Colored Church to Have Tent Meeting.




A Thursday, May 17, 1934 Florence Tribune notice for an upcoming tent meeting by evangelist Marshal Keeble at the East Alabama Street Church of Christ.

In 1927 noted black Church of Christ evangelist Bro. Marshal Keeble conducted a gospel meeting in Florence at which, according to anecdotal tradition of the congregation, a “Sister Rowell” (whose employer, white druggist Charles M. Southall was a member of the Polar Street Church of Christ) was converted and baptized. Mrs. Rowell began attending services in a segregated room at the white Poplar Street Church of Christ. Mrs. Rowell was thus the first member of the East Alabama Church of Christ, founded the next year.

At some point in 1928 at a gospel meeting conducted by Marshal Keeble, ten converts joined Mrs. Rowell, converted the previous year, in worshiping in a segregated room at the white Poplar Street Church of Christ. This fledgling group became the nucleus of the East Alabama Church of Christ, named after the location of the building purchased by the congregation that same year after a few months meeting in a rental building.. In the 1960s the congregation relocated to West Mobile Street as the Westside Church of Christ and now exists as the Eastside Church of Christ, located at 600 East Tombigbee Street in Florence.

The Church of Christ is one of three main branches of the 19th c. Christian reform and unity movement known as the Stone-Campbell Movement--the other two are the Disciples of Christ and Independent Christian Churches.

The Stone-Campbell Movement, known to its leaders as "the Reformation" or "the Current Reformation," was a 19th century Christian reform and unity movement created with the union of former Presbyterian Barton W. Stone's (of Cane Ridge Revival fame in 1801) "Christians" and former Presbyterians, Irish immigrants and father-son team Thomas and Alexander Campbells' "Disciples of Christ" in 1832. The movement, dedicated to a union of Christians upon the essentials of the ancient faith, would eventually split by 1906 over sectional differences held over from the Civil War as well as doctrinal issues.

With no denominational hierarchy or national headquarters to decide such issues, matters such as slavery, secession and support for the Civil War were left up to individual congregations (which were largely autonomous, led by elders and deacons appointed by these churches) to decide, though some leaders were outspoken for or against these issues. While against slavery on moral/ethical grounds (but not scriptural grounds, as the NT doesn't expressly condemn slavery), and both Stone and the Campbells having freed their slaves, the founders nevertheless were not abolitionists. Thus, despite the teaching of some influential 19th century leaders that segregation in the church was wrong, Churches of Christ existed as segregated streams, and still do for the most part.




Lee Freeman


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“Colored Church to Have Tent Meeting.,” Shoals Black History, accessed March 1, 2024,