Baptist History Homepage

The Colored Baptists of Kentucky
1865 - 1943
By Frank M. Masters, 1953
      The colored people were brought to Kentucky by their owners, and the Baptists among them entered into the constitution of the first churches with the white members. A greater or less number of colored members were enrolled in most of the early churches. This church relationship of the races continued until slavery was abolished. A section of the church was usually reserved for the colored members and their families. Sometimes they would occupy a gallery provided for them, or the rear end of the church on the same floor with the whites would be set apart for them. In protracted meetings both whites and blacks would be saved, baptized, and enrolled as members in the same church. In some instances the colored members would out-number the whites. The records show that in 1854 the First Baptist Church, Owensboro, reported 184 negro members and only eighty whites.

      The colored members enjoyed all the privileges in the churches except voting, which was denied them for the reason, that they, being slaves and under the control of their owners, might be influenced in their voting to the detriment of the church. But the negro members were subject to discipline as church members, the same as the whites. All through the period of slavery, there were occasions, when the colored members were permitted to organize independent churches, and when possible, they would call preachers of their own race. These churches were often under the supervision of the white brethren.

      In 1865, at the close of the War between the States, the colored Baptists had seventeen independent churches in Kentucky, located at the following points: Maysville, Mays Lick, Danville, Harrodsburg, First, Green Street and York Street, in Louisville, Frankfort, Tate's Creek, in Madison County, Stamping Ground, in Scott County, Hillsboro, in Woodford County, First and Pleasant Green, in Lexington, Paris, Versailles, Paducah, Bowling Green and Nicholasville. There were also colored churches under the supervision of the white churches at Hopkinsville, Henderson, Owensboro, First and Georgetown, which had pastors of their own race.

      The needs of the colored people following their release from slavery in maintaining their church responsibility can scarcely be imagined. For generations they had been in bondage, and when they became freedmen, they were illiterate, and not capable of leadership. It was claimed that not over ten out of one hundred could read or write. The only hope of the Baptists among them to maintain a separate church life depended largely on the continued help from their white brethren, which was generally graciously given as far as they were able.1

      To this end the General Association of Baptist in Kentucky in the session of 1866 appointed a committee with Rev. George C. Lorimer, Chairman, on "Our Relations and Duties to the Colored Population." This committee reported as follows:

"That in our changed relations to the colored people, we recognize, as heretofore, our solemn obligation to give religious instruction to them by all those means, which God has ordained for the salvaŽtion of men. . . . That we earnestly recommend to our brethern to increase the work of Sabbath School instruction among them, and when practicable establish a Sunday School for them in every church. . . . That we suggest to the pastors of our churches the duty of giving theological and other inŽstructions to such colored brethren as are now engaged in preaching and to such as, in the judgment of the churches, may be called to this work. . . . That we recommend to our people to encourage the colored population to establish day schools for the instruction of their children and also to enŽcourage our teachers to engage in this work. . . . That ... it is our decided conviction, from our knowledge of these people, and of the feelings of our citizens, that this work must be done mainly by ourselves. . . . That we commend this subject to the special attention of our churches and pastors."2
      The first negro Baptist Church ever organized in Kentucky was located in Lexington, now known as the First Colored Baptist Church of that city on Short and Deweese Streets. The church was constituted by Peter Duerett, known as Brother Captain, who was born of slave parents in Caroline County, Virginia, in 1733. He obtained hope in Christ at the age of twenty-five, was baptized and received into a white church near his home. He began to exhort from house to house. The man, who owned the wife of Brother Captain, decided to emigrate to Kentucky, and desiring not to separate the wife from her husband, traded another slave for Brother Captain, and brought them together to the new country. Shortly after Captain came to Lexington, a Mr. John Maxwell, a white man, gave him a building site, and helped him to erect a cabin upon it, where he lived and held services.

