John Burgess Gaither
J.B. Gaither was in every sense a true servant of the Lord. Though all of his fulltime work in the ministry was in Tennessee, he preached in many other states and held a part time position with a church in Ohio. He loved every aspect of the work of the church. His fifty-four years as a Gospel preacher were spent teaching, preaching, serving, raising a family, all to the glory of God. He loved singing and teaching others to read music and to lead singing. He took great pride in creating informative and attractive church bulletins, having them bound each year for preservation of history of the local congregation. He ate, drank and slept his passion for serving the Lord. His motto was “Do all you can do….and then some,” and he lived it in every part of his life.
The Early Years
John Burgess Gaither was born May 1, 1901 on a farm near Lawrenceburg, in Lawrence County, Tennessee to Wiley Thomas and Margaret (Gibbs) Gaither. He was the fourth of nine siblings, two of which died as infants.
In the early nineteen hundreds, providing for a large family with eight children did not come easy. To help with the cost of daily living, Burgess, as he was then called, had to drop out of school to teach school! It was after teaching in Lawrence County Elementary Schools at Deerfield for seven years that he finally graduated from Lawrence County High School in 1924.
JB was brought up in the church and obeyed the Gospel under the preaching of J.E. Thornberry October 25, 1916. At the age of sixteen (1917), he made his first talk during a Prayer Meeting at his home congregation in Lawrenceburg. A few years later, his first real preaching “appointment” was in a log meeting house at the Midway congregation near his birthplace November, 1926.
A Move to Ohio
When the summer of 1927 came around, JB went north to visit his brothers, Joe and Jim and their families, then living at New Philadelphia and Dover, in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. His two week visit turned into five years. When he arrived on his “vacation,” he found work as an office clerk at the Iron Foundry (where one of his brothers worked).
J.B. & Mary's Wedding Photo
When he went to church services, he met a Tennessee family that would become his family for the rest of his life. Tom and Nora Campbell had moved to that area from Hohenwald, Tennessee back in 1916 looking for work.
Not long after his arrival at that congregation, JB was asked to preach. His sermon was well received, and from then on, he was often teaching and preaching for the church there. As word of his ability spread throughout the area, he began to get calls from various congregations to come and help them out. At that time, there were few churches of Christ in Ohio. JB assisted in a number of mission meetings in Ohio, establishing two new congregations. Some of the places he preached in Ohio are Tippecanoe, Beach City, Birmingham, Alliance, Uhrichsville, and Newcomerstown.
The Campbell’s daughter, Mary, was seventeen years of age when JB met her. He was twenty-five. About a year later, they began to date, and on her twenty-first birthday, November 11, 1930 they married in Malta, Ohio.
Mary often told that the first Sunday JB came to worship at their congregation; she fell in love with him. After he taught the class that morning, she knew he was the best teacher she had ever heard. She told him later that she knew right then that she would marry him someday. Her deep love and devotion never waned, nor did her opinion of him being the best teacher/preacher she ever heard, even as she survived him for nearly twenty-six years.
JB held his first protracted meeting for his home congregation in New Philadelphia in September, 1930. It was here that he held a part time position with the church that met at 119 Seventh Street NW.
Back to Tennessee – Gainesboro & Jackson County 1932-1939
J.B. & The Gainesboro Church House - 1930s
It was June 28, 1932 when JB and Mary moved to Gainesboro, Tennessee to work on a “half time basis” with the church there. While the economy was a challenge to most, JB rose to meet the occasion. His job might be part time, but there was nothing “part time” about his passion for preaching and being involved with people’s lives. He knew just how to supplement the income with extra speaking engagements, mainly in the form of gospel meetings.
At a church business meeting on December 23, 1934, it was decided to hire him “full time” for 1935. The remaining time at Gainesboro found him preaching about 250 sermons each year.
JB and Mary started their family in 1934 with the birth of a daughter, Mary Frances in 1934 and Patricia Jean in 1937.
JB, Mary, Mary Frances & Patricia (baby)
While living at Gainesboro, that JB began his college education in the fall of 1934. He attended Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (TPI) in Cookeville, which is now Tennessee Tech. In 1938, he received a Bachelors Degree in English.
In September 1938, there was a business meeting at which they decided to build a preacher’s home there in Gainesboro. JB was busy nearly every day working on every aspect of the project from the dirt work and foundation to the papering and painting. Two months after the business meeting about building the house, the Gaithers moved into that house, November 29!
In addition to all the preaching, teaching and singings, he still found time to be a community man. Nearly every school or community function found JB in the audience. Involvement in this small town’s schools, politics and community affairs was the beginning of a habit he would possess in all the small towns to come.
The work in Gainesboro continued for seven years, during which time he engaged in more than eighty protracted meetings, most of them in Jackson County. Little did he know that after leaving the wonderful area of Jackson County, he would continue for the rest of his life to return there to preach and baptize, marry their children and bury their dead. His records indicate he conducted 291 funerals in Jackson County alone. Right at half of that number was during the seven years he lived there, and the other half was during the forty years to follow.
In his lifetime, he conducted 133 gospel meetings in Jackson County, with number 100 being at Gainesboro. He often stated, “If heaven was on earth, it would be in Jackson County, Tennessee.”
His final meeting in Jackson County was at Burristown, August, 1978. That was number 133.
