(This article of reflections complements two related items about the late Marshall Leggett that appear in our August 2020 issue: “Marshall Leggett: Faithful Minister in God’s Service,” by Gene Wigginton, and “Remembering Marshall Leggett,” a collection of remembrances by several Christian leaders.)
By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind. One of the stories is humorous and the other one illustrates his great education and intelligence. (An abbreviated version of the first story appears in our August 2020 issue.)
An Unusual Sense of Humor
When Marshall was minister of the Broadway Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, he often would invite me there to preach. On one occasion I was conducting a weeklong revival for him and arrived rather late for one of the evening services. I had some trouble finding a place to park and ended up leaving my car in a corner of the lot. As I stepped out of the car, I noticed several signs that said these parking places were for people who were attending services at the Broadway Christian Church. Offenders who parked illegally would be “apprehended and baptized immediately.”
I learned that a local organization had a building very near the Broadway lot and that the group’s members would often take many of the parking places. Everyone laughed at the sign—but it worked!
Many people in Lexington became aware of the signs and joked about them. This, of course, made the signs even more effective.
Marshall Leggett’s unusual sense of humor helped him solve many problems. This man knew how to make humor effective.
The Master Historian
A second incident occurred when I found myself in a very uncomfortable position with a group of people from our brotherhood.
I had just preached a sermon at an important meeting of our leaders. Folks from local churches also were invited, and several hundred attended. As I concluded my message, I appealed to the attendees to be more understanding toward people from the denominational world concerning our stand on Christian baptism. I assured them that I believed in the New Testament and knew that baptism was by immersion for the purpose of the remission of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. However, I suggested we use patience in teaching those who seem not to recognize the importance of this doctrine.
I reminded my audience that Thomas Campbell had not yet surrendered to Christian baptism when he wrote his famous “Declaration and Address.” This discourse became the foundation of our Restoration Movement. Then I reminded those present that Alexander Campbell, the son, had not been baptized when he first came to the United States. In fact, I said, both Thomas and Alexander weren’t scripturally baptized until some years later.
When I concluded, I was approached by a group of angry people who informed me the Campbells were baptized believers all the way back in their history. I was told I was not a Christian, I should not be in the ministry, and I did not know what I was talking about.
Then along came Marshall Leggett. He commanded silence and then he spoke to the group. He quoted the exact date of the Campbells’ baptisms. He gave the name of the preacher who immersed them and the time of day. He named the other family members who were baptized at the same time. He even gave the names of some of the witnesses to the service.
That settled it. A master historian had spoken. The critics grew quiet and then left. I was grateful to Marshall. The incident illustrated his simple but extremely intelligent way of presenting the facts of the Restoration Movement and New Testament Christianity.
Find his books and his writings. Make sure you have them in your church library. Better yet, buy them for your home. They will always be practical and up to date.
Marshall Leggett was a humble giant in our brotherhood, and he was one of the few who seemed to have the ability to be simple and intellectual at the same time.
Ben Merold serves as teaching pastor with Harvester Christian Church, St. Charles, Missouri.