      A number of colored people professed conversion and desired Brother Captain to baptize them, which he declined to do at first, since he had not been ordained. The records show that he went before the South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists with fifty of his converts and applied for ordination. But "the fathers and brethren, after having taken the matter into consideration, did not think it proper to ordain him, in form; but, being fully informed of his character and labors, they gave him the right hand of Christian affection, and directed him to go on in the name of their common Master." (Whether Brother Captain understood that the hand of Christian affection meant ordination and right to baptize is a disputed question). However, after this he baptized a number of converts and gathered them into a church in Lexington about 1801. The matter was again before the South Kentucky Association in 1801, which was the last session of that body before it dissolved. The following decision was given:

"Brother Captain, a black man, who was a member of our Society, and who is now preaching and baptizing without having been ordained, is advised to join some convenient church, together with those he has baptized."3
      It is not known whether Brother Captain was ever formally ordained, but he continued to watch over the church, which greatly prospered during his ministry, increasing to more than three hundred members. Having become a free man, Brother Captain and his wife hired themselves out through the years for their support. He died in his cabin near Lexington in 1823 at the age of ninety years.

      London Ferrill was the second pastor of the church. This remarkable man was born a slave in Virginia, in 1789, and at the age of twenty was converted and baptized. Later, he began to exhort in public and soon became a popular preacher. About fifty persons professed conversion under his preaching, and were baptized by a white preacher. His master, perceiving his ability, resolved to give him an education, but died before he was permitted to accomplish his purpose.

      Ferrill then having his freedom, moved with his wife to Kentucky and settled near Lexington. At that time Old Captain had become so feeble, that the church desired Elder Ferrill to become its pastor, but he declined to accept, "as the organization was not in fellowship with the Baptist Denomination" and because Brother Captain was still living. But the church, desiring to have Ferrill as pastor and member, applied to the First Baptist Church in Lexington to be received as a branch of that congregation. But the Lexington church, before receiving the colored church as a branch, decided to send the following queries to the Elkhorn Association: "First, Can persons baptized on a profession of faith by an administrator not ordained, be received into our churches under any circumstances whatever, without being again baptized? Second, Is it admissable [sic] by the Association to ordain free men of color Ministers of the gospel?"

      A committee, consisting of Jeremiah Vardeman, James Fishback. John Edwards, Edmund Waller, and Jacob Creath, was appointed by the Association to consider the queries and to report to the next Association. The committee then reported "that it is not regular to receive such members" thus baptized, and that there is "no reason why free men of colour may not be ordained ministers of the Gospel, the Gosepl qualifications being possessed by them." According to the ruling of the Association on the second query, London Ferrill was regularly ordained to the ministry by the First Baptist Church of Lexington. Notwithstanding the irregular baptism administered by Old Captain, a compromise was affected by which the colored congregaŽtion, having been constituted upon a written covenant, July 1822, was admitted into fellowship by the Lexington First Church.4

      Elder London Ferrill officially became pastor of the colored church in 1823, which was received into the Elkhorn Association as the First Baptist Church, Lexington, Colored, in 1824. Elder Ferrill served the church as pastor thirty-two years, during which time it increased from 280 to 1820 members. When the terrible scourge of cholera visited Lexington in 1823, when as many as sixty were dying in a day, "London Ferrill was the only preacher, white or colored, that remained in the city to adminŽister to the sick and bury the dead. He officiated at both colored and white funerals."5

      This faithful and venerable pastor died October 12, 1854. Dr. J. H. Spencer says: "The funeral procession, which followed his corpse to its burial, was said to be the largest that ever passed through the streets of Lexington, except that which attended the remains of Henry Clay." Elder Frederick Braxton was third pastor, and served from 1854 to 1862. The church had increased to 2223 members in 1861. This first colored church in Kentucky has had a long prosperous history. There have been only twelve pastors, including the first, Brother Captain. No Negro church in Kentucky has had greater influence. Thousands have been brought to Christ through her ministry. The First Church, Lexington, is the only church in the state, that has given two Presidents to Simmons University in Louisville - Dr. W. J. Simmons, the first President, and Dr. C. H. Parrish, the sixth. This church has owned property in Lexington since 1815. The present property (1948), "being located just one-half block from the surveyed center of the City of Lexington" is appraised at $100,000.6

      The second oldest colored Baptist church in Kentucky was what is now known as the Fifth Street Church, Louisville. The First Baptist Church of Louisville, constituted in 1815, had a large number of colored members who desired to have a place of worship to themselves. Their request was granted, and in November, 1829, they were set apart as a mission under the supervision of the white church, and located in the vicinity of Eighth and Market Streets.