Springfield, Tennessee 1939-1946
Many blessings came to the Main Street Church of Christ in Springfield when they hired J.B. Gaither as their first fulltime evangelist. From their church history written about 1980:In 1939, Brother J.B. Gaither became the first of only twelve full-time evangelists in Main Street's ninety-one year history. Within a few years elders and deacons were appointed and the church progressed rapidly. In March 1940, the first issue of the church bulletin, the “Reporter,” was published and in the next decade repairs were made to the building, new song books were purchased and book racks built for them, a Ladies Bible Class was organized and the church made plans for getting the gospel message out to others.
Main Street Church of Christ, Springfield, TN About 1940
Shortly after moving to Springfield, JB made his radio “debut,” with a thirty minute sermon over “WHUB” in Cookeville, Tennessee August 18, 1940. This was just the beginning of four decades of radio preaching, a part of his ministry to which he was dedicated.
The year of 1943 was bittersweet. The Gaithers were blessed with a third daughter, Ruby Elizabeth, born on April 13. Less than a month later, on May 11, JB’s father, W.T. Gaither, of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, passed away. JB conducted his funeral service.
The church there at Springfield became involved in mission work in Jamestown, Tennessee in 1943. JB worked diligently at establishing a congregation there. A history of the Jamestown Church of Christ written in 1992 by Dan L. Smith states:
A tent meeting 1943 marked the beginning of the Church of Christ in Jamestown, Tennessee. The first service was held on September 26, 1943. A large tent was erected near the public square at the present site of Wright’s Store. This was a twenty-six day meeting conducted by J.B. Gaither and A.J. Veteto.
JB visited several congregations, obtaining financial backing for a building, and on September 30, 1943, the church in Jamestown began meeting in their own church house. JB and C.W. Davis finalized the signing of the deed on October 21, 1943. The auditorium was on the first floor with classrooms upstairs. Ben Anderson was the first preacher for this congregation 1943-50. JB held six additional meetings there over the next ten years.
In 1960, they built a basement building. February 7th was their first Sunday to meet in the new basement, and JB was invited to preach both services that day. He was very happy to do so and noted that there were 143 present at the morning service. In 1963, the building was completed.
Another mission effort at that time was in Whitley City, Kentucky.
JB had helped establish a congregation of the Lord’s church in September, 1946. Whitley City is in McCreary County. A twelve day mission meeting in which he preached and Ralph Kidd led the singing resulted in the beginning of that congregation. The gospel meeting produced three baptisms, five restorations from the Christian Church and one who placed membership; a congregation of nine. The church met in a house in Dixie which is a “suburb” of Whitley City.
Oneida, Tennessee 1946-1948
In October 27, 1946 he resigned from his work at Springfield to move to
Oneida, Tennessee located in Scott County.
From October until his work was finished at Springfield in
December, he made trips between Sundays to Oneida to help with the
building of a preacher’s home. For that house, he raised funds for the
materials, drew the plans, and did much of the work along with Price
Robinson and Barney Jeffers. He
mentions much of the work in his diaries from the beginnings of the
foundation to the final tasks of landscaping the yard.
The Gaithers’ last Sunday with the church in Springfield was December 29, 1946. The family moved to Oneida and stayed in the Claude Terry Sr. home for about six weeks until the preacher’s home was completed in March. The Terrys owned the Chevrolet dealership in Oneida. JBthought a Chevrolet was the only way to go, so for many years he made return trips to Oneida when it was time toshop for a new car. The Terry family has remained dear to the Gaithers through the years.
Oneida Preacher’s Home 1947
All the time he was in Oneida, he was still involved with the church at Whitley City and at Jamestown, often preaching at Sunday afternoon services or any other way they needed assistance.
Another family member arrived on April 6, 1948 with the birth of a son, John Burgess, Jr. About the time John B. Jr. was born, Mary’s mother, Nora Campbell, fell and broke her hip. It was then that Nora and Tom moved from their home in Ohio and made their home with JB and Mary.
JB had committed to go to Oneida as a mission effort for a year, but as it turned out, he was there two years until December, 1948.
Gallatin, Tennessee 1948-1966
December 20, 1948 found the Gaithers calling another place “home” in Gallatin, Tennessee which is in Sumner County. JB began what would be an eighteen year ministry with a congregation at the edge of town in the Number One Community. His starting salary was $300.00 a month.
We are told that this little community was called “Number One” because it was the first stop on the street car route from Gallatin to Nashville.
The Gaithers moved into their home in Gallatin, and nine days later, on December 29, JB began a radio program at the local station, WHIN. He was one of the pioneer preachers on that station. He began a thirty minute radio program two days a week and the program lasted more than twenty years. The broadcast reached into Macon, Smith, Wilson, Davidson, Jackson and even as far as Putnam and Clay Counties. After he moved away, he continued that program for three years by the request of the elders who supported it.
The first year JB was with the congregation, many new and exciting works began. By February, 1949 the church had purchased an old school bus in order to pick up people from all the surrounding area for worship services. JB often drove the bus, along with other men of the congregation. In March, a mid-week service was started on Wednesday nights. It was also March of 1949 that JB began the first Sunday singings in Sumner County which have continued now for 60 years.
Shortly after the Gaithers’ move to Gallatin, their fifth and final child arrived. Sandra Lee was born April 4, 1949. The “Walton” like family now numbered nine, including Mary’s parents, Tom and Nora Campbell.
