A group of Christians gathering at the Antioch church in the 1940s.
History of the Antioch Church of Christ
By Leroy Gaines
(1902 – 1966)
(edited by Alan Underwood)
In September 1868, the first allusion was made in an attempt to organize a congregation of the Church
of Christ in what is now Tate but was then Desoto
County. This congregation met from 1868 to 1870 in the Scotland Presbyterian building which was two miles north of the present Antioch building.
On November 24, 1868 this group received a small piece of property from one of the members for a meeting house. The land deed reads:
Know all men by these presents that a desire to promote the advancement of the cause of Christianity, I (Evan Perry) hereby grant and covenant to and with Wm. H. McCain and A.M. Burford in trusts for the community a certain piece or parcel of land for and in consideration of one dollar.
W.H. McCain, M.D., played an important part in the early years of the Antioch congregation. Some of the early preachers were B.T. Monire, J.T. Riley, B.W. Lauderdale. Some of the preachers who served later were: Lee Jackson, M.C. Cayce, J.P. Lowery, N.B. Hardeman, W.E. Morgan, D.H. Perkins, H.I. Copeland and A.H. Smith.
The first building was erected in 1868. It was a one room weather board building with green shutters, coal oil lamps and a wood stove. Among the families which met at Antioch in the early days were: Burfords, McCains, Crenshaws, Martins, Perrys, Moores, Allens, Hickmons, Ingrams, Wynnes, Blackburns, Stricklands, Parks, Thompsons, Prichards, and Wootens.
In 1948 the church was remodeled under the direction of A.R. Ruby, J.D. Moore, Hillary Turner, W.E. Brown, and Enoch M. Parks, Sr. At that time additional property was purchased from Bob Perry. Four class rooms were added to the old building; butane heating and electricity were installed, and a baptistery and two rest rooms were built in the building.
My Memories of the Antioch Church of Christ
By Katheryn Parks Gaines
(1909 – 2005)
(edited by Alan Underwood)
My great grandparents were members of Antioch
in its beginning. The structure was one large frame room tall building with a big black belly stove for heating. There were three large ceiling hanging kerosene lamps down the center of the building and three reflector lamps on either side. The building faces the highway with high steps leading to the north entrance doors. Three tall unscreened windows that almost reached the floor gave light and air; also bugs and mosquitoes. The pews were made of cypress and mitered together. (Have one on my 124 year old front porch.) On the backs of some of the benches were carved names.
All the classes were held in one of the other corners of this room. My aunt Edenton Parks used little cards to teach the little ones. Cousin Tom Wynne taught the adults until 1910 when he turned the class over to my father, Enoch Parks, Sr., who was just a young man. But he was encouraged by some dear sisters, Mrs. Lou Moore and Mrs. L. Thompson. He remained in this position for the most part until he was 80 years old.
There were six of us children and we all rode to church in a surrey (no fringe on top). We lived five miles west of the church and on dusty days we often had more than talc powder on our faces when we reached the church building. On the way home we had to ride down a steep hill with a deep creek at the bottom. Two spirited bay horses pulled the surrey and I remember on one Sunday one of the horse’s traces came loose and daddy had a hard time controlling him. We were frightened.
The Jim Moore family lived across the road from Antioch so they cleaned the building and on cold days started the stove fires and often furnished the wood. Mr. Bob Perry led the singing and two of his favorite songs were “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” and “In The Sweet By And By”.
Every Sunday my Aunt Edenton Parks took care of the communion; making the unleavened bread and bringing the wine. In the early days for the wine we had two silver goblets donated by the Joe Farmer family. Many men wore mustaches so as a child I thought “how unsanitary”. Finally the communion was placed in trays with glass cups which had to be washed and sterilized. My Aunt Edenton enjoyed doing this. Thanks to plastic cups that are presently used.
During the 1923 August meeting which always began on the second Sunday of the month I made the confession and was baptized in the Glenn pond. I’ll
never forget the invitation song, “Oh Why Not Tonight” and it was at a morning service. The black folks church, “Liberty”, (my great grandfather gave them the building lot) always had their meeting at the same time as ours. After our services the young people on their way home would stop by “Liberty” to listen to the singing, preaching and shouting.
The evangelist often stayed at our house during the meetings. Dad always hired a cook that week so we all could attend and we had lots of company. People from far and near came in buggies, wagons, horseback and many that lived near by walked. At the close of the meetings we would have “dinner on the ground” until some strangers invited themselves by….ate all they could and took away a lot….that ended the dinners.
