History of the
Church of Christ
The Lomax Church of Christ began with Brother and Sister T. M. Lawson, who were the early founders. Their strong faith in God kept the work alive there, even when the membership dropped to four or five in number.
It was in the spring of 1918 that Brother Lawson and his family moved to the Lomax Crossroads community. Since there was no church meeting there, they worshipped with the congregation which met in the town of Hohenwald, approximately two miles from the Lomax community. Brother Lawson hitched the horse to their buggy, loaded his family, which at that time consisted of three daughters and two sons, and made the trip to worship.
One Sunday morning, as they were getting ready for services, a guest dropped by to visit. This was not to deter Brother Lawson. He invited the guest to go with them. However, the invitation was declined. The Lawson family went on to church. Strangely enough, the following Sunday another guest dropped by to visit. Once again, an invitation was given to the guest to join them in worship and, once again, the invitation was declined. The Lawsons went on to church.
There were three or four families living near Brother and Sister Lawson, so Brother Lawson discussed with them plans to start a congregation in that community. This they did and met, temporarily, in the Lawson home. Then for the next several years, they met in a nearby dwelling which was also used for a schoolhouse. In this dwelling the congregation experienced high, as well as low points. One high point was their first gospel meeting held by Brother Charlie Tidwell. This meeting lasted a week. Shortly thereafter, in 1923, the building burned. Following this sad event, the congregation rented a dwelling house from Sister S. A. Grover for three dollars a month until they could build another building.
Back in the early years, few churches had a regular preacher. They had what were called “itinerant preachers.” These men would preach every Sunday, but at a different congregation. This was especially true in country churches. One reason, and possibly the main reason, was that very few of these congregations could afford a full-time minister. Due to the lack of funds, it was not uncommon for the preachers to receive other methods of payments – eggs, chickens, canned or fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. – in lieu of money. Because of their dedication to preaching the gospel of Christ, many of the men would faithfully and happily preach the word, in spite of the fact that money would not be available.
Brothers C. A. Lancaster, T. M. Lawson, and Andy (A. D.) Lawson gave an acre of ground approximately where the present building stands. A deed was written for this property and, for the consideration of one dollar, the Lomax church of Christ became owners of this property. This property was to be used for worship between these parties with the following stipulations: “that no instrument of music shall ever be used in any service of worship in the church building, worshiping in this place, and further no supper festivals, shows or any other such plans or means for raising money, shall be allowed, or practiced in this place, or anything not commanded in the New Testament where the plain and simple gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be preached in its purity. A trusteeship, consisting of six or more members of the church of Christ, which takes the New Testament as its only rule of faith, worship and practice, and rejects from its faith and worship any practice not required by precept or example not directly authorized in the New Testament.”
The men of the congregation cut and hauled logs to the mill, sawed them and brought the lumber to the building site, and built the church building themselves. Some of the men were experienced carpenters and they even made the seats with their own hands. Unfortunately, their money ran out, so Brother Lawson wrote to individuals and other congregations to help with the expenses. A ledger lists the individual ones who donated a total of $212.75. One elderly widow gave one dollar. “But she did what she could” (Mark 14:8). Thus, with the help of these brethren, both in money and labor, Lomax again had a meeting place of their own in which to worship. Some suggested it be called “Lawson’s Chapel,” since Brother Lawson played such a pivotal part in starting the congregation. Brother Lawson did not agree with this suggestion but said it should simply be called “Lomax Crossroads Church of Christ.”
The happiness that was enjoyed by the people was short-lived. In 1928, the building burned during the night. Fortunately, they were better prepared than before, due to their forethought in purchasing insurance. Again, during the construction of the building, they worshiped in the Grover house.
The ladies of the congregation prepared the unleavened bread and carried it along with two glasses filled with the fruit of the vine. This continued until 1950, when trays were purchased and the church started buying bread for the loaf.
Many acts of vandalism happened to the meeting house. It was not unusual to come in and find the communion table and seats overturned, as well as windows broken, song books torn up and graffiti written on the walls. These vandals had no regard or respect for the word of God; they didn’t want to hear it and they wanted to prevent others from doing so.
Among the names of preachers during those early years were Will Sisco, H. N. Mann, Henry King, Chesley Hudson, Mark Love, and T. M. Lawson. They did not preach for monetary reasons but simply to save souls. Records show contributions in those years ranged from $10 to a little less than $30 per Sunday.
Disappointment and hardship struck once more when early in 1941, the building again burned with the situation being even more sad as their insurance had run out. For the next five years, they did not even attempt to rebuild. The members dispersed, attending worship at various congregations in the county.
In 1946, some dedicated members set out to erect another building on the same site. Several congregations, along with individual godly people, gave donations and in mid-1947, the first service in the new building was conducted with Brother Ira Douthitt as the speaker. Attendance ran from 100 to 125 during the later years of the 1940s.
In 1949 two classrooms were added and a class or two was always taught in the extreme corners of the auditorium. As membership increased, the need for more classrooms became apparent. The decision was made to convert the old building into additional classrooms, using some of the space for a preacher’s study as well as two restrooms, and erect a new auditorium which would seat approximately 250 people.