      Rev. Henry Adams, a highly educated colored freedman, from Georgia, born December 17, 1802, was called to the pastorate, and in 1834 under his leadership, the church purchased a property at Fifth and York Streets, where it worshipped for a number of years. When the First Christian Church, Louisville, moved to Fourth and Walnut Streets in 1844, it left vacant a one story building on Fifth Street between Walnut and Chestnut Streets, which was purchased by Elder Adams and his congregation for five thousand dollars. The church moved to the new location the following year. Later a "beautiful auditorium, a marvel of architectural achievement" was added. Rev. H. Adams, the first pastor was active for thirty-three years in promoting the work of the church. He took great interest in the welfare of the Baptists of his own race, when they were freed from slavery, by aiding them in forming churches and associations. In the first twenty years of his pastorate he baptized over thirteen hundred people. He died November 3, 1873 at the age of seventy-one years. A tablet to his memory was placed in the Fifth Street Church-house, where he had spent his entire ministry.7

      Rev. Andrew Heath was the second pastor of this historic church and served from 1872 to 1886, fourteen years. He was succeeded by Elder John H. Franks, whose pastorate covered a period of fifty years, was nationally know as a theologian and was regarded as a leader second to none. Rev. W. Augustus Jones is the present pastor (1943) and has led the church to "higher ground." Under his leadership the Budget system of finance has been adopted.

      This great Fifth Street Church has had an unique history, in having had only four pastors during more than a century of its existence and these pastors having been chosen from the membership of the local congregation. The first school for Negroes in Louisville was established in the basement of this church building during the pastorate of Henry Adams. This church has been identified with all the movements for the uplift of the colored people in Louisville and beyond." In 1949 the church moved to 1901 West Jefferson Street.

      The first colored Baptist church in extreme West Kentucky was constituted in Paducah in 1855, known now as the Washington Street Baptist Church. The First Baptist Church in Paducah constituted in 1840 was composed of both white and colored members. Strong opposition arose among the white members against the negro slaves worshipping in the church. It, therefore, became necessary to grant letters of dismission to all the colored members to find their own place of worship. This "despondent group" obtained a small building on Washington Street, and constituted a church on the first Sunday in February, 1855, called the Washington Street Baptist Church of Paducah. Four deacons were ordained, and Rev. George Brent, a white minister, served them as the first pastor. Also Brother T. H. Branham, a white man, was their first clerk, and acted as their spiritual advisor. Because Rev. George Brent championed the cause of the Negro church, his stand for their cause was resented and "he was forced to leave the city."

      In 1858, Rev. George W. Dupee, a distinguished colored minister, was called to the pastorate of the church, and served thirty-eight years. He was born of slave parents, in Gallatin County, Kentucky, in 1826, but was reared in Franklin and Woodford Counties. He was converted and baptized in the South Elkhorn Creek, August, 1842 into the Buck Run Church, Franklin County, by Elder Peter Kenney. The young covert was licensed to preach in 1846, and in 1851 was ordained to the ministry by the hands of two prominent preachers, Dr. J. M. Frost, pastor at Georgetown, and President J. L. Reynolds, of Georgetown College. After his ordination, the young1 preacher became pastor of the colored church in Georgetown, which worshipped in the meeting house, formerly occupied by the white Baptists, who had erected a new building. On January 1, 1856 while still preaching in Georgetown, Elder Dupee was sold at auction at the Court House door. Dr. W. M. Pratt, pastor at Lexington and others bought him and permitted him to purchase his freedom.

