Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 26, 1951
NUMBER 12, PAGE 6,9b

Travel Notes

F. Y. T.

Alabama And Tennessee

I have just closed a good meeting with the Eastside congregation in Sheffield, Alabama. Paul C. Keller has been preaching there since the church started three years ago, but is moving this month to Otwell, Arkansas. There were a number of meetings in progress in the Muscle Shoals area while I was there: Franklin T. Puckett at Pine Street in Florence; Herschel Patton at Valdosta church just outside of Tuscumbia; Wilbur Quillen at East Florence; G. K. Wallace at Poplar Street in Florence, and several others nearby. H. A. Dixon was scheduled to begin at Annapolis Avenue in Sheffield the Sunday after I closed at Eastside.

The churches in northern Alabama all seem to be moving ahead in a commendable way—in spite of some very serious disturbance right now over the "institutional board" orphan home problem. A group of brethren encouraged and led by brother Gus Nichols of Jasper, Alabama, have purchased property at Cullman, Alabama, and are in the process of establishing a huge benevolent institution there, to be known as "Childhaven.' I believe by far the majority of preachers in Alabama (at least this is certainly true of the thirty or forty that I talked to) are opposed to the principle of the church's doing her benevolent and charitable work through a "Board of Charities" or any institutional arrangement. But the appeal of homeless children is one that wrings the heart; and many good people, being touched and deeply stirred at the thought of the helpless little ones, have given powerful financial and emotional backing to an institution to care for them. I found the tension high in Alabama—the thing is hotter than a fire-cracker, lit at both ends, and ready to pop in the middle!

Some good strong churches in Alabama are beginning to lead the way out of the dark problem. Such congregations as Sherrod Avenue in Florence, for example, where John D. Cox preaches, are definitely and positively moving forward in caring for their own orphans, widows, and needy—thus showing that the church, as the church, can do the work without any additional institution or organization at all being in the picture. We believe the only real solution of these mammoth "institutional organizations" will come in this way. Orphan children are not going to be allowed to starve when the brethren can prevent it. And if the elders of the churches do not accept the obligation to care for those in need, kind-hearted brethren, untaught in the scriptures, are going to do the job in ways that are foreign to New Testament teaching. When the churches are doing the work, there will certainly be less agitation for boards and institutions and outside organizations through which to do it.


Returning home from Sheffield, I stopped by Nashville to visit a few friends, and that my wife and son, who went on this trip with me, might spend a few hours with relatives. While in Nashville we stayed one night in the home of Harris J. Dark, our class-mate at Lipscomb College a quarter of a century ago. (In those happy yesterdays, Harris and Helen Giotto (Tant) edited the school annual, The Backlog, and I was editing the school paper, The Babbler. Friendships formed then have lasted through the years, and are some of the richest and most precious of life. While in Sheffield and Florence we spent much time in the home of John D. and Myrtle Mae (Lane) Cox, whom also we first met on Lipscomb's campus.)

I had a nice visit in the Gospel Advocate office during the brief stop in Nashville, and while there talked briefly with S. h. Hall, H. M. Phillips, and B. C. Goodpasture. Brother Goodpasture and I had some discussion of the "institutional' problem—it being his feeling that the Guardian was giving undue importance to the matter, and it being my feeling that the Advocate was lending tremendous moral backing and encouragement to a developing movement that is threatening the very foundations of simple New Testament Christianity. If brother Goodpasture will show the same free, brotherly, courteous handling of this problem in the Advocate that he manifests in private conversation, we can certainly have a highly profitable study of the matter. His private conversation is genial and friendly; he gets to the point, argues for what he believes, and gives the other fellow full credit for sincerity and honesty. Not once did he interrupt or refuse to listen with every mark of Christian courtesy while I was setting forth my convictions on the matter. Now if he will show the same fair spirit on the pages of the Advocate, and will open it up to an honest and conscientious study of the problem by brethren who differ from him, I think he'll make a real contribution to the cause for which all of us are striving. Those who read the Advocate do not need to be told that its past policy has tended to exclude any fair and impartial discussion of the issues.


Coming in from Nashville, we stopped in Dallas for a few hours, visiting with several friends there, and having lunch with Melvin J. Wise. Brother Wise is very happy over the splendid progress being made at Pearl and Bryan, and of the growth of the cause in Dallas in general. As many of our readers know, Pearl and Bryan is the oldest church (of any kind) in the city of Dallas. Brother Wise has written a history of the congregation, and we plan to publish it in the Guardian shortly. It will be of general interest to all our readers, and of special interest to the Texas and Dallas subscribers.


Arriving home, I preached the last Sunday in June and the first in July at the College Church in Abilene. This was the first Sunday I had been home since last December. The new building for the College congregation is taking shape fairly rapidly now, although it will be another five or six months before it is ready for use. Glenn L. Wallace, who is the regular preacher here, was absent in a meeting in Junction, Texas, and the elders had asked me to preach for the two Sundays he was gone.

I also taught brother Wallace's Sunday morning class —and guess what they were studying? Institutionalism! Evidently brother Glenn had been giving them pretty straight teaching, for I found the class practically unanimous in saying that there is no scriptural precedent or authority for the church's doing her benevolent work through a board separate and apart from the church; and that there is no scriptural basis on which the congregations can set up a board to do either benevolent or evangelistic work. Glenn Wallace has preached for this congregation for five years, and has done a magnificent job. Once the church can meet in her own building, off the college campus, we believe a marked and substantial growth will rapidly follow.

At the time this is read, I will be near the close of a meeting in Mulvane, Kansas. I return next to Texas for the Glanville Camp Meeting, August 342; and then to Brownfield, Texas, August 19-26.