A new and larger church building was one of the first things accomplished after JB began his ministry there. The old church house was auctioned off on October 21, 1950 for $1,200.00 and moved to another location. The new building was constructed on the same property, and the church began to meet there on October 15, 1950.
No. One Church: Old Building
No. One Church: New Building
The church owned a preacher’s home at 656 West Main Street. The family moved into that residence. About four years later, the Gaithers decided they would like to purchase the house from the church. The house was in need of extensive repair, so the family moved out to a beautiful farm house on Woods Ferry Road while some major remodeling took place.
Gaither Home in Gallatin, TN
Number One was blessed in many ways by two of its members, Guy and Mary Comer. Guy was Chairman of the Boards of Washington Industries, Washington Manufacturing Company and National Stores Corporation and owned the downtown hotel in Gallatin, Cordell Hull. In 1946, Guy Comer and his brother, M.B. Comer, founded the Church of Christ Foundation for the purpose of providing financial aid to small churches of Christ throughout the world. The Foundation supported hundreds of congregations. Brother Guy Comer made an arrangement with JB to supplement his preaching salary. The plan was that if JB wanted to fill four appointments each month with sister congregations in Sumner County, Comer would see that he was compensated $100 ($25 for each appointment). JB gladly took on the work. Brother Comer also asked JB to let him know of needs of these congregations such as song books and benches, etc. He also took care of those needs as they arose.
The elders at Number One were generous, as well, with the struggling congregations in the county. They allowed JB to hold about fourteen meetings from April to October each year, most of which were in Sumner County. These meetings averaged fourteen days. JB did not necessarily preach every Sunday at these meetings. Sometimes it was turned over to the local preacher so that JB could be at Number One on Sunday. Over the eighteen years he was in Sumner County, he held 247 meetings.
“Cooperative Meetings” were another effort in which JB spent much time. For several consecutive Monday nights, different congregations in the county would host a preaching service. Then it might be concluded with a week long meeting using a different speaker each evening. Sometimes they would meet two nights a week. This might go on for three to four months. This project that started in Sumner County was something he continued in his remaining works at Bells (Crockett County) and Fayetteville (Lincoln County). He loved to see the brethren in the county not only know one another and share in fellowship, but also to learn to work together in a cooperative effort for the broadening of the kingdom.
He also conducted many Singing Schools at the different places he where he lived. He believed that good singing aided the worship, and he wanted song leaders to know how to lead, and others to know how to read music so they could sing the parts.
JB & Mary’s 25th Wedding Anniversary, 1955
Back: Mary Frances, Patricia, Ruby
Front: John B. Jr., JB, Sandra, Mary
Through the years, many well known and not so well known gospel preachers found themselves at the Gaither home for a meal and/or lodging. One of the well known was Foy E. Wallace, Jr. who held a meeting at Number One in 1967 and later put those sermons in book form called “Number One Gospel Sermons.”
N.B. Hardeman also held meetings at Number One in 1955, 1956 and 1958. The sermons from his 1955 meeting were published in a book called “One Dozen Sermons.” Hardeman’s “One Dozen Sermons” and Foy E. Wallace’s “Number One Gospel Sermons” are both dedicated to Guy Comer, who likely funded the publications.
N.B. Hardeman often preached in Lawrenceburg where JB grew up. In fact, it is told that he preached at the church in Lawrenceburg fifty-nine consecutive years in meetings and fill-in appointments. JB’s dad, W.T. Gaither, and N.B. Hardeman were both horse traders. Hardeman was a McNairy County native, and the Gaithers were in Lawrence County, both southwestern counties in Tennessee. With these connections, the Gaithers were friends with Hardeman as long as JB could remember.
The Ralph Kidd family moved to Gallatin January of 1952, and Ralph became the Associate Minister and Song Leader at Number One. Other song leaders at Number One that the family recalls were Bob Winstead, Hayden Miller, Robert L. Brown, Vernon Boyd, Bob Scruggs, and John Brasel who was there from 1955 until 1973.
Berea, Kentucky was the recipient of much mission effort and fundraising by J.B. Gaither in the 1950’s. He held other mission meetings in Kentucky (Madisonville 1952 & Pine Knot 1948); in Tennessee (Palmers Chapel in Sumner County & Saundersville 1950, Winfield 1945, Ocana 1953, Bellwood 1953, Williams at Lafayette 1966); and in Virginia (Harrisonburg 1962).
It was in Gallatin that JB really got serious about his hobby of clock collecting. The old garage was converted into the “Clock Shop.” His collection at that time numbered around 200, and by the time he stopped collecting, he owned over 500. He hosted “Open House” several times while in Gallatin and took great pleasure in showing his clocks to any and all from far and near.
The Clock Shop at the Gaither residence in Gallatin
On February 10, 1956, JB had his first experience of “giving away” a daughter and performing the wedding ceremony. Patricia married Sam Green at the Number One church building, and the reception was held in the Gaither home. They made their home in Gallatin where Sam owned Green’s TV Shop. They later moved out onto a farm in Portland. Sam passed away in 1993. The Greens have three sons, Cullen, John Jeffrey (Lisa), Lionel Gaither (Karen), and four grandchildren.
