HISTORY OF DRY CREEK BAPTIST CHURCH
Kenton County, Kentucky
By S. P. Brady, Clerk of the Association
The Baptist Church at Dry Creek, Campbell (now Kenton) county, Ky., was constituted according to their "Records," on the 19th day of July, A. D. 1800, by the assistance of the church at Bullittsburg and the church at the mouth of Licking. After having first given themselves to the Lord and to each other by the will of God, they were constituted on the doctrine of grace as set forth in the "Philadelphia Confession of Faith."
The helps from Bullitsburg were, John Taylor, William Cave, Jeremiah Kirtley and William Conner; from mouth of Licking not named. The only names recorded who went into the constitution were, John Leathers, Adam Glore, Margaret Glore, Moses Vickers and Mary Vickers; but from other sources we learn that they were constituted with an aggregate of twenty-two members.
They adopted rules of order, recognizing the instructions or law of the Saviour as given in the 18th chapter of Matthew as the basis of church discipline. From the date of constitution until 1805, their records have been lost; but we learn that Moses Vickers, shortly after their organization, was licensed to preach, and in June, 1802, was ordained to the Gospel ministry, and served the Church many years acceptably in that capacity. In 1803, at the formation of "North Bend Association" at Dry Creek, this Church went into that organization, reporting forty-five members, having previously appointed Moses Vickers, John Leathers and Leonard Crisler as delegates. At the meeting of the Association in 1804, they reported fifty-two as their number; and in 1805 the Minutes of the North Bend Association show that they had received by experience and baptism thirty-four, and by letter six, making the total membership of the church ninety.
From the commencement they adopted the plan of raising by free donation a fund, to be kept in the hands of the deacons, to meet the demands and expenses of the Church, and also to assist in defraying the expenses of delegates to corresponding associations.
In 1807 the preaching gifts of Joshua and Benjamin W. Leathers were taken into consideration, at which time they were requested to attend on the two Sabbaths in the month not occupied, to engage in public worship in any manner they might feel disposed; and, for their further encouragement, the Church by a vote agreed to meet with them. In 1810 they built their second house of worship, a frame 24 by 30 feet, at a cost of about four hundred dollars. Their first, we are informed, was a log house, which stood not far from their present location. In 1812 they dismissed twelve members, to go into the constitution of a church at the Forks of Gunpowder. Among the number we see the names of Lewis Conner, Lewis Crisler, Allen Crisler and Abram Vaughn. In 1814 Moses Vickers was dismissed by letter, and joined the church at the Forks of Gunpowder, when William Thompson was called to the care of the church.
In 1816, when emigration was rapidly extending westward (we here quote from the records), "the Church took up the subject as regards missionary operations, and agreed to assist in extending it to the West;" thus recognizing the fact that it was not only their duty to have the Gospel preached at home, but, as far as ability and opportunity allowed, to assist in spreading it abroad.
For the next two years, which brings us to 1818, nothing unusual occurred. Adam Glore had served the Church as deacon from its organization up to this time, and now resigned. Nelson Grimsley was appointed assistant deacon in 1814. John Leathers had served the Church as clerk up to 1812, when Ben. W. Leathers was appointed in the place of his father, and had now resigned.
During this period of eighteen years, the Church exercised a vigilant watch-care and rigid discipline over her membership, so far as her detached records show. And it might be proper here to state, that in 1852 a committee was appointed to examine and transcribe their church records in a new book. A copy of their report is here given:
"We, the undersigned Committee, report that we have examined the old records, and find that it is impossible to get a connected transcript, on account of a part of the old book - about one-third - having been lost. Your Committee asked and obtained leave of the Church to commence transcribing where a connected record could be had, which we find to be in 1818, November meeting, the beginning of the second church book. - Leonard Stephens, John Tennis, Eli Vickers, Oliver Meeks, Cary T. Allen, Committee."
In the commencement of the year 1818, Christopher Wilson was called to the pastoral care of the Church, and John Arnold was appointed a deacon in place of Adam Glore, resigned, and William Stephens appointed clerk instead of Ben. W. Leathers, resigned. Received this year by experience and baptism eleven. Total membership, sixty-seven. In April, 1819, Absalom Graves was called to the pastoral care of the Church, and continued until 1825. In 1820 John Arnold was licensed to preach, and about two years after was ordained to the ministry.
About this time the Church set a precedent as regards receiving members from other denominations, which, I believe, has been closely followed by them. Upon application of some proposing to become members, they were rejected on the ground that they were unwilling to be re-baptized, the Church holding that their baptism was not valid.
In 1823 Asael Cain was appointed a deacon in place of Nelson Grimsley, resigned. In 1824 ten members were received by experience and baptism, and in 1825 fifteen were received. In 1826 a church called Lebanon, which had been constituted by members principally from Dry Creek, disbanded, and formed a union with Dry Creek, by winch she received an addition of forty-eight members, increasing the membership to 129. Among the number was James Vickers, a son of Moses Vickers, who had been ordained to the work of the ministry a short time before at Lebanon.
