1893 E. H. Sheeks and wife, Mrs. E. J. Sheeks, attended a revival meeting at
Bells, Tenn., conducted by Rev. Robert L. Harris, who was at that time a
Methodist preacher. They were both reclaimed and sanctified, and accompanied him
to his next meeting at Friendship, Tenn. Rev. Mr. Harris was in poor health, and
at the close of this meeting Brother Sheeks invited Brother Harris to share
their home with them in Memphis, which was accepted, and that fall they went to
Memphis, and remained there until the next April.
Mr. Harrisí health having failed, and seeing the necessity of getting this
glorious doctrine of holiness to the world, after much prayer over the matter,
he decided to start a paper, which was called The Trumpet, and a servantís
house on the premises was converted into a printing office, with Rev. H. L.
Harris, editor, and Mrs. Mary Harris and Mrs. E. J. Sheeks, typesetters.
April, 1894, H. H. Sheeks formed a partnership with R. B. Mitchum in a store at
Milan, Tenn., and immediately moved there. Rev. Mr. Harris and wife accompanied
them, but being unable to secure a house large enough for all, Brother Harris
and wife were offered a home with R. B. Mitchum, and here again a servantís
house was changed into a printing office, and The Trumpet was printed in Milan.
after moving to Milan, Rev. Mr. Harris began a series of sermons on the
government and doctrines of the New Testament church, using the parlors of
Brother Mitchumís home for a chapel. In June he began a tent meeting, which
closed July 9, 1894, in the organization of the New Testament Church of Christ,
with thirteen charter members: Rev. R. L. Harris, Mrs. H. L. Harris, H. B.
Mitchum, Mrs. Donie, E. H. Sheeks, Mrs. H. J. Sheeks, Miss Emma Woodcock, Miss
Susie Sherman, Miss Grace George, H. Y. Moore, F. A. Hite, W. M. Mann, Dr.
Harris. Rev. R. L. Harris was called as pastor, and filled that office until his
less than three years this church had four missionaries in foreign fields, and
was supporting a Hindu boy in India (Bacher Maghjee), who is at this writing in
school in Peniel, Texas. Brother and Sister Sheeks also were supporting a
missionary and a girl in India.
the death of Rev. H. L. Harris the mantle of his great work fell on his faithful
wife and Mrs. E. J. Sheeks, who carried forward this new work until it spread
through Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and as far west as
Arizona. Mrs. Sheeks did the work in the East, while Mrs. Harris (now Mrs. Mary
Lee Cagle) pushed her work in the West. Although women preachers, they have
shown to the world their call and qualifications for planting holiness churches
and maintaining them. Out of this work came a host of preachers and workers who
are still pushing the work for God.
after the death of Rev. Mr. Harris, Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Sheeks became
co-laborers in gospel work, and the tests and trials came thick and fast. Women
preachers were not popular, and all hell tried to stop them, but they went
forward with a determination to win, and God mightily blessed their labors.
Brother Sheeks bought them a big gospel tent. This made them independent of
churches, which so often refused them their houses. The work spread rapidly in
Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas, and scores were brought into the blessing of
B. Mitchum, and wife took charge of the church in Milan when they were away, and
continued in charge until 1905, when they moved to Nashville, and the church was
August, 1897, Mrs. Harris sent an urgent call for Mrs. Sheeks to assist her in a
meeting in Alabama, but after much prayer, Mrs. Sheeks wrote her that she was
not led to go, but that God had something else for her in Tennessee. The same
day, after she had mailed the letter, she got a letter from Hillville, asking
her to come there for a revival, and she and Mrs. Mitchum went, and God blessed
them in a most wonderful way. The tent would not hold the people, and many of
the leading people of the town were saved and sanctified, one of whom is now
teaching in Asbury College. The country for several miles was stirred over the
revival and the women preachers. People threw away their tobacco (something new
in religion then), lodges and worldliness in all forms were abandoned, old feuds
were settled, and more than one hundred prayed through in this meeting, and a
Church of Christ was organized to foster the flock. Mrs. Sheeks became their
pastor and continued in that capacity for nine consecutive years. Soon a nice
large church was erected and furnished in good style. The work of this church
Hillville the tent was moved to Brownsville, the county seat, and here again God
gave a great revival, and many people were saved. This meeting did much to break
down prejudice in that country, and open the way for still greater work. Again
the tent was moved, and a meeting begun at Gadsden, and the third real holiness
revival was on, and many found God. In these meetings Mrs. Sheeks was assisted
by Mrs. Mitchum, Miss Tena Platt, and Miss Annie Johnson, now Mrs. Annie Fisher,
the wife of W. E. Fisher, who had just begun to preach.