      During the long pastorate in Paducah, this noted colored preacher not only built up the Washington Street Church there, but during the time was pastor of fourteen other churches. He organized the colored churches at Paris, Covington, Cynthiana, Mayfield and churches at minor points. Rev. J. W. Hawkins, who succeeded Rev. Dupee in 1898, and continued as Pastor until 1908, greatly improved the church building. Rev. V. S. Smith, the third pastor, who served from 1908 to 1921, installed the first pipe organ. Rev. I. W. Crawford was pastor from 1921 to 1924, and created a sound financial plan for the church. Rev. W. K. Wall, who began his pastorate in 1924, purchased additional property and led in rebuilding of the pipe organ. Rev. T. J. Smith, during his three years' pastorate started the publication of a weekly church bulletin. Rev. R. J. Miller began his duties as pastor in 1935 and led in clearing the long standing indebtedness on the church building. Rev. D. E. King was chosen pastor November, 1942 and found the church worshipping in the Lincoln High School, because the church building had been partially destroyed by fire on April 19, 1942. Under the leadership of Pastor King the building was reconstructed and on Sunday April 11, 1943, services were held in the newly rebuilt edifice. On the following Sunday, April 18, the house was rededicated as a place of worship. The First Baptist Church of Paducah, and pastor, Dr. A. Warren Huyck, participated in the rededication service. One of the new features of the church auditorium was the elevated baptistry; the building was also equipped with new furniture throughout.8

      District associations began to be formed of the colored churches soon after the close of the Civil War. The first Association in the state was organized in the Washington Street Baptist Church, Paducah, September 1867, known by the name "First". The body was constituted of messengers from the colored churches at Elkton, Franklin, Henderson, Mayfield and Paducah. Elder G. W. Dupee, the host pastor, was chosen Moderator, and continued to serve in that position for twenty-eight years. Eight other colored preachers went into the organization. In the session of 1869 the number of churches increased to twenty-two with 3228 members.

      First Association continued to increase in the number of churches and extent of territory. In 1943 there were seventy-five churches and over twenty thousand members. The territory of the Association at that time extended from Mayfield on the West, to Henderson on its northern boundary, northeast to Greenville, and southeast to Guthrie, Kentucky, in its southern boundary. First Association is the third largest supporter of the program of the General Association of Colored Baptists.

      The Liberty Association of colored Baptists was organized at Horse Cave, August 21, 1868, with Rev. Peter Murrell, the first Moderator. He served until 1903 with the exception of two years. Peter Murrell was born a slave, and was converted at an early age, united with the white Baptist church at Glasgow, and was ordained to the ministry by that church in 1847. Rev. N. G. Terry (white) assisted Rev. Murrell in organizing the First Church, Glasgow in 1867. In 1941 there were thirty colored churches in the Association with 2490 members and church property valued at $43,700.

      The Central District Association of colored Baptists was constituted in July 1869 in the Clay Street Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Kentucky, of twenty churches, having about seventeen pastors. The South District Association of Colored Baptists was constituted in Harrodsburg, April 1869. Rev. C. Clark was the first Moderator. A. Barry wrote the first circular letter. This Association has met regularly since its organization without missing a session. The pioneer leaders in the Association have all "passed to the great beyond" and the present leaders are young men, but are "standing firm for the doctrine of Christ and the faith of the fathers." Many other associations of colored churches were constituted at a later date.9

      The first general State meeting of colored Baptists was constituted "shortly after the slaves were freed." Messengers from twelve churches, met in the Fifth Street Church, Louisville, on Wednesday before the third Sunday in August, 1865, and organized the State Convention of Colored Baptists in Kentucky. Rev. Henry Adams, pastor of the host church, was elected President and Vincent Helm, Green Street Church, Louisville, Vice President. Rev. E. E. Hansbrough was chosen Secretary, and Brother Peter Smith, Frankfort, Treasurer. The important action of this first meeting was the appointing of a committee to look after establishing a school. The committee on membership reported about 5000 members of the churches. The most of the time of the session, was taken up in adopting a constitution and in a general discussion of the work.

