Barfield Baptist Church in Murfreesboro has an interesting history; almost as interesting as Murfreesboro being the Capital of Tennessee for a half-dozen years back in the early 19th Century prior to Nashville laying claim. Murfreesboro was named the State Capital primarily because of its geographic location. A mathematician determined that from the most-eastern point in Tennessee to Memphis, the exact center of the Volunteer State is Murfreesboro, known as the Heart of Tennessee. There is even an obelisk near the MTSU campus to prove it.
This New Year – 2021— can be described as a “New Era” for Barfield Baptist Church. For the first time in 118 years, the congregation is now meeting in a different location with a brand new, modern, spacious building at 550 Veterans Parkway about a half-mile from where worshipers originally called home.
The former church building had been expanded over the years to accommodate its growth; in recent years able to accommodate nearly 300 compared to the just-opened new auditorium designed for 500 with means to enlarge as needed. The former Barfield Church campus was purchased by Turning Point Church, an Assembly of God congregation.
Barfield Church historian Greg Lukis said William Campbell had a vision of a Baptist Church in the Barfield community. He identified a location and gave land to build a church. It was a pleasant day on September 8, 1898, comfortable with a high temperature of 76 degrees. Six Believers spent that day establishing, organizing and beginning the new local ministry. There under a large oak tree the Church was born. The charter members were Nancy Gamewell, a widow at age 52, two of her children: Otis, age 28 and Laleyer his 15 year old sister along with Robert and Camilla Jamison and Ellen McCullough.
Interestingly, the two families –Gamewell and Jamison– were able to transfer their membership to the new congregation in Barfield without changing pastors. Isham Anderson Hailey was pastor of First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro and began serving both churches.
Prior to having their own house of worship, Barfield Baptist congregants met in what was known as the Union Building, shared by several different church denominations. The Barfield Baptist Church history is sketchy until May 1902 when a new building was dedicated. The cost of construction was about $700, a significant amount back then.
Many diverse individuals have carried on the ministry at Barfield throughout its long history. For example, in the days of The Depression, a Deacon and Treasurer, Houston Lovvern, went on horseback Saturday mornings to collect enough coins to pay the Pastor on Sunday. In August of 1945, a young girl named Rachel Lovvern, now Rachel Morton, joined the Church. She is still a member and teaches a Sunday School Class. Joyce Helton has also been faithfully serving for 65 years. Bobby Douglas, a Deacon for decades, joined in 1958…and…the list could go on and on.
Barfield Baptist has been led by over 30 pastors…names that include Wayne Tarpley, Leonard Arbuckle and Greely Davenport to the current pastor, Brother Ron Byers who has served since 1998.
Yes, Barfield Baptist Church has changed with the times; now in a modern building with a larger campus in one of the fastest growing areas in Murfreesboro. For more information: www.barfieldbaptist.org
By: Ralph E. Vaughn