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Chapter 22






At the Holiness Association of Texas, held at Oak Cliff, Texas, November, 1903, Rev. W. E. Fisher, of the Church of Christ, and Rev. C. B. Jernigan, of the Independent Holiness Church, met for the first time. They discussed the question of the churches for the holiness people, and found that the two churches were identical in doctrine, and nearly so in polity, and the advisability of the two churches uniting into one body was talked of with much interest to both, and they agreed to try to bring about a union of the two churches. Rev. W. E. Fisher was the president of the western annual conference of the Church of Christ, and Rev. C. B. Jernigan was the president of the Independent Holiness Church annual association. After some correspondence, it was found advisable to present the matter to the annual church association of the Holiness Church, which met at Blossom, Texas, in October, 1904. At this association the matter was discussed, and five delegates were elected to represent the Independent Holiness Church at the annual council of the Church of Christ, which was to meet at Rising Star, Texas, in their third annual session. The delegates elected were Rev. J. B. Chapman, Rev. M. J. Guthrie, Rev. Dennis Rogers, Rev. John F. Roberts, and Rev. C. B. Jernigan. The Church of Christ at their council elected a like delegation to confer with the Independent Holiness Church delegates, as follows: Rev. W. E. Fisher, Rev. T. C. Eason, Rev. B. F. Neeley, Rev. Mrs. Fannie Suddarth, and Rev. Mrs. Mary Lee Cagle. The eastern annual council of the Church of Christ was represented by Rev. G. H. Hammond; Rev. H. M. Guy represented the unorganized holiness people at large, and Rev. J. T. Upchurch represented a local church at Oak Cliff, which was called the Church of God (not the Gospel Trumpet people).

Union was in the air, and all churches that taught holiness as a second work of grace were invited to sit in this conclave, seeking a union of all. There was a church in Arkansas called the Holiness Baptist Church, composed mostly of Baptists who had been excommunicated on account of their holiness teachings. This people were led by Rev. W. J. Walthall, of Texarkana. A correspondence was started with Rev. Mr. Walthall, which resulted in the invitation of Rev. C. B. Jernigan to visit their annual conclave, which met at Piney Grove church, near Prescott, Ark. This body was so intensely congregational that there was no president, but a moderator was elected after the convocation met, who held office only so long as the convocation was in session. The subject of church union was discussed, and most of the laity were enthusiastic for the union, but their leader demurred, and the convocation refused to attempt a union unless the united church would adopt immersion as the only mode of baptism. The Church of Christ baptized by pouring only, while the Independent Holiness Church had no restricted mode of baptism. The Holiness Baptists refused to enter the union unless immersion only was the order of the church. This kept the Holiness Baptist Church out of the union as a body, but many of the laity and some of their preachers came into the united church, among whom were Rev. F. H. Morgan, who afterward became District Superintendent of the Eastern Oklahoma District, Rev. Frank Daniel, Rev. E. A. Snell, and Rev. Mrs. Dora Rice.

November 22, 1904, the Church of Christ met in their third annual session at Rising Star, Texas, and with them these respective delegates. The council voted to elect a joint committee to frame a manual and statement of doctrine, and basis of union. This joint committee recommended the name, Holiness Church of Christ, which virtually took in the names of the uniting bodies, combining them into one. This committee made its final report to a joint session of all churches and holiness people, who met in the first general council at Pilot Point, Texas, November 712, 1905. Legal delegates from these several bodies met and fully consummated the union under the name of the Holiness Church of Christ. Rev. R. M. Guy was elected president of the general council.

There were three annual councils organized: Western Texas; Eastern Texas, covering all east of Fort Worth, Texas, and all of Oklahoma; and the Arkansas council, composed of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi. There were about one hundred local church organizations in this union at this time.

The first general council of the Holiness Church of Christ met the next fall at Texarkana, Texas-Ark. At this council a letter was read from Rev. C. W. Ruth, telling of the proposed union of the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, with the Church of the Nazarene, which were called to meet in April, 1906, at Brooklyn, N. Y., and asking that we elect delegates to that meeting and seek union with them. This proposition was met with enthusiasm, and three delegates were elected, as follows: Rev. R. M. Guy, Rev. J. B. Chapman, and Rev. C. B. Jernigan. The distance was so great and no funds were provided for carfare, and none of the delegates attended.

The correspondence between C. W. Ruth and C. B. Jernigan finally resulted in seven persons attending the First General Assembly of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, where the Association of Pentecostal Churches, and the Church of the Nazarene united. The seven persons were Rev. J. P. Roberts, Rev. J. D. Scott, Rev. J. N. Speakes, Rev. S. M. Stafford, Rev. C. B. Jernigan, Rev. Mrs. E. J. Sheeks, and one layman, T. J. Shingler. These were invited as honorary members of the Manual Revision Committee, and all points of difference between the Holiness Church of Christ, and the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene were freely discussed and tentatively agreed upon union, subject to the action of the different annual councils in the South.

These unaccredited delegates returned home to arouse interest in the union of all holiness churches. They invited the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene to hold a General Assembly the next fall in the South. On their return home they stopped off at the Arkansas annual council, then in session at Little Rock, and reported what they had done, and the manuals of both churches were read and compared, after which the council went on their knees in fervent prayer for divine guidance, and as they prayed the glory fell on the entire congregation, and when prayer was over the vote was taken and the council voted unanimously for union, amid shouts of joy and old-time handshaking.

Those who had visited the Chicago Assembly went from Little Rock to the Eastern Texas annual council, held at Oak Cliff (Dallas), Texas. Rev. H. D. Brown, who had been invited to attend this council, explained the working of the Church of the Nazarene and the great good of a great united body for holiness. A vote was there taken looking toward union.

October 8, 1908, the General Assembly of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene convened at Pilot Point, Texas, where the union was fully consummated, uniting the whole Southland, from Boulder, Colo., to the Florida capes, having churches in almost every state in the South, with the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene.

The minutes of the General Assembly show that the South had ninety churches at the time of the union, in the following states: Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia. Seven Districts were formed of the Southern States, as follows: Abilene District, Rev. W. E. Fisher, Superintendent; Dallas District, Rev. J. D. Scott, Superintendent; Arkansas-Missouri District, Rev. W. F. Dallas, Superintendent; Kentucky-Tennessee District, Rev. C. A. Bromley, Superintendent; Alabama District, Rev. R. M. Guy, Superintendent; Southeast District, Rev. H. H. Sumlin, Superintendent; Oklahoma-Kansas District, Rev. C. B. Jernigan, Superintendent.