History


 
The following is published in, History of Rutherford County Churches of Christ (1811-1996), by Louise Houck Wiser.


Mars Hill Church of Christ (1852? -   ) is in the Rucker community in District 11. The present site is on the inside curve of Rucker Road one-half mile east of the railroad tracks. On the front of the building is the date 1880-1923, supposedly designating the previous history of the church at another location.

The first building was reportedly "near the river" and "on the property of Welcom Mankin," the stepfather of Albert N. Miller. The 1878 Beer's map shows the Mankin-owned land as being on the north end and on the east side of the present Elam Mill Road, a short tion from the roadway which connects Elam and Rucker Roads. The house and another building are shown just south of the confluence, the dam, and the ford of Long Creek and Stones River Middle Branch. The Mankin property was later known as the "Jakes place" and is so shown by 1916 on the Dixie Highway Map of Rutherford County. More recently it has been on the back of the Broads Maples farm.

Miss Mary Hall has said that Barton Warren Stone (1772-1844) founded the Mars Hill Church but no confirmation has been discovered. Marvin Goodpasture in his History of Tennessee, orginally published in 1886, says that Welcom Mankin bought his farm in 1851 and that both Mr. and Mrs. Mankin were members of the Christian Church. It was soon after Mankin purchased the farm that on July 11, 1852, he deeded three acres south of the house for a school named Union Hill Academy (1852-after 1890). It is the ond building shown on the 1878 map. The deed stated that the Academy was "to be open for the use of preaching on Saturdays and Sabbaths".

On January 26, 1874, the Trustees of the school, one of which was Welcom Mankin, were given by the Directors of Common Schools a sum of $500 to rebuild the first floor which presumably had been destroyed during the Civil War. In 1890, James D. Nelson, Superintendent of Schools, mentioned Union Hill as being a high school of 115 pupils taught by John E. Dunn, a Christian. Since Welcom Mankin was a Christian and trustee of the school which was on his property "near the river" and since the academy, which was "open for the use of preaching", existed from 1852 to after 1890, it can only be assumed that the Mars Hill Christian Church first met in Union Hill Academy and before the date of 1880 as shown on the front of the present building.

It is known that David Lipscomb, Knowles Shaw, and E.G. Sewell met for dedication services of the Mars Hill Church. This may have been in 1880 when the first floor had been restored. At this meeting David Lipscomb preached the sermon; the other two made a few remarks. At some time during the worship, David Lipscomb recited the names of the Books of the Bible. Knowles Shaw reminded him afterwards that he had omitted the Book of Psalms.

Early organizers of Mars Hill Church were in addition to Welcom Mankin, Ben Batey, Mitchell Nelson, and Mr. Thompson.

Later, on October 22, 1910, W.P. Prater "in consideration  of $34.10" deeded 2/3 acre of his land "to Elders and Deacons... of the Church of Christ... for three-fourths undivided interest, and a one-fourth undivided interest to the Missionary Baptist Church." There were limiting clauses in the deed to the use of "music and adherence to worship strictly by the New Testament." The limitations, however, were "applicable only to the Church of Christ members."

The lot purchased from W.P. Prater was on Rucker Road about one mile southeast of today's church. It was on Aaron Todd's property line. The site of the building is shown on the 1916 Dixie Highway Map as being on the east side of the road and about halfway between the intertions of Elam Mill and Wayside Roads with Rucker Road.

The Mars Hill elders mentioned in the deed were T.R. Freeman, Sr., J.A. Mackey, and B.B. Batey. Deacons were A.J. Freeman and J.D. Hippogriffs. Other members of the congregation were Mitchell Nelson, Newton C. Miller, the father of Albert N. Miller, Jim Gowins, J.E. Halliburton, Mrs. Fannie Batey Huddleston, Mrs. Florence Batey Williams, A.A. Gobelet, Ed Elam, and Mrs. L.E. Dunn, the mother of five sons all of whom became preachers.

On September 30, 1923, A.A. Gobelet and wife Bettie and Ed Elam sold one acre for $150 cash "to Trustees for the Church worshipping near Rucker... as the Mars Hill congregation." This lot, which is the present site of the church building, was part of the J.E. Halliburton tract and was bordered by Hallyburton and Reynolds. Trustees at the time were J.D. Hip, S.W. Kerr, A.J. Newman, and Albert N. Miller.

Since the congregation no longer needed its former building, on August 23, 1925, "in consideration of $500, the elders of Mars Hill Church of Christ and the deacons of Mars Hill Baptist Church" sold to F.H. O'Brien the property which had been bought from W.P. Prater and which then consisted "of a church house and lot." In 1925 the property was bounded on the northeast and south by F.H. O'Brien and on the west by a public road. The Church of Christ Trustees were the same as those trustees listed in the deed of 1923.

The present church house was one of the first rural churches to be built of brick. A stone embedded in the brick wall on the left of the arched entrance commemorates the previous history of the Mars Hill Church by the inscription of the dates 1880-1923. The building was equipped with carbide lights and a coal furnace. Added later were gas heat, restrooms, electricity, and air conditioning. The large ceiling carbide fixture was converted to electric power. In 1960, Henry Duggin, Sr., built two Sunday School rooms, one on each side of the church house. More recently, one long room with partitions was built across the back. This was used either for separate classrooms or for congregational fellowship.

