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Yesterday's Tennessee

History, First Baptist Church, Parsons, Tennessee


Church Clerks

Along with the pastors have served the following clerks of the church: W.I. Buckner, O.E. Buckner, E.D. Bostick, Mary F. Burke, W.A. Partin, Sidney J. Buckner, Esco Carrington, Robert T. Burk, Lester H. Carrington, and Raymond Townsend.

Lester H. Carrington

Raymond Townsend

Lester H. Carrington was elected clerk of the church in January 1917 and served until 1936. Then Raymond Townsend was elected clerk in 1936 and served 25 years until 1961.

Ruth Carrington

Ruth Carrington was elected and served until her health failed her. Helen Garrett was elected and served a short time. Glynda Tate was elected as church clerk, and she is serving at the present time.

The first record of a Sunday School was one organized in 1891 with B.F. Parlow serving as superintendent. Later W.I. Bass served as superintendent and O.E. Buckner served as secretary and treasurer.

Bro. A.U. Nunnery was elected pastor at a special meeting to fill an unexpired term March 13, 1903. On September 19, 1904 the church took a great step forward and set the salary of the pastor, A.U. Nunnery, at $5.00 per month. It was at this meeting that Bro. Ira Carrington was elected treasurer of the church. Total membership in the fall of 1905 was 32 — 20 women and 12 men.

It was on September 14, 1904 that Bro. W.R. Carrington, Mrs. M.E. Carrington, Esco Carrington, and E.F. Wilson joined the church by letter. It was on September 19, 1904 we find that the church elected Esco Carrington church clerk and he served for the next twelve years.

Ministers Ordained by the Church

Joe Jennings
Gary Evans
Jerry Chance

Millard Evans
Jessie D. Dodd
David Blakely

Deacons Through the Years

W. Gray Fonville
O.E. Buckner
W.M. Newsome
N.J. Arnold
W.D. Malin
John F. Houston
Fred Baker
Dave Barnett
H.L. Townsend, Sr.
R.C. Montgomery
J.A. Tinker
Esco Carrington
A.L. Bowman
Raymond Townsend
A.F. Tolley
John Young
Glaydon Lifsey

Huse Fowler
Joe Jennings
Delbert McDaniel
W.R. Carrington
J.A. Taylor
J.E. Reynolds
Thomas Jennings
Dr. E.D. Bostick
Carl W. Partin
A.W. Primm
Maxie Doyle
Ralph Smith
Lawrence Smith
Leroy Rushing
Hubert Laseter
Wallace Powers
Max Owens

Active Deacons

Howard Belew
G.C. Cotham, Jr.
Bill Fisher
Leon Joyner
Ralph Tate
Leroy Rushing
R.C. Montgomery, Sec.

Ray Inman
John Jones
O.C. Jordan, Jr.
Raymond Townsend
Olis W. Quinn, Jr.
H.L. Townsend, Sr.
Ralph Smith, Chairman

Inactive Deacons

Maxie Doyle
Alma Primm
Lawrence Smith
Dean Holbert

Sunday School

As has already been mentioned the church organized a Sunday School during the first year of existence. In addition to the superintendents mentioned were Mrs. E.D. Bostick, Ollie Buckner, Joe Jennings, R.M. Brown, S.L. Jennings, A.L. Bowman, and A.F. Tolley. The longest term of service was that of A.L. Bowman, who served twenty-six years.

A. L. Bowman

A.F. Tolley served from 1955 until the time of his death in 1972. Since then Glaydon Lifsey, Bettye Lifsey, John D. Townsend, and Glynda Tate have served. In the years it has grown from a few classes to the present enrollment of 386 in the main school with 14 in the extension department.

For a number of years the church has supported a Silent Workers Class for the deaf, with an enrollment of five members at the present time.

The class is now taught by Mrs. Peggy Yates, daughter of Mr. Walker E. Griffin, the organizer first teacher of the class. During the past year the church has extended a new ministry to the Decatur County Manor residents. They have a class of twenty-two members taught each Sunday by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Case, being assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Greg Waits. According to the records of July 1990 the total enrollment of the Sunday School is 385 members.

H.L. Townsend, Sr. taught the Fellowship Sunday School Class for twenty-seven years before retiring September 1982. He retired because of health reasons. In recognition of his long tenure of service, the class presented him with a plaque in the morning service.

Mr. J.A. Tinker was teacher of the Men's Sunday School Class for more than thirty years. A special service of recognition was held in his honor when he retired because of age and ill health. He was ninety-three years old at this time and lived to be ninety-eight. He was the oldest member of the church at the time of his death.

J. A. Tinker


The Woman's Missionary Society began September 12, 1915 in the First Baptist Church, Parsons, Tennessee. Georganna Griggs of Lexington, representing Beech River Association, organized the women, and officers were elected as follows:

Ida Nunnery, President
Ollie Arnold, Vice- President
Mamie Burke, Secretary
Mrs. Clyde Stegall, Treasurer
Stella Jennings

The pastor, Rev. Casper Thomas, led in prayer. Others joining later were Mrs. Alvis Moore, Mrs. Ollie Carrington, Mrs. Nettie Jennings, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Edda Carrington, Mrs. Tennie Hilden Brandt, Mrs. Nannie Barnett, Mrs. Maggie Snider, Mrs. Bertha Allen, Isabella Houston, Emma Long, Jewell Jennings, and Rebecca Quinn Jennings.

