warfare was waged on both preachers and people who preached and professed
holiness in the early days of the movement in Texas. There was a united effort
on the part of the old-line churches to crush out this “modern heresy,” as
they called it. Preachers preached sermons, and published books against the
doctrine. Among the Baptists they excluded them from fellowship. The Cumberland
Presbyterians rejected them in their synods, and the Methodist Episcopal Church,
South, placed their preachers in local relations for “inefficiency,” even
though they brought up all finances, and reported great revivals on their work.
One Methodist bishop said openly at an annual conference that they would stamp
holiness out of their conference if it took five years to do it. Well, they did
that very thing. At that time there were eighteen pastors in that conference
preaching the doctrine, and their people were sweeping into the blessing by the
hundred. In the allotted time, five years, there was not one left who preached
the doctrine and called seekers for the blessing. They all either left the
church or compromised and quit preaching holiness.
following this the Holiness Association of Texas was organized, to in some sort
of way hold the holiness people together. They were a mixed people, coming from
almost every church in Christendom, many of them excommunicated, while others
held only a nominal relation, and were not granted work of any kind in their
churches. Some others, such as the Free Methodists and Wesleyan Methodists, were
held in good standing in their churches.
Revivalist, at Cincinnati, held out to the people a church home; the Apostolic
Holiness Church, but this did not seem to satisfy the demands of the South.
Seeking a church home where the sacraments could be administered, C. B. Jernigan
and his wife, Mrs. Johnny Jernigan, and Rev. A. G. Jeffries united with that
church, and were ordained.
Holiness Association of Texas was now in full blast, and had on its roster the
names of more than two hundred ministers; but little provisions were made for
the laity. True, holiness bands were organized, and some of them had a regular
preacher who preached for them, but there was no baptism, nor sacraments for her
people, and they were called come-outers by the church people. Their children
were deprived of these privileges, and derided for the same reason, until the
sting of the conditions were sorely felt by some.
Holiness Church, which was brought from California by Dennis and Tom Rogers,
seemed too narrow, as their manual did not allow the church organ, nor a public
collection. Some churches had been organized and I believe about five church
buildings were built, but they were on the decline.
this time Rev. C. B. Jernigan, in company with Rev. E. C. DeJernett and Rev. Ben
Cordell, spent a night in a hotel at Van Alstyne, Texas, and before retiring
that night asked the Lord to send a holiness preacher to hold a meeting in that
beautiful, rich town. In a few months Rev. C. B. Jernigan and Rev. Noah Cooley
were called there by Rev. John Majors, and his brother, Frank, for a meeting. It
was in the dead of winter and the Texas black mud was sticking in a terrible
way, while the rain poured. This meeting was started in the Presbyterian church,
but the rain poured until attendance was small. While in prayer over the
situation the Spirit gave the evangelists a very unique announcement, which was
printed and the town sown down with them the next day, which brought out great
crowds from that on. We reproduce the handbill:
spite of the rain and Texas black mud the people came and the power of God was
present to convict, save, and sanctify; and the shouting soon began to annoy the
staid and orderly people of the church, and the evangelists were told to close
the meeting. But the town was just getting interested in the revival, so the
opera house was rented and the revival continued. The preacher who had invited
the evangelists now became nervous about leaving a church and going into the
opera house with the meeting, but the revival went on and nearly one hundred
people were blessed in that meeting, and plans were laid for a tent meeting in
the following summer, which resulted in more than one hundred more sweeping into
the kingdom. Many of the hardest cases in town had been saved in these meetings,
among them drunkards, bootleggers, gamblers, and horse traders.
diamonds dug from the rough, together with their families, and many others,
needed a shepherd’s care, but no church home was provided, and the evangelist
did not urge them to join holiness fighting churches; but they longed for a
place of worship, so they attended the different churches in town, looking for a
congenial church home. They found the different pastors arrayed against the
holiness people, and sharp insinuations cast at them from the pulpit.
the early spring of 1901 these people sent a delegation to the evangelist who
had preached holiness to them, with the demand for a holiness church home. He
visited them again and after a consultation together they could find no church
that suited them, so it was decided to organize a new holiness church; and to
call it the Independent Holiness Church, so as to distinguish it from the
Holiness Church that came from California some years before, that had about
become extinct. At the Carter opera house, where the meeting was held at first,
the first Independent Holiness Church was organized in June, 1901. Rev. C. B.
