yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
History of Sardis, TN

From Beulah Hanna and Carra Holland, History of Sardis, Tennessee, Sardis Homecoming '86 Committee, May 1986.


Sardis Church of Christ

Contributed by Mrs. Edith Hart

In fall of 1911, Caleb Todd and John Wilson came to Sardis, Tennessee, to teach in Sardis Normal College. Both men were members of the Church of Christ and both preached. They boarded in the hotel owned and operated by Filmore Pierce and wife who had become Christians in a gospel meeting earlier in Reagan, Tennessee. They began to meet in the hotel office for Sunday services and Bible study. Lum Presley and others also met with them.

During the winter of 1911-1912 Brother Todd baptized Millie Wheatly in the Curlee Pond. She was a telephone operator in Sardis.

In 1912 Brother N. B. Hardeman was the speaker for a gospel meeting in the old school building with the following obeying the Word of God: Maud Guernsey Little, Cora Wylie Moore, Willie Parker Pierce, Alfred Parker, Effie Wilhite, Robert Cherry, Vida Presley Cherry and Florence Pierce Benson.

They met in homes and in the school building and gospel meetings were often in tents.

Brother C. P. Roland taught in the Sardis Normal College in 1913-1915. He boarded with the Pierces and held his first meeting in 1922. Also in later years he was the speaker for others.

In the year 1929, the land for the church building was bought from A. A. and Ruby Hanna and J. L. and Della Bivens. It was registered "2nd day of May 1930." Trustees were M. F. Pierce, C. L. Phillips, J. N. Dyer, J. 0. Dickson and W. R. Totty, stating that "all were citizens of Sardis and Henderson County and members of the Church of Christ."

A block building was built in the early 1930s and the brick added along with the classrooms in the 1950s.

Sardis Pentecostal Church

Contributed by Cleatus Wade

In 1947 a group of us who had been driving to nearby communities to attend church, decided to build a Pentecostal Church in Sardis. We constructed our first building near the Sardis Cemetery and our first pastor was Brother C. J. Kelly.

All the charter members that we can recall are Mr. and Mrs. Frank Grissom, Mrs. Lizzie Milliner, Mr. and Mrs. Alton Hopper, Mrs. Maleria Bancom, and Mr. and Mrs. Cleatus Wade.

By 1957 we realized we needed a larger building. We built a larger sanctuary on the north end of the original building, which was then used for Sunday School rooms. Brother Rual Chalk was our pastor at this time.

In 1985 a fellowship hall was added to the church.

Mr. and Mrs. Cleatus Wade are the only ones of the charter members still attending church here.

The present pastor is Brother Don Garner and Sunday School superintendent is Cleatus Wade.

Sardis Baptist Church

Contributed by Pastor Greg Stanford

According to the old minutes of the Beech River Baptist Association, the first Baptist church was established in Sardis in 1891. By 1897, it had grown to 34 in total membership. In 1914, there became a division of the body, forming a North Sardis Baptist and a South Sardis Baptist Church. The church at the present location built another at the same. The old church was moved to Persimmon Ridge near where Curtis Rushing now lives.

Some of the pre-1916 members were B. F. Mitchell, B. N. Carver, Laura Hanna, and Buck Williams. In 1916, the church roll included Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Drew McAuley, A. A. Hanna, J.

R. Medlin, J. L. Medlin, Amanda Medlin, Izella Medlin, Jimmy Cooke, Richard Dyer, Gelina Hamm, Sally Stone, Bryan Ricketis, Senia Lipe, Mae Crouch, Cora McBride, Maggie Hassell, and J. A. Johnson. Some of the early pastors were B. F. Parlow -- 1897, A. U. Nunnery -- 1916, J. T. Bradfield, and A. B. Abington.

The Beech River Southern Baptist Association minutes show that the Beech River Association met at the Baptist Church in Sardis in 1900 and 1966. However, the Sardis Baptist Church does not have a record of church roll dating that far back.

In 1922, Mrs. Flora Little, Mrs. Mary Stanfill, and Mrs. Grace Rice became members, presently making them members for 64 years, and the longest living members. Mrs. Lula Medlin, 96 years young, is the oldest member.

In October of 1981, the members saw a need to build a new building. So while continuing services in the old building, the new building was built behind. After completion, the old building was torn down and burned. The Sunday School room addition was moved across the road and is now part of Mr. and Mrs. Joe McGill's home. The last service in the old building was March 16, 1982. Church services were held in the Sardis School auditorium for two Sundays. On April 3, 1982, the church assembled to worship for the first time in the new building and has been worshipping there ever since.

