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Fatherland Baptist Church History
By W. W. Miles
Fatherland Baptist Church has such a long, exciting history that space will not permit the full story of her long journey from a desire in the heart of an elderly lady to a present day great church.
Fatherland Church was conceived in the heart of Mrs. E. E. Hudson, who lived in the two hundred block of Fatherland Street. Once the elite, residential section of Nashville, this area was neglected since the town had spread in other directions. The crime wave was very high, beer parlors and dance halls were plentiful. This was a transient community.
It was in 1939 that the Lord moved on the hearts of the Hudsons, along with another family, the Pomeroys, to start a mission. They contacted their pastor, R. F. Langston, who was willing to give it a try. A tent was set up, a revival held, and out of this meeting came the desire to rent an old house and open a mission. In the spring of 1939, the mission opened under the leadership of Reverend Langston and Shelby Avenue Baptist Church. By the first month it was paying it's own way. In one short year the mission was ready to be organized into a full-time church. The date was set, and sister churches were invited. On the night of August 8, 1940, we organized the Fatherland Street Baptist Church with forty-two members. Two years later a full-time pastor was called. A three story Sunday School building was later erected with a spacious, comfortable, beautiful auditorium soon following.
On the opening Sunday, the building was completely filled and continued with a good attendance until December 15, 1949, when all the buildings were destroyed by fire. For us, it seemed that the bottom of our world had dropped out, but the Lord answered our prayers by arranging to have us assemble in the old Dixie Tabernacle, which was two blocks up the street. Although the building had dirt floors, crude benches, and little heat, we were so thankful for it. In August of the next year, we moved to the Seventh Day Adventist Church building and remained there until we purchased the Russell Street Presbyterian property, located at Eleventh and Russell Streets. In less than one year, a large balcony was added to accomodate the crowd. In 1953, a purchase of all of the corner at Tenth and Russell Streets was made, where construction began on the new, beautiful auditorium. The building was soon paid for. A few years later, a children's building was added and paid for.
Busses have been purchased to bring our people to church who do not have the means of transportation. If one wished to remain at home, he may listen to several programs which are all broadcasted from the church's own radio station in connection with WNAH, "The Old Country Church Hour", "The Gospel Hour", and "The Hour for the Shut-Ins" have all brought blessings to many persons. We have been on the air twenty-four years, with almost six hours of radio time weekly.
We have organized four churches out of Fatherland and have had a part in the beginnings of several other. The paper, which has been in publication for more than twenty-three years, has a circulation reaching into almost every state. For many years Fatherland has been sending missionaries into other countries. Africa, Jamaica, Israel, and Navajo Indian Country in Arizona, are just a few places that our people are spreading the word of our Lord and Saviour.
We owe so much to many people, those who made great sacrifices to serve the Lord and church well before meeting their Creator, along with those still striving to relay His message. These people did this though, because they had a strong dedication and love for the Lords Church, and especially lost souls. This love will always continue down through the ages to come, until the final day when we may hear the Lord say, "Well done." Fatherland has used all of the tools placed at her disposal, has done her best for the glory of God, and He has blessed her efforts through His abounding grace.
Rev. W. W. Miles ______________
I. K. Cross in his book The Truth About Conventionism gives the following account regarding Fatherland when the church left the convention:
"Let us further examine the records. In Nashville, Tennessee, on November 30, 1949, the Fatherland Street Baptist Church of that city, by an overwhelming majority vote, agreed to withdraw from the Nashville Baptist Association, the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention, because after several years of active service with the convention system, both the pastor, W. W. Miles, and the church had become thoroughly disgusted with their methods, believing them to be unscriptural.
Within a very short time after this action was taken the buildings of the church were burned to the ground and the congregation was forced to meet anywhere it could for regular services. Immediately after this tragedy, Feb. 13, 1950, to be exact, a bill was filed in Chancery Court against this church asking, "Among other things, for an injunction to restrain the defendants, Miles, et al., from receiving, collecting, etc., as trustees, or otherwise, the proceeds of certain fire insurance policies," and tied up the land on which the church building had stood. Under these conditions, with the majority of the church standing by their action to withdraw from the Convention, their property and insurance money tied up by a lawsuit entered by the Convention forces, and trying to find a place to worship in the dead of winter, the Convention's elements went to work. They worked day and night pulling members away from the church under these conditions and brought untold pressure to bear upon the pastor in many other ways.
It is true that the Convention had no AUTHORITY to force this church to reverse its action in withdrawing, but they were certainly bringing PRESSURE to bear to accomplish the same end. The record will show that Southern Baptist Convention leaders once more tried to prove that a church ceases to be a Missionary Baptist Church when it withdraws from their organization, and it will also show that the court ruled AGAINST THEM. From the CHANCELLOR'S MEMORANDUM, I quote Section II, (a)"It is admitted that the record shows that the church in question is congregational in form and democratic in organization, so that action of the membership by a MAJORITY VOTE thereof in meeting assembled Is CONTROLLING."But the record will also show that the Convention forces certainly did bring pressure to bear to interfere with the will of the majority in this local congregation, regardless of what is said in their constitution."
From the archived yearbooks of the American Baptist Association, we also know that Fatherland subsequently joined the ABA as early 1952 and remained in the association until at least 1964. However, it doesn't appear the church is currently in the ABA.
The church now meets in Madison, Tennessee. This church assisted in the organization of Olmstead Baptist Church.
[The documents were provided by Stephen duBarry, Olmstead, KY.]
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