Our History

The Church of Christ in Lafayette, TN has a wonderful heritage. It is not unlike that of many congregations, but for those of us who still worship here  it holds many memories. Memories of those whom we have known, loved, and worshiped with whom are no longer with us. These memories will forever be an inspiration to continue the work they did and would have us to do. 

The Church of Christ in Lafayette was organized on the 19th day of June 1869, by the labors of Isaac T. Reneau, Evangelist. His work with the congregation continued over a period of twenty years or more. In the beginning, the congregation met at various location. Minutes were regularly kept by clerks starting with Bro. G.L. Walton in September 1872. The first recorded minutes of procedure of worship were as follows: (1.) A song of praise to the Great Creator and Redeemer of the Universe. (2.) A reading of the 2nd, 3rd, & 4th chapters of Matthew by Elder H.S. Young. (3.) Prayer by Elder Cartwright and a short discourse by him after prayer. (4.) Administration of the Lord's Supper. (5.) An order by unanimous consent of members present for G.L. Walton to buy a book suitable for church purposes and to pay for it out of church means. (6.) Request for Bro. Walton to act as church clerk, after which benediction was said and the congregation retired. The contribution for the day was 60 cents. 

The planning of a permanent building began on December 1, 1872, and a site on the square was selected. A building was constructed of hewn logs for rafters and pillars. The outside was covered with weather boarding. All the wood was yellow poplar. The seats were solid planks 2 inches thick, held together with nails. One of these pews is in the foyer of our present auditorium. The logs and lumber were cut and hauled by Elizah Price, from the Price farm on the Akersville Road, with a team of oxen. The display cabinet located in the foyer was build by Buddy Jent in 1986 from some of those original logs. The first service of the newly completed building was on January 11, 1874. About 65 members met in the new building for the first time with Isaac T. Reneau doing the preaching. Activities in the new building on January 18, 1874 began with meeting at 10:30 am. Isaac Reneau preached, after which the congregation sang a song and went out. J.W. Johnson was baptized at 2 pm. At 3 pm, the Methodist preacher for the Lafayette circuit (Thomas Heasley) delivered a sermon in this building. Isaac Reneau delivered a sermon that night, concluding an 8 day Gospel Meeting.  Listed members from 1869 to 1878 consisted of 76 males and 106 females.

The men who served as elders of the Lafayette congregation in the 1800's were: H.S. Young, C.G. Cartwright, E.G. Price, M.N. Alexander, and N.M. Claiborne. And the deacons were: George L. Walton, Charles Carter, Sr., W.H. Carter, B.F. Claiborne and L.K. Seagraves.

Another man who spent his adult life working for the church in Macon County was Harrison Carter who was baptized in 1874 by J.M. Kidwell. He lived in Lafayette and worked as a carpenter to support his family. He preached whenever and wherever he could, most of the time receiving nothing for his labors. He was the first preacher hired to preach once monthly for the congregation on March 11, 1883. It was he who was called upon to perform the wedding ceremonies, conduct funerals, and do whatever needed to be done.

He worked with the Lafayette congregation and surrounding communities and states, and baptized many, many people - estimated to be in the hundreds. His work covered a span of 47 years. He preached until a few days before his death. Of brother Carter, H. Leo Boles said "Oh, that there were more preachers today like W.H. Carter!"

During this period of time, money was very scarce. Even though preachers were paid very little for their labors, men such as J.M. Kidwell, W.M. Lovelady, Charles Jones, E.M. Berry, Ephraim Moon, F.B. Srygley and Jessie Sewell exerted a great influence in the teaching and work of this young congregation. Other evangelists who preached for the congregation and baptized a large number were: A.L. Karnes, J.L. Hines, and H. Leo Boles.

There is a poem that says:
            "Drop a pebble in the water,
             And its ripples reach out far;
             And the sun beams dancing on them
             May reflect them to a star."
The imagery portrayed in these words accurately describes the work of these pioneer preachers.

Although the contribution was small, the congregation did many good works in caring for the sick and needy, as well as supporting mission work. In 1884, the Lafayette, TN and Gamaliel, KY congregations joined in supporting a missionary to preach in the "destitute parts" of Macon & Monroe counties. In 1887, the church sent a contribution to R.W. Officer who was engaged in mission work in the Atoka Indian Territory. It was also in 1887 that Sunday School Became a part of the teaching program of the church.

It was during this part of our history that the Lafayette church had the unique position of having a black man - an ex-slave - ("Uncle George" Freeman) worship here. There was not a more faithful nor humble person that he.

In 1935, a baptistery was added to the building on the square. In 1955, the building was totally remodeled including a brick exterior. By the early 1960's the membership was outgrowing the old building. In February 1963, a decision was made to build new facilities. Because of parking and financial considerations, it was decided to abandon the building on the square (where now stands the Macon Bank & Trust Co. Branch, and the James Chamberlain law office building). A lot was selected on Church Street known as the Alex Jenkins property. The new building was erected the summer of 1963. It had a seating capacity of 350 in the auditorium and class rooms on each side. Dedication service were conducted on October 27, 1963, with brother Joe David Neely, a former minister, speaking in the morning service with over 400 present.

The congregation continued to grow and once again overflowed its facilities. It became necessary to have two morning worship service each Sunday. In July 1979, seven plus acres of the Bratton Property, adjacent to the present property, were purchased at public auction.

On Monday, November 9, 1981 construction began on the newest addition which consisted of an auditorium with the seating capacity of over 500. On Sunday, August 8, 1982, we moved into the new addition which is our present auditorium. Roger MacKenzie, a former minister here, preached at the morning worship service to the 656 who were in attendance. After which, the congregation enjoyed a meal in the new fellowship hall that was known at the "White Building". In the afternoon, many friends came to tour the building during open house. The old auditorium, which was completed in 1963 was remodeled and is being used a Bible class facilities, library, and office space for the minister, associate minister, and secretary. Also in 1982, the White Building, which was a garage located on the Bratton property, was remodeled and used for classes and as a fellowship hall. Improvements to the new auditorium include a "training room" for young children at the rear of the building in 1989 and building on the baptistery area in 1991. The White Building was torn down to make room for our new fellowship building that was constructed in 2003. Our youth building "The Refuge" was constructed in 2005.

In February 2008, an EF-4 tornado devastated our county. The congregation here was an important part of the disaster relief effort to our community.

Under the leadership of dedicated elders, the congregation continues to grow in number, strength, and love for God and each other.