The History Of
First Street Missionary Baptist Church, East Nashville
In the year of 1890 at First Street and Fatherland Street, a church was organized as the Peoples Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of the Late Rev. A. Russell who toiled and labored until the Master called him home from labor to reward.
After several months, the Church called the late Rev. Sim S. Stubblefield, a young minister, and a member of Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church to pastor. In 1898, the church brought a lot on Cowan Street known as Frog Bottom. A church building was erected and dedicated in the name of the Lord, as the First Street Missionary Baptist Church.
In the year of 1916, the church purchased a lot at 218 North First Street. The late Rev. S. S. Stubblefield built the church according to his vision. Many members helped clean the lot. While the building was being built, we worshipped in the Old Odd Fellow’s Hall on Spring Street. The church was finished in 1918. We marched in on the first Sunday of May 1918 from the Hall to the Church, and what glorious hallelujah time it was. We sang and shouted, O How We Praised Thee From Whom All Blessings Flow”. The membership worshipped twenty-four years under Rev. S. S. Stubblefield, from 1916 until 1940.
The late Mrs. Eva Pennington was President of Usher Board No. 1. She heard Rev. Stubblefield preach the sermon “Dry Bones in the Valley” at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in 1938. This sermon touched her so much that she asked him if he would preach it as an annual sermon for the Usher Board. The 3rd Sunday came the following year and Rev. Stubblefield preached the 1st Annual sermon on “Dry Bones in the Valley” and dis so for two years until his health began to fail him. Rev. Stubblefield preached his last sermon on the first Sunday in June 1940. His text was taken from 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly, not I but the grace of God which was in me”. He asked his brother the late Isom Stubblefield if he would continue to preach “Dry Bones in the Valley“, which he did.
July 26, 1940, God called Rev. S. S. Stubblefield home. He fought a good fight, kept the faith, finished the course and his work on earth was finished. (Reported by the late Mother Mary Baines and Mother Mary F. Wilson)
After six months the congregation called Rev. Isom Stubblefield, the brother of S. S. Stubblefield to be the pastor in the year of 1941. He was pastor in the year 1941. He pastored at 218 North First Street until 1952 when the members decided to purchase a church building in North Nashville on 9th Avenue North. Some of the members did not go to North Nashville due to lack of transportation. This transition left some members with no place to worship.
The small group of Christian men and women inspired by faith within their hearts began to meet each Sunday in the home of the late Mrs. Frances Hadley. With the firm resolve to find and organize a church, (First Street Missionary Baptist Church, East Nashville) set out to accomplish this task.
At that time we were without a pastor. All we had were Trustees, Mothers, Ushers and a few members. Minister Leon Rucker preached two Sundays a month for us. The Reverend S. S. Simpson was the Moderator of the Stone River District Association and overseer of the ministry. The spirit was high each Sunday!
Under Rev. Simpson’s guidance the membership grew, requiring a larger building for worship. Mr. T.C. Donelson, of Donelson Funeral Home, being a concerned Christian friend knew the problem we were having with the growth of the members and opened the doors of the Funeral Home to our congregation for services. After several months of conducting services in Donelson Funeral Home, two of the original and dedicated members of the church on North First Street, Trustee John Harvey Johnson, Sr. and Deacon John Harvey Young met to discuss the purchasing of the old church building, which had been purchased by the Roach Estate Company. Both knew that the church did not have the money, but decided to talk to Mr. Roach anyway. After gathering all the financial information, Mr. Roach realized that we were a small group of Christians with no money but a determined heart. Deacon Young let Mr. Roach know that we were very serious about purchasing the church from him. Being a hard business man, Mr. Roach finally decided to sell the church back to the remaining members but asked double what he had paid for it. Deacon Young could not believe that he was being so hard to ask for the kind of money knowing the situation. But going in faith, Deacon John Young returned with the information to Brother John Harvey Johnson. The Deacons and Trustees met to discuss the purchase. After the meeting, Brother John Harvey Johnson, Sr. went to the congregation with the proposition that he would purchase the church and make arrangements for them to pay him back when things got better. It was good to know that someone loved the church enough to make a personal sacrifice such as that. Even though the church was never able to repay Brother Johnson, he was happy that he was able to make a contribution for the good of the church.