this Mrs. Sheeks was associated with Mrs. E. A. Masterman, who was her gospel
singer and traveling companion for nine years, the whole year around, taking no
vacation, but enduring hardships like good soldiers of Christ; holding meetings
in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas. Mrs.
Sheeks preached at the Beebe camp in 1899, which caused her to get a call to
hold a meeting at Stony Point, a Methodist church, three miles out from Beebe.
This meeting was in October, 1899. The weather being bad, the meeting only
continued a few days, but she was called back by the pastor, Rev. E. N. Pitts,
and she and Mrs. Masterman returned the following summer for a tent meeting, and
the tent was pitched alongside the Methodist church. This meeting ran two weeks,
and was the stepping stone to the organization of the first Church of Christ
that was organized in Arkansas, which still holds its function as a church, and
from it a light has radiated throughout Arkansas. Stony Point was the mother
church in Arkansas. Great crowds thronged the services to see the mighty works
of God; scores prayed through to victory, old troubles were settled, confessions
were made, and many times the altar service ran all night, so deep was the
conviction that people were unable to go home, but fell into the straw and cried
to God for salvation, which came in abounding grace and shouting victory.
Sheeks was called as pastor of this church, and served them for seven
consecutive years. The first year they built a nice church, Brother Sheeks
donating liberally to its construction. He was no preacher, but he was a
cheerful giver, and God prospered him in his business for it.
next day after the Stony Point meeting they began another revival, moving the
tent seven miles to Union Valley, where the Lord blessed the old-time gospel.
The workers from Stony Point came and assisted in song, prayer, and praise, and
numbers were blessed there also. The pine woods resounded almost continuously
with the voice of prayer. Here a man alone in secret was praying at the top of
his voice, yonder a group were on their knees out in the pines, when soon there
would be the shout of triumph and victory, while at the tent there was little
time for preaching, and often the altar would be filled the second time, and
sometimes the third time in one service. Most of the people were members of the
Baptist Church, and on the first regular church day they turned out twenty-one
for professing holiness, most of whom united with the Church of Christ at Stony
next meeting was at El Paso, Ark., near enough for the young converts from the
other two places to attend and render great assistance in the meeting, and a
mighty revival was the result.
from place to place these two handmaidens of the Lord went; Mrs. Sheeks
preaching, and Mrs. Masterman singing the gospel. When the weather was too cold
for the tent to be used they preached in churches and schoolhouses, and in
rented halls, that fall opening a mission in the city of Little Rock, which
afterward resulted in the organization of another church. Mrs. Sheeks held
meetings in Jonesboro, Black Oak, Monett, Beech Grove, Brinkley, Monroe,
Madison, Green Brier, Vilonia, Texarkana, Hartford, Kingsland, Mena, Delight,
Cabot, Hatfield, Waldron, and many other places, planting churches and
conserving the work as she went.
1905 she held a meeting in Lafayette Springs, Miss., which resulted in the
organization of the church at Thaxton, the first holiness church in that state,
from which went out several preachers, and several other churches were organized
from their work.
first annual business meeting of the several churches convened at Milan, Tenn.,
December 12, 1899, at which H. B. Mitchum was chosen chairman and Mrs. E. J.
Sheeks, secretary. These churches were strictly congregational in form of
government, and would not accept members who had been immersed, unless they
would be baptized by pouring or sprinkling. This caused quite a commotion in
some places. Another question that arose was the ordination of women preachers.
At this annual meeting three were ordained, two women and one man, Mrs. E. J.