Sardis United Methodist Church

The first thing people did when they began to settle in Sardis was to set up a place of worship. The first settlers were chiefly Methodist in belief. At first they worshipped in brush arbors and in their homes. Next they built one-room cabins for schools and also used them for worship.

The Southern Methodist and the Methodist Episcopal Church, later referred to as Northern Methodist, were established in the 1880s. The two Methodist churches began to worship together and formally merged nationwide in 1939. The Southern Methodist Church was torn down and material from it was used to add a choir loft and Sunday School rooms to the present structure of the United Methodist Church. Soon after 1939 the congregations at Prospect and Union Hill gave up their churches and joined the Sardis Church.

Among those families who came to Sardis at that time were the Johnsons, Yates, Martins, Willises, Mitchells, Morrises, Stanfills, Montgomerys, and Presleys. There is no church roll dating back to the earliest history but some of the families were the Stanfills, Saints, Delaneys, Montgomerys, Hollands, Hannas, Steeles, Wrights, Smiths, and Oldhams. Some of the early pastors were Brothers Hartley, Wardlow, Farmer, Yates, Dickson, and Cromwell. Brother Cromwell is remembered for his singing "The Old Account Was Settled."

A fellowship hall and a baptistry have been added to the church building and in 1972 a new parsonage was built beside the church.

In recent years the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethen Church.

We have many longtime members, but Mr. Uil Presley tops our record. He has been a member seventy-four years. Mrs. Beulah Dumas has been a member for seventy-two years.

We have an active United Methodist Women's organization with twenty-six members. Carolyn Moore is the president, Patsy and Wayne Neibel are counselors for our growing United Methodist Youth Fellowship. Buford Chalk is Sunday School superintendent and our pastor is Brother Neal Hinson.

We believe our church exists for the purpose of doing God's work both here in Sardis and reaching out to other places. Our greatest desire is to minister to those in need and to be a warm loving fellowship where all who come will feel loved and needed.

Carolyn W. Moore
Recording Secretary

The Living Word Church of Sardis

This church originated as a result of people being led by God's Spirit to form a Full Gospel church in this area.

The first meeting was held April 11, 1985, with seven members attending at the city hall building in Sardis. Those present were as follows: Van Smith, Robbie Smith, Shannon Chandler, Shirley Johnson, Jack Griffin, Julie Griffin and Nell Hayes. Incorporators for conducting legal matters for this establishment were unanimously selected at this meeting: Van Smith -- Chairperson of Board, Nell Hayes -- Recording Secretary, and Julie Griffin -- Treasurer.

The name for the church ("The Living Word") was given by the leading of the Spirit to one of our members and confirmed by Him immediately thereafter.

Briefing through the facts, as God began to place things in order, a place was provided for gathering to worship and function as a church body. Arrangements were made with the city to meet in the basement facilities of the school building in Sardis.

After a series of meetings and leadership of the Spirit of God, Brother Rodney Fontaine of Hohenwald, Tennessee, was asked to fill the pastorial office of the church. Brother Fontaine and his family accepted God's call to this ministry as it was confirmed to them by God. Pastor Fontaine helped to establish structure in the church and to form an administrative board of seven members which seek God's plan and make its decisions upon unanimous agreement.

The church became officially documented by the state of Tennessee as of May 16, 1985. Information pertaining to the church as far as doctrines and denominations are concerned would be on this order: Our only name is The Living Word Church. We are not considered as a denominational church. Our doctrine is God's Word which is preached and taught in His Fullness as it is revealed by Him.

At the present, we have 19 members and an average of 40 in attendance for services.

As God is blessing, we are beginning ministries to outreach in this community as well as others. Our goal primarily is to do the work that Jesus commissioned us to do and that all would come in the unity of the Faith and the Knowledge of the Truth as we find in God's perfect will.

We have regularly scheduled services which are posted at the church location as well as in our news bulletin and radio ministry. Special services are posted and usually advertised by local newpapers. We invite each one to come and worship with us and take part in our services. Whether you are visiting or seeking a church to attend we urge you to feel welcome among us.

Thank you for reading this information about the Living Word Church. We were certainly grateful for the opportunity to share this with you.

In the Love of our Lord,
The Living Word Church of Sardis
Present Pastor -- Rodney Fontaine
Sunday School Superintendent -- Van Smith
Information contributed by Members of The Living Word Church,
To God be the Glory and all Recognition

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