by Robert R. Taylor, Jr.
June 19, 1969, p. 397-98.
Volume CXI, Number 25.
Though Mt. Juliet has existed as a community since 1835, the Lord’s church can be traced to 1891. Why this thriving community in Wilson County was without the Lord’s church for over half a century presents quite an enigma.
Barton W. Stone preached in this county in the 1820’s, Jesse Sewell was active in Wilson County both before and after the civil conflict of the 1860’s according to David Lipscomb and Tolbert Fanning spent many years just a few miles west of this community. Somehow this community was by-passed as a possible place for establishing of the Lord’s cause.
Around 1890 brethren from Scoby’s Chapel saw the need to build a meetinghouse in Mt. Juliet. Sister Anne Gleaves offered the property if J. W. Grigg would raise the money for the erection of the meetinghouse. This met instant response and a frame building was erected in 1891 for $3,000. Mt. Juliet saints met in this building for seventeen years until a fire destroyed it in 1908.
A second building was erected immediately and upon the same lot. This building cost $6,000. Sister Anne Grigg, who still lives in Mt. Juliet, has often told this writer that she remembers the blocks for this building were made on the lot. Additions were made to this building in 1927 and 1958. This building served the saints well until they outgrew it with the phenomenal growth this community has experienced the last few years.
The third building, a picture of which appears in this issue of the Gospel Advocate was begun in the spring of 1967. They entered it in May of 1968 at which time over 400 people attended the opening service. Due to the fact that the members did so much of the work and much remained to be done when they first entered, the reserved the formal opening for Sunday, May 4, 1969. This writer spoke at the morning service. Two hundred fifty-one attended Bible study and 336 were present for worship. An afternoon service was held at which time several former inisters spoke, a brief history of the church there was given by John McCulloch, one of the elders, and R. V. Cawthon was honored for his great service to the cause of Christ. More will be said about Brother Cawthon later.
The new building was erected at a cost of $95,000 but due to so many members helping with the building it has been appraised at $165,000. The auditorium will seat about 430. They have fifteen classrooms nursery, office and lounge. Vision for the anticipated growth makes provision for the easy addition of several other classrooms in the basement. A special contribution of $2,260 on May 11 will permit them to begin immediately the finishing of several other classrooms. The new brick building is ideally located on a spacious piece of property across from Mt. Juliet Elementary School and on a main connecting road between Highway 70 and Interstate 40. Multitudes pass this building every day. This is the third meetinghouse to be erected on this plot of ground.
The congregation is experiencing great growth. Their two hours of worship on Sunday morning are up 32 per cent and 33 per cent respectively over this period one year ago. Sunday evening and Wednesday Bible study hours are currently running 60 per cent and 49 percent respectively above figures of one year ago. The contribution is 45 per cent higher than last year’s average. This does not include the special contribution of May 11 which amounted to over $2200. It is interesting to observe that at a recent service 207 were present for Bible study and 217 for the second hour of worship. Eighty-seven per cent of these 217 returned for the evening service. Another recent bulletin reported a difference of only seven between the 10 o’clock Bible study service and the one at 11 o’clock. They have recently agreed to support a full time preacher in Palm Harbor, Florida. Within the near future the congregation hopes to have its own orphan home in operation. They have formulated plans to reach more and more people in their community. Greater evangelism at home and away plus more diligence in benevolence are two chapters currently being written by this church. Like the noble contemporaries of Nehemiah these people have “a mind to work.” (Neh. 4:6.) Jehovah is blessing their “work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope.”
( 1 Thessalonians 1:3) Set for the old paths as they are, a bright future appears on the horizon for these dedicated disciples in Mt. Juliet.
