History of the Restoration Movement

Highland Home College

Highland Home, Alabama

The Restoration Movement In Central And South Alabama

The gospel of Christ began to be preached in this section of Alabama, even as in the states to the north, in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and other states and places. It seems that the earliest preacher to bring this message here was Dr. W. H. Hooker who proclaimed the New Testament as the basis of an intelligent faith, free from the emotional, sectarian doctrines and practices that dominated the religious thinking of the times. Dr. Hooker called upon his hearers to return to the inspired apostolic teachings of the gospel of our Lord, to restore the simplicity of the worship and of the work of the church of the Lord. He taught plainly against the corrupted ways of the divided, emotional doctrines that had developed from the days of Luther, Calvin, Wesley and their followers. He taught his hearers to unite in a common faith, in obedience to Christ's teachings, united as Christians, in one body, thus to pattern the church after the model of the New Testament church.

Into this community of Sellers, located about twenty miles south of Montgomery, had come in the early 1820s, a young lady named Mary (Polly) Lumpkin. She became one of the hearers of Dr. Hooker's preaching of New Testament Christianity. She was a devout student of the Bible who readily accepted this rational approach to New Testament truth and obedience to the gospel of Christ as the way of salvation that Jesus Christ had provided for all mankind. The position of influence of this pious and refined young lady was such that when she accepted this Justus M. Barnes gospel teaching, and was baptized, that sixty others followed her example in becoming Christians, too. These made up the beginning of what was to become the congregation at Strata. It was a beginning of the Lord's work that has spread through this section for the past century and a half, resulting in the salvation of thousands of souls and the establishing of hundreds of churches of Christ.


In 1830 Elkanah Barnes married Mary Lumpkin. They made their home on the Barnes plantation south of Sellers and about five miles north of Rocky Mount. Here a son was born to Elkanah and Mary (Polly) Lumpkin Barnes on February 10, 1836, whom they named Justus McDuffie Barnes.

This son "Mack" Barnes was trained at home, then in three academies operated by cultured old-time school masters who inspired him to seek higher learning. Young "Mack Barnes" was sent to Bethany College, located at Bethany, Virginia, a college established by Thomas and Alexander Campbell. No doubt this decision was the influence of his religious mother. He finished Bethany in two years, graduating with high honors in the spring of 1856. He returned home to Alabama. After earnest family conferences, which recognized the community need for a school, Elkanah Barnes decided to build one. He built with his own finds, on his own land, a commodious frame school building, in which their own son could operate his own school.


This new school, which would exercise so much and so wide an influence, began operation with thirteen pupils on September 8, 1856 under the direction of twenty year old J. M. Barnes. It was a private school, financed by the Barnes family, and by only small fees. None was turned down who could not afford to attend and all young men who planned to be preachers of the gospel attended free. The purpose was to teach academic courses and the Bible was emphasized as God's truth. Brother J. M. Barnes was soon joined in teaching by two brothers-in-law, Samuel Jordan and Col. Kirkpatrick, constituting one of the best faculties for such a school in the south, and their students soon became very successful in many fields of endeavor, as well as in the work of the Lord in the church. Strata Academy continued to grow from 1856 until 1880 when spells of "chills" and yellow fever developed in the community that led to the decision to move the school to the ridge south of Rocky Mount where the new town of Highland Home with new school buildings, dormitories, new homes for the families of Barnes, Jordan, Kirkpatrick, faculties, patrons and friends, together with a pretty church house, were all erected. The name was changed to Highland Home Institute, the enrollment increased each session and the recognition became more and more.


The strong faculty, the growing stature, and increasing enrollment led to the name change. Other changes were also made. Greater emphasis was given in some ways to Bible teaching. The same nature as a private school was maintained, the same low fees continued, and the same encouragement and help were given to young men who desired to become gospel preachers. These changes came in 1891. This was the year of the beginning of the Nashville Bible School, under the leadership of James A. Harding and David Lipscomb, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Now David Lipscomb College) Highland Home College, together with the work of the former years, touched the lives of thousands of people, influencing them with the teaching of the gospel of Christ and leading them in The Restoration Of New Testament Christianity. The many outstanding teachers, educators, gospel preachers, and Christian workers associated with J. M. Barnes and the school during the period of its great service, accomplished so much good to the salvation of souls and to the glory of God, that eternity alone may determine them all, but we are deeply thankful for the good and the happiness contributed through them to bless the lives, homes, churches, of such a vast area of our country and so many people. Many circumstances of the pressure of change of the times, the coming of World War I, and more, seemed all to make necessary the closing of the college in December, 1915. Thank God for those good years and abundant blessings and marvelous growth of His Kingdom!

-Clyde E. Fulmer, The Alabama Restoration Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 2, June 1, 2007, page 16,17

Operated By J.M. Barnes, Samuel Jordan, & M.L. Kirkpatrick

Location Of Highland Home College, Now Highland Home Public School

Just South Of Campus, Teachers Residents And Dormitory
Now A Private Residence

Church of Christ At Highland Home

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