The basis of this union was that all the officers of Dry Creek should resign, and new rules of order be adopted. Jeremy Griffin and Joseph Cowgill were chosen deacons, and William Stephens was continued as clerk. They this year built their third house of worship, a brick thirty-three by sixty feet, at a cost of about fourteen hundred dollars.
In the year 1829, Jesse Terrill and Philip Spilman were licensed to preach. During this year they had another ingathering of souls; they received and baptized fifty-eight, which increased their number to 201. During this revival their custom was to hold meetings through the neighborhood at convenient points; to preach, sing and pray, and offer an opportunity to any who wished to become members, to give a relation and the reason of the hope they exercised in the Saviour. But their day of joy and gladness was soon overshadowed by sorrow and gloom, for immediately alter this, in 1830, the peace and harmony of this Church was greatly interrupted by the introduction among them of the doctrine of Alexander Campbell, which like a storm was then sweeping over Kentucky, and rending churches, causing divisions, heart-burnings and sadness. They held those among them who had been so far influenced by this strange doctrine that they had invited, contrary to the will of a large majority of the Church, the proclaimers of said doctrine to preach in their house. To show the action of the Church, in relation to this matter we make some extracts from their records:
"We, the regular Baptist Church at Dry Creek, viewing with deep concern the great calamity that has recently fallen on the Baptist Churches of Kentucky and elsewhere, caused by the new-fangled systems and doctrines propagated by Alexander Campbell and his followers - doctrines which we believe to be unscriptural - nevertheless they have lately been introduced into this house without the knowledge and against the will of said Church; and which is no doubt intended by the principal movers to have the same effect in this Church as in others; but, for the peace and harmony of this Church, we consider it to be our duty to take such steps as will tend to avert so great a calamity, and keep the divider of brethren from among us. For the last thirty years, this Church has stood unshaken upon the doctrine of free grace, and we are willing still to live and die upon it; therefore,
Resolved, That we consider what is known among us as the Modern Reformation, to be of man and not of God; and as such from this day henceforth we turn our backs upon, and before God and man exclude its doctrines from this house."
The Church having decided to make no compromise with error, they further resolved to mark those who "caused division," and to treat them as wishing to destroy the peace of the Church.
In 1831, John Vickers was appointed a deacon in place of Joseph Cowgill, removed. In February, 1838, Philip Spilman was ordained to the ministry; and in May, 1835, James Robinson was appointed clerk in place of William Stephens, dismissed. Raising funds for church expenses by apportionment was adopted this year. In October, 1835, Elder Robert Kirtley was called to the pastorate of the Church and accepted. In 1836, Oliver Meeks, who had been a member since 1832, was encouraged to exercise his gift in public.
In April, 1836, Bartlett Bennett, an ordained minister of the Gospel, was received by letter. In November of this year, the Church observed a day of fasting and prayer; and though not named before, I believe it has been their custom from their earliest history to set apart one day in the year for that purpose. In 1839, Benjamin Deulaney was chosen a deacon, in place of Jeremy Griffin, resigned.
During the period from 1830 to 1840, there were many cases of discipline which the Church promptly met; and from various causes, such as dismission of members, exclusion, &c., their membership, which in 1830 was 201, was now reduced to 113, having received in the same time 26 members by experience and baptism.
We now approach another period of trial for this Church. We have reference to the division that took place in 1840 in the churches composing the North Bend Association, under the leadership of Thomas P. Dudley. A part of this Church, having become disaffected, seceded, and constituted another church in the same house, taking the name "Predestinarian Baptists." But, before they finally withdrew, the Church, by agreement of the disaffected party, appointed a day, and called a council from several churches to try to bring about a reconciliation. The council met on the day appointed, and an opportunity was offered to any who had charges or grievances to present to make them known. None were offered when Elder Robert Kirtley, one of the council, offered the following resolution, to be read to the Church:
"Resolved, That we recommend the brethren of the Church to endeavor to bear with one another in love; that wherein they have done wrong they make acknowledgment, and strive to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."
But, after all efforts had failed to restore harmony, and the disaffected party had constituted a separate church, the hand of fellowship was withdrawn from them - fifteen in number.
In August, 1841, Oliver Meeks was chosen a deacon in place of John Vickers, dismissed. In September, 1842, a day of fasting and prayer was observed. In October of the same year, their records state that nineteen willing converts were baptized by brethren Kirtley and Whitaker. Among the number were Eli Vickers, T. J. Cleveland, G. W. Cleveland, Warner E. Scott and Elizabeth Leathers; and Bartlett Graves, who had been excluded, was restored to fellowship.
In 1843 Charles W. Scott was licensed by the Church to preach. Robert Kirtley, who had been pastor of the Church since October, 1835, now resigned. In 1844 James A. Kirtley was called, and preached to the Church once a month until 1847, when James Vickers was invited to attend them in conjunction with William Whitaker, who had been preaching for them several years.
