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The Historic Concord Church Architectural and Social Value Post Civil War

The Historic Concord Church Architectural and social value post civil war. In June of 2005 El Shaddai Christian Church purchased the historic Concord Church Building for a church plant.

A nondenominational multinational church with more than 16 countries represented. As this new church began its life and involvement in the community it soon learned of its history and its rich spiritual heritage. People would stop by and share their personal experiences having been saved in this building, making their marriage vows and raising families for three and four generations.

Stories of how several renown churches in the community started here and outgrew the building, anecdotes of Potlucks and summer picnics in the beautiful 4 acres natural setting. Narratives of the creek side water baptisms and how the church bricks were made by hand with materials from the creek- some say there were even done with horse hair. El Shaddai founders felt very privileged to have been handed down by God such beautiful heritage and began to recollect history facts and conduct research on the architectural historic value of the building and its rich cultural significance in the community for many generations.

Once the historical Civil War history was recollected. Eager to document the cultural, societal and architectural history of the sight we interviewed the very knowledgeable historian and archivist Bill Sumners, Director of Library and Archives of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. Here are some of the important aspects of this interview:

The story of this historic church building begins with the story of Baptist founder’s direct descendants from European immigrants of the 18th century.

Sound Christian Education

The Southern Baptist life post civil war brought many new changes and with it came the need for additions to the church buildings and grounds. Churches served their members with the Sunday corporate worship and prayer but now they also wanted to include sound Christian education for the children.

Sunday School Annex

The Southern Baptist life soon included a broader audience and so the Sunday School Board was created in 1891. The Sunday School Board began to produce a whole line of Sunday School curriculum to train in correct doctrine, bible stories and many other teachings. This translated into more demanding Sunday school space. Churches needed to add a whole new addition to the traditional Sanctuary, with a building for grading and departmentalization. Sunday school at the turn of the 20th century was fundamental to most SB Churches life.

The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention remained for more than 100 years producing Sunday school curriculum for all ages expanding later to book publishing. Around the year 1999 the board changed their name to what we know today as Lifeway. One of its first developments was the newspaper “Kind Words” which contained sections for children, youth and adults.

Development of the Car and Electricity

At the turn of the century the development of the car began to draw people from further away and so the congregations grew and required of additional space. The other factor that changed life was the coming of electricity. Churches where able to meet at night. With the advent of the light bulb they saw a new opportunity to service the youth through the Baptist Young Peoples Union for evening activities.

By the Creek - a Strategic Location

Many Southern Baptist churches sought convenient locations by a creek, river, lake or pond to facilitate the doctrinal duty of total immersion baptism. This historic Concord Church located by the creek side was a prime location for the fulfillment of its mission.

Concord Association of Churches

Associations are the oldest multi-church entity in SB church life. According to the minutes of this historic church the first association in the area started in this historic church. Later on as there were more and more churches new associations appeared. The Nashville association started about 1900. Associations generally formed around county lines.

Associations were formed for fellowship and to work in partnership to spread the Gospel.

An Association is made up of churches in a local area working as Partners for the Kingdom. By working as partners, the impact of the Kingdom is enhanced as churches proclaim the gospel, make disciples, minister to people in Christ’s name, and spread the gospel throughout the world.

Black Members

Before the civil war most Baptist churches were integrated. In places like Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, and parts of Georgia there were more blacks than whites. Plantation owners had their own churches, their ratio was 2-1, 3-1. There were other movements particularly in urban cities were black members would form their churches. However, in this historic church they remained together.

Church Life in society

Most Baptists were not wealthy at the turn of the 19-century. In its inception the Church was influential but did not have much voice. In 1835 the Tennessee Baptist Newspaper began circulation and the local church had influence in their local area. During the time people wanted to be sure to be identified by their church. Church membership was part of their identity.

The Fellowship Halls - Church Recreation Movement

The Sunday School Board of the SBC continued to develop various other church programs to meet the needs of churches and its members. The BYPU, Vacation Bible School and programs related to church recreation. The development of the Fellowship hall was part of the new changes. By 1917 the church architectural plans for the most part needed to include Fellowship halls in the church facilities.

In Bill Summers’ director of Library and Archives, historic recollection of the Southern Baptist Church Architecture Program, architecture was the basis for lectures in 1908 at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by J.M. Frost, executive secretary of the Sunday School Board. Harvey Beauchamp was the pioneer of Church Architecture, his mission was to place great emphasis on adequate church buildings, subject that inspired many publications with suggestive helpful designs and drawings for church structures, giving suggestions for architecture and aesthetics including lighting ventilation heating and furnishing. By 1924 the department had assisted 4631 church building projects. Southern Baptists had an investment of 61 million dollars in church buildings by 1917 and in 1930 the investment had increased to 213 million an increment of 350%. From 1916 to 1936 Sunday school enrollment had shown a gain of 1,347,229.

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