Services were started right away. The late Rev. S. S. Simpson was acting minister and overseer, since we still did not have a pastor. Several ministers were there each Sunday to carry out the services. Within a year, we still had not selected a pastor. The 3rd Sunday in April 1953 was coming up and so was the Usher Board’s Annual Day. The late Mrs. Eva Pennington inquired of Rev. Otis Hoover whom happened to be in town that week, if he could possibly preach for the occasion. He agreed and the service was a great success. The next year Rev. Hoover could not be with us but the members remembered hearing a great speaker from Pennsylvania, the Rev. W. W. Henry who had spoken at 15th Ave Baptist Church the previous year. He agreed to carry out the services and it was again a success. Later, Rev. W. W. Henry became pastor of First Street.
At that time few members were left. One of our faithful members, the late Mother Mary Baines was thinking of some ways to raise money for the church. She thought of having a program where could hear the word of God and then share in his blessings by bringing a covered dish and sharing a meal. It was given the name Homecoming. Mother Baines went to the Deacons with her idea and they thought it was a good idea. Mother Baines asked Brother John Harvey Johnson to sponsor the program. Deacon Young did not want to plan and carry out the program alone so he asked Sister Louvenia Polk (who know serves on the Mother’s Board) to help coordinate the program. Everyone became involved with getting Homecoming together and their first goal was to raise $1,000.00 and it was. Trustee John Johnson, Sr. had a great part in Homecoming and other aspects of the church.
Rev. Henry, now serving as Pastor was making plans to move back to Pennsylvania. Rev. Sally succeeded him as pastor serving one year. The late A. H. Moore succeeded him as Pastor. After Rev. Moore served, he returned to his former church where he pastored twice monthly. The church was once again without a pastor. The late Rev. James Armstrong, who was a loyal, kind and understanding man whom also loved First Street, was called to serve as our Pastor. Due to the condition of the building the church was forced to relocate. The Pastor, Deacons, and Trustees met to discuss relocation.
The church moved to 1206 Montgomery Avenue in the late 1950’s where Rev. James Armstrong was still the Pastor. The church made a lot of progress under his leadership. We purchased and paid for the building. Our first seats were folding chairs. There was only the sanctuary, and the pastor’s study. This was paid off and as time went on, First Street again on the move, began to expand and now the old white house building with the annex were paneled. However, First Street’s membership again began growing and the need for expanding was once again upon us. The four surrounding lots were purchased, new pews and pulpit furniture were also purchased. The building was paid in full in 1973. The Mortgage Burning Ceremony was held July 8,1973. The late Rev. James Armstrong served faithfully until his retirement in July 1988.
In 1988, the late Rev. Emanuel Hines was called as our Pastor. The church continued to prosper under his leadership as well. In 1992, the church was totally remodeled and an addition (now known as the Annex) including the exterior, now had a beautiful red brick finish. Rev. Hines retired after his health started to slow him down, and later served as Pastor Emeritus; helping whenever called upon and was a very faithful member of the Sunday School until God called him home on March 26, 2004.
Once again with a pastor, a pastor’s search committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Sister Dianne Williams, who know serves on the Mother Board. After many hours of hard work the committee brought several candidates before the church body and a new Pastor was chosen for First Street.
God sent us in February 1997, a proud gentleman by the name of Elder Leroy Hatchett. Elder Hatchett came in with fire on his wings. Rev. Hatchett had a vision for First Street that God bless it abundantly. We was very blessed to have Rev. Hatchett during his tenure. In October of 2001, God called upon Elder Hatchett to answer a new calling. As with others gone before him, First Street wished him all the best as he followed God’s call.