church.

When the Haywood Road Church did not go along with their television showing of the Herald of Truth trouble came. A few of their members immediately withdrew when they could not control and force the program into the work of the church there over the consciences of some of their brethren. They took the same attitude the liberal brethren take in general. The Herald of Truth and the benevolent societies are optional methods of carrying on the work of the church — matters of method — "expediencies" — they say, but when there is anyone who conscientiously cannot support such programs, he or they are disfellowshipped, ostracized, pulverized, if possible and lied about from now on until they give in. You don't need to worry about the matter of fellowship — take your stand for what you believe to be the truth and refuse to compromise either your convictions or conscience and disfellowshipping will be taken care of by the institutional crowd.

Only recently in a short editorial — and they are usually short in one way or another — the great and much adored and praised editor of the Gospel Advocate defended himself and his paper by saying that they did believe that there is just one way to "relieve" the destitute. Well, if they believe that each congregation can do its own work — under the supervision of its own elders, out of the resources of its own treasury, contributed by its own members through the ministration of its own deacons, then why aren't they willing to do it that way so that we can have unity? The rest of us can go along with that and it would eliminate the problems and restore unity among the people of God, at least on that point. This they are not willing to do for the sake of unity or any other reason. You either do it their way in spite of your conviction and conscience or you won't be fellowshipped.

The group that left the congregation in West Asheville went to Vance Street where they fit well into the spirit and program from what I could learn. We struggled on in our meeting without their help and managed to get through it and do some good without them. They were not content to leave and go where they could do things their way but they threatened to destroy and close up the doors of the congregation they left. They, too, would say that they believe these things are matters of expediency and there is more than one way — but they have the true Gospel Advocate sectarian spirit — you either do it their way or they will do what they can to destroy you. They wrote the church in Abilene that supplied half of Brother Smith's support and succeeded in getting that stopped, thinking that would put an end to the work of that congregation. I suppose that much to their surprise the work at Haywood Road hasn't failed but is getting along fine. The preacher is supported and they have more help offered than they had before. God usually takes care of truth and righteousness in spite of those who will not respect it.

Of course, as you have guessed, it was not hard for them to get the Abilene Church, 11th and Willits, to cut off their support. They are sectarians too and you must either endorse the Herald of Truth or they will not fellowship you, if you starve. Their check for $200 usually came about the 5th of the month. Never had it been later than the ninth. But when April came, no check came on the fifth — nor even by the tenth. On the eleventh day of the month, Brother Smith received a letter notifying him that he would not receive any more support. That announcement came to him after eleven days of the month had already gone by. They not only did not have the decency to give him notice, they did not notify him that his support had stopped until a week after it was due. This is the Christian (?) attitude of our Herald of Truth churches. Rather it is rank sectarianism.

One of the most significant facts connected with this whole sorry picture is that this church — Brother B. Frank Rhodes did the writing for them — mistreated a brother in Christ not because he had acted immorally or had adamantly or vehemently opposed something which they think is a matter of judgment — (or do they believe it essential?) — but because in conviction and conscience he cannot go along with them. Brother Smith had been studying the question when they agreed to support him. He told them so. When they discontinued their support they knew that brother Smith had not raised the issue in the congregation. He had done no preaching on it at that time. He just could not conscientiously go along with their views. This is the extreme attitude manifested by the liberal churches and brethren all over the country. It cannot be Christian but is purely sectarian. We have seen the emerging of another sect and can say again with John — "they went out from us because they were not of us; if they had been of us, they would have continued with us." We will just have to go along without them and I am sure that with God on our side the matter will be taken care of fully.

We had a good meeting. Our crowds grew though they were not overflowing any of the time. The last service witnessed a fine man and his wife baptized into Christ. He had been a teacher in the Methodist Church. We feel sure that some of those already baptized learned the truth about some of the current issues and that much good was done.