We here take occasion to state, that this Church from, its organization recognized the fact that it was their duty, and essential to their growth and prosperity; that they meet for public worship every Lord's Day; that, while one who was looked to as pastor could riot attend more than once or twice a month, they called others, so far as they could, to occupy the remainder of the time.
In December, 1849, William Cleveland was received by letter, and preached for the Church one Sabbath in the month until March, 1852, when Robert Vickers was called to fill his place, and continued until February, 1855. In March, 1852, James Robinson, who had served the Church as clerk since 1835, now resigned; and Gary T. Allen was appointed to that office. In January, 1854, David M. Scott was received by letter from Middle Creek Church, and appointed an additional deacon, he having been ordained in said Church. Upon application in April, 1855, letters of dismission were granted to Benjamin Deulancy, Leonard Stephens, D. M. Scott, Henry T. Snyder, Sally Snyder, Polly Scott and Louisiana Finch, for the purpose of constituting a church at Florence, Boone county, Ky.
William Whitaker at this time resigned the pastoral care of the Church, having served in that capacity since 1843, and Asa Drury and James Vickers were called to serve the Church. At their October meeting, 1855, William Vickers was chosen a deacon, Deulaney and Scott, deacons, having been dismissed for constitution. At this meeting the Church agreed to commence a meeting of days, to begin on the 21st of the month, to be conducted by S. L. Helm and James Vickers. During this revival they received by experience and baptism about thirty members. Among the number were Elmore Scott, William Timberlake, Elizabeth Timberlake and Melvin Tennis. At their following meeting, this resolution was adopted:
Resolved, that we humbly return thanks to Almighty God for His blessings in the conversion of so many of our neighbors and friends. And ordered that the same be submitted to record. It was also moved and carried that this Church hold a regular prayer meeting on Thursday evening of each week.In 1856 the Church agreed to remove from the house and location which they then occupied, to a point on the Lexington turnpike, about five miles from the city of Covington, and appointed Elmore Scott, Eli Vickers, William Timberlake, William Bishop and C. T. Allen a Building Committee, with instructions to contract for and superintend the erection of a house on the plan specified, which was a brick, forty by sixty feet; and early in 1867 the Church received the house from the hands of the Committee at a cost of about five thousand dollars; and in May James Vickers was invited to preach the dedication sermon.
Bartlett Graves, who had been a member many years, died January 4th, 1858. In June, 1859, John Tennis was chosen and ordained to the office of deacon. The Church noticed the death of James Vickers (though not a member with them), which occurred February 29th, 1860, passed and recorded resolutions in regard to the same, and requested Elder Robert Kirtley to preach a funeral discourse in commemoration of his death. In March, 1862, Thomas Vickers was called to the pastoral care of the Church in place of Asa Drury resigned; and continued until January, 1865, when N. C. Pettit became his successor, and continued up to 1867.
In a little less than three years, the Church was called upon to mourn the loss of three of her useful and prominent members, to wit: Elmore Scott, who died July 18th, 1864; John Tennis, in February 1867; and Gary T. Allen, on the 9th of June following.
William Bishop, the present Clerk, was then elected to that office in place of C. T. Allen, deceased. In October, 1868, the Church held another meeting of days, and received by experience and baptism, Cleveland and Almira Scott, G. L. Scott, James and Elizabeth Riggs. In October, 1870, Lafayette Johnson was called to the pastorate of the Church, and continued until April, 1872, when Thos. J. Stevenson took his place until December, 1872, and Lafayette Johnson was again called, and still continues. In October, 1870, J. W. Leathers, Jr., Annie Leathers, Fida Buckner and Warren Meeks were received by experience and baptism. In January, 1872, Eli Vickers was chosen, and soon after ordained to the office of deacon.
On hearing the death of Elder Robert Kirtley, which occurred in April, 1872, this Church appointed a committee to draft resolutions expressive of their regard for the deceased, and ordered the same to be put upon record. We have given the numerical strength of the Church at different periods up to 1840, which at that time was 113. The highest number ever reported (according to the Minutes of the North Bend Association) was 201, which was in 1829. Since 1840, 101 is the highest, and fifty-six the lowest numbers reported; averaging since l840 about seventy-two, their accessions during the time by baptism and by letter, amounting to 172.
We have thus imperfectly sketched the history of this Church from its organization, seventy-three years ago, and seventy years since its union with the North Bend Association, which took place in the first house (a log cabin) which stood not far from the present location; and though there are none of the original numbers to greet the delegates of 1873; having long since gone the way of all the earth, yet their successors stand ready to extend the hand of welcome to all their brethren and friends, who may meet with them on this occasion.
S. P. BRADY
A Circular Letter written by Dry Creek's Pastor, Asa Drury, in 1860 on Christian Union.
[From the Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1873, pp. 7-14. This document came from a photocopy of a microfilm record at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Louisville, KY. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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