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A History of Baptists in Kentucky
By Frank M. Masters

1877 - 1886

      Unifying the related denominational causes in Kentucky under one Executive Board, was one of the difficult undertakings during this period. Several attempts had been made in the General Association to effect this unification but without permanent results. Too long already had the different mission interests in Kentucky been operated under separate agencies. From time to time the Sunday school and colportage work were promoted under a District Board. Some of the stronger district associations supported their own program of missions within their own bounds and gave little or no support to the State Mission work in the more destitute places. The prevailing methods of the Home and Foreign Mission Boards were to appoint separate agencies in Kentucky to collect funds for these two Boards. To change their long standing methods, and unify the different related interests under one collecting agency, required time and repeated efforts.

      One of the causes which contributed much to an enlarged vision to the Baptists of Kentucky at this time was the labors of J. P. Boyce, as agent to raise $300,000 in the State necessary to locate the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the city of Louisville. To accomplish this great task Dr. Boyce visited the churches in every section of the State, appealed to individuals in their homes, and in their places of business, delivered great messages before the associations, and preached inspiring Gospel sermons, all of which contributed toward unifying the Baptist forces.

      The opening of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, at the beginning of this period, gave a great impetus to a unified forward movement through the faculty and student body, who became identified with all the work of the General Association. One other contributing cause which led to a closer cooperation of all the Kentucky Baptist forces was the coming of a new competent leadership.


      The Severn's Valley Baptist Church at Elizabethtown entertained the fortieth annual session of the General Association, which convened on Wednesday morning, May 23, composed of 225 messengers. Dr. E. H. Black, M.D., a layman of Frankfort, was chosen Moderator and Elders Samuel Baker and R. M. Dudley, Assistant Moderators. A. B. Cabaniss was continued Corresponding Secretary of the Executive Board, and J. H. Spencer preached the annual sermon. The following well known visitors were recognized: Rev. W. H. Mclntosh, Corresponding Secretary of the Home Mission Board, Marion, Alabama; Rev. S. H. Ford, Editor, the Christian Repository, St. Louis, Missouri; and Rev. E. Z. Simmons, missionary to China.

      Corresponding Secretary A. B. Cabaniss read the annual report of the Executive Board. The Advisory Committee of Fifteen appointed at the last session met with the Board to assist "in getting up plans for the more perfect organization of the work of this Association." After a joint discussion of the whole subject, which was "productive of good in several ways," the following points were recommended to the Executive Board: First, the Board was to keep a separate list of all the churches that take their own collections for the Board without the help of an agent; Second, that the Corresponding Secretary make an effort to induce other churches likewise to take their own offerings without help. If this cannot be done by corresponding with such churches then he is to visit them; Third, the Corresponding Secretary must take time and persevere till he gets the churches fully enlisted in this work. Fourth, look out for new fields and work them up; Finally, the committee advised the Executive Board, if they thought best, to appoint district evangelists over the state to preach the Gospel, to enlist the churches in systematic effort in the work and to collect what funds they could.

      The Executive Board accepted some of these suggestions, but regarded some of them impracticable. The plan of employing a number of strong evangelists during the stringent times then on would involve the denomination in hopeless debt, besides it was impossible to secure suitable men for full time to engage in such work. The Board also was aware of the fact, that if enlisted churches failed to keep up their voluntary contributions, then they would have to be visited and solicited for their offerings. A strong force of missionaries to labor in sections of the State where most needed was then appointed.

      The Sunday School Board located at Georgetown had "failed to receive the hearty cooperation of the Baptists of Kentucky." After a long and lively discussion of the Sunday School situation, a resolution was finally adopted that the Board be abolished, and the Sunday school work of the State be referred to the Executive Board located at Louisville, "with instructions to raise money, pay the indebtedness and assume the proper work done by the Sunday School Board."

      The report of the Committee on Baptist History stated that J. H. Spencer had begun work on the history of Kentucky Baptists, but that it would be impossible for him to do the work without the cooperation of the brethren from every part of the State. The call was made that brethren everywhere collect and forward to Brother Spencer, "minutes of associations, history of churches, old files of periodicals, biographical sketches, and, in short, everything that contains any information concerning our denomination in the past."

      Dr. Spencer was devoting a part of the year to evangelistic work in West Kentucky under the direction of the Executive Board. He reported that he spent thirty-three days in Princeton, in Caldwell County, and preached sixty-five sermons, resulting in a number of valuable additions to the church, which immediately commenced to secure funds to build a needed house of worship. The Cadiz Church in Trigg County, Spencer said "had become so weak that they had not employed a pastor for several years." A large number were added to the seventeen members of that church which became a self-supporting body.