For many years we had only Sunday School and a visiting minister on second Sundays of each month. In those days the entire families were like David, Ps. 122, “I was glad when they said unto me Let us go into the house of the Lord”
As we grew older we girls and boys took an active part in the services. The congregation had grown to 100 or more so 2 class rooms were added on either end of the building in 1948. During this period my brother, Enoch M. Parks, Jr. and Morris Parks was a song leader and I taught one group of little ones. Some of the other teachers during this period (1948 – 1957) were Mrs. Frank Hurt, Mrs. Pearl Moore, Mrs. Christine Wooten, Ben Wynne and Mrs. Doris Taylor.
As we lived a short distance from the church building, my husband and children took care of the inside. They had brooms which stirred up so much dust the children waited for the dust to settle in order to dust the pews and tables. Then came carpet and carpet sweeper which was some better.
All of my children became members: Bro. Albert Holland baptized Evon (1954) and Keith (1959). Roger and his wife (Aug. 1975) by J.O. Jones, Andy Gaines (1968) my grandson.
After Independence members built their building (1954) and Coldwater members returned to Coldwater (1957) our congregation fell to 80 regular in attendance. Members have drifted away until from 1980 to 1990 the attendance 25 – 35. Since my husband’s death (1966) my son, Roger Gaines, has been the custodian except for a period of 2 years. Too, he now has much better cleaning equipment. I for many have been in charge of the communion and Mrs. Modine Edwards and Mrs. Dorothy Frazier provide all the beautiful garden flowers or flowers in urns. They also are teachers for the little folks.
We aren’t many but we have a close fellowship and enjoy our worship every Lord’s Day. Once a month we have a fellowship supper. At present I am the oldest (82) regular member and my son, Roger (50) and wife are the youngest married couple. I am sorry to say we have very few young people, but am thankful we are able to worship at Antioch where my ancestors formed the church in the same building one hundred twenty-two years ago.
(See history of the Antioch Church of Christ in “A History of Churches of Christ In Tate County, Mississippi, 1835 to 1965”, Chapter 3)
A HISTORY OF THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST
IN TATE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, 1836 – 1965
LYNN A. McMILLON
Antioch From 1868 To 1957
Beginning of the Scotland and Antioch Churches
In September, 1868, the first allusion is made of an attempt to organize a congregation of the Church of Christ in what is now Tate but was then Desoto County. At the beginning of the school year 1868 – 1869, John T. Riley moved to Thyatira to teach school. During September, 1868, he wrote to the Gospel Advocate that he had been preaching for several months to the congregations of Thyatira and Scotland. The records of the Thyatira Church of Christ also mention the Scotland congregation between the years 1868 – 1870. Although there never was a building for the Church of Christ at Scotland, which was two miles north of the present Antioch building, there was a group of Christians who apparently met there. Riley’s work at Scotland apparently started in the summer of 1868. By November the group of Christians had organized themselves into a congregation. B. F.Manire, who preached at Antioch, best described the beginning of the Church of Christ at Antioch, which doubtless sprang from those meeting at Scotland, as he remarked in 1892:
The church at Antioch, in Tate County was organized the same year (1868) out of a part of the membership of Thyatira, and quite a number added to its membership. A house was built either that year or the next, which is still standing, and in which the church still meets. Dr. W.N. McCain, who was one of its first board of elders, has been for a number of years past, an able and successful preacher. Although approaching his three score years and ten, he still possesses great mental and physical ability; and if he could cut loose entirely from the practice of medicine, there are few men who could be more useful in the vineyard of the Lord.
On November 24, 1868, this group received a small piece of property from one of the members for a meeting house. The land deed reads: Know all men by these presents that a desire to promote the advancement of the cause of Christianity, I (Ervin Perry) hereby grant and covenant to and with Wm. H. McCain and A.M. Burford in trust for the community a certain piece or parcel of land for and in consideration of one dollar.
Dr. McCain, who was largely responsible for the early years of the Antioch congregation, first moved to Independence six miles north-east of Antioch in 1853 and began to practice medicine. He attended Thyatira until 1868 when he and J.T. Riley began to help the people at Scotland organize themselves into the Antioch Church of Christ. In his personal ledger for 1868 McCain records that B.F. Manire, J.T. Riley, and B.W. Lauderdale all preached at Antioch in the early months of its history for which they were paid $25.00, $5.00, and $10.00 respectively.
The first building was erected within a year; it was a one room weather board building with green shutters, coal oil lamps, and a wood stove. Among the families which met at Antioch in the early days were Burfords, McCains, Crenshaws, Martins, Perrys, Moores, Allens, Hendersons, Ingrams, Wynnes, Blackburns, Stricklands, Parks, Thomplsons, B.F. Prichards, and Wootens.
