In their pastor, Rev. Jasper C. Massee, the members of the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga have a spiritual leader of unusual power and consecration. His inspired messages have reached not only the southern congregations of which he has been official minister, but his voice has been heard in the pulpits of great eastern cities of the United States and in more than one metropolis of the Old World, while his published volumes carry his interpretations of the Divine personality to readers in many and distant parts of the earth.
Dr. Massee is a Southerner both by birth and field of service. His parents were representatives of French and Scotch families of the Virginia Colony, but both were born in Georgia. The mother was Susan Elizabeth Bryan Massee, a daughter of Nathan Bryan, one of the pioneer judges of middle Georgia. The father, Dr. D. W. Massee, was a physician and surgeon of Marshallville, Georgia. He was active in his profession during the Civil war, in which period he was stationed as official surgeon at Andersonville Prison. In later years Dr. D. W. Massee retired from practice and lived on his rural property, where his life closed at the age of eighty-four; his wife had preceded him two years earlier to that better land which was the goal of their life's journeyings. Dr. and Mrs. Massee had reared thirteen children, the greater number of whom are still residents in Georgia, where they are well known as planters and growers of fruit.
Jasper C. Massee, the youngest child of his parents, was born at their Marshallville (Georgia) home on November 22, 1871. After his preliminary general education, he entered Mercer University at Macon, Georgia, and in 1892 was graduated from that institution with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. For a time he was engaged in pedagogic activities as principal of a school at Abbeyville, Georgia, but very soon passed from that work into the gospel ministry.
On December 17, 1893, Jasper C. Massee was ordained as a minister of the Baptist church by a presbytery composed of Rev. A. L. Moncrief, Rev. Z. T. Weaver and M. B. L. Binion. The first charge to which Dr. Massee ministered was that of the church of his denomination in Kissimmee, Florida. In 1896 he entered the South Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, and on concluding this period of specialized and advanced study, he returned to Florida, where he assumed charge of a pastorate at Orlando. From that place he went to Lancaster, Kentucky. After a short incumbency of the pulpit there, he accepted a call to Mansfield, Ohio, where he remained from June, 1900, until June of 1903. In the last named year he accepted a call to Raleigh, North Carolina, as pastor of the Tabernacle church of that city. There he
continued in his ministerial capacity until 1908. At that time he came to Chattanooga as pastor of the First Baptist Church, being honored in the same year by his alma mater, Mercer University, which institution conferred upon him the distinguished title of Doctor of Divinity.
Since Dr. Massee came to his Chattanooga charge, the four and onehalf years of his ministry here have been marked by an increase of five hundred in the church membership. One of the many manifestations of church loyalty on the part of the congregation has been the generous expenditure in re-modeling and improving the church edifice, the complete interior of which has been renewed. Altogether, $20,000 has been spent in making this house of worship worthy of the purpose to which it was dedicated. Such is Dr. Massee's intellectual and spiritual grasp of "the things of the Kingdom'' that his religious service has always been much broader than the geographical limits of any given charge. Many churchmen of this region heard his Convention Sermon, which he was requested to preach at the Tennessee Baptist Convention, held at Martin, in 1911. He was appointed by Governor Hooper a member of the Southern Sociological Congress in 1912. He is vice-president for Tennessee of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention at Richmond. Every summer he delivers sermons in churches of New York and the New England States, having served no less than nineteen states in this capacity as a visiting pastor. Paris, France; London, England, and Rome and Florence in Italy are among the foreign cities in which he has preached. Two published volumes have come from the pen of Dr. Massee. The first of these, "Evangelism and the Pew," was written during Dr. Massee's pastorate at Raleigh, North Carolina, and was published by the Winona Publishing Company of Chicago in 1907. The second, "Men and the Kingdom," has been penned since his coming to Chattanooga and was published by the Revell Company of New York during the year 1912. Dr. Massee is now engaged in the preparation of a third book entitled "Men and Power." So greatly to be desired by others are this clergyman's earthly point of view and his heavenly vision that he is greatly in demand for lectures and addresses at summer assemblies.
As suggested above, in relation to sociological deliberations, Dr. Massee has been more or less active in local affairs in Chattanooga. His gospel ministry, however, is his chief and great field. To him has been granted in unusual measure the ability to point the way toward the things that are eternally worth while. He is a man of one passion and that is the Gospel of Christ.
Dr. Massee's home life began in 1893. On July 7 of that year he was united in marriage with Mrs. Sallie Stewart of Abbeyville, Georgia. This union was one of very brief duration, for the young wife died when her son, Richard Drew Massee, was an infant. He is now eighteen
years of age and a student in the University of Chattanooga. On June 30, 1896, Jasper C. Massee was a second time married. His second wife was formerly Miss Mary Oliver of Kissimmee. Four children have come to Dr. Massee and his wife, and they have been named Joseph, Logan, Marjorie and William, while their respective ages are fourteen, twelve, ten and three years. Dr. Massee refused numerous calls to other pastorates for many years, but recently has accepted a call to the First Baptist Church of Dayton, Ohio.
[From Will T. Hale & Dixon L. Merritt, A history of Tennessee and Tennesseans: the leaders and ..., Volume 8, 1913, pp. 2240-2242. — Document from Google Books. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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