The following historical information related to the legacy Bordeaux UMC was compiled by the TWK Conference Archivist, Gratia Strother. The information was obtained from old newspaper excerpts from The Tennessean and The Nashville Banner, as well as past entries in the legacy Tennessee Annual Conference Journals.

Bordeaux Methodist Episcopal Church, South first appears in the paper in 1913, with all sorts of events being held there. They began as a segregated church for whites. They were not one of the white churches of the northern branch of Methodism – the Methodist Episcopal Church. They allowed community meetings to be held in the church building from their earliest days, and participated in those meetings. They were very ecumenical from the beginning, joining in a Sunday School training organization of regional churches of all denominations and hosting meetings at the church.  They hosted one of the regional women’s groups that supported the war effort during WWI.

By 1934, they had grown enough to have a very active Women’s Missionary Society, church Missionary Society (men and women), girls Methodist League basketball team, etc. They were incredibly involved in the community – hosting events at the two local schools – Bordeaux School (grades 1-8), and Cumberland High School. The church supported the PTA of these schools avidly, providing space in the church building for some of their meetings, the pastor speaking about mother and child relationships at their meeting, hosting a parliamentary procedure class at the church for them, etc. They had revivals, one in which 26 or 28 people were added to the church. 

They had Christmas programs and Thanksgiving prayer meetings where the community was invited, and attended open to the community events as a church at other Methodist and other denomination churches. They had a laymen’s association, forerunner to United Methodist Men, that met regularly. These groups all worked to meet needs in the community and grow spiritually. They sponsored Boy Scout Troop #22.  This troop met at the church and men of the church were their leaders. They did programs on such things as smoking prevention, camping, and participated in a community program to greet Eleanor Roosevelt when she visited the State Capitol. This troop actually served as safety guards at the Bordeaux School to help children cross the road safely when school was out. They had an Epworth Society (of the Epworth League) for the teens in the 1910s and 1920s. At the end of 1934, they reached 200 members, with at least 60 in Sunday School weekly on average.

In 1939, they became part of the newly formed denomination, “The Methodist Church.” In WWII they sent their boys off to war, some of whom died. In the 1950’s there were many weddings at Bordeaux, wedding showers and baby showers, and some funerals as well. In 1953 the church had 417 members with an average Sunday School attendance of 191. As was common at the time, a “womanless wedding” program in February 1951, most likely as a fundraiser. They hosted the Bordeaux Home Demonstration Club at the church in the 1950s as well.  Bordeaux appears to thrive through the 1950’s into the mid 1960’s.

Because of the passage of the Civil Rights bill in 1954, more opportunities for Black property ownership in traditionally white neighborhoods started to expand. In 1957, Nashville schools began desegregation, one grade per year, starting in first grade. But desegregation wasn’t completed until Nashville and Davidson County, who established a metropolitan government in 1964, implemented forced desegregation and began integrated bus transportation over the 1970-1971 and 1971-72 school years. This was the largest period of “white flight” out of Metro Nashville to the surrounding counties and exclusive white private schools. Bordeaux, which began as a mostly white community, transitioned to a community that today is 79% black, and much more diverse than it was in 1957.

In the 1960’s, Bordeaux Methodist has fewer than ten newspaper articles about spiritual activities, and some wedding and funeral notices. In 1970, the church had 296 members with average Sunday School attendance of 100. By 1980, they were on the Bordeaux-Jordonia charge with 2 churches on the charge, and Bordeaux has an average attendance of 80, with an average of 55 in Sunday School.  By 1990, there was an average attendance of 60, with 38 in Sunday School. In 1996, Bordeaux closed, and the property transferred to Ernest Newman UMC