90 Years and Counting

by H. E. “Gene” Whitney
 
Memories of Broadway Church of Christ from 1930 to 2020.

My parents, Henry and Lola Whitney, moved from Paris and Leonard, Texas, to Lubbock in 1923. They soon began attending Broadway Church of Christ, then located in a large brick building at Broadway Street and Avenue N.

I came along in 1930 and, of course, was brought to church as a baby. My earliest memories were of lying in my mother’s lap and looking up at the large, beautiful bronze light fixtures, similar to the ones in the current Broadway building. They had little tassels all around them that were probably brass but looked like silk. They hung on long chains from a high ceiling. After I got a little older, I wondered what would happen if a chain broke; of course, it never did.

Another vivid memory is of one evening after the service when we were standing in the aisle. The preacher, John T. Smith, came along and spoke to my dad. He then bent over slightly and spoke to me. My dad told Brother Smith that he was my favorite preacher because he would pound on the lectern to make a point. I don’t know why but that embarrassed me so much that I am sure that I turned bright red. I remember Brother Smith as a tall, red-haired man with long, orangish-colored shoes.

The Broadway church building during my childhood was an old-style brick building with a half basement for classes. Long, high steps from the sidewalk led to a large porch with entry doors to the main floor. The steps were bordered on both sides with wide concrete bannisters. They reminded one of wide slides, and the more daring kids would actually slide down on them.

My family, including my sister Ina, continued to attend church at Broadway until June 17, 1934. At this time Broadway was the only Church of Christ in Lubbock. Membership had expanded until about 75 members decided that a new church was needed. A remodeled house at the corner of 17th Street and Avenue G was selected; it was known as the 17th and G Church of Christ. As far as I know, no doctrinal differences were involved in this decision, but only expansion of the brotherhood.

My family were among those who decided to make this move. Some of the others were H. C. Bowlin, L. D. Morgan, O. C. Horne, Basil Webb, Clay Turner, Jim Pruitt, Pete Hill, Cecil Wright, and Craig Bond with their families. Albert Smith was selected to be the first full-time preacher.

This new congregation was very successful until its facilities became inadequate. Most of the brethren preferred to resolve this situation by starting another congregation, so about half the membership, under the leadership of Brothers Morgan and Bowlin moved to 8th Street and Avenue T to start a new church. Work began in the spring of 1938. This congregation was known as the Pioneer Park Church of Christ. Again my parents decided to make the move and became plank owners of the Pioneer Park Church of Christ. My father participated in the construction of the first building there.

(As an aside, my parents, along with my sister Ina and her husband Odell Dial and about twenty members, were the first members of the Monterey Church of Christ located at 58th Street and Memphis. My father found the site and built the first temporary building there.)

I continued to attend Pioneer Park until I enlisted in the Navy in 1948. After serving for four years, I returned to Lubbock in 1952. I then began attending Broadway in its present location and have been a member there ever since.

I served as a Deacon for several years and was an active member of several committees. A highlight was being chairman of Class 8, now known as Anchors Class. The class teacher was Floyd Stumbo. We met in the building east and across the alley from our current building. Our class was then called the New Married Class. We have aged a little since then.

The Seventies and Eighties were awesome times at Broadway. Class 8 was seeing very vigorous attendance. Floyd was giving great lessons in class and the Young Married Class members were active, having many get-togethers and class parties. At the same time, the church was very vibrant. We had two morning services and occasionally had to add chairs in the aisles. It was generally believed that Broadway had the largest auditorium between Dallas and Phoenix; some would even say California. Of course, at that time there were fewer churches in Lubbock.
One of my duties was to assist in the selection of ushers and those who would serve communion. Another was to assist in keeping account of class attendance. I served in those positions for over fifty years.

The highlights of these treasured years are the great elders, deacons, and preachers I was privileged to know and love. They are far too many to name here, but I want it to be remembered that I admired and loved each and every one of them, along with all the other members that I was lucky enough to know through the years. According to the list of ministers at Broadway, there have been fifteen from 1898 to the present. I have been blessed to have known and heard all but three.

I would be remiss not to mention our Wednesday singing class. We have been meeting for over thirty years. The emphasis is on worshipping God through the joy of singing, not on perfection. Everyone is welcome. Why not give this class a try?


One Response to “90 Years and Counting”

  1. Tony&Carole Compton says:

    Good article, Gene. I didn’t know you had gone to Broadway since you were a baby. I did remember your parents came from Leonard.
    Miss you!

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