Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 16, 1964
NUMBER 10, PAGE 4,16a

Some Old Letters


As most readers of this journal know, the editor's mother, Nannie Yater Tant, finished her earthly course nearly three years ago. While we have long since gone through most of her papers and personal effects, there was one particular collection of old letters which had not been carefully examined until a few weeks ago. And among the ancient and yellowing documents in this file were found some carbon copies of two or three ancient letters which we believe might be of great interest. We do not know how or when or why these carbon copies were made; but in view of the present concern with "orphan homes," these old letters are significant.

The first written to John W. Fry is signed by F. B. Srygley and F. W. Smith, but was obviously written by Srygley. Here it is:

Nashville, Tennessee March 11, 1910

Dear Brother Fry:

I have not felt satisfied with your understanding of my position on the Orphan Home proposition, and since talking with Bro. Smith, I feel that it is but just to you to write you by way of explanation.

As I understand the Church question, a thing of this kind cannot be thrown upon it for support, or even the ownership of it without recognizing a denomination. The Church of the New Testament is not a denomination. Bro. Boaz's "Christian Brotherhood" is a thing unknown to the New Testament.

Bro. Smith and I, after thinking over the matter, have decided you had perhaps a better idea of its ownership and control than the majority of those present.

As we understand the matter, there is no organization or institution known to the Word of God for caring for the Orphan, or any other religious work outside the local congregation; therefore, we had as well put a restrictive clause in selling a farm as to put it into your Orphan Home.

F. B. Srygley, F. W. Smith.

The second letter, also to Brother Fry, was a short note by J. C. McQuiddy:

Nashville, Tennessee March 11, 1910

Dear Bro. Fry:

I have read your notice of the Tennessee Orphan Home, and I see nothing in it to which to object. If I were you, I think I would not put the Orphan Home under the control of the Church. The Trustees should be able to control it.

Yours fraternally, J. C. McQuiddy.

The third ancient carbon copy though not dated was obviously written at a much later date, and is as follows:

In order to protect Tenn. Orphan Home from digression, the following clause is in the deed made to the Home. Of course, it was understood the Home was chartered under the laws of Tenn., the same as Fanning Orphan School and D. L. College. Everyone who has read the clause has decided T. O. H. is well protected:

"It is understood the consideration of this conveyance is that each and every Director who is a member of the Church of Christ shall in no manner be connected with congregations who use man's devices, such as instrumental music, societies, or other unscriptural means for carrying on the worship and work of God." The above clause is copied from the deed, and the letters are likewise copied from the originals, and all are recorded in the T.O.H. Record Book.

Sincerely, John W. Fry, Pres't &

Treas., Tennessee Orphan Home.

While there are many details of the picture that are missing, we can nevertheless understand some facts quite clearly from these old documents:

1. Brother Srygley and Brother Smith, from the very beginning, of the modern day "orphan home" institutions (T.O.H. the first of such was organized in 1909) entertained most serious doubts and questions as to the scriptural right of such organizations to be "thrown upon the church for support" or ownership:,) They believed there was "no organization or institution known to the Word of God for caring for the Orphan, or any other religious work outside the local congregation."

So, here we have a couple of ancient Gospel Advocate "Johnny-come-latelies" questioning the benevolence societies nearly a full half-century before the Gospel Guardian had anything to say about them! Do you suppose these ancient "orphan haters" were subjected to the same abuse, vilification, hatred and misrepresentation as befell a later generation of gospel preachers who happened to share their misgivings?

2. Brother J. C. McQuiddy saw nothing to which to object in the "notice" Brother Fry had given, but felt that the Orphan Home should NOT be under the control of "the Church. We wonder just what sort of apparatus would have been necessary to have made the Home the property of "the church of Christ"? We understand clearly how denominational bodies can own property, execute legal documents, issue official pronouncements; but how can the Lord's church do such? What "machinery" does the church have for such a "brotherhood's action?

3. The letters and the restrictive clause were all made, a part of the official records of T.O.H. The wording of the restrictive clause intrigues us. Do you suppose there were some directors, or some contemplated who were NOT members of the Church of Christ? The clause would seem to imply that such might be the case.

4. The only members of the Church of Christ who could qualify to serve as Directors would be such men as are not connected with congregations who use instrumental music, "societies," etc. Now, since many of the brethren are arguing that "the church is its own missionary society, but is not its own benevolence society": and, hence: are defending the existence and use of "benevolence societies," then it would seem to follow that the only men who could qualify to serve as Directors of these organizations would have to come from, among those congregations branded as "anti"!

Thus, by their own "restrictive clause" the promoters of such an institution would put the organization under the directorship of men who believe it to be unscriptural for such an organization to receive support from the churches.

Now IF Tennessee Orphan Home is ready for an honest and forthright administration of its own restrictive clause, then we are not adverse to pledging the Guardian's support and encouragement of such an institution...a benevolent society controlled and directed by men who will divorce it completely from any dependence on or connection with the Lord's church.

— F. Y. T.