      The second session of the Convention was held in Frankfort, August 1866. The report of work done by the one missionary, Rev. R. Martin was submitted. The report showed he had collected $22.98, and after his expenses of $13.60 was paid, the Convention allowed him the balance of $9.38 on his salary. One of the interesting features of this session was an address by Rev. S. F. Thompson, the Corresponding Secretary of the General Association of White Baptists. In response to this address to "the brethren in black", Rev. Henry Adams, the President of the Convention, was appointed as a representative to the next meeting of the General Association of the White Baptists.

      The session of the Convention in 1867 was held in Lexington with the First Baptist Church, colored. The following new churches were enrolled: Versailles, Fourth Street, Louisville, Cynthiana, New Castle, Keene, Bridgeport, Shelbyville, and Harrodsburg. The committee on locating a Baptist school reported that a property known as Hill Property in Frankfort could be purchased for $2000. The plan adopted for raising the money to pay for the property was "for all pastors to lay the matter before their churches, and ask all the members to pledge five cents monthly for this purpose."

      The session of the Convention of 1868 was held at the Fifth Street Church in Louisville. The first statistical report was made, which gave the number of churches, twenty-seven, and the membership, 6,260. The trustees appointed for the new school to be established, were given power to locate the school on the Hill Property in Frankfort "unless other property seemed more favorable".

      The State Convention was discontinued in 1869 at the meeting at Lexington, and the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky was formed August 3, 1863 with messengers from fifty-five churches, aggregating 12,620 members. Rev. Henry Adams, who had been President of the Convention from its beginning in 1865, was chosen Moderator. Rev. S. F. Thompson, Corresponding Secretary of the General Association, and Rev. W. M. Pratt were visitors at this first session and "gave valuable assistance in directing the officers along proper and systematic lines in the prosecution of the work of the Association."

      The idea of establishing a college for the training of ministers was growing among the leaders of the Association. The vote was taken on locating the school, which resulted in 24 votes for Frankfort, and 25 for Louisville. There was also a movement to establish a Religious paper. The motion prevailed to organize a Sunday School Convention, which was called to meet in Georgetown. The missionary, Rev. R. Jones, labored five months, travelled 5285 miles, baptized fifty candidates, organized three churches, collected $685.65, paid all his salary and expenses, and turned over $169.41 to the Association.

      In the session of 1870 in the Washington Street Church in Paducah, a resolution was adopted warning the churches against impostors in the ministry and "requesting churches not to receive ministers in their pulpits who had not come with proper credentials." It was decided to hold an Annual Ministers' Meeting to convene on Tuesday before the opening of the General Association.10

      The Association met at Danville in 1871, and Rev. G. W. Dupee, pastor in Paducah, was elected Moderator, and was reelected eleven times in succession. The records state that at this meeting "Rev. S. L. Helm, one of the white Baptist pastors of the State, was a welcome visitor, and took great interest in the proceedings." During the year 1872, the Colored Baptists suffered a great loss in the death of Rev. Henry Adams, their trusted leader for over forty years. He died on November 3, at the age of seventy years. In the session of 1875, the announcement was made concerning the publication of the first Baptist paper among the colored Baptists of Kentucky. This paper was called the Baptist Herald and was being published in Paducah and edited by Rev. G. W. Dupee, pastor of the Washington Street Church. The first number of this paper had appeared on November 10, 1873. Editor Dupee "spent much money and great labor to make the paper interesting. Its columns contained articles from the ablest colored1 ministers and brethren of Kentucky and adjacent states." The paper was endorsed by the Association in 1875, and recommended to the pastors and churches. About 1879 the name was changed to American Baptist, which continued to be the organ of the General Association of Colored Baptists, and according to an official report the circulation was above 4000 in 1948.11

      The plan to establish a college for the colored Baptists was continued with unabated zeal until the effort was crowned with success at the meeting of the General Association, August 1879, in Lexington. The Hill property in Frankfort was sold on May 3 for $2,000 and later the Zane property in Louisville was purchased for $13,800 and the deed was made to the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky. This property was located on the "south side of Kentucky Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets . . . extending through the whole square on Zane Street," and "consisted of two and one-half acres, with a large brick building, 'commodious and roomy'." The school was opened on November 25, 1879, under the supervision of Mr. E. P. Marrs, and his brother, Mr. H. C. Marrs. In the fall of 1880, Rev. William J. Simmons, A.B., A.M., D.D., then pastor of the First Church in Lexington, became president.