When Antioch was one year old, in the fall of 1869, a series of protracted meetings were held at Thyatira, Antioch, and various places between the two. During this effort by Manire, Lauderdale, and Cooke, thirty-nine people were converted in the vicinity of Antioch and a total of seventy-seven in the county. With this the new congregation had a membership of fifty or sixty people. B.F. Manire preached another meeting in 1873 at Antioch, which seemed to be on his circuit as the State Evangelist. Also during this same year, T.W. Caskey preached at Antioch, Sardis, and Thyatira, and as State Evangelist probably held meeting there until 1898 when he returned for a brief visit, during which Enoch Parks, Sr. recalls driving Caskey around the county to visit his old friends in the churches of Christ for the last time. Both Caskey and Manire made an indelible impression upon the churches which resulted in the growth and development of Thyatira and Antioch despite their connection with what is commonly known as the Christian Church. The division of the Christian Church and the Churches of Christ had certainly not become a reality in those early years, for a family Bible of the Parks at Antioch indicated that the church was known as the Antioch Christian Church.
Sometime during the late 1870’s or early 1880’s, Dr. McCain began a mission effort about twelve miles north of Antioch at a place known as McCain’s Chapel in Desoto County. Not much is known about this particular effort except for the fact that McCain was the primary supporter. He remained with the Antioch Church while preaching at McCain’s chapel, perhaps preaching at one on Saturday night, or one on Sunday morning and the other on Sunday night. It seems that the work at McCain’s Chapel was at least a partial success, since a building and cemetery were built. The building was located a few miles east of Hernando, Mississippi, on the road to Lewisburg. Although the building has long since been removed, the cemetery today bears the names of Vaidens and Lauderdales who were members. Therefore, it appears that the effort to establish a church north of Antioch was brief and generally unsuccessful.
McGraw School House
Around the years 1890 – 1891 a small group of the members discontinued their worship at Antioch and moved to McGraw School house three miles west. For a few years the membership of Antioch was partially there and partially at the McGraw School house. There is no record of internal trouble in the Antioch Church or of any factor which led to this temporary division in the meeting places. Dr. McCain continued to preach for both groups during this time, a factor which lends credence to the idea that there was no internal difficulty. It is thought by Enoch Parks, Sr., who was a boy at the time, that poor roads and bad weather in the winter were the most probable reasons for the temporary meetings at McGraw School house. During this period the Antioch Church did not meet regularly, perhaps only once or twice a month. The elders from 1890 – 1894 were W.N. McCain, A.B. Prichard, T.W. Wynne, C.G. Ingram, and Talbut Burford. By 1894 the group at McGraw had rejoined those at Antioch under the eldership of the foregoing men.
. . .
Sometime between 1922 – 1925 N.B. Hardeman held a meeting at Antioch. Hardeman’s reputation as a debater and as a preacher had spread to those at Antioch, because it was in March, 1922, that the great Hardeman Tabernacle Meetings were held. During his meeting at Antioch, Hardeman preached one night to three denominational preachers in the county…two Baptists and one Methodist. While Hardeman preached, their secretary took the sermon in shorthand and another transcribed it on a typewriter. The preachers then read the manuscript and examined it with their Bibles. All of this took place in the one-room meeting house while Hardeman preached. At the end of the service one of the denominational preachers was asked to lead a closing prayer, after which he said to the entire church: “What you (Hardeman) are preaching would do to live by”.
A few years before 1948 some of the younger members of the Antioch Church became concerned over the condition of the eighty year old building and decided to set aside every fourth Sunday’s contribution into a remodeling fund. Frank Martin of Blytheville, Arkansas, made the first donation of $50.00. With $6,000.00 in the bank in 1948, it was decided to begin the remodeling under the direction of A.R. Ruby, J.D. Moore, Hillary Turner, and W.E. Brown, all members of the Antioch Church. At that time additional property was purchased from Bob Perry; four classrooms were added to the old building; butane heating and electricity were installed, and a baptistery was built in the building, thus ending eighty years of a oneroom country church building which had had none of the modern conveniences. On Sunday April 10, 1948, H.I. Copeland preached to an audience of eighty-nine in the remodeled building.
In the years that followed two additional congregations sprang from Antioch. As already stated, the members of Independence established a church in their midst in April 1954. Three years later, in April 1957, a group of members who lived in the nearby town of Coldwater, five miles west, decided that the most effective way to evangelize Coldwater was to establish a congregation there.
When the Independence group left in 1954, church records show that the attendance at Antioch dropped from 110 to 80, but the contribution rose from $85.00 in 1952 to $120.00 in 1956. When the Coldwater group left in 1957, the attendance had again reached 110 and then fell to 80. Both of these churches will be discussed more fully in the last chapter.
It has been noted that the Antioch Church itself was the result of men like J.T. Riley and Dr. McCain at Thyatira who wanted to spread Christianity. The spirit of endeavor to spread the gospel throughout the county continued at Antioch as the various mission points of McCain’s Chapel, Rock Hill, and eventually Independence and Coldwater were established. Antioch had significantly taken the conservative position on instrumental music and soon became known as the Antioch Church of Christ.