Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 5, 1961
NUMBER 22, PAGE 3,11b

"The Gus Nichols Story"

Thomas G. O'neal, Jasper, Ala.

Another question that is given to Nichols for his answer is, "We are endeavoring to place religious articles in national magazines similar to the ones placed by the Knights of Columbus advertising the Catholic religion and teaching their faith. Do you believe this to be an effective way and within the realms of the scriptures?" To this Nichols replies, "One of the most effective. It pays to advertise like that, and the sooner we get into it, the better off we will be and the more people we will convert." Why did not Nichols tell us if this was scriptural or not? Is there any scripture for the Gospel Press which is the organization that is putting these articles in the magazines? Also, who is the "we" that Nichols is talking of? Is it individual Christians or is it churches of Christ? In the Gospel Advocate, Sept. 15, 1955, Pages 817-818, the Gospel Press is described to brethren. One of the statements on page 817 is, "Contributions will be solicited from individual Christians only. They will not be accepted front churches." (Emphasis mine, TGO) But come fall of 1960 and the vice-president of Gospel Press, Paul Hunton, sends out letters to "Elders and Minister, Church of Christ" in which he says, "In our (Gospel Press, TGO) fall campaign we are asking every congregation to give the fifth Sunday contribution in October, or give all over regular expenses one Sunday in October, or take a special contribution one Sunday in October." Just who is this "we" that Nichols is speaking of? Also, just where is the passage of scripture that Nichols gave to show Gospel Press to be scriptural. A good question for Nichols to answer would be, "Just what is wrong with the American Christian Missionary Society and right with Gospel Press?"

Two other questions asked Nichols are, "What kind of training class do you have?" and, "When did you start this class?" The class was started twenty-seven years ago for the benefit of the Jasper congregation. Soon preachers came from other places. Nichols gives us some idea about how the class operates when he says, "I make sermon outlines and discuss them as though I were preaching them, stopping along the way for illustrated material from the class, comments or questions. We spend forty, minutes at least on each outline. 'They get so full of that subject that they know what to do with it. They go back and remake it and rebuild it so they can preach it. They take my illustrations and comments which have been offered in the class and build them into their own outlines."

No doubt much good was accomplished when these classes first started. No one would question that the purpose for which they were started was good, However, since the beginning of these classes, like so many other things, changes have taken place. This is one of the ways that Nichols has built up the religious regime of his in this county. Preachers of the county attend his training class on Friday night; he instructs them like he wants them to be and the way he wants things done in the county. These same preachers are used by the churches in the county. Through the years Nichols has been able to control, indirectly or directly, the activity of the county as far as churches of Christ are concerned. The denominational people think that whatever Gus Nichols says or does in the county is the way all churches of Christ in the county function. And to some extent this is correct.

When I first moved to this part of the country and began preaching on the radio, and denominational people learned that I was not doing just like Nichols said, was not under his thumb and control, they could not understand it for a while. I met a man on the street in Jasper not many months ago, who was a Methodist, I believe, and he said that he wanted to shake my hand for not going along with Nichols. He said that Nichols had got to the point that he thought nothing could take place religiously in the county unless he approves of it.

During the week, there are a number of broadcasts put on by churches of Christ. One is put on by a local business. Of those originating in Jasper, all of the preachers speak from the meeting house of the Sixth Avenue Church where Nichols preaches, except me. The Sixth Avenue meeting house is the "unofficial" headquarters of religious activity of churches of Christ in Walker County, Alabama.

Also of those preachers in the county, Nichols is their papa. Whenever Nichols wants them to act, all he needs to do is to just say the word and his wishes are carried out. Nichols has been reviewing my sermons on the radio for a number of months. Whenever some of the preachers of the county would be scheduled to preach on Nichols' program (he pays for it himself from funds contributed to him by churches and individuals in the county) and I would say something that Nichols thought should be reviewed, the preacher would have to give way to the bishop of Walker County. He tells them when to preach and when he says preach, they preach; when he tells them they can't preach they don't preach. When Nichols says, "Frog!' the preachers in the county jump and while jumping say, "How high?"

Nichols has admitted over the radio; that in the past when, anything that was about to take place, like a preacher from the outside of the county coming into the county to preach, that Nichols didn't want to come into his diocese, he was able to keep them under cover without many people noticing them. But this is no longer true. He can not stop the Voice of the McArthur Heights congregation because he has no puppet elders or preacher there, neither can he stop my voice over the radio. Nichols can't stand to know that there is on his playground one that he cannot tell what to do.

Brother Pryde E. Hinton was scheduled to conduct a gospel meeting at the Argo congregation in Walker County last summer — summer of 1960.When Nichols found out about it, through his influence he got brother Hinton's meeting cancelled. If one wants proof of this, all that is needed is to write brother Hinton, Rt. 2, Box 340, Dora, Ala.

Last winter I booked a meeting with the Cedar Creek congregation of his county. When I booked the meeting, I had already told the brethren how I stood on the questions of the church. Since they knew how I stood when they scheduled the meeting, I expected to be able to hold the meeting. But when Gus Nichols learned of my meeting, he made his appearance on the radio in his diocese, on Lord's Day morning, June 11, 1961, and informed the brethren of the county he understood that they had in one of the congregations an "anti" preacher scheduled to conduct a meeting. He told them over the radio not to let an "anti hold the meeting; that they couldn't afford to let an "anti hold a meeting in any of the churches of the county. I have a tape recording of this sermon of Nichols' and will be glad to furnish anyone a copy if they want proof of this.) That week I was out of town and upon returning late in the week, I had a letter cancelling the meeting. I went to the Cedar Creek brethren and tried to get them to let me come ahead and hold the meeting. I pointed out to them that if they didn't let me hold the meeting they might as well let Nichols hold them one because the preacher they used would please Nichols. They told me in the presence of witnesses that if Nichols offered to hold them a meeting free of charge that they would not let him do so. However, they are letting Nichols influence them into whom they will have for a meeting. I talked to one of the brethren and he informed me that had it not been for outside influence. I would have been able to have conducted the meeting. He further told me, in the presence of witnesses, that the influence that prohibited my holding the meeting was the indirect influence of Gus Nichols in Jasper, Ala!! The thing that is significant about these events is that Nichols boldly declared over the radio that he has never meddled in the affairs of another congregation. The thing informed brethren know is in Walker County, Nichols has, does, and will continue to meddle in the affairs of other congregations. When the McArthur Heights congregation with which I labor was having a gospel meeting this past spring Nichols told, the radio audience one Lord's Day morning that we were just a little drop in the bucket, that faithful, churches could not "encourage our meeting with their prayers, support, or. attendance and if they did they would go to hell!

Anyone who will dare cross Nichols in the county is marked by Nichols as being unsound, unfaithful, a hobbyist, etc. Nichols seems to think that he is the standard by which truth is to be measured in Walker County and if he is against a thing, all should be against it and if he is for it, all should be for it. In the eyes of Nichols one should not be for or against a thing because the Bible is for or against it, but because Nichols is for or against it.