Faithfully Moving Forward in Fulfillment: Remembering the Past and Embracing the Future
After the great struggle of the Civil war many of color began the formation of their own churches and places of worship. It was during this period in 1883 that the elate Reverend Henry Edwards organized Fairfield Missionary Baptist church. It was located on Miles Pond Road.
The activities of the church were the savings of souls, prayer meetings, Baptist Training, Union and revivals twice a year (spring and fall). Baptizing took place in Miles pond, the Cumberland River and Brown’s Creek. Later property was purchased at 65 Fairfield Street were reverend Edwards continued to serve until death
The church then called the Reverend Ben Majors who served a lengthy time. He resigned because of ill health. Deacons serving under him were Joe Clay and Robert Farris. The next pastor was reverend Anthony Phillips who served for a long time and later resigned.
The church called the late reverend William Martin Harris as its pastor at this time. Under his leadership the upper auditorium was completed. A brick drive started. The church was divided into 12 tribes for the purpose of buying bricks.
The late Sister Lucille Cosby was one of the tribe leaders. When the fund began she was able to secure from Kossie Gardner a local mortician, enough bricks for the front of the church as a gift. Reverend William Martin Harris organized the Ushers club in 1927 having as President Sister Annie Statton, Trustee Brother John Goodlow as Chairman and Brother Freeman Smith as Co-Chairman. He also laid the corner stone, and organized the B.Y.P.U. The President was Sister Lucille Cosby.
He later returned to his home in Indiana. In 1928 the church moved into the upper auditorium. The church recalled Reverend J. R. Statton. Deacons serving under him were Joe Clay, Robert Farris, Henry Malone, Jessie Harris, Melvin Osborne, Jim Wilson, John Goodlow, Miton Ward, Eli Scales, Robert Winters and Andrew Brown.
He reorganized the Usher Club into the Usher Board having as President Roy Burke. He also organized he Helping Hand Club, Willing Workers Club, and the Fairfield Four who were members of the Sunday School at that time. Their father, Rev. J. R. Carrethers, taught them. They were Harold and Rufus Carrethers, William Malone, and John Battle. Later Samuel McCrary and others joined. Their mother, Sister Annie Clay, named them. At that time any one belonging to the group had to be a Christian.
During this period of history many students of the colleges located near the church worshipped and joined the church during their years at Meharry/ Hubbard Hospital. Walden College and Central Tennessee College. The greatest accomplishment of Rev. Statton was the preaching of “Dry Bones In the Valley”. Rev. Statton first preached “Dry Bones” at the Church and later carried it to the Bijou Theater for one year. Many souls were saved during his preaching of this sermon which is an annual day on the third Sunday in October.
Baptism took place at the Mt. Arat Baptist Church and Brown Creek. All the pastors that followed behind have kept the tradition. After becoming ill the late Reverend Robert Frierson acted as pastor until the death of Reverend Statton. After the death of Reverend Statton the church called the late Woodrow H. Harris who continued to do great work for God and the community. Deacons serving under Reverend Harris were Andrew Brown, Eugene Brown, Robert Farris, Jim Wilson, Melvin Osborne, Rufus Wilkins, Roy Avent, J.D. Davis, and Henry Tillman.
Some of his accomplishments were the installment of the baptistery, which was designed by the late Reverend Rufus Wilkins, carpeting the floors, remodeling of the heating system, bulletins, which were first called the Mirror, formation of the Junior Willing Workers and the Junior Helping Hands. He organized the Junior Women and Senior Women’s Missionaries into the Susie Crowder, Neely-Haley and Eddie Lee Jackson Mission Circle. Baptizing took place at Napier pool. He resigned in 1959.
The Church called Reverend W.J. Curry in 1959. Deacons serving under him were Andrew Brown, Eugene Brown, Jim Wilson, Melvin Osborne, Robert Winters, Ernest Stephens, John Carney, Michael Taylor, Thomas Morton, Jasper Tucker, Chester Biggers, Eugene Johnson, Allen Malone, Clifton Hayes, Morgan Haley, Vincent Mitchell, Roy Avent, A.L. Cosby, William Mason, Oscar Cullom, Wallace Robertson, and Eddie Stewart. Under his leadership the Inspirational Choir, the First Aid Club and Nursery were formed.