Mary Frances graduated from David Lipscomb College in 1955 and went to work for Martha White Mills in Jackson, Tennessee. On August 10, 1957, JB united Mary Frances and Victor Sullivan of Jackson, in the Gaither home. Victor was a widower and had a teenage daughter, Barbara Jo. They made their home in Jackson where Victor was co-owner with his brother of “Mrs. Sullivan’s Southwestern Pies.” Victor passed away in 1992.
The Sullivans have a son, Randy (Beth), a daughter, Lana (Brent) Beard and four grandchildren. Frances married Bill Jones of Winter Haven, Florida in 2005, and they reside in Jackson.
In 1959, Mary’s mother, Nora Campbell, passed away and not long afterwards, Tom suffered a heart attack. His health deteriorated over the next five years, and he passed away in 1965.
On June 30, 1961, Ruby married Jim Williams in the Gaither home. They resided several years in Gallatin. Jim worked for Cummins Diesel in Nashville. In 1972 they moved to Dickson, Tennessee where they still reside. The Williams have three children: Robin Nelson, Ted (Sharon), Troy (Traci) and seven grandchildren.
JB’s mother, Maggie Gibbs Gaither, of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, passed away in 1962.
Much love and happy memories were left in that old house in Gallatin. It was the only house and congregation that the whole family could ever call “home.”
Bells, Tennessee 1967-1975
Bells Church of Christ about 1970
The downsize of house, possessions and family was found in the small west Tennessee town of Bells in Crockett County. JB’s new work began there on January 8, 1967. Besides the many friends and two married daughters, sons-in-law and five grandchildren left behind in Gallatin, they also allowed their youngest daughter, Sandra, to stay behind. She was a senior in high school with only one semester left of twelve years in the Gallatin school system. Ruby and her husband, Jim, agreed to keep her for a semester, thus making JB and Mary’s nest empty for the first time in thirty-three years! There were two consolations with the new location at Bells. Frances and her family were only a few miles away in Jackson, and Sandra was planning to attend Freed-Hardeman College at Henderson which is just the other side of Jackson.
Sandra graduated from Gallatin High School in May, 1967 and began her college work at Freed-Hardeman that summer. It was nice having Sandra closer to “home” for one school year and two summers before she transferred to Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas. There she met her husband and graduated in 1970.
On July 18, 1969, Sandra married David Pitchford at the Nashville Road church building in Gallatin. JB and Mary’s nest was finally truly empty. Sandra and Dave settled in Mountain Home, Arkansas 1974 to present. The Pitchfords have three children: Mary Allison (Russell) Epperson, Landon (Kendra), Alan (Tiffany), and five grandchildren.
When John B. Jr. returned from Army duty in Germany and Viet Nam, he married Connie Baskerville of Portland, Tennessee, 1970. They made their home in Gallatin where John B. made a career with Bell South Telephone Company. The Gaithers have three children, Shane (Amber), Shelley (Buster) Mincey, Trey, and six grandchildren.
In spite of the fact that JB was already 65 years of age and into retirement age, he started up his new work in a big way. One of the first things he accomplished after moving to Bells was getting a county wide singing started. The Crockett County monthly Sunday singings are still being conducted.
JB began a radio program in nearby Humboldt, Tennessee while he was still sending tapes back to WHIN in Gallatin for about three years.
From the Bells church history:
During 1969, four nice classrooms were finished in the attic of the church building. The church cooperates with the nine sister congregations in the county in monthly singings and a fellowship dinner each month. In February, 1970, we broadcast our monthly singing from Bells over the Humboldt Radio Station. This was the first radio program to originate with the Church of Christ in Crockett County.
In March of 1970, we cooperated in a Central Meeting at Alamo with brother Alan Highers preaching and brother Jack Forbis as singer. It was the greatest effort ever to be experienced by churches of Christ in Crockett County. Average attendance for the six nights was 592, or a sum of 3,551 for the six nights.
JB and Mary had always been generous with a little, but at this time in their life, they were able to be generous with more. Mary became a member of the Crockett County Associates, a ladies’ organization in support of Freed-Hardeman University. Their interest in the college increased even more since Bells was not far from the campus and since they had a daughter attending there. JB donated his pay from at least two gospel meetings to the college in 1974 and 1975.
JB & Mary at Preacher’s Home in Bells, 1968
At about that same time, Frances and her husband, Victor Sullivan, in nearby Jackson, were very instrumental in the founding of Jackson Christian School. The Gaithers contributed generously to that effort, and the library there has a plaque that reads, “In Honor of Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Gaither.” Mary did her part by creating and donating many craft items to various sales and fairs and also donating personal sales to the Christian school.
Just before leaving Bells, JB sold his clock collection to a young man, Davis Watts of Cookeville, Tennessee. Davis was a Jackson County boy whose family JB had known for years.
When JB was seventy-four years of age, he thought it was time to make a change before he got too old to find a job! He had been at Bells for eight and a half years and felt like he might not be able to stay there five more.
He told Mary and the family, “If the Lord will give me five more years somewhere, I’ll probably be ready to lay it aside.” It wasn’t long until he had a job opportunity, and he left Bells to start in a new congregation for what would be the final time.
