Deason Church becomes Iglesia De Cristo
BY MARK MCGEE
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
The Deason Church Christ building on Highway 231 has reopened after being abandoned for the past five years. Through a series of events the church, which opened in 1905, is filled with songs of worship and teachings from The Bible now as a Hispanic Church of Christ (Iglesia De Cristo En Deason).
“It is a Romans 8:28 thing,” said Jeff Adcock, associate minister of the Fosterville Church of Christ and the liaison as the two churches work together.
The Fosterville Church of Christ had been considering missionary possibilities. Elders Carter Woodruff, Craig Lynch, and Winston Brothers agreed the Deason church reopening was the project they wanted to pursue. Jayse Pruitt is serving the Fosterville congregation as the pulpit minister.
Fosterville, a church with approximately 50 members, is providing financial support to the Deason church. Luis De Osio, 43, serves as the minister of “Iglesia De Cristo en Deason”.
“It is a big step for the Fosterville church,” Adcock said. “We had some monies given to us through the years to support mission work.
“The idea of doing something locally where you could be involved in a hands-on and personal situation appealed to us. The congregation thought it would be good.”
The congregation, which averages between 33 and 37 attendees each week, was originally based at the Walnut Hills Church of Christ in Tullahoma. Walnut Hills was dealing with dwindling numbers and an aging congregation. It was decided to sell the church and its property. A foundation which controls the proceeds from the sale distributed one-seventh of the support to the Deason congregation.
Former members of Wilson Avenue will soon be reviving a monthly bi-lingual service with “Iglesia De Cristo En Deason”.
“Wilson Avenue was struggling,” De Osio said. “We had been there for a year and eight months before they closed.”
Adcock called it “a God thing” harking back to Romans 8:28 which brought the two congregations together.
“We were at an area wide youth meeting at Fairfield Church of Christ in September of 2022, “Adcock said. “We had some Hispanic families in Fosterville. I thought if we were going to reach all of the families in the neighborhood we were going to have to find a way to accommodate them.
“The elders had suggested to me why we couldn’t start a bi-lingual, Hispanic church in the community. Chris Bobo and Jim Gibson introduced me to Luis. It was God’s will. The reason I was invited to Fairfield was they needed a song leader.”
Luis, at the age of 16, moved to Middle Tennessee from Monterey. Mexico to assist his uncle Clemente Castorena with his work in establishing Hispanic Churches of Christ in the area.
Originally starting work as a youth minister he attended the Grandview School of Preaching in Nashville for several years and was the minister for the Hispanic congregation at Walnut Hills. Luis is married to Nora and they have three children – Luis Jr. and twin sister Sidny, and daughter Lindy, a freshman at Freed-Hardeman University.
The Fosterville Church of Christ had been considering missionary possibilities. Elders Carter Woodruff, Craig Lynch and Winston Brothers agreed the Deason church reopening was the project they wanted to pursue. Jayse Pruitt is serving the Fosterville congregation as the pulpit minister.
Jackie Vannatta, a member of the Deason Church of Christ, agreed to have the Hispanic congregation start meeting in the building. He first discussed the possibility with Woodruff who had made the original suggestion about pursuing the location. Later a meeting with around nine members from the church in the fall of 2022 sealed the deal.
“It was a blessing,” Vannatta said. “It was great. They really looked at it close.
“No one individual owned the church. Shelbyville attorney John T. Bobo did the paperwork and we signed it over to the Fosterville church. We were very excited.”
A stone step at one of the entrances is carved with the date “1905” indicating the start of the congregation.
Vannatta explained there were meetings in the fall of 2019 to determine options for the building after its closure earlier that summer. There were discussions at the time about starting services again, but church memberships were decreasing at many established congregations.
In addition, Vannatta estimated it would cost $75,000 to $100,000 to make repairs needed to start meeting there again. Another option fell through and then the Fosterville elders called.
“There is a lot of history there,” Vannatta said. “It was really in bad shape. We wanted to do something about it before it just rotted away.”
It was not an easy start. Like most building which have been unused for a long time, there was deterioration of the interior and the need for extensive work before “Iglesia De Cristo En Deason” could start meeting there.
“We got the air on and the plumbing working so we could meet,” Adcock said. “It has all worked out for good. It worked out for the old members from Deason to see their building not go away. It worked out for Luis and the congregation.
“It worked out for me personally because the people in this church have accepted me and are like family to me. And it worked out for Fosterville to have something to do to spread the Gospel.”