      Dr. Simmons, the new president, was born of slave parents in Charleston, South Carolina, June 29, 1849. His parents moved to Philadelphia while he was young. These being days of slavery "they were compelled to remain in hiding." Young Simmons was converted in 1867 and united with a white Baptist church in New Jersey. When he announced his call to the ministry, white friends joined in and paid his schooling for three years. The New Jersey Education Society aided him to attend Madison University in New York, where he graduated in 1868. The following September, he entered Rochester University, but on account of his eyes, he had to desist from study. In 1871, he entered Howard University, Washington, D. C., and graduated in 1873 with the A.B. degree.

      In the second session of the Normal and Theological Institute, under leadership of President Simmons, one hundred and eleven students were enrolled. The American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York ap-propriated $1500 on the payment of the teachers' salaries for 1881, and increased this appropriation to $2500 in 1882. In the meantime 140 students were enrolled. In 1884 the Charter was amended and the Institution took the name of State University. Through the solicitation of President Simmons, Mr. John D. Rockefeller made a gift of $500 for special improvements.

      Because of declining health Dr. Simmons retired from the University before the meeting of the General Association of Colored Baptists at Henderson in August 1890. At the session, the announcement was made of his serious illness, and long, continued prayers were offered for his recovery. He died August 30 following the adjournment of the Association. His body lay in State in the University until the time of his funeral in the Fifth Street Baptist Church. The name of the Institution was changed from State University to Simmons University in his memory, and Dr. James Henry Garnett became President in late 1890 and served four years. Dr. Charles Lee Puree, the next president, made his initial address before the General Association in the session at Paducah, August 1895, which was favorably received. He, too, was born of slave parents in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1856. He was converted and baptized in 1875, and was the first licensed colored Baptist minister in his native state. After attending several schools, he entered the Richmond Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia, and in 1883, he was called to the colored Baptist church at Society Hill, South Carolina, having eleven hundred members. Later he took the chair of Latin and Greek, at Selma University, Selma, Alabama, and became President of Simmons University and served from 1894 to 1905. His biographer says, "Many are the men and women who bless his name and memory. . . . He had a good influence over the students who admired him for his many good qualities." His death occurred during the session of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Louisville, August 1905.

      In the session of the General Association in 1914, in Winchester, preparations began to be made for the Golden Jubilee to be held in 1915. The churches in the State numbered 371 in 1913, with 75,412 members, and also $4,001.25 was collected for mission work, which was the largest amount raised in the history of the Association.

      Dr. C. H. Parrish, one of the most distinguished ministers among the colored Baptists of Kentucky, became President of Simmons University in 1918 and occupied that position until 1931. He was born a slave on a plantation of Beverly A. Hicks, Fayette County, Kentucky, April 18, 1859. He graduated from Simmons in 1886, with the degree of A.B., and was the valedictorian of his class. He was Professor of Greek, and Secretary-Treasurer in his Alma Mater from his graduation until 1890. Dr. Parrish preached the Jubilee Sermon of the 50th year of the Emancipation of the Colored People of America at the National Baptist Convention (Colored) in Nashville, Tennessee. He was Moderator of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky from 1914 to 1917, and led in arranging the program for the Golden Jubilee in 1915, and prepared the Jubilee volume for publication. He was a messenger to the Baptist World Alliance in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1923, and delivered an address before that body on "Aspirations of Christian Africa."

