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Faith Primitive Baptist Church, Harriman, will celebrate its 30th anniversary during its homecoming service on June 5.
The church, on State Street, was founded on June 7, 1981 by the Rev. Walter C. Nichols (April 16, 1932-June 25, 1999). Homecoming will serve as a Founders Day commemoration and a celebration of Nichols’ life.
“Those of you who knew him know just how special and dedicated this man was,” church members said in a release. “Those who never knew him really missed out on a real blessing. He was a good son, brother, husband, father and a faithful shepherd of our flock.”
The church welcomes those who have anecdotes or stories about Nichols to share them. Congregation members also welcomes inspirational stories from those who want to tell how he affected their lives.
A covered-dish lunch will be served.
Call Algie at 882-3729 or Kenny at 882-0033 to RSVP to the gathering.
A newspaper article about the founding, originally published on May 21, 1981, in The Harriman Record, is shared by the church as the story of its founding. The article, part of Lorraine Choate’s “Church of the Week” series, was written by Nichols.
The Lord guided him to the church that was for sale
This week, instead of writing about an established church, this feature is about a church that is in the process of being organized or reorganized.
This church, located on State Street, started out at Wrights Furniture Store. Approximately 12 years ago, it became the Harriman Primitive Baptist Church. Mr. and Mrs. L.D. Loy (according to the sign on the church it is Mr. and Mrs. L.D. Lloyd) were two of the chartered members. A sign was later placed in the front of the church in their memory.
Not too long ago, the congregation decided to relocate at Mossy Grove and that left a church building without a church of people. The building was listed with Duggan Clark of Clark Realty to be sold.
Walter Nichols, who is an ordained Primitive Baptist minister, saw an ad in the newspaper for the sale of the church and from here on we are going to let Elder Nichols tell his story.
Elder Nichols’ Story:
I want to take this opportunity to thank The Harriman Record for this type of service to the community. I have been reading these articles ever since they started, and I think in this present time when there is so much violence and other things happening all around us it is so refreshing to read something good that is happening in the community, some place where we can go and find real peace, that the world talks so much about.
As for the church, it is not even a church yet, but just stick around and watch us become one. We don't even have any history, but we are going to make history right here in South Harriman on State Street.
I suppose I will have to tell you a little about myself to tell the story, but before we go any farther, let me set the record straight. I don't want any glory for this. It all belongs to the Lord, for I am nothing but an instrument for him.
I am an ordained Primitive Baptist minister, from the original Tennessee Association of Primitive Baptists and a member of Poplar Springs Primitive Baptist Church where I was pastor from October 1971 to October 1979. On Aug. 24, 1979, I had to have surgery for removal of my left lung, which was malignant, and it had spread to my lymph glands. While I was in the hospital, the pain was so great, and I had seen so many people die with cancer, that I prayed earnestly for the Lord to let me die for I know that I would be far better off and I wasn't afraid. But when I prayed, there was a presence so real in my room that I believe if I could have moved, I could have reached out and touched him. And a voice so real, I can still hear it. Not a loud thundering voice, but a still small voice that said “my son, I am not finished with you yet. You still have a lot of work to do.”
And I have never questioned that voice. When I get discouraged and don't feel too well, I just let my mind go back to that time in the hospital room and that voice and that presence is the greatest comfort anyone could hope for and I am so glad I am still on speaking terms with the Lord.
Since that time, I have been wondering what the Lord really had in store for me. I even talked with my pastor about maybe starting to have services in my barn and maybe getting a church of our faith and practice started near Harriman, but that was as far as it went. But when I saw an ad in the paper where this church building was for sale, there was something just started burning inside me like wild fire.
I tried not to think about it, but the more I tried to shake it, the bigger it burned. I put off going to the real estate agent until Monday, May 11.
Duggan Clark of Clark Real Estate showed me the building and the fire got bigger, so I told him what I wanted to offer and he told me he didn't think they would accept it, but I knew for certain that if they did, this would be my job. After negotiating with the owners, we were able to obtain the building. I knew for certain that this would be my job.
We are going to have our first service on Sunday, June 7, at 11 a.m. and Sunday night at 7 p.m. We will be starting a revival and there will be special singing nightly. Brother Franklin Bryant will be helping me with the preaching and maybe some more of the ministers from our association. We don't know how long it will last, we just want the Lord to have his way in it.
On the following Sunday, June 14, we will meet for Sunday School and elect teachers and officers at 10 a.m. We want everyone to know that they are welcome and wanted. We want to get organized and established as a church just as soon as possible.
I am not the pastor. I may never be the pastor, but will be preaching until we get organized. Then we can elect a pastor. We will go under the same name, Harriman Primitive Baptist, until we are organized. Then the members of the church will have the right to change the name if they want to. As for me, I would like to see the name Faith Primitive Baptist of South Harriman, because if there ever was one started on faith, this is it; because I have made some commitments I can't possibly keep unless the Lord stands by me for I am not even working. I have been on sick leave from my job since March and may never get to go back to work. But I have put my trust in the Lord and my Father owns the cattle of a thousand hills so why should I worry? But I am scared. I don't believe anyone has ever done anything for him that wasn't scared. So pray for us and remember you are welcome here. Come on out and help us make history on State Street in South Harriman. And if you have some of the Lord's money and don't know what to do with it, we can use it.
Come on out and help us and let's show the world we care. Why let a perfectly good church building get away from us? If we don't use it, the world will. Again let me urge you to pray for us. We need a congregation worse than anything right now.