JACKSON, Tenn. – Oct. 4, 2002– They cover the span of almost a lifetime – some worn and tattered, others in pristine condition, but all representing a piece of the legendary Southern Baptist pastor, Franklin Paschall. More than 4500 of the books Rev. Paschall collected during his three decades of ministry at First Baptist Church in Nashville were recently given to Union University, his alma mater, and dedicated as part of Union’s R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies library.
Considered by many to be a giant in Southern Baptist life, Paschall served during a significant time in the 1960s, both as SBC president and a Baptist pastor in a major city such as Nashville just as the civil rights movement was in full swing.
“Dr. Paschall had to deal with the racial and civil rights issues and handle the challenges of racial integration in the church, a tough problem to tackle, particularly in Nashville,” said Frank Lewis, the current pastor of First Baptist, Nashville, and where Paschall is still a member. “The way he was able to guide our city through that was significant.”
Works of Plato, the Cambridge edition, technical commentaries, books of sermons from George Truett to John Gill, and even a number of book of records such as histories of specific counties in Tenn., stand on the shelves, a model of what a pastor’s library should be, says Ray Van Neste, director of the R.C. Ryan Center and instructor of Christian Studies at Union.
“This is a great example to our students of a collection of serious reading as well as a model of a breadth of reading,” said Van Neste. “It’s absolutely essential for pastoral students to understand the importance of having a good book collection – the electronic format will never replace a good book.”
The collection also includes books from W.E. Powell, Paschall’s predecessor at First Baptist, and spans five decades from the 1920s to the 1980s.
“I owe a lot to Union,” said Paschall, a 1944 Union graduate, addressing the group of fellow pastors, friends and family who gathered for the collection’s dedication. “It was a big step for me when I came. I owe all of my college experiences to my dad – he’d heard preachers who were students at Union, and because of their example, he knew this was the school I needed to go to.”
His pastoral legacy is continuing through his family. Grandson Rev. Lynn Paschall is pastor of New Hope in Paris, and one great nephew, John Charles Paschall, a 1998 graduate, is music minister at First Baptist, McKenzie.
Now at age 81, Paschall is still known for his witty sense of humor, and his keen mind in quoting scripture and never using notes for his sermons.
“I had a good feeling when I decided to give my books to Union,” said Paschall. “But when the books were transported, it was one of the lowest moments of my life having to say goodbye to them. They represent so many people and experiences I had throughout my ministry. You do get personally and emotionally involved with your books.
“This is a special day,” added Paschall. “I pray a lot of good may come to students through these books.”
Sara B. Horn,