Renovations of the pulpit, choir room, kitchen and dining room, building of the ramp for the elderly, a clothing store which was over seen by the Eddie Lee Jackson Missionary Circle, new pews, vacation bible school, the Purchasing of six lots behind the church facing Green Street for a parking area, the installing of a marquee in the front yard of the Church, Combined Choir #1 and #2 into what was known as the Mass Choir and many other accomplishments. Rev. Curry tenure at Fairfield ended November 10, 1985 after 26 years of service.
The church recalled Reverend Kenneth Dupree as pastor in 1986. Under his leadership, mid-week service was started, the Young Adult Usher Board, the Samaritan Ministry, which is still a vital ministry of the church. He formed, from among the Junior Ushers, a Young Adult Usher Board. Deacons serving under him were: Henry Young, Clifton Hayes, Henry Tillman, Armstead Burks, Vincent Mitchell, Michael Taylor and Eddie Stewart. He resigned in 1989. Reverend Howard E. Jones, Jr. served as Interim Pastor and was called as Pastor in 1990. Under Reverend Jones leadership, ministries have been formed, the renovation of the main auditorium with painting and new carpeting, exterior lights, ceiling fans, and new chairs for the choir, Vision 2000, purchasing of apartments on the corner of Fain and Fairfield, new ceiling lights in the main auditorium and in the dining area, Youth Revival, Mid-week as well as weekly prayer services, Bible Study, New Members Class, Award Day, Joint Ministry Council, and an Annual Church Conference.
All ministries have been combined into an All Ministry Day, Usher Board #2 have been established and three new Sunday School classes have been developed: High Spirit, Young Adults and Intermediates. Under the pastorate of Pastor Jones, Jr., the church witnessed the burning of the mortgage apartments on November 21, 1999.
In 2000, the following ministries were created: Feed the Hungry, Summer enrichment Program, Food and Clothing, and the Leap of Faith Ministry that provides food at a low cost to defray the high cost of food for those on fixed incomes, or anyone desirous of receiving this blessing. Ordination of Fairfield Deaconesses began in 2001.
The Family Ministry Plan began that calls for regular contact of church members by the leadership. The structure of the church was changed to reflect the New Testament Church with the prime purpose being a commitment to the great commandment and the great commission to grow a great church. The church operates under five pillars (Evangelism, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Worship) to propel the mission and vision of the church.
An in-depth teaching ministry was established to lead members to follow into a deeper relationship with the Father through the Saturday Ankh Seminar Series (101- Discovering Self/Church Membership; 201- Discovering Spiritual Maturity; 301- Discovering my SHAPE for Ministry; and 401- Discovering My Mission).
An Administrative Team was developed to consistently encourage each ministry to detail their purpose in writing that our unity would not just be oral.
Deacons who have served under Reverend Jones are: Henry Tillman, Clifton Hayes, Eddie Stewart, Michael Taylor, Vincent Mitchell, Goldie Burks, Charles Weir, Cassdell Singleton, Falvel Readus, William Pierce, Maurice Southall, Ernest Jennings, and Gregory Mitchell. Deacons in training: Dennis Williams, Troy Hardy, and Joe Blockmon. Ministers that have served under Reverend Jones include: Mary Carpenter, Michael Thompson, Flusho Micah, Jeff Carr, Toni Guinn, Tiffany Easley, Valerie Smith, Mollie Taylor, and Sondrea Tolbert. God has added many to the church. Reverend Jones envisions many things to come for the church in the future and through God’s guidance and His leadership, we hope to continue to move forward.
Pastor Jones has also envisioned a beautiful new church building which is now located at 1004 S.Dickerson Road.
Rev. Henry Edwards
Rev. Ben Majors
Rev. Anthony Phillips
Rev. J. R. Statton
Rev. William Martin Harris
Rev. Woodrow H. Harris
Rev. W.J. Curry
Rev. Kenneth Dupree
Rev. Howard E. Jones Jr.
