Remembering F.W. Gould by Mel Futrell

     My grandfather, Frank William Gould, was born November 8, 1907, in Vienna, Illinois. He was one of ten children born to William and Flora Gould.

     Frank was baptized by brother Ira A. Douthitt on September 1, 1929. On July 13, 1932, he married my “nanny,” Anna Corzine, of Dongola, Illinois. Frank and Anna would live together as husband and wife for sixty-two years until his death of July 28, 1994. To this union would be born three daughters, the oldest of whom is my mother, Frances Ann Futrell.

A Life of Ministry

     My “Pa Gould” began his local work in Christopher, Illinois in 1934. He preached the gospel for 62 years. During this time he worked with eight different congregations in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee, helping to establish congregations at Cypress and Anna, Illinois.

     It would be his pleasure as a Christian preacher to baptize his father, mother, and several others of his family into Christ. As well as being my grandfather, he was our preacher at the Pyburn Street church of Christ in Pocahontas, Arkansas on two different occasions in my lifetime.

     It is his preaching that I remember most about growing up. I still have notes from his sermons tucked away in a couple of Bibles in my study.  Add to that the seven hundred gospel meetings he conducted in sixteen states, and the fact that he preached during his lifetime over 28 different radio stations and you have just a glimpse of how busy he was.

     I remind you that the gospel meetings held in his days were not the little 3 or 4 day affairs we have now. I find it amazing that at one point in his life he held 50 gospel meetings without a break. When asked by a young gospel preacher how he did this he responded, “I don’t go out and pitch hay with the brethren or sit on the creek fishing all day.”  He was a man who took his study and preaching seriously, and rightfully so.

     As a preacher F.W. Gould was prepared, precise, and prompt. His personal religious library totaled about 800 volumes, with which he was intimately familiar. Countless hours of Bible study and reading manifested itself to one who heard him preach or sat in one of his classes. He could quote from memory much of the New Testament and he never went to the pulpit with notes.

     It was my Pa, more than any other single person, who encouraged me in my memory work and discouraged me on the use of notes in preaching, although I still use a note or two every now and again. These were not matters he bound on others, but did feel strongly about himself.

Expertise in the Book of Hebrews

     Not only was he a preacher and teacher, but also a writer and debater. He had a special interest in the book of Hebrews and studied the book exhaustively. The late brother Franklin Camp wrote of Frank Gould:

“I was in a meeting in Pocahontas, Arkansas. Brother Frank Gould was the (local) preacher. He taught the adult class on Sunday morning.  His lesson was on Hebrews. He gave an outline to the class. It was truly a rich study in Hebrews. Later he came to Shades Mountain and taught in Hebrews in a Vacation Bible School.  He quoted the entire book while teaching classes.  During the meeting, he showed me some other material he had.  It was so rich I suggested he put it in print.  He was not interested, so I asked him if he would allow me to include some of it in The Word of Life.  He agreed for me to use it.  One section of this book is this material. It includes the entire outline of Hebrews. This section is worth the price of the book.” (The Word of Life, Volume 1)

Defending the Faith

     Frank Gould wrote two fine tracts, one titled “Nutsfor Mormons to Crack, and another refuting the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

     He had one public debate with a Baptist named James Ivy in the fall of 1950 in Pocahontas, Arkansas. The debate was held on the fairgrounds in the livestock building and centered around the question, “Is baptism essential to salvation?” My great uncle, Joe Ballenger, taped the proceedings on an old reel to reel recorder but no one has knowledge of the recordings whereabouts. Unfortunately, like many oral debates of the past there is no written record of the event.

     Frank Gould was also one of the privileged few to have attended what is probably known as the debate of the century, the April, 1938 Hardeman-Bogard Debate, held at the building of the Fourth and State Streets church of Christ in Little Rock, Arkansas. I have in my possession an original photograph of him and some 145 other preachers present for the debate. In the picture with him are men such as Joe S. Warlick, J.D. Tant, Joe Blue (Frank Gould conducted brother Blue’s funeral), N. B. Hardeman, E.R. Harper, and many more.

Let Us Be Thankful

     F.W. Gould and his generation of preachers, as well as the generations before him, certainly did not preach for the money. Brethren, it was not there. The truth is, I make more a week for preaching the gospel than he made in several months of preaching under what were difficult circumstances at times.

     Gone are the days, at least in America, when preachers received chickens, pigs, and garden produce as payment for their spiritual services.  Gospel preachers today in the United States should be mighty thankful for the great sacrifices past preachers made to see that their generations heard the gospel. It seems to me that we can do no less as we warm ourselves over the fires they built.

     The most important day of my life was a cold night in February of 1974, when F. W. Gould baptized me into Christ. He encouraged me as a student and preacher of the word and will forever be in my memories. I feel fortunate to have had such a rich preaching heritage on both sides of my family.  My debt of gratitude runs deep to both James Daniel Futrell and F.W. Gould with whom I share the necessity of preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16).