Jernigan was chosen pastor. A committee, after much prayer, wrote out a manual.
Not a man in the whole number of charter members was a land owner. All poor
renters, but God was with them. There was no money in the treasury to pay for
printing the new manual, and John C. Tipton, then a very poor man, living on a
rented farm, volunteered to sell a load of wheat out of his granary that he was
keeping for his own family flour, and out of this he paid for the printing of
five hundred copies of the manual. These were sent out to others who were
interested in church affairs.
pastor gave half time to this church, and the balance to evangelistic work. At
the first meeting there was another church organized at Red Oak, near Blossom,
Texas, and then another at Lawson, and soon there were other calls for churches.
next spring, at the regular spring revival at Peniel, at the Texas Holiness
University, while Rev. H. C. Morrison was preaching, he took occasion to
severely rebuke the starting of a new church. Among other things he said, “An
unknown wood chopper had gotten him a jack knife and a corn stalk and sat down
under the shadow of a haystack and whittled him out a church to suit himself,
and now was trying to herd the whole holiness movement into it.” He further
said, “When we need a new church we will call a great convention and we will
find us a Moses, and when he starts down the road there will be a dust in the
desert.” At this there was a great stampede, and a rousing chorus of “Amen!
Amen!” from many quarters, while the man who had organized these churches sat
still in the congregation in deep meditation; wondering where the great
convention was held, and who attended when the real Moses was called. If the
records are true, there was only Moses, the burning bush, and Jehovah. This is
the usual convention when God needs a man. In January, 1902, at a meeting it was
agreed to build a church in Van Alstyne, and a subscription was started, and
$400 was subscribed by the members of this poor church. A building committee was
organized and work began on the house. God moved on the hearts of the people and
the house went up like magic, and when the last nail was driven there was money
enough in the treasury for the paint, and the house was finished at the cost of
over $1,000 and not a penny of debt was against the building. The people of the
town were amazed; and said they never saw a church built so easily.
February 16, 1902, Rev. E. C. DeJernett preached the dedicatory sermon, and the
power of God was on the church, and it grew in numbers and prospered. Great
opposition sprang up from the Holiness Association folks against the little
holiness church, and articles were written against it in some of the holiness
papers, and many stories were adrift about these “would-be leaders”; but it
soon became apparent that the Independent Holiness Church had come to stay, and
people flocked into it by the hundred.
schools and papers and missionary interests had been started as undenominational
affairs, and now to see the church coming in like a tide, with a paper and a
school that stood distinctively for church work, and for it to gain such rapid
prosperity and favor among the people, the leaders of these undenominational
institutions were perplexed to know just what to do with their work thus
started. Indeed it was a vexing question, and one that kept the Pentecostal
Mission work at Nashville, Tenn. (the McClurkan work), out of the Pentecostal
Nazarene Church for a long time. People from many denominations, and many who
were not in any denomination, had contributed liberally to these institutions,
and now to break with them so suddenly and all come into a church, and begin
work as a church, was indeed a vexing question. Thousands of dollars had been
put into these institutions, and hundreds of students were in attendance at
their schools. The question was: What effect will it have on them? The coming
church was inevitable. It had come to stay. In spite of all its opposition it
grew and prospered.
INDEPENDENT HOLINESS CHURCH COUNCIL
October, 1902, during the Rees meeting at Paris, Texas, a number of the leading
preachers and laymen who were interested in church work met and discussed the
necessity for having an annual council of the Independent Holiness church. Up to
this time there had been no annual meeting of the various churches, as they had
made their reports annually at the annual meeting of the Holiness Association of
Texas, and many of the leaders of the association were opposed to a separate
organization, but thought that it would be best for the holiness movement to
still remain in one body. Some of the association preachers who did not see the
necessity of a holiness church and who never did unite with the church, but
wanted to become pastors of some of the holiness churches, raised quite a stir
because of the organization of another annual meeting which they thought would
interfere with the annual meetings of the association and opposed the annual
this meeting in Paris many of the church leaders were present and formed a
tentative annual council, and blocked out its policy to be adopted at a meeting
that was set for February, 1903, to meet in Blossom, Texas.