Sheeks, Mrs. R. L. Harris (Mrs. Mary Lee Cagle), and Rev. G. M. Hammond.
second annual meeting was held at the same place, December 13, 1900, with the
same officers elected. At this meeting it was decided to call the annual
meetings. The annual council of the Church of Christ, composed of a delegated
body from the several churches. Such councils were held at Jonesboro, Ark.,
1901; Hillville, Tenn., 1902; Beech Grove, Ark., 1903; Stony Point, Ark., 1904.
About this time it was deemed necessary to have two councils, the eastern,
composed of Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas. The western
embracing the state of Texas.
CHURCH OF CHRIST IN TEXAS
December 28, 1897, the first Church of Christ was organized at Swedonia, Texas,
by Mrs. Mary Lee Cagle. This was a Scandinavian settlement, and most of the
members were Swedes. Among the charter members was Miss Annie May Johnson, now
Mrs. William E. Fisher. She was a strong preacher and did a mighty work in the
early days in Texas. Many other churches soon followed in the adjacent country,
all of which still hold their function as churches to this day, and all these
years have prospered. While persecution thick and fast has come their way, God
has led them steadily on to victory.
1897 a church was organized in Waco, Texas, by Rev. J. A. Murphree. It was at
this time that Rev. William E. Fisher united with the church, and has since
figured extensively in church work. He was the first District Superintendent of
the Abilene District, then of the San Antonio District, and at this writing is
pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, Kansas City. Also at this meeting
Rev. J. T. Upchurch, that pioneer rescue worker and founder of the Berachah
Rescue Home at Arlington, Texas, united with the church. It was here that Rev.
Bert Freeland and Rev. J. W. Manney came into the church. All of these are still
members of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene.
December 23, 1899, a gospel mission and training school was started by the
Church of Christ, at 115-117 North Eighth street, Waco, Texas, with Rev. J. A.
Murphree president of the faculty of six teachers. This school later moved to
Buffalo Gap, Texas, and then again still later was removed to Hamlin, Texas,
where it became the Central Nazarene University. All this time Rev. W. E. Fisher
and Rev. Mrs. Mary Lee Cagle had much to do with shaping the destiny of this
December, 1898, a church paper was launched, called The Evangelist, which was an
eight-page monthly paper, and was edited by Rev. J. A. Murphree. This paper was
published for several years with very gratifying results, championing the cause
of holiness which was at that time exceedingly unpopular, and still more so to
stand for a holiness organization, but God blessed the paper and made it a
blessing to the thousands of its readers.
these churches grew and increased in number and power, for God was with them and
blessed this despised band of holy people, persecution grew as well, and they
saw the necessity of a closer union with each other, for they were strictly
congregational in government, and each local church was a sovereign within
itself, attending to all church matters as that local church saw things:
licensing and ordaining the ministry as the local church deemed prudent. A
general church meeting was called to meet in Buffalo Gap, Texas, December 24,
1902, where the first annual western council was organized. Rev. William E.
Fisher was elected president, and a Brother Logadon, secretary. Some feared that
the clergy would assume control as in many of the old-line churches, and they
elected their officers for the ensuing year from the laity. Brother Joe Holly
was elected president, Brother Logsdon, vice-president, and Mrs. Fannie Suddarth,
secretary; Mrs. Mary Lee Cagle, corresponding secretary.
meeting was called the annual council of the Church of Christ, and a year book
was published, containing the minutes of the meeting, a statement of doctrine,
and form of government. At this council there were eleven churches or
congregations represented, together with sixteen ministerial, and eight lay
second annual council convened at Roby, Texas, November 26, 1903, at which time
Rev. William E. Fisher was again elected president, Rev. Samuel Busbee,
vice-president, and Mrs. Fannie Suddarth, secretary.
The third annual council convened at Rising Star, Texas, November 22, 1904, at which the delegates from the Independent Holiness Church, the Church of God, and the holiness people at large met in joint session with delegates from the Church of Christ, to plan for a union of all holiness people into one body. Delegates were elected to the general council of Independent Holiness churches, which met at Pilot Point, Texas, the following year.