GREAT GOSPEL PREACHERS OF THE PAST
(Part 2: Foy E. Wallace, Jr. and G. K. Wallace)
Foy E. Wallace, Jr. (1896-1979). Foy Esco Wallace was born September 30, 1896 near Blanchardville in Montague County, Texas. He was not a Junior in the true sense of the word. His father, a prominent Texas preacher, was Foy Edwin Wallace. When young Foy began preaching at the age of 15, he soon became extremely popular, and since they both had the same middle initial, to distinguish him from his father he became known as Foy E. Wallace, Jr. On November 29, 1914, he married Virgie Brightwell when he was 18 and she was 16. As his passing in 1979, they had been married for 65 years. I first heard Foy E. Wallace, Jr. preach in the late spring or early summer of 1959 while living in Louisville, Kentucky. Brother Wallace came to Louisville to preach in a meeting at the South End Church of Christ, and one evening my wife, less than one year old son, and I went to hear him. I had long known of him and was anxious to hear him. After he had preached for about thirty minutes on “blessed are the poor in spirit,” I concluded that brother Wallace was beginning a series on “The Beatitudes.” He was…but he preached the whole “series” in that one sermon (all, I might add, to my great delight)! It was a sermon that he loved to preach and he delivered it in many, many places. After the services, it was a privilege to meet and visit with him for a few minutes. Some fifteen years later, we had him come to Mobile, Alabama to conduct a meeting at the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ where I was serving as the local minister. What a privilege and joy to hear his masterful messages and to have a most pleasant association with him. One day I drove him to Dauphin Island and then back to Mobile and across Mobile Bay to Spanish Fort where we had a long and leisurely seafood lunch. It would not be possible to be in the company of a kinder, more gracious, more engaging personality than Foy E. Wallace, Jr.! The care he gave his invalid wife through the last several years of his life, as she traveled with him to his meetings, remaining always in the motels/hotels where they stayed while he went about his preaching and visiting, was indeed a thing to behold! The last time I heard him preach was only a year or two before his death when I was living in Shelbyville, Tennessee and he was in a meeting in Morrison, Tennessee. Brother Wallace did local work for a short period of time with churches in Texas and the Central Church of Christ in Los Angeles, but he was in such demand for gospel meetings that he eventually gave up local work to spend all of his time conducting meetings, in which he was eminently successful, often having 50 or more baptisms in his meetings, and not infrequently as many as 100 or more. From 1930 to 1934, he served as editor of the Gospel Advocate in Nashville, Tennessee. He was called on by the brethren to defend the truth in numerous debates with the leading proponents of error. Notable discussions were conducted with Charles M. Neal on premillennialism in Winchester, Kentucky, the Baptist J. Frank Norris in Fort Worth, Dr. E. F. Webber in Oklahoma City, Glenn V. Tingley in Birmingham, as well as many others. He was a voluminous writer. God’s Prophetic Word (showing the egregious errors of premillennialism), Bulwarks of the Faith (refuting the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the doctrines of Protestant denominationalism), Number One Gospel Sermons, Neal-Wallace Discussion (see above), The Mission and Medium of the Holy Spirit, Commentary on the Book of Revelation, The Instrumental Music Question, The One Book Analyzed and Outlined, and others are all classics in their field. When I retired from full-time ministry in 2000, I disposed of a good portion of my library, but I kept all of Foy E. Wallace, Jr.’s works and hope to retain them in my family after my passing. Brother Wallace passed from this life on December 18, 1979 in Hereford, Texas at the age of 83. He is buried in West Park Cemetery in Hereford.
G. K. Wallace (1903-1988). Gervais Knox (G. K.) Wallace was born on September 2, 1903 near McKinney in Collin County, Texas. He was baptized into Christ in 1916 by his older cousin, Foy E. Wallace, Jr. (see above). I first heard G. K. Wallace preach in either the summer of 1954 or 1955 when he came to Florence, Alabama to preach in a meeting at the Poplar Street (now Wood Avenue) Church of Christ. While I was a student at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee, brother Wallace joined the administration and faculty of the school where he quickly became a favorite of the Bible majors. His class on “Denominational Dogmas” was unforgettable, as we used his book Lectures on Denominational Dogmas, consisting of an extensive series of lectures he had given in Vallejo, California in the early 1950s. After sixty years, this book remains a valued volume in my library. Brother Wallace was a superb teacher, having the ability to take the most complex subject, analyze it, and present it in a simple and understandable fashion. He was a master debater and conducted a number of debates with many denominationalists of various stripes (Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, etc.), as well as with a number of digressives and hobbyists in the church. It has been said that G. K. Wallace has more published debates than any other preacher among the churches of Christ. While living in Wichita, Kansas, he established and managed the Maude Carpenter Children’s home. After serving as the local preacher in Wichita and Kansas City, Missouri, brother Wallace spent the rest of his life in evangelistic work, working in college administration, teaching, debating, writing, and lecturing. He appeared on the Bible lectureship programs of nearly all of the colleges connected with the Lord’s church, including thirty-nine years on the annual Bible lectureship of Freed-Hardeman College/University. He served as a staff writer for the Gospel Advocate and wrote for other publications as well. He was outstanding both in debate and in gospel meetings, and these took him all across the country. In the early 1930s, in three meetings in Wayne, Oklahoma, he baptized over 100 people. He baptized all but nine members of the local Methodist church. The Methodist preacher stood on the bank of the pond and cried while brother Wallace baptized his organist! In 1960, brother and sister Wallace (Lillian) came to Knoxville, Tennessee for brother Wallace to preach in a week’s meeting with us at the Karns Church of Christ. They stayed in our home, made themselves at home, and we had a great time. We reminisced about my school days at Freed-Hardeman, studied and visited together, went to the members’ homes for meals, and enjoyed great services each evening, with many visitors (especially preachers) coming from the Knoxville and Oak Ridge area. His Autobiography and Retirement Sermons, inscribed to both Jan and me, and autographed by both him and sister Wallace, remains a valued treasure. The sermons in this book deserved to be read and digested by all young preachers (as well as older ones)! In late October of 1980, brother Wallace listened to the late evening news, went to bed, and woke up the next morning totally deaf. He had suffered a light stroke in the brain stem, but the only damage was the loss of hearing. He learned sign language and became proficient in communicating in this fashion. Though he could not hear a word, he never missed a service of the church during his remaining days on earth. I last saw him at the Fort Worth Lectures in Texas sometime in the early to mid 1980s. He passed from this life on September 22, 1988, twenty days passed his 85th birthday. He is buried in the Hillsboro Memorial Cemetery in Brandon, Florida. G. K. Wallace will always be one of my all-time favorite people to have known.
October 30, 2018