The little community of Fosterville in southernmost Rutherford County, once a bustling railroad hub of agriculture and commerce, owes its very existence to the steam-powered locomotive, but faith soon became the real driving force that kept its families going through good times and bad.
Children and youth of Fosterville Church of Christ hold photographs of the town’s past with Minister Jeff Adcock (left) and Vaction Bible School Director Carter Woodruff. (Photo by J. Fagan)
The beginnings of Fosterville and its Church of Christ go hand-in-hand, with many of its current members tracing their family histories through more than 150 years and several generations of service to the church.
This long history of steel rails and enduring faith will be on display when the congregation once again holds its annual Vacation Bible School from 7:00 pm until 8:30 p.m. Monday, June 25, through Friday, June 29, offering children and adults alike “the ride of a lifetime on the Kingdom Express.”
Bible classes for all ages will be provided, and refreshments will be served after the lesson each evening.
According to song leader Carter Woodruff, the Fosterville Depot was the largest shipping hub for sheep and cattle in Rutherford County at one time and boasted two general stores, a large storehouse for wool, and several section houses for railroad workmen.
“This year’s railroad theme gave us the chance to tell the story of Fosterville as well, adding a local historical aspect for all who join us this year,” minister Jeff Adcock said. “Members of the congregation have helped us compile old photographs and documents from Fosterville’s railroading past, which we’ve enlarged, and they will line the walls of the church and fellowship hall.”
Speaking with Adcock, it takes little time to realize he is a history buff, who is proud of his Fosterville and Christiana upbringing, and his face lights up in fascination with each telling of his community’s history.
He is the ninth generation of his family to serve at Fosterville Church of Christ, tracing his family history in the church to one Eudora Edwards, an original member when the church began meeting in 1867 and whose father, J.A. Elam, was baptized at a gospel meeting near Bell Buckle.
The congregation’s iconic white church near the railroad tracks was begun in 1886 with a donation of land from Harb Gilmore, and E.A. Elam, later a longtime president of Lipscomb University, preached its dedication service in 1889.
Gilmore was an ancestor of current member Craig Lynch, and he and his wife, Pam (Bingham) Lynch, can trace both sides of their families through six generations of members, with their daughter and granddaughter making generations seven and eight.
Hunter Brothers, another of Craig’s relatives, is seen in one photo leaning out the window of a steam locomotive in his engineer’s cap.
For Pam, the congregation has been and always will be a family no matter their blood relation.
“It has always given me great comfort to know this church has such a solid foundation to fall back on in tough times,” she said. “No matter what we are all going through, we take care of each other and that’s what allows us to heal, even when things seem as bad as they can get.”
A history of the Fosterville Community published in 1986, titled “Brothers And Others,” includes a history of the church and notes the congregation’s pride in its historic building.
“Although we recognize the fact that it is the people who are the church, many of us here at Fosterville are quite sentimental about our little white church building,” it reads. “If you can imagine a typical old-fashioned country church, (one you might see on a snow scene Christmas card), nestled at the foot of a range of hills, with a slender cupola reaching heavenward; white and clean; quiet and restful, and inviting you to come in and really commune with God; that’s our Church building!”
“The church’s history and my family history seem to run parallel with the coming of the railroad to Fosterville,” Adcock said. “I look forward to the day when the train will stop once again for Fosterville passengers in a more progressive age, and we will continue to have the gospel for them when they come.”