      Simmons University made marked progress under the presidency of such a man as Dr. C. H. Parrish, who had so many prominent connections. During his administration, the student body reached an enrollment of 526, a property valued at $41,000 was acquired, and a dormitory for boys, costing $85,000, was erected. He also raised the curriculum to that of a first class college, permitting graduates to teach in the state without further examinations. This program, which was being so successfully put into operation, came to an almost sudden termination in 1930. This was due to the financial difficulties that confronted the University, as a result of the severe national depression then settling over the country. The property was so encumbered when the depression set in, besides heavy current indebtedness, that it became necessary to sell the entire campus including all the buildings, except the boy's dormitory, but with an option of fifteen thousand dollars on it. At the close of the session of 1930 many of the departments of learning came to an end in the University.

      Dr. C. H. Parrish, the beloved President died April 8, 1931. Concerning1 his funeral his biographer thus speaks:

". . . his funeral was held at the Walnut Street Baptist Church, white, Third and St. Catherine, Louisville, Kentucky. The Mayor of the City of Louisville with many leading citizens, the Baptist Brotherhood of the State with many from the states of the Union, the leaders in Education and in social and religious life were present on this solemn occasion."
      Dr. M. B. Lanier, well trained, was elected President of Simmons University to succeed Rev. C. H. Parrish, at the General Association held at Henderson, August 13, 1931. The colored Baptists of the state were despondent over the situation that confronted them. Their college had been swept away, but a property on Dixie Highway in Louisville was purchased for $8,600 on December 9, 1935, on which to endeavor to revive Simmons University. At the time of the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee in 1943, all mortgages on the property had been cancelled and funds were being gathered to erect suitable buildings. However, the educational facilities were at low a low ebb.12

      The Diamond Jubilee was held in Louisville August 1943, and afforded the colored Baptists of the General Association an opportunity to determine their numerical strength and to take stock of their spiritual assets. The general summary of their gathered statistics shows the following results: 16 district associations; 543 churches; 95,054 members; and value of church property $3,689,054. At present (1948) the colored Baptists of the State have approximately 600 churches, 18 district associations and above 125,000 members. There are 55 Negro churches in Louisville with approximately 25,000 members of which the West Chestnut Street Church is the largest, reporting 1431 members and Dr. W. M. Johnson pastor.

      Simmons University, consisting of one building, is located at 1224 Dixie Highway in the City of Louisville, and has enrolled 136 students in the session of 1947-48. Plans are in progress for the erection of a modern building at a cost of about $85,000. They have a Male and Female College located in Hopkinsville, Kentucky

      The Headquarters for the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky is located in Louisville at 1715 West Chestnut Street. This includes the State Mission Board and Clearing House, and the printing plant, where the American Baptist is published, which is the State Baptist paper. W. H. Ballew is the Moderator of the General Association of Colored Baptists; Rev. M. H. Gant, Superintendent of State Missions and Corresponding Secretary, and Rev. R. H. Faulkner, Director of Religious Education. The Negro Baptists of Kentucky have a Co-operative Program with the General Association (White) of Baptists in Kentucky, with five full paid missionary workers giving most of their time to Christian Education.13


1 Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 1, p. 743, 744; Vol. 2, p. 653-669; Rone, Wendell H., A History of the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association in Kentucky, p. 20, 97.
2 Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1866, p. 17, 18.
3 Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 18; Vol. 2, 653, 654; Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, p. 188-193, 268-270; Diamond Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, p. 128.
4 Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 655 656; Minutes of Elkhorn BapŽtist Association, 1821, p. 7; 1822, p. 4.
5 Diamond Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, , p. 128, 129.
6 Spencer, John H., op. cit, Vol. 2, p. 656; Diamond Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, p. 128-133.
7 Diamond Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, p. 185-187; Golden Jubilee ... p. 196, 197.
8 Diamond Jubilee . . ., p. 222-224; Golden Jubilee . . . , p. 186, 187.
9 Diamond Jubilee . . ., p. 89, 97, 99.
10 Ibid., p. 5-8; Spencer, John H., op. cit, Vol. 1, p. 750.
11 Diamond Jubilee . . . , p. 9, 65.
12 Ibid., p. 11-47; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 662.
13 Report direct from Negro Baptist State Office.


[From Frank Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 342-352. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More Kentucky Baptist History
Baptist History Homepage