Fayetteville, Tennessee 1975-1980
Liberty Church of Christ
In searching for a new job, JB had found that not many congregations wanted a seventy-four year old man, even if he did have forty-five years of experience in located work and seemingly good health. He didn’t have to search too long though, to find new employment with the Liberty congregation in Lincoln County, Tennessee at Fayetteville. It was a congregation where he had a long term relationship, having held five meetings there over the past twelve years. The folks at Liberty knew exactly what they were getting. JB and Mary began their work with the Liberty congregation on August 15, 1975.
One of his first tasks, so characteristic of JB, was to establish the Lincoln County First Sunday Singings. Those singings are still carried on each month.
Another typical project was to make improvements at the preacher’s home. At his suggestion, the brethren there decided to enclose the garage, converting it into a bedroom, bath, dining area and laundry room. A carport was then added to the house. In 1976, JB forfeited four paychecks and donated two meeting checks to help pay for central air conditioning for the preacher’s home. He also did a lot of landscaping on the property, taking pride in the yard and the home.
Liberty Preacher’s Home
It was at Liberty that he celebrated his 50th golden year of preaching with a gospel meeting November 7-11, 1976. He counted the fifty years from the time of his first preaching appointment which was November 7, 1926 at the Midway congregation near Lawrenceburg. How fitting that in 1976, November 7 also fell on Sunday.
JB & Mary – 50 Years of Preaching
JB mailed out three hundred eighty letters of invitation to the anniversary meeting. The Golden Anniversary turned out to be a success. The attendance was a record 313. There was a good representation from each of the churches where JB had labored before coming to Liberty. There were also many visitors present from places where he had held gospel meetings.
In 1979 at the age of 78, he suffered a heart attack in April that led to the implanting of a pacemaker. He was back in the pulpit by June. Then on May 21, 1980 he died suddenly, without warning in the back yard of the preacher’s home there at Liberty.
JB always said he looked back with no regrets about his life; that if he had it all to over again, he wouldn’t change a thing! In his 54 years of preaching, he was never asked to resign from any of the six congregations where he labored. The gospel meetings he held carried him to many locations in eleven states and the District of Columbia.
The funeral for J.B. Gaither was held at the Liberty Church of Christ on May 25, 1980 after a visitation at the building the night before. Brother E. Claude Gardner, President of Freed-Hardeman University conducted the service, assisted by Brother Eugene Peden of Fayetteville. The body was then taken to Gallatin where another visitation took place at the Nashville Road Church of Christ. Burial was on Saturday, May 26, at Crestview Memorial Park just outside Gallatin. His grandsons served as Pallbearers.
About a year after JB’s passing, Mary Gaither moved to Jackson, Tennessee to be near her daughter, Frances. About 2001, after breaking a second hip, she moved in with Frances who was then a widow. Shortly after that, the other daughters took turns caring for her in their homes until her passing on May 15, 2006 at the age of 96. Mary’s funeral was in Gallatin at Family Heritage Funeral Home on May 19. Her ten grandsons conducted the service and served as Pallbearers. Her four granddaughters and one great-granddaughter served as Honorary Pallbearers and a great-grandson conducted the graveside service. She is buried beside JB in the Crestview Memorial Park near Gallatin.
September 18, 1980
Obituary written by E. Claude Gardner
President, Freed-Hardeman College
John Burgess Gaither, Sr., who preached for the Liberty Church of Christ, Fayetteville, Tenn., passed away on May 21, 1980. He was born on May 1, 1901. The writer conducted his funeral services at the Liberty Church of Christ at 10:00 a.m., May 23, and his body was interred at the Crestview Memorial Gardens, Gallatin, Tenn.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary Campbell Gaither; four daughters, Mrs. Ruby Elizabeth Williams, Dickson, Tenn., Mrs. Mary Frances Sullivan, Jackson, Tenn., Mrs. Patricia Jean Green, Gallatin, Tenn., Mrs. Sandra Lee Pitchford, Mountain Home, Ark.; one son, John B. Gaither, Jr., Gallatin, Tenn.; two sisters, Mrs. Mary O’Neal, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., Mrs. Magabelle Barnes, Monteagle, Tenn.; and one brother, Mr. Earl Gaither, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and also 13 grandchildren.
During his time of preaching the gospel, over a period of about 50 years, he served a number of congregations and in local work. In addition, he engaged in several hundred gospel meetings. He devoted a considerable amount of time in mission areas and in preaching over the radio and promoting good singing. Truly, he gave his life in preaching the gospel and thousands have been blessed by reason of his earnest endeavors. Brother Gaither was sound in the faith, powerful as a preacher, dedicated to the work of the Lord, and loved the brethren everywhere.
He enjoyed doing local and evangelistic work and demonstrated a wonderful love for his family. We shall miss him and we shall cherish his memory. We shall ever be thankful for his friendship and the wonderful good that he accomplished upon this earth.
Sermons & Articles of J.B. Gaither
The Gospel Advocate
Paul, in 2 Tim. 4:2 gave a charge to a young preacher: “Preach the word.” We shall attempt to study two things regarding this definite charge.
1. What is the word to be preached? We hear much said about it, but what does God, through the Scriptures, declare it to be? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1.) Then, in preaching the word, we must preach him, who was even from the beginning. We must preach him, who was a companion of God and who was and is even God himself. Again, we learn from verse 14: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” Then, in preaching the word, we must preach the only begotten Son of God—Jesus Christ. But, one says, the Word in John 1:1 is capitalized and the word in 2 Tim. 4:2 is not; hence they cannot be the same. That is logical, I will agree; but let us consider another case found in Acts 8. In verse 4 we learn: “Therefore, they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” Philip was one of those preaching, and verse 35 says: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” Thus we learn the word that was preached in verse 4 was Jesus in verse 35.