Great and godly men have served with distinguished loyalty in the eldership of this seventy-eight year old congregation. Early elders include the names of J. W. Grigg, Tollie Hamilton and H. P. Cawthon. later elders include G. V. Goodall, I. K. Hibbett, R. V. Cawthon, H. C. Denson, J. S. Hatfield and C. J. Potter. Present elders are John McCulloch, Robert McCulloch, Kenneth Hackney, and Paul Hunter. Present deacons are O. H. Wright, R. C. Wright, J. J. Hooper, Macon Castleman, Robert Bradshaw and Thax Jackson. Past and present elders have laid a good foundation for the Lord’s cause in this community.
Great names in recent Restoration history have held meetings in Mt. Juliet. These would include J. E. Ridley, T. W. Brents, James A. Harding, S. R. Logue, William Anderson, C. M. Pullias, Andy T. Ritchie, R. V. Cawthon, E. A. Elam, F. B. Srygley, Alonzo Williams, S. P. Pitman and a host of others too numerous to mention. David Lipscomb preached in Mt. Juliet during his last days. This he did, not from behind the pulpit, but from a chair on the rostrum.
E. Ray Jerkins, W. C. Geer, John Hurt, Robert R. Taylor, Jr., Damon Daniel, Robert Hendren and Ronnie Greenman have done local work for this congregation. J. Garvin Smith, Thomas Eldridge and Fred Mosley have preached for short periods. Lloyd Gale Jr. has been the regular preacher since 1967 and is doing a great work. He and his good family are held in high esteem.
The story of this congregation would be most incomplete without a few well deserved words in tribute to a real giant among preachers the first half of this century – R. V. Cawthon. Brother Cawthon’s life has been deeply interwoven with the church at Mt. Juliet all its history. The most graphic description that can be given to his fifty years of preaching the gospel is to say he was one-man missionary team. He had his tent and chairs and preached “in season and out of season.” The church at Mt. Juliet helped him as he preached the gospel baptized perhaps into the thousands and was deeply instrumental in establishing over twenty congregations. He and Andy T. Ritchie often worked in hard places together. During Brother Cawthon’s eventful career as a gospel preacher he held over 400 meetings within thirty mile radius of his home in Mt. Juliet. He conducted over 100 meetings in Nashville. This writer through the years has spent many rewarding hours listening to Brother Cawthon’s adventures as a great gospel trail blazer. In early life he frequently led singing for the gifted Larimore and was often associated with his former teacher – David Lipscomb.
Brother Lipscomb performed Brother Cawthon’s marriage ceremony to Miss Dovie Talbot in 1906. Often he has told us the story of the only time he ever saw Brother Lipscomb laugh in Bible class. They were
studying John 15 and Brother Lipscomb asked one of the students why Christ said in John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you?” The student preacher responded by saying something like this, “I do not know Brother Lipscomb unless Jesus had first choice.” Brother Lipscomb had to laugh at that answer.
Brother Cawthon’s sacrifices were many, the dangers frequent and reimbursement very little for a man with a large family. We have heard him tell more than once about preaching when his enemies were sitting armed before him and he would challenge them to pull their guns on him. He was once threatened with death if he baptized a man’s daughter. He performed the act with the man and his gun before him on the bank.. Later he baptized the man himself. Like all other great men he had his critics.
One of them once said that his audiences were made up of the common people. Brother Cawthon remembered that such were the ones who heard Jesus gladly and he counted the critic’s remark as an unintentional compliment.
When forced to leave the great work to which he had given his all he extended his influence by offering deep encouragement to young men who were entering the firing lines of God’s army. During six years we worked with Mt. Juliet we heard him lead some of the greatest prayers to fall from the lips of men.
Brother Cawthon is now in his ninetieth year. He was able to be present for both services on May 4. Brother Gale delivered a beautiful and deeply deserved message of honor and tribute to this battlescarred veteran of many years. To men of his spiritual stature we are deeply in debt.
May his tribe increase. (For many of the facts about the history of this congregation the writer acknowledges much gratitude to John McCulloch. Lloyd Gale, Jr. supplied the figures related to the congregation’s growth this year over that of last year.)