108 years ago this month …

Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church opened its iconic brick edifice at the corner of East Nash and Pender Streets. First Missionary Baptist’s pastor Rev. Marshall A. Talley welcomed a line-up of mostly local prominent guest speakers.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 August 1913.

John F. Bruton was the keynote speaker on opening day and delivered this strange and eye-poppingly (by today’s standards) offensive homily: “One thing you people cannot afford to stop, it is your native song. When you cut that off, you cut off your right hand. I remember my old mammy as she clasped me to her withered bosom singing ‘These bones shall rise again.’ Then I was taught the meaning of immortality, ‘when I can read my title clear,’ she sang. I knew that she was going to read her title in the skies. I do not know what heaven is, but I know she is there. As for me I’ll be content to spend the first thousand years there, listening to the angels singing, with that old mammy joining in the chorus, with her hand in mine leading me to my mother. That will be heaven for me. You can’t abandon those songs! When you do, you’d just as well turn this church into a moving picture show.”

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Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

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