To keep Paul’s charge is to preach Jesus Christ to the world. What does preaching Jesus include? We may say that man’s life is divided into three parts: (1) thoughts, (2) works, (3) deeds. Man never does more than think, speak, and act. Therefore, we are to preach the thoughts, the words, and the deeds of Christ. But how can we know the thoughts or the mind of Christ? Words, we are told, are symbols of ideas. Ideas are conceived in the mind and symbolized in words. We can know the mind of Christ by the words he spoke. We are commanded to preach the things Christ has commanded (Matt. 28:20): “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Therefore, we can understand why the Ethiopian eunuch, though a heathen, who had known nothing of the teaching of Christ, demanded to be baptized in water when Philip had only preached unto him Jesus. Jesus said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16.) Jesus had been preached, and he understood that he should be baptized and that water was the element. How plain matters become, even to a heathen, when Jesus is preached in the simplicity of the gospel! We can also see the need of preaching the things Jesus did while upon the earth, as in John 20: 30, 31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing ye might have life through his name.” We find the word referred to in other terms, and in 1 Cor. 15, when Paul was preaching Jesus, he said: “I declare unto you the gospel.” Yet, Paul said in 1 Cor. 2:2: “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Again, in 2 John: 9 it is called “the doctrine of Christ.” We, therefore, conclude that “the word,” “Christ,” “the gospel,” and “the doctrine of Christ” are all used interchangeably in this connection, and that to “preach the word” is to preach Christ in thoughts, words, and deeds, of which the gospel or doctrine of Christ declares.
2. Why preach the word? Why should Paul, the apostle, give such a command or charge to a preacher of the gospel? Why were not preachers sent out to preach what seemed good to them or popular in certain communities, as many preachers take the liberty to do today? My friends, the commission not only says preach, but includes the substance to be preached—“the gospel”—“whatsoever I have commanded you.” By the Scriptures let us see of we can find the reason for preaching the word.
(1) It is the begetting power. We learn that Jesus said, “Ye must be born again,” in John 3:7. But we know, too, that in order for there to be a birth there must of necessity be a begetting. Now we hear James in his epistle when he said: “Of his (God’s) own will begat he us with the word of truth” (James 1:18.) Paul says: “For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel (word)” (1 Cor. 4:15.) As a child has never been born into the fleshly family without being begotten, so has a child never been born into the spiritual family of God unless begotten, and that by the word.
(2) It (the word, or gospel) is God’s power to save: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16.) Then without the word God would be powerless in the salvation of sinners. It is not said to be one of the powers, but the power of God’s salvation to believers.
(3) It saves. “Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21.) “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (the word), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15.)
(4) It is food to children of God. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2.) “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4.) “I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up (nourish thee and cause thee to grow), and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32.) Temporal beings live and exist by temporal food, and so it is that spiritual beings live by spiritual food. God’s word is spiritual food for his spiritual family. Without it there would be no growth to a child of God.
(5) It is the word that produces faith. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17.) Then, no word, no faith. Faith is that which pleases God. “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6.) By faith we are justified (Rom. 5:1.) By faith we are saved. “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe (have faith) to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39.) Then without the word there would be no faith, no pleasing God, or salvation.
(6) It is evil to preach anything else. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10, 11.) “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (word) of God” (1 Pet. 4:11.) “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine (word) of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 9.) “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel (word) unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8.) “Woe is me, if I preach not the gospel (word)!” (1 Cor. 9:16.) “Which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16.) “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.” (Rev. 22:18, 19.)
The Gospel Advocate
“AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?”
First question on record ever asked by man.
Cain was the first, but not the last, to ask it.
To what extent am I responsible to and for my brother?
1. That there be no strife between us (Gen. 13:8).
(a) Abram’s motto was: “Peace at any reasonable price.”
2. That we love one another (1 John 3:11).
(a) With brotherly love (Rom. 12:10; 1 Pet. 3:8).
(b) As Christ loved us (John 13:34; 15:12).
Many are too weak to live of their own life.
The recipient of a blood transfusion lives by the life of
I must give my life as service to others (Matt. 25:31-46).
(c) That we take no account of evil (1 Cor. 13:5).
Love does not hunt faults, but covers them
(James 5:20; 1 Pet. 4:8).
That I restore the fallen (Gal. 6:1).
Help the destitute (1 John 3:17).
Forgive (Matt. 18:22).
To preach the gospel (Acts 20: 26-27).
The Gospel Witness - November, 1940
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). The subject of conversion is one of great controversy among men. Let us study it in the light of the Bible, then we can be sure.
Not Needed By Children
Christ taught the older ones that they were to become as little children. Here little children are examples of the kingdom of God. (See also Mark 10:13-16). Little children have no sins of their own; neither are they responsible for the sins of others. They need no conversion, but we as older ones need to be converted.
Needed Because of Adam
Adam’s transgression has come down to all accountable people of today--“so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Since all men have sinned, and no sinner, as such, can enter the kingdom of God, it follows that all men should be converted to become such as God wants them to be.
