The History of Lindenwood
People interested in establishing a Christian Church in Memphis began gathering in 1843, not long after the city was settled, under the leadership of B.F. Hall. Memphis Christian Church was the sixth church established in the city. The congregation built its first permanent building in 1853 at Linden and Mulberry St., becoming Linden Street Christian Church.
During the first twenty years, new Christians were baptized in the Mississippi River, first at the end of Beale Street and later across the river on the Arkansas side where it was safer.
At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, there were about 22, 650 people living in Memphis. After Union forces captured Memphis in 1862, the church’s building was used for soldiers’ quarters so that the congregation had to meet elsewhere for the duration of the war.
Following the war, Yellow Fever outbreaks took many thousands of lives, including many of the Linden Street congregation.
In 1889, the church counted 388 members and had 600 by 1905. In 1906, the name of the church was changed to Linden Avenue Christian Church as the city changed all the east-west streets to avenues.
The congregation has a long and honorable history of strong mission engagement locally and especially in the world through the wider church, strong and dedicated women, and a history of starting new congregations all over Memphis.
In 1954 the congregation moved to Union and Parkway, changing the name to Lindenwood Christian Church (“Linden” in recognition of its past on Linden Avenue and to honor Pastor Wood).
In 1958, there were 1813 members, Sunday School attendance of 905, and worship attendance of 1014. The $850,000 twenty-year mortgage was retired in less than three and one-half years. In 1962 a new building for education and other purposes was added. In 1966, the sanctuary was constructed.
Though the congregation had 14 ministers in the 19th century, it had only six between 1900 and 2010. James Christensen’s relatively short stay (1968-74) could be seen as an “unintentional interim” as he followed the very long and very popular ministry of Tom Wood. This phenomenon of a lengthy popular ministry being followed by a very short and turbulent ministry is very common .
Ministers of Memphis Christian, Linden Street, Linden Avenue, Lindenwood Christian Church 1843 through 2017:
1847-1852 – B. F. Hall
1853-1855 – Robert E. Chew
1855-1862 – W. J. Barbee
1863-1865 - R. A. Cook
1865-1868 – T. W. Caskey
1868-1869 – Curtis I. Smith
1869-1878 – David Walk
1879-1882 – J. M. Trimble
1883-1885 – George W. Sweeny
1886-1888 – John B. Briney
1888-1892 – J. W. Ingram
1892-1895 – John A. Brooks
1895-1897 – W. E. Ellis
1897-1899 – W. D. Rice
1900-1916 – W. H. Sheffer
1916-1937 – Walter M. White
1937-1968 – Howard Thomas Wood
1968-1974 – James L. Christensen
1974-2007 – C. Roy Stauffer
2009-2012 – Ron M. Buck
2013-2015 - William T. McConnell
2015 - Present - Virzola Law