At the present time we have eighteen members and two WMU organizations for the Baptist women.

In years past we had a very active Brotherhood and R.A. group for boys.

One of the faithful members of our WMU was Mrs. Emma Lou Townsend who passed away this year. She shall be missed greatly by our church. On May 13, 1990, a tree was planted for Mrs. Emma Lou in memory of her long tenure of service in the Sunday School, the WMU, and the church as a whole.

Emma Lou Townsend

WMU Presidents through the years include: Mrs. Joe Jennings, Mrs. Annie Dodd, Mrs. R.E. Pettigrew, Mrs. Edna Mackey, Mrs. H.L. Waters, Mrs. Joe Jennings, Mrs. Stella Jennings, Mrs. Wilma James, Mrs. R.E. Pettigrew, Mrs. Herman Townsend, Mrs. Huda Marie Joyner, Mrs. Gussie Parsons, Mrs. H.L. Townsend, Mrs. W.B. Townsend, Mrs. Jewell Tinker, Mrs. Ruth Pinkley, Mrs. Mary V. Moore, Mrs. Edna Moore, Mrs. Norene Box, Mrs. Lorene Quinn, Mrs. Kathleen Fisher, Mrs. Alpha Bridges, Mrs. Johnie Neal, and Mrs. Hilda Townsend.

Many other faithful members of our church have served the WMU organization in different capacities, some have already passed away, others are still carrying on the work.

Training Union

The first organization of the Training Union work was a BYPU as it was called in the olden days. This organization was for the Baptist young people of the church. Later a place was added for the Juniors and Intermediates, then an organization was promoted for the adults. Finally, provision was made for the children in the form of a Story Hour. Before the church had all of the organizations, A.L. Bowman served as director or maybe it was president of the Union. Others who served through the years have been Raymond Townsend, Royal Carrington, Thomas Jennings, Ruth J. Townsend, Millard Evans, Mrs. Ella Tranum, Max Ray Evans, J.O. Gilbreath, H.L. Townsend, Sr., Noble Lindsey, Virgil R. McCormic, Jr., Leroy Rushing, Ralph Smith, Cas "Buddy" Yates, Ray Inman, O.C. Jordan, Jr., Dean Holbert, Mrs. Mary V. Moore, and Phillip Brasher.

The present name is Discipleship Training and expresses well the intent of this vital church organization.

Music Department

Some of the Ministers of Music who have served through the years are as follows: Robert Burke, Albert Bowman, Mrs. Allie Mae Stevens, James Allcock, Basil Wood, H.E. Barnette, Mrs. Ruth Townsend, Ed Arquitt, Phillip Dane, Jerry House, Don Stringfellow, Matt Plunk, Dale Parkinson, Glaydon Lifsey, Paul Wallace.

Some of those who have served as instrumentalists are: Mrs. Nettie Jennings, Sophia Townsend, Ruth Townsend, Carolyn T. McAfee, Wanda Conger, Frankie Rains, Jane Jennings, Willie (Bill) Barnette, Bettye Lifsey, Ruth E. Townsend, Dean Holbert.

On June 24, 1977, Mrs. Sophia Townsend was given special recognition for 50 years of service as church pianist and organist. Mrs. Townsend began serving in 1927 and resigned in 1977, but still serves as a substitute when needed. Mrs. Sophia was praised for her faithfulness, her co-operative spirit, and for her devotion to the task. In addition to her duties at the keyboard, she taught several classes. An engraved tray and a dozen red roses were presented at the recognition service.

Presently we have a full graded music program with over 100 enrolled in the ministry. Choirs include: Preschool Choir, Children's Choir, Youth Choir, Sanctuary Choir, Handbell Choir, and Men's Quartet.

Special Gifts

John Franklin Houston (Uncle Frank), long time deacon, and his wife, Eliza Jennings Houston, set up the Houston Trust Fund for the benefit of all Baptist Churches in Decatur County.

John Franklin Houston

Parsons First Baptist Church has been a recipient since this Trust Fund was set up in 1972.

In 1980 Mrs. Pearl Pettigrew also set up a Trust Fund with the Baptist Foundation in the name of Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Pettigrew for the benefit of the Parsons First Baptist Church.

Mrs. Pearl Pettigrew

On April 12, 1970 a Baldwin grand piano was given by Bill and Shirley Perry in memory of Terry, their son, who was killed in an accident on August 9, 1969.

Day Care

The church was concerned about the growing need for preschool care. In 1960 the decision was made and a kindergarten was begun. A few years later the public school system took over kindergarten and First Baptist Church's program closed. Soon, however, the church was presented with the need for preschool day care. With a strong commitment to this ministry it was begun and continues well today. It has been served by fine directors, including:

Effie Lee Maxwell
Emma Lou Watson
Susan Wallace
Betty Martin
Helen Boaz
Deborah Holbert
Jean Swindle

Board of Trustees

Bill Stevens — President
James Jordan — Secretary
John Jones
Raymond Townsend

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