Needed to Enter the Kingdom
The kingdom of heaven and the church are one and the same thing. The church is also the family of God. Before one can get into the kingdom, the family of God, he must be converted or changed from what he is in sin. Jesus said, “Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” No one can enter the kingdom, the church, the family of God without conversion; no one can be converted without entering the kingdom. Conversion and entrance into the kingdom, the church, are equivalent according to Jesus. (See Acts 2:37-47).
What Is Conversion?
The word convert primarily means “to turn.” When one is turned from any position of belief to believe and practice something else, he is converted. But, to be converted in such a way as to please God--to enter the kingdom, one must be turned from sin and sinful practice unto a life with Christ. Until one’s life is what Christ would have it to be, he is not truly converted to Christ.
The act of conversion is one of several steps. Let us study and see when one’s life actually accords with Christ. 1. We are taught to believe--have faith (John 8:24). But, faith alone is not sufficient (Jas. 2:24). Faith is not conversion but merely a step toward conversion. 2. We are commanded to repent (2 Pet. 3:9). While repentance is necessary, it does not put us into Christ. It, too, is a step but not conversion. 3. Christ teaches us to be baptized (Mark 16:15, 16). In Rom. 6:3 and Gal. 3:37, we are taught that baptism puts us into Christ---“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Baptism is the consummating act or step that puts us into Christ, but it (baptism) alone did not do it. Therefore, baptism is also a step and not conversion within itself. It has to be preceded by other steps--- faith and repentance. Before one can be converted to enter the kingdom, he must believe (have faith), repent and be baptized--“buried with Christ by baptism.” He then is prepared to walk the new life with Christ (Rom. 6:4). Dear reader, have you been converted to the Lord? If not, read the New Testament and see what is required, then do it. “The gospel of Christ….is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
This article from The Gospel Witness, December 1940
Was printed in the
Gospel Gleaner, April-June 1997
Are We Saved Out of the Church?
The church is built upon Christ as the foundation. When Peter had confessed Christ as “the Christ the Son of the Living God,” Christ said, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:15-19). The rock of which Christ spoke was the great truth that He was the Son of God. Christ is referred to repeatedly as “the stone (rock) which was set at naught of the builders” (Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:6-8). In 1 Corinthians 3:11 Paul refers to Christ as the foundation. (1) The church is the institution built upon Jesus Christ. It is defined as (2) the kingdom of which Christ is King (Matthew 16:18-19). Paul writing to Timothy said, “These things write I unto you hoping to come to you shortly; but if I tarry long that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God which is the church of the living God…”(1 Timothy 3:15). (3) The church is the house of the living God. Paul, in speaking of Christ, said God “gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body…” (Ephesians 1:22-23). Thus we learn that the church is the very (4) body of Christ. Jesus came to save the world, but Paul said: “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28). (5) The church is the price of Christ’s blood. Again, Paul to the church at Rome says: “…ye should be married to another even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:4). Here he is saying (6) the church is married to Christ -- His bride, His wife. In Ephesians Paul again says, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the Head of the church….Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in everything…For no man yet hateth his own flesh but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ephesians 5:23-29). Here Paul shows the church to be the wife of Christ whom “He nourisheth and cherisheth.” The same relationship exists between Christ and the church that God would have to exist between husband and wife. (7) The church is also that which Christ nourisheth and cherisheth (Ephesians 5:29). In Acts 2:47, we learn that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (8) The church then is saved. Also (9) those that glorify God “Unto Him (God) be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). God is glorified only in and by the church.
Now let us reason on the nine definitions of the church given above and see if we can be saved out of it.
1. If Christ is the foundation of the church and salvation can be had outside the church then Christ is not the foundation of salvation. See Hebrews 5:8-9. Christ is the “author of eternal salvation.”
2. If the church is Christ’s kingdom and salvation can be had out of the church, one can be saved without being a servant or subject of Christ. Christ is “the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9).
3. The church is the house of God. If salvation
can be found outside the church, God need not have a house. “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2-3).
4. The church is the body of Christ. If one can be saved out of the church, Christ is not his Saviour. “Christ…is the Saviour of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).
5. Christ gave Himself for the church. If one can be saved out of the church, Christ’s blood was not necessary, but was shed in vain. We know that this is not true “…the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:13-14).
6. The church is Christ’s bride. God had declared that if a man cleave into his wife the two become one (Ephesians 5:31). Therefore, to this extent, Christ and His church are one and inseparable. For salvation to he had out of the church would be like a child coming into life by means of only one parent. This cannot be! One might as well try to claim relationship to his father and deny any relationship to his mother as to claim salvation through Christ separate and apart from the church.
7. Christ cherisheth the church. To be saved out of the church would mean salvation without being loved or cherished by Christ. See Galatians 2:20.
8. The saved are added by the Lord to the church. Therefore it would be impossible to be saved and not be a member of the New Testament church. To do so would be for the Lord to fail to do His duty. He adds the saved to the church daily (Acts 2:47).
9. The church constitutes or includes those that glorify God. If one could be saved out of the church, one could be saved without glorifying God. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord”
(1 Corinthians 1:31). “Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). We must glorify God, but it can only be done in and through the church.
We are taught in the New Testament to believe (Mark 16:16 and Hebrews 11:6); to repent (Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9); and to be baptized (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 22:16). When we have completed this primary obedience, we are saved, and the Lord adds us to the church. Proof: We are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27). “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are baptized (buried) to be raised into a new life (Romans 6:4). This new life is in Christ; it is in His body, the church.
