History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan. 

     History tells us that in the 1830s, the Presbyterian, Methodist-Episcopal, and Baptist churches in the South set in motion the experience of internal conflict, primarily because of slavery. White Southerners generally backed slavery that was separated from the conventional Presbyterian Church in 1837. This resulted in the creation of the Southern Presbyterian Church with the two recently united. The secession of the Southern Methodists from the Methodist Church occurred in 1844, however, the two reunited in 1939.

     During this period of time the Baptist Church had become one of the most well known missionary backers in America. On the other hand, in 1845, the conventional Baptist Church refused to allow a slave owner to serve as a missionary; this decision added to pre-existing tension over slavery; it led to the separation of the Southern Baptist Conference.
     The Great Revival in the early 1800s had fueled church attendance, but by the middle 1800s attendance had dropped dramatically. History also states that the next great revival occurred during the Civil War (1861-1865). Many Southerners viewed this War as a holy war. Southern church services and prayer reckoned the conflict to be a direct order ordained by God. The slave population saw this War as a way for freedom to their cause.

     After the War, Southerners continued their strong religions faith despite their loss. Their general attitude was seen as a type of martyrdom; one sect essentially called themselves the "Church of the Lost Cause."

     The 1880s found church attendance dropping, but in the 90s another upsurge of revivals spurred the congregations, thus, a hike in attendance which ultimately filled the churches. Sam Jones, a well-known Southern Methodist, under the direction of the Ultimate One, saved thousands of souls with the plain-folks sermons that basically encouraged sinners to "quit your meanness." Emancipated Southern slaves still worshipped in the rear of the white churches; some even built their own small churches. The last decades of the 19th century found the Holiness movement, established in London, seize hold in America within the Methodist Churches. The traditional Methodists continued to retain control, while the Holiness assemblage left to establish their own churches. Charles Parham formally began the Pentecostal Holiness Church in 1901. Parham was a former Methodist minister in Topeka, Kansas. This movement turned into a nationally known religion by a former A.M.E. pastor named William Seymour in Los Angeles. The group was brought to the South by a number of evangelists in North Carolina and Tennessee, most notably by A.B. Crumpler and G.B. Cashwell.

     The Pentecostals split from the Holiness churches in 1914, although some churches still include both words in their names. Pentecostal and Holiness worship services are more moving and forceful than the existing Southern services. The churches themselves remained independent of each other, rather than forming an association with innermost policies and practices.

     The Pentecostal Church centered on healing and laying on of hands more than the traditional Methodist of Baptist churches. They developed a firm code of morals that prohibited drinking, dancing, and the wearing of indecent clothing. Many Pentecostal churches do not allow women to wear pants of bathing suits.

     A distinct feature of Pentecostal and Holiness churches have a defining characteristic, that of speaking in tongues. Aside from other churches, except for the charismatic sects, the speaking in tongues is a most common practice. These worshippers must first "get in the spirit," which is usually accomplished during spiritual services.

     Snake Handling, which began in 1913, was originally developed from the Pentecostal Church, it being confined for the most part to the Southern Appalachian Mountain areas of West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. "Snake Handlers" belong to the Church of God with Signs Following, which divided from the Pentecostal Holiness Church. Bible historians claim the practice of snake handling is based on Mark. 16:17-18: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents and if they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover." These church members actually handle poisonous snakes, usually rattlers, and drink strychnine during services. Getting into the spirit precedes these acts. Handlers are occasionally bitten, sometime fatally. This is believed to come to pass when their faith of spirit wavers. Snake handling still occurs at church services in the Appalachians, even though local laws forbid it.

     All over the Southern protestant churches, new congregations separated into new churches with totally new names due to differences over beliefs, worship practices, interpretations of the Bible, and of disbursement of the money. Quite often the new churches split because they alleged the original church was not morally harsh enough. One difference was that members did not interpret the Bible accurately enough. The Pentecostal Holiness Church, having broken away from the Methodist Church, thus spawned the Church of God, which divided into sects including the Church of God in Christ and The Church of God with Signs Following (the first sect to insist on snake-handling). The Freewill Baptist and the Primitive Baptists were the derivative of the Southern Baptists. The Cumberland Presbyterians split from the conventional Presbyterians.

Time Line

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