C.M. Pullias preached the dedication sermon in the new building. John E. Dunn and C.W. Wiser were ministers who preached their first sermons there. Charles A. Taylor held the largest revival  meeting ever held at Mars Hill. Chairs were brought from Murfreesboro churches to accommodate the crowds. During this meeting, which was also his first, Charles A. Taylor baptized Mai Rigsby Burchett.

Other occasional preachers have included E.W. Elam, A. Alsup, W.T. Tidwell, F.B. Srygley, Granville Lipscomb, W.H.Sutton, G.C. Brewer, J.S. Dunn, W.L. Logan, E.L. Cambron, L.B. Jones, J.P. Slayden, R.C. White, Andie T. Richie, Sr., Claude Woodruff, Gilbert Shaffer, S.P. Pittman, George DeHoff, Sr. Coy Porter, and Clyde Gleaves. For a number of years, students of David Lipscomb College conducted services. 

Regular ministers have been John M. Young, Jr., George DeHoff, Jr., Leamon Flatt, Clayton Briley, L.D. Lawrence, Jeff Adcock and Jerry Bishop. At the present time Rhea Dean Crter is the minister.

Besides the elders and deacons already named, officers appointed have been A.J. Newman, S.W. Kerr, Ray Harris, L.D. Mangrum, Woodward Pigg, Kirk Mason, Bubba Allen and L.D. Lawrence. Albert N. Miller was already a leader and very active in the church work. Because he had no children, he was not qualified to be an elder. Presently Walter Loyd and Allen Wisdom are elders; Michael Lamb is a deacon.

Families of long membership, in addition to the ones already mentioned, have been those of Aubrey Burchett, John M. Young, Sr., Henry and Lucy Duggin, Dudley Comer, Mrs. W.F. Davidson, Leslie Arnette, McAdams, A.B. Moore, and Mrs. Mattie Elam.

During the ministry of Jerry Bishop, a pavilion called Mars Hill Church of Christ Community Center was built behind the church for fellowship meals. It was finished in the spring of 1994.

The Mars Hill Church of Christ presently supports mission work in the Phillippines (sic). It currently conducts a radio program called "According to the Scriptures" on Sunday mornings. It also offers sign language for the deaf during services.

Miriam Bell Holden now has in her family two kerosene wall lamps that were once used in the Mars Hill Church building. They were given to her when the building was renovated.


SOURCES: Deed Book 5, p. 577; Book 53, p. 179; Book 68, p. 76; Book 69, p. 75. Tennessee Dept. of Public Instruction. Annual Report 1890 (Nashville: Marshall and Bruce, 1891), p. 160. L.H. Wiser, A History of Rutherford County Schools (RCHS, 1986) v. 2, p. 146. Gene Sloan, "The Church of Christ in Rutherford County" (RCHS, Summer 1987), p. 22. Marvin Goodspeed, History of Tennessee (Woodward and Stinson, 1971, originally published in 1886). "Mars Hill Established in 1883" The Daily News Journal, Oct. 21, 1962, p. 2. Interviews with: Marie Couch Maples Smith; Margaret Burchett Moore, daughter of Mai Rigsby and Aubrey Burchett; Lucy Duggin, wife of Henry Duggin, Sr., Nellie Ghee Loyd, wife of Walter Loyd and niece of Frank O'Brien; Miriam Bell Holden. 

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Since the compiling, writing and publishing of the previous information regarding the Mars Hill Church of Christ, located in Christiana, Tennessee, the following updates should be noted.


On October 16, 2005, several classrooms, offices, and a new kitchen and fellowship area were dedicated with the following plaque inscription: 
"THIS CLASSROOM ADDITION AND FELLOWSHIP HALL IS DEDICATED IN LOVING MEMORY OF
BROTHER JOHN M. YOUNG, JR.
AND IN HONOR OF ALL MEMBERS PAST AND PRESENT
SERVING JESUS CHRIST SINCE 1852."
This plaque is located on the wall of the fellowship area, immediately to the right, upon entrance.

Currently (2018), Brothers Kirk Mason and Hugh Phifer serve as elders, and Brother Kyle Webb serves as minister. Former ministers of recent memory have been: Jeff Adcock, Randy Neal and David West. Bro. Webb began his ministry with the congregation in July, 2016.

A playground has been erected on the property of the current building.

The radio program mentioned previously has been recently revived in the form of an internet radio program with the same title, "According to the Scriptures," which airs on The Gospel Radio Network (TGRN.org), located out of Mt. Vernon, Texas. The program airs on Tuesdays, at 10am, and is re-aired at 10pm, with Bro. Webb serving as its host. 

The Mars Hill congregation continues to exist because of the love and desire of each of its members to continue in service of Almighty God. We continue to worship and study together, each week, with the singular mission in mind of spreading the gospel to the lost of our community, as well as to those abroad. It is with this purpose in mind that we pray for many more years of service in this community, if it be the Lord's will.