Blossom meeting was well attended, and a spiritual feast was indeed spread, the
business sessions would sometimes end in an altar call, and souls would pray
through at the altar. The saints would leap and shout for joy, and a revival
wave was on the whole town. Truly God was honoring the work.
the Paris meeting Rev. C. B. Jernigan was elected president of the annual
council, and Rev. James B. Chapman, secretary. Rev. Mr. Chapman had been a
mighty champion for the organization of holiness churches. As soon as he heard
of the organization of the first church at Van Alstyne, Texas, he wrote to know
about the church and how to proceed with the organization of the work where he
had held meetings. Soon he was in the church, and was among the very first to
push church organization and conserve his work. All through eastern Texas and in
Oklahoma he had held meetings and saw the need of some method of holding his
people together. He organized churches along the line of Louisiana, at Bivins,
Texas, and Vivian, La.
MARRIAGE AT THE FIRST ANNUAL COUNCIL
the marriage at Cana of Galilee, the water of free and easy unrestrained,
unorganized holiness, was transformed into soul-stirring wine of order and
organization. As the saints were partaking of this new wine, at the last of the
feast, and boldly praising the King for the best wine now being served, Rev.
James B. Chapman entered the church in open session of the annual council with
Miss Maude Fredrick by his side, accompanied by some friends and relatives.
C. B. Jernigan met them at the altar and the marriage ceremony was performed
which made them one. Waves of glory swept over the congregation while the
preacher was praying, which continued while congratulations were extended. Such
marriage ceremonies are not always seen, even in church. Surely the seal of God
was placed on this marriage. We can never forget the scenes of that hour.
November, 1903, the second annual council of the Independent Holiness Church
convened at Greenville, Texas. It met in a rented hall that was at that time
being used for a holiness mission. There were twelve churches represented at
this council. Up to this time there had been no separate annual meeting of the
holiness churches, but they had met in conjunction with the annual meeting of
the Holiness Association of Texas. Now to break with the association and meet in
a separate annual meeting was too much for some of the association people, and
there was talk of charges of disloyalty against their leaders when the
association met. When the council met the association people were afraid of this
new church movement, and did little toward the entertainment of the delegates to
the council, and spoke against it in very discouraging terms. Few homes were
open for the delegates, in fact, none at the first, and the entire delegation
was fed from the table of Rev. C. B. Jernigan, while the women slept in his
home, and the men slept in the mission hall on rented beds. When the council
opened he had $1.50 in money and half a sack of flour; but when it closed he had
$15 and three sacks of flour. The merchants in town sent down great back loads
of provisions of their own accord, while the delegates paid in money, without
the asking. There were about sixty people in all, delegates and anxious
Seth C. Rees, who was one of the leading spirits at that time in the Apostolic
Holiness Church, was invited to attend this council, with the view of the union
of the two bodies, as there was no thought of a lone church, but simply to start
an organization that would hold the people together until a union of holiness
churches could be perfected, which was afterward consummated. This invitation
aroused the editor of a holiness paper and he wrote a strong article about a
“cleaver” that was destined to split the holiness movement. This editor had
not yet got the vision. In this article he said to Rees, “Please do not come
among us.” On seeing this editorial Rees was asked not to attend, as it might
work harm at this time. The council was a decided success, and great power was
on the people from the very first. The leading men in this work were Rev. C. B.
Jernigan, who had organized the first church; Rev. James B. Chapman, who had
done a great work in eastern Texas and Oklahoma in revivals and organization;
Rev. J. W. Land, of Louisiana; Rev. C. C. Cluck, who had conducted many great
revivals in eastern Texas; Rev. I. D. Farmer, the co-laborer with C. C. Cluck;
Rev. Dennis Rogers, who had always stood for an organized holiness church; and
others whose names we can not now recall. Rev. C. B. Jernigan was elected
president, with Rev. J. B. Chapman, secretary.
third annual council met at Blossom, Texas, October 5, 1904. This was a splendid
gathering of representative holiness people, many of whom were in attendance to
see if the church was a success. The revival tide ran high, and many people were
blessed in this council. Twenty-seven churches were represented at this council.
Just prior to this meeting the president of the council had been invited to
attend the annual convocation of the Holiness Baptist Church, at Piney Grove
church, near Prescott, Ark., with the view of the union of the two churches.
They sent representatives to this council, as the Rising Star council was to
convene in November the same year, at which two holiness churches united, but
the Holiness Baptist Church would not unite.
At this session of the annual council delegates were elected to represent the Independent Holiness Church at the annual council of the Church of Christ that met the next month at Rising Star, Texas, at which plans for union were laid.