The Gospel Witness
SINGING AS WORSHIP
By J.B. Gaither
We are commanded to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). For our worship to be “in truth,” it must be prescribed in God’s word for “thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Paul commanded the church to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 2:17). In Eph. 5:19 there is a like passage. Singing is definitely a part of the worship expected by our Father. All Christians should sing hymns and praises unto God when we meet to worship.
But one may ask, “Can we not also have mechanical instruments of music, too, in our worship?” NO. That is the plainest way I know to answer that question. But the question comes again: “Why can’t we use that kind of music?” Answer: The Lord didn’t authorize it; the apostles didn’t teach it; the early church didn’t practice it. That should be sufficient for any who want to obey the Lord. Too, Paul teaches that “we must walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7). “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6). “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Such music cannot be found or heard from the word of God; hence, it cannot be by faith; therefore, it is sinful to use mechanical instruments of music in our worship unto God. Again, let us worship him “in spirit and in truth.”
“Genesis to Revelation”
J.B. Gaither had a well known sermon he called “Genesis to Revelation.” It was displayed on a large sheet he hung up on the wall. Many congregations requested this sermon for their gospel meeting. He usually preached it on the closing night, and it took more time than the usual sermon.
Thanks to JB’s nephew, Tom Gaither O’Neal, we have a copy of this sermon chart. He drew it off as he sat in the audience at the Downtown Church of Christ in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee in 1953. If you have an audio tape of this sermon, the family would love to have a copy. That chart is shown below.
J.B. Gaither: His Place In Time
by Sandra Gaither Pitchford
Table of Contents... iii
Dedication & Gratitude…... v
John Burgess Gaither – A Man of God.... 1
The Early Years – Lawrenceburg, Tennessee…... 3
New Beginnings – From Tennessee to Ohio..... 11
Full Time Ministry – Gainesboro, Tennessee..... 25
Years of War and Peace – Springfield, Tennessee…... 37
Mission Years: Oneida & Jamestown, Tennessee...... 47
Whitley City & Berea, Kentucky
The Full House Years – Gallatin, Tennessee…... 63
The Empty Nest Years – Bells, Tennessee…... 89
The Golden Years – Liberty at Fayetteville, Tennessee…... 99
“I Have Finished My Course” – The Funeral…... 109
Mary Gaither – Years of Widowhood …... 131
The Gaither Family Today – Our Traditions…... 139
Lasting Influence on the Gaither Family…... 149
Lasting Influence on Friends – Past and Present…...181
Sermons, Articles and Christian Education…... 197
Church Bulletin Excerpts & Favorite Songs…... 233
Stories, Jokes & Quotes..... 249
Taking Time for Clocks…... 263
Talents & Tidbits…... 279
Historical & Political Notes…... 291
His Contemporaries…... 299
Old Paths Revisited – His Children Journey Back in Time…... 309
With All This in Mind…... 393
The 401 pages are packed with photos, and many inserts straight from his daily diaries.Click on book photo above to download a .pdf of the book. However, copies can be purchased from the author at email@example.com. Paperbacks $20 and Hardbacks $30
Add $3.00 shipping please.
Send check to:
Sandra Gaither Pitchford
122 South Dodd Creek Road
Mountain Home, AR 72653
Shortly after JB’s death in 1980, the brethren in his beloved Jackson County decided to establish a fund in his memory that would benefit preacher students. In 1990, the funds were transferred to the family, and a grandson, Ted Williams, maintained the funds for about ten years. In 2000, an endowment was set up at Freed-Hardeman University, named the
“J.B. & Mary Gaither Scholarship Fund.”
Anyone interested in donating to Christian education and keeping alive the memory of J.B. and Mary Gaither, may contribute to this account by sending a gift to:
Office of Development
158 E. Main Street
Henderson, TN 38340-9899
On check memo write: “J.B. & Mary Gaither Scholarship Fund”
Location Of The Grave Of J.B. Gaither
J.B. Gaither is buried in the Crestview Cemetery. The cemetery is located at 1620 Hwy. 109N. in Gallatin, Tennessee. North of Nashville on I-65 take Exit 96/ Vietnam Veterans Parkway/Hwy.386 toward Gallatin. Go to the end of the parkway and continue NE on Hwy. 31E/6 to Gallatin. Get on Hwy 109 bypass north about 4 miles and Crestview Cemetery will be on the right. Enter the cemetery to the right and go until the drive slits. Head to the right and begin looking to the left as you drive around you will need to look for the DRAPER monument. The next one will be the KEEN monument. Between and behind these two is the GAITHER monument.
GPS Coordinates of the Grave Location
or D.d. 36.433067, -86.463583
Cemetery Location Just North Of Gallatin
May 1, 1901
May 21, 1980
Nov. 11, 1909
May 15, 2006
Special Thanks to Sandra Gaither Pitchford for her contributions to the production of this webpage. She worked tirelessly to collect all the information you see here. Her untiring efforts led to the production of a volume on the life of her father, also available in pdf format on this page. Her effort, hands down, makes this page the best webpage on this site. It entails all your webmaster ever dreamed could be done for every preacher on this website. Again, thank you Sandra for your efforts.