Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
R. C. HORNER
Rufus Calvin Horner, son of Thomas and Catherine Horner, was born in Jefferson (now Hawkins) County, Tenn., April 4, 1822. His grandfather, William Horner, was one of the constituent members (1785) of the old Bent Creek (now the `Vhitesburg) Church. He came from North Carolina to Eastern Tennessee, during the early settlement of the new country. In youth and young manhood Calvin Horner had few opportunities to secure an education. In his twenty-first year he went to school four months. From that time on he kept up his studies, and taught some. At the age of 26, in a meeting held by Woodson Taylor and Samuel Jones, at Robertson's Creek Church, he was converted, and in 1854 he was baptized by Elias Wester into the fellowship of Mount Zion Church, Hawkins County, where he kept his membership the rest of his life. January (first Saturday), 1856, he was licensed to preach, and that night preached his "first" sermon. In September, 1857, he was ordained, Elders Andrew Coffman and Thos. J. Lane acting as a presbytery.
Elder Horner was pastor of his home church (Zion, or Mt.. Zion) for thirty-five years. He was pastor of Robertson's Creek, at different times, some fifteen years, and of Poplar Spring and Cedar Creek, ten or eleven years. He was also pastor, at different times, of Cloud's Creek, Whitesburg, Catherine Nenny, Pleasant Hill, Speedwell, Hickory Cove, Liberty, Persia, Grigsby's Chapel, County Line, and other churches. Brother Horner felt that he was "not called to be an evangelist, but to be pastor and indoctrinate the churches"; his "gifts" were in this line. He also thought the evangelist, as a rule, "ought not to take charge of churches, but aid the pastors in special meetings."
Brother Horner was twice married, and raised a splendid lot of children. December 4, 1847, he was married to Sarah Ann Cockraham, a daughter of Daniel H. C., Esq., of Hawkins County. His second marriage (December 16, 1868) was to Nancy Robertson, of the same county.
"Uncle Calvin Horner," as he was familiarly called for many years, stood for righteousness, and had the confidence of the people. Everybody believed in him,. His style and manner of preaching was~ thoughtful and methodical ; he was a doctrinal preacher, and a close reasoner. His idea of preaching was that it should be sound, plain and practical. He read the old standards in theology-Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian, but the reading of the Bible moulded his doctrinal beliefs and shaped his ministerial life. He counted himself a "land-mark Baptist."
In the Minutes Of the Nolachucky Association for 1904 is the following: "Elder R. C. Horner, of Mt. Zion, one of her oldest and most useful members, has been called home the past year. He was one of the strongest and most effective ministers and pastors in the Association. He died with the amor on and went home to God." (Com. on Obituaries.)
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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