A Narrative told by Rev. H. L. Carrethers, Sr
In the early 1920’s, this famous group was organized and directed by the late Rev. J.R. Carrethers. It consisted of two brothers and two sisters: Rufus, Harold, Katherine, and Elizabeth Carrethers. We sang at many gatherings throughout the city. In 1925, a decision was made to form an all male group. At this time, John H. Battle became a member. After singing together for approximately four years, a young man from South Africa named Lattimer Green joined the group. He and his family joined Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church. With the addition of Brother Green’s rich baritone voice, we finally had a quartet. At this time, we were all attending Pearl High School. Because of our young ages, my father accompanied us as we traveled around the city. We sang together for several years until Mr. Green and his family left the state.
Throughout the years, we had many young men to “come and go”. However, John, Rufus and myself continued to keep the group together. Shortly thereafter, William Malone joined the group. My father continued to be our guardian. He not only directed our group but he taught music, trained choirs, and helped Professor E. W.D. Isaac, Jr. direct the 500 voice chorus for the National Baptist Convention of America.
In the 1930’s, we became the first Black gospel group to hit the airwaves. We started broadcasting on station WSIX in 1932. In 1934, we changed to WLAC where we continued our very famous theme, “Remember Me”. At this time, Rev. J. R. Statton was the pastor of Fairfield Baptist Church. We all loved and respected him. He was one of our strongest supporters.
In 1936, Samuel McCrary became a member of the group. Shortly thereafter, we reached the height of our singing career. We had the privilege of broadcasting on any CBS station in the United States. I served as manager, booking agent, and Master of Ceremonies until my retirement in 1947, and then I moved to Chicago. However, when the quartet went down I returned and reorganized the group and put them back on the road.
The Lord has seen fit to take them and leave them here to tell the story. “Remember me”, I was the first and I am the last. Thank You
Isaac “Dickie” Freeman, the revered bass singer of the Nashville gospel group
The Fairfield Four, has died at age 84.
A member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and a Grammy Award winner, Freeman had been in declining health for several years. He passed away on Tuesday, October 16.
He was born in Alabama and raised in Ohio. In the 1940s, he began his singing career in the gospel groups The Golden Tones and The Kings of Harmony.
Freeman first joined the long-established Fairfield Four in 1948. One of gospel music’s oldest and most influential harmony quartets, the group was founded in 1925 at Nashville’s Fairfield Baptist Church. When Freeman joined, the group was already recording for Bullet Records and broadcasting its own show on WLAC radio. The program had national distribution via the CBS radio network.
In 1950, Freeman left Nashville to sing in the Alabama-based Skylarks. He moved back to Music City in 1962. After a period of dormancy, The Fairfield Four was reconstituted in 1980. During the next few years, the group resumed recording and sang with such stars as Amy Grant, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, John Fogerty and Lyle Lovett.
The group’s 1999 album I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray won a Grammy Award. The following year, Freeman and his musical partners were featured in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou as well as on its multi-million selling soundtrack album.
Over the years, The Fairfield Four also recorded for Bullet, Dot, Delta, Champion, Old Town, Nashboro, Dead Reckoning, Blue Plate and Warner Bros. Records.
Freeman issued his first solo album in 2002. Titled Beautiful Stars, it was produced by Kieran Kane and featured Mike Henderson’s band The Blue Bloods as well as The McCrary Sisters. The McCrarys’ father, Sam McCrary, was The Fairfield Four’s anchor tenor vocalist and most enduring member. After he died in 1989, Freeman became the group’s cornerstone and musical director.
Funeral arrangements for Isaac Freeman have not been announced.
She is known for her fortitude, words of wisdom, and knowledge.
Mother Haley is a prayer warrior that will lead you In the right direction according to the word of God. She is truly an upright and exemplary
Proverbs 31. She can be found speaking, teaching, and walking in the word of God.
When asked about her feelings and reflections of her journey Fairfield, she said:"I first became a member of Fairfield in 1936. I was ten years old and that was also the year that I was baptized. One of my most memorable moments here at Fairfield was when I was a young child in church school.
I loved church school! The impact of church school had a lasting influence and encouraged me to become a Sunday School teacher. This transition to a new building is sad, but joyful for me. God has carried us through and brought us to this place."