Carmack Skelton came to preach at Lomax in 1957. A church bulletin, “The Lomax Messenger,” was published weekly.
The first Vacation Bible School was conducted that same year, and in 1958 three elders and four deacons were selected. Kelley Doyle and Fred Kittrell preached at Lomax from about 1958 to 1964 on a weekly/part-time basis.
The church bought a few acres of land adjacent to the standing building, and in 1965 work was begun on a new auditorium, which would accommodate 560 people. A nursery, restrooms, two dressing rooms, a baptistery, as well as storage rooms were added with a covered walkway that would connect the new addition with the old auditorium giving easy access to the additional classrooms. Again, a large part of the work was done by members of the congregation.
In 1966 a seven-room dwelling was donated to Lomax by Dr. Edgar Akin. This building was moved to the back of the lot directly behind the church building, which was subsequently refurbished to be used as a preacher’s home.
In October of 1966, Carlos Gunter, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, and his wife Robena came to work as the first full-time minister at Lomax. Other full-time preachers, through 1980, were Charles Tidwell, Terry Collins, Harrell Davidson, and Tom McLemore.
In August of 1986, Carmack Skelton returned to Lomax as their new preacher, with his wife, son, and daughter. Carmack and Nancy bought their own home, and the preacher’s home, located behind the church building, was converted into Lomax Christian Day School. This decision has become such a blessing and has received splendid response from the community, making this school a most rewarding effort. The Lomax Day School is a growing and gratifying asset, with June Graves as director, assisted by three devoted teachers who do a wonderful job in this capacity. At the close of each school year, a graduation program is conducted, in which these tots, sporting caps and gowns (blue for the boys and white for the girls) exhibit to a well-attended audience many of the things they have learned. This is followed by a period of fellowship and refreshments. A good number of these youngsters are from non-member families.
The church at Lomax contributes to the support of a number of missionaries and various mission efforts. This includes Freed-Hardeman University, Magnolia Bible College, work in Russia, Indonesia, and Jerusalem, to name a few.
In June of 1993, Van Vansandt and his family moved to Hohenwald to work with the church and remained there until 1999.
In 1996, Brother Malcom George and his wife came to Lomax where he serves as an assistant minister. He began a Wednesday Morning Bible Class for any age – men and women. Following several suggestions, the class decided on a name – “The Primetimers.” This year round class has certainly grown in number and interest. At various times this class visits assisted care and nursing homes to cheer their residents. About every three months they take refreshments to the local nursing home for a “birthday party,” which includes fellowship, prayer, and a song or two. The Primetimers also often go to nearby towns on our church bus and have lunch at a restaurant. They sometimes take overnight trips to Pigeon Forge and the mountains for shopping and sightseeing. This is topped each year by a beautiful Christmas party as the Georges’ home. The attendance to all these functions, and especially to the class itself, continues to grow year by year. Malcom and his wife, Verlin, are a tremendous asset to the church.
In March of 1997, Lomax conducted its first Youth Rally, which has continued each year with excellent participation. Many congregations in Lewis County, as well as other communities, come to this event. In fact in 2002, there were over 1,000 in attendance, with a number of responses.
In 1999 our lobby was enlarged, affording more and better fellowship than ever before following each service.
In 1998 a Christian Service Center was built adjacent to the church building. This facility affords many opportunities for Christian activities. All-age devotionals are held one Sunday night each month following evening services. This building has a fully equipped kitchen, two offices that will accommodate preachers’ studies, two large restrooms, and a large room which is suitable for a classroom, conference room, or other scheduled services – all that plus a 75 x 120 foot room that can be used for various functions of the church.
In October of 2000, Lomax hosted its first annual “Ladies’ Day,” which was most successful.
In 2001 David Salisbury, with his wife Heather, came to work with the Lomax congregation, along with Malcom and Verlin George. These servants of God, plus our dedicated elders and deacons and our well-qualified staff of teachers, work extremely well in the furtherance of the work here.
Two monitors and a sound system have been installed in the lobby, which affords, if necessary, comfortable seating, seeing, and hearing, for any and all services. A projection video system with a retractable screen displays announcements, songs, and scriptures from the front of the auditorium, which also shows in the lobby.
A class for small children is held each Sunday night prior to the regular service. Also a Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes program was begun and has grown in size and work. This was shown in a recent convention in Nashville with other churches of Christ from Tennessee and surrounding states participating. This program helps our young people develop leadership skills and strong Christian qualities that will last them for a lifetime.
In January of 2002, the ladies began a “Ladies’ Night Out” program. Once a month the ladies meet in the home of a hostess, where they eat, visit, sing, and have a devotional. Some evenings there are over 30 ladies who gather together to enjoy this time of fellowship with other Christian women.
Each summer our youth stay very busy. Many go as campers or counselors to one week or more of Mid-South Youth camp, a church camp in Henderson, Tennessee, affiliated with Freed-Hardeman University. Also in connection with the university, young people attend Horizons, a week-long church camp on the campus of Freed-Hardeman.
Presently (August 2002) the Lomax Church of Christ has twelve classrooms. Sunday morning attendance averages 290 with a Wednesday night Bible class average of 200 in attendance.