The building that helped Nashville become known as Music City was originally built in 1892 as a place for spiritual awakening — an interdenominational revival house. The auditorium that spread Country Music around the world, was originally intended to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is alive, present, and active in our world. Here’s the little-known history of the Ryman Auditorium.
Thomas Ryman was a Nashville businessman who in 1885 owned a fleet of 35 riverboats and numerous saloons. That year, revivalist Sam Jones, a former alcoholic, was holding tent meetings in Nashville. Because of Jones’ preaching people were encountering Jesus Christ and turning away from alcohol and gambling, two things that Ryman had built his business on.
On May 10, 1885, Ryman went to one of Sam Jones’ tent revivals and found Jesus Christ that night. His life was changed forever. It is said that Ryman immediately ended his gambling business and threw all the alcohol off of his riverboats.
Ryman was so grateful that he decided to build a building big enough to seat everyone who wanted to hear Sam Jones and others share the Gospel so that they wouldn’t have to meet in tents. Ryman’s desire was to help others to “turn away from their wicked ways and save their souls from damnation.” He wanted to see spiritual awakening spread in Nashville.
The building took seven years and about $100,000 to build. It was finished in 1892 and named the Union Gospel Tabernacle. After Thomas Ryman’s death, it was renamed in his honor.
Sometimes I walk around the Ryman and pray that God will fulfill the original purpose of the building by releasing a mighty move of the Spirit in Nashville. I pray that as Country Music spread around the world by taking over the Union Gospel Tabernacle building, so God will release His power and Presence in Nashville and spread it around the world!
If this is also your vision, come seek God with us at The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center, 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207; Sunday mornings @ 10:45 & Thursday nights @ 6:30.