The Melrose Church

Melrose Cumberland Presbyterian Church (members joined with New Hope in 1980)

Original Melrose Church building at Cairo Bend RD.
Original Melrose Church building at Cairo Bend RD.

The Melrose Church can trace its beginnings back to 1877 when members of the community began holding Bible studies and Worship services in their homes. An area in the lower part of Cairo Bend was known as the Melrose Community at that time and thus they were known as the Melrose Church.

With the desire to have a common place to hold services, 1 acre of land was purchased for $50 cash. The building was erected and the first service was held in 1885. The building was made of poplar wood and other native trees from the area around where the church was located.

Melrose Church Family
Melrose Church Family

The church came under Presbytery in 1894 and was then known as the Melrose Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Founding Elders were Thomas Kirkpatrick, J.A. Kirkpatrick, Anderson Kirkpatrick, and A. A. Clayton. The first pastor as a Cumberland Presbyterian Church was Rev. W. W. Suddarth, Sr. (1894-1895)

The original building had only one room and additions were never added. However, Sunday School classes were held every Sunday for each age group. Each group just met in his designated corner of the church. Preaching services we held once a month. Fall Revivals were held each year. Bible School and other youth activities were held.

The Melrose Church now in the Fiddler's Grove village at the Wilson County Fairgrounds
The Melrose Church now in the Fiddler’s Grove village at the Wilson County Fairgrounds

Attendance at the church declined considerably during the 1970’s. Sadly the church had to close its doors with Rev. J. B. Burns preaching the last sermon on Oct. 2, 1980. Some twenty-one ministers served as pastors through the years.

After closing the building began to deteriorate. Upon approval of the remaining church members the building was torn down and rebuilt in the Historical Fiddlers Grove Community at the Lebanon Agricultural Center in Lebanon, Tennessee. It stands there today as a constant reminder of the important roll the church has played preaching and teaching the word of God down through the years. Upon request worship services, weddings and singings are held in the church frequently.

Melrose Fiddler's Grove Dedication

The property in Cairo Bend where the church once stood was later sold. Upon approval of the Murfreesboro Presbytery, monies from the sale were donated to the New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian Church and was used to renovate the classrooms and nursery. Several from the Melrose Church moved their membership to the New Hope Church.

The Melrose Cumberland Presbyterian Church served the community of Cairo Bend for over 100 years. It was the center of community activities as well as meeting the spiritual needs of those who attended over the years.

Minutes show that the two churches shared ministers.  Revivals were held jointly with the revival at Melrose one year and New Hope the next.  VBS was held at the New Hope Church but youth from Melrose attended.  There was a CPYF youth group that was shared and youth trips were sometimes taken to other nearby churches. Minutes that I have from Melrose show that many joint meetings were held by the session members of both churches planning joint revivals and etc.

Attendance at New Hope also declined steadily during the 1970’s as people sought churches in more urban settings. Providentially, about a dozen members of the Melrose church moved their membership to New Hope, in effect uniting the two churches, and providing an infusion of new life and “new hope” for  New Hope Church. These dedicated Christian families, composed of church elders, teachers and hard workers, became a part of the New Hope family invested in its survival and success.

Note: Further information about the church from another source, The Churches of Murfreesboro Presbytery:

Located in the northwestern part of Wilson County, twelve miles from Lebanon, Melrose Church is situated in the Cairo Bend Community.  The church is built on a one acre lot, bought from Mason Jenkens in the year 1883, for the sum of $50.00, cash in hand by five elders: J.A Kirkpatrick, L.R. Kirkpatrick, Thomas Kirkpatrick, Anderson Kirkpatrick and Billy Morse.  The church was built during the year 1883.  The deed, which was made to the above elders, is on record at the Wilson County Courthouse in Lebanon.

L.R. Kirkpatrick was clerk of the session at the date of purchase and served in that capacity until 1905.

It is said by older members that Rev. S.A. Saddler preached the first sermon in Melrose Church; however, the 1883 session book has been misplaced and no one knows how long he served the church as pastor. (Note: this was before the church became a Cumberland Presbyterian Church)   

The session minutes in 1889 state that the following Cumberland College students from Lebanon were employed to serve the church as pastor; W.L. Livingston, W.F. Herford, and L.B. Gray. (Note: this was before it became a Cumberland Presbyterian Church.)