A History of Vine Street Christian Church

Vine Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is one of Nashville’s oldest religious bodies and the source of many other congregations. It had its beginnings on July 22, 1820 as the Baptist Church of Nashville. In April of 1826, Philip Slater Fall was elected pastor of the congregation, moving from Louisville, Kentucky. At his first service he inaugurated the practice of weekly communion, a clear indication that the principles and practices of Alexander Campbell were a part of his thinking and leading.

Vine Street Christian Church lists its formal founding as May 24, 1828 when the members adopted a resolution that nullified its former rules and doctrines and stated, “...we take the New Testament as the rule of our faith and practice, and will form such rules from it for our worship and government as may be consistent with its spirit and meaning, and with the peace and good order of the Church.” At that time, the congregation is said to have numbered 218—117 of whom were African American. By 1830, five members who did not agree with the reform principles withdrew and reconstituted themselves as the Baptist Church, which is today First Baptist Church Nashville.

An African American Sunday school class of the congregation was reorganized as a congregation in 1859. Eventually, that church evolved to become New Covenant Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

David Lipscomb, a member of this congregation during the 1850s, withdrew his membership in 1882 when Vine Street began supporting missionary societies. As editor of The Gospel Advocate, Lipscomb wrote in opposition to missionary societies, instrumental music in worship, Sunday schools, and open communion, so that in 1906 the Churches of Christ were listed separately for the first time in the Federal Religious Census. Vine Street Christian Church remained supportive of missionary societies and open communion. Instrumental music remained part of its worship. It installed its first pipe organ in 1897 and maintains a strong music program today.

The Rev. Dr. Roger T. Nooe served Vine Street from 1925 until 1950. During his ministry, Dr. Nooe was highly regarded by the church and Nashville alike. Under his leadership, Vine Street played a key role in opening the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt Divinity School in 1927, and the close relationship between the Disciples Divinity House and the congregation continues. In 1992 Vine Street Christian Church created the Roger T. Nooe Lectureship on World Peace as a memorial to Dr. Nooe for his lifelong commitment to promoting world peace and ecumenism. The lectureship perpetuates Dr. Nooe’s dream of a universal peace and a unified church.

In 1943 Vine Street commissioned an organizing nucleus for what was to become Nashville's Woodmont Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

In 1957, under the leadership of Rev. Wayne Braden, the congregation moved to its present location on Harding Road. The facility was designed by renowned Nashville architect, Edwin Keeble.

Rev. Wayne Bell led Vine Street through the tumultuous 1960s. Some members left for other churches when Bell made it clear that all people, regardless of race, were welcome at the table of Jesus Christ and therefore were welcome at Vine Street Christian Church. This congregation has never been afraid to honestly and openly discuss controversial issues within the context of the steadfast love of God shown in Jesus Christ. Rev. Bell was also instrumental in developing and stabilizing the ministerial intern program at Vine Street that has since produced dozens of clergy who are in leadership roles throughout the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In 1993, Vine Street honored Rev. Bell’s outstanding commitment to ministerial education by establishing the Wayne H. Bell Lectureship on Ministry.

In 1985, under the leadership of Rev. Dan Moseley, the Vine Street Pastoral Counseling Center was founded. This ecumenical ministry, now known as the Pastoral Counseling Centers of Middle Tennessee, has grown from one center on the campus of the church, to several centers serving communities across Middle Tennessee.

Today Vine Street Christian Church continues to be a vibrant community of worship, education and spiritual growth, fellowship, and service.

For more information about the history of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) visit our denomination's website.