HISTORY OF THE BORDEAUX SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH
by W.R. White, Charter Member
Read by W.R. White, charter member, at the dedication of the church on May 1, 1965. The church membership was 260. We regret being able to present only notes, losing thereby the literary polish Brother White gave it.
"In 1903 Brother and Sister F.E. Pfeiffer moved from Battle Creek, Michigan to Nashville, he to connect with the SPA (Southern Publishing Association). For three years they had their residence in North Nashville. In 1906 they moved to Brodeaux, purchasing the property since familiarly known as "Pfeiffer's Hill." At first they were the only Adventists in Bordeaux, attending the Nashville Memorial (Seventh-day Adventist) Church at Fifth and Fatherland. Brother Pfeiffer was treasurer and Sister Pfeiffer a deaconess.
When J.E. Curtis and his family became Adventists in 1913, a Sabbath School was started in the old log cabin on Pfeiffers Hill. Soon Mr. and Mrs. G.W. Follis moved to Bordeaux, and they with their children, Milton and Bessie Nell, joined. Then their grandaughters, little Dolores and Maxine began attending with their mother, Mrs. Clara Folis. More Adventists moved into the Bordeaux neighborhood until in 1919 there were twenty. On Sabbath afternoon, June 21, 1919, under a beautiful tree on Curtis Hill near the present J.F. Cole home, Elder J.W. McComas met with them to perfect the organization. Brethren F.E. Pfeiffer and J.E. Curtis formed the nucleus, and eighteen others completed the list of charter members: Mrs. Clara Pfeiffer, Mrs. Lily Curtis, Mrs. Ella Mae Cramer, F.E. Robert, George Krauss, Mrs. Kate Krauss, W.C. Sisley, Mrs. F.H. Sisley, W.R. White, Mrs. Alice C. White, James H. Goodrich, Mrs. Pearl L. Goodrich, Elder D.E. Robinson, Mrs. Ella Robinson, Frelen V. Hale, Mrs. Lydia M. Hale, Elder R.B. Thurber, Virgil Robinson.
The officers of the new church were: Elders: E.D. Robinson, F.E. Robert; deacons: F.E. Pfeiffer, J.E. Curtis; deaconesses: Mrs. Lydia M. Hale, Mrs. Lily Curtis; treasurer and clerk: Mrs. Pearl L. Goodrich; missionary secretary: W.R. White; ushers: George Krauss, Charles Cramer.
During the summer Sabbath meetings were held alternate weeks in "Pfeiffer Park" or under the trees on Curtis Hill. On Pfeiffer Hill a special group of visitors (Brother Pfeiffer's "contented cows") had to be warned by the ushers not to be too inquisitive. In cooler weather, as the Pfeiffer and Curtis log cabins became too small for the growing church, a red brick building on Curtis Street, now the home of Mrs. Clara Follis, was remodeled. A curtain divided the one room for the children's S.S. (Sabbath School) division and for the Ordinance of Humility until a wooden room was added at the rear a year or two later, which became the church school also. This church school was early started, R.B. Thurber being the first teacher. This was later merged with the Nashville Intermediate School, now into G.N.J.A. (Greater Nashville Junior Academy, which has since been closed).
In that secluded spot we felt near to God as we worshiped outside from early spring till late fall. Strong hands carried out the little Esty organ, and seats were shifted with the shifting shade or a sudden rain drove us inside, where only the voice of song could be heard above the rain on the tin roof.
In winter a favorite seat was near the stove. Ashes were shaken down between services. The sound of coal added by the deacon was music even to the preacher's ears, as his listeners wrapped their coats more snugly about them. How proud we were when an excavation under one end provided space for a floor furnace. Then electricity came, but never city water. That had to be carried for drinking and for the Humility Service, when it was warmed over the stove or the furnace.
Prayer meetings were held in the members' homes, each host, alphabetically, being responsible for the services, in the personal testimonies of which the little children took part, when prayer meeting was at "our house."
Under these conditions and surroundings the church enjoyed some of its most precious Christian fellowship and spiritual experiences. The sorrows or joys of one became those of all, and it is due to this close fellowship that the Bordeaux SDA Church has become nationally known as "the Friendly Church."
By 1927, with a membership of about 60, the little red brick building was outgrown, and a stone-veneered building was erected on land given by J.E. Curtis at the corner of Buena Vista Pike and Curtis Street. W.C. Sisley drew the plans and supervised the building. Mr. Sparkman, a friend, donated the stone. The Conference gave $400, and the members gave the rest. The first service was held in the new church in December, 1928.
Again by 1945 the church had outgrown its facilities and toward the close of the following year an addition to the building was begun, which was largely the work of the men of the church and increased the seating capacity about 150%. On a cold winter morning about December 25, with ice on the roof, the brethren assembled, under the supervision on Bro. Demonbreun to shingle the building. Thus until the close of 1958 the church was adequately cared for there.
Sabbath, January 24, 1959, the church enjoyed another one of its spiritual feasts, little thinking it would be the last in their beloved church. About 12:30 a.m., Sunday morning, January 25, 1959, I was awakened by the noise of passing fire engines which seemed to stop close by. Looking out of our bedroom window, Mrs. White said; "It's the church!"
The building was completely destroyed. But under the providence of God, what seemed to be a calamity turned out to be a blessing. First it gave opportunity for the display of true Christian friendship on the part of the religious community of Bordeaux. The ashes were not yet cold when, on Sunday morning, representatives from the Baptist and Methodist churches, and all but one other of the churches of Bordeaux offered us the use of their churches till we could erect a new one. This expression of friendship was greatly appreciated. The Baptist church building seemed best suited, and our services were held there from January 31, 1959, to July 9, 1960.
Soon a committee was appointed to survey the area for a new and larger location and this property (at 5121 Buena Vista Pike) was purchased. We could have borrowed sufficient funds; but believing that funds should be conserved and also that one appreciates more what one has put himself into, the men were urged to undertake the task of erecting the building. Brother J.W. Malmede drew the plans and took oversight of the building operations. While we did hire men to do the masonry work and a few other things, the church is largely the product of the men of the church.
The land was surveyed April 6, 1959, bulldozed July 3, the slabs poured July 30 and August 7. The arches were hauled from the Tennessee Central Siding on County Road in the SPA (Southern Publishing Association) truck, with Brother Allan Tucker perched on top to raise the telephone wires as we went along so we could pass under. From the same siding company we hauled 19,000 feet of 2x6 for the roof. Each timber was sanded on the underside before being placed in position.
We worked in sunshine and rain, in the heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter with heavy coats and gloves when it was necessary to stop frequently to go to the fire to get warm so we could go on. Under these conditions the window frames of the Sanctuary were made.
The first Sabbath service was held in this edifice July 16, 1960. The major part of the auditorium was complete, though there was much finishing to be done in other parts.
I must pay tribute to the ladies of the church for their heroic cooperation and encouragement. First, to the married ladies for allowing their husbands to leave the hundred and one home chores always listed and waiting for their men to do. And second, to all the ladies for the abundant, delicious meals served each Sunday at noon almost the entire time of building.
And for His care and protection over the builders we return thanks to our heavenly Father, as we present to Him our church for dedication."
At this point Brother White presented the deed for the church to Elder E.L. Marley, Conference President.