      The beloved and venerable William Vaughan, D.D., died at the age of ninety-two years on March 30, 1877, prior to the meeting of the association in May. He passed away in the house of his son, Rev. Thomas M. Vaughan in Danville, Kentucky. William Vaughan was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, February 22, 1785, and moved with his parents to Kentucky in 1788 settling near Georgetown. Young Vaughan was ordained to the ministry in 1811, and began work in Bracken Association and was laboring there when Alexander Campbell began his attack on Baptists in that section. In 1836 Brother Vaughan became pastor at Bloomfield in Nelson County, where he continued "overseer of the flock," for thirty-three years. This beloved brother preached the opening sermon at the organization of the General Association in Louisville in 1837, and had the honor of preaching the introductory sermon before that body three times later. Though very feeble, Brother Vaughan was permitted to attend the Centennial Session of the General Association in 1876 and had a part in the Memorial service of J. M. Frost, Sr., with whom he had labored since 1838.

      The records thus describe the hour of adjournment of the session of 1877: "The Moderator called attention to the fact that this meeting of the Association was held with the first church organized on Kentucky soil, and suggested that Brother Samuel Haycraft, one of the oldest Baptists in the State, should address the body. He gave some interesting reminiscences of the early history of the church. Brethren J. L. Burrows and S. L. Helm followed Brother Haycraft. They had become members of the church more than 40 years before. The brethren gave the parting hand, and Elder J. W. Warder, pastor of the Walnut Street Church, Louisville, led in the closing prayer.1


      The messengers of the General Association were again on historic ground when they gathered in Harrodsburg on May 22. Elder W. P. Harvey, the pastor, addressed the body at the beginning of the session, giving some historic facts in reference to the early preaching of the gospel in Kentucky. He then presented two gavels, one to the Moderator, E. H. Black, of the General Association; and one to George Hunt, the Moderator of the Ministers Meeting. These gavels were made of the stump of the tree under which the first sermon was preached, at the spring near Harrodsburg, in 1776 by two pioneer Baptist preachers. The Moderator responded with appropriate remarks. The annual sermon was delivered by Rev. J. P. Boyce from the text, John 1:14, "The word was made flesh and dwelt among us." Two College Presidents were chosen Assistant Moderators, Basil Manly, Georgetown College, and Leslie Waggener, Bethel College, Russellville.

      Dr. J. P. Boyce, the General Agent for raising $300,000 necessary to locate the Seminary in Kentucky, reported, that up to May 1, 1877, the amount of $269,569.61 had been raised in "bonds, subscriptions, and lands," leaving $30,430.39 to be raised, provided "all the bonds had drawn interest from September 1872, as was originally intended." He then stated in the report: "But the bonds which have been given ought not to be counted at their full value, because they have not borne this interest and moreover, because it is probable that at least $20,000 of the subscription bonds and land is no longer good."

      In the session of the Association in the year 1880 there was some confusion in regard to the balance necessary to make up the full amount to be raised in Kentucky. Dr. Boyce showed wisdom by requesting the appointment of a Committee with Nimrod Long, Russellville, as Chairman to take the whole matter of the Securities into consideration. This committee reported that it "requested two of our brethren living in Louisville, G. W. Norton and John S. Long, in whom we have the utmost confidence, and whose knowledge of and familiarity with the subscriptions, bonds, etc., is more thorough than ours, to confer with the Seminary committee, and to examine the assets, etc., and report to us their value, etc." These two men reported to Mr. N. Long, as chairman of the committee, as follows: "By reference to the foregoing figures, you will see that the sum of $66,911.62 is yet wanting to bring the Kentucky endowment subscription up to ... $300,000." Dr. Boyce then made the following statement: "I beg to lay before the General Association the action of the Board of Trustees, relative to the action of your committee upon the pledges, notes, bonds, subscriptions, in lands, etc., that constitute the Kentucky endowment which decided that the amount still due March 19, 1880, by Kentucky, to the Seminary Endowment is $66,911.62."2

      Dr. Boyce reported to the session in 1881 that by May 16 of that year, $12,840 had been raised, leaving the amount of $54,071.62 yet to be obtained. He reported in 1882 that during the year $49,345.38 had been raised in cash and bonds, leaving $4,726.24 still to be secured. Before the meeting of the General Association in 1883 this balance was in hand, and the future of the Seminary was assured, though the institution had many dark days ahead. The completion of this enormous task was due to the perseverence and patience of one man, J. P. Boyce. The Seminary opened its first session in Louisville, Ky., September 1877 with 89 students.

      The progress of the State Mission work was greatly hindered during the previous year for the lack of permanent leadership. Elder A. B. Cabariss, who had served as Corresponding Secretary for six years, resigned but because of the distressing needs, he agreed to continue for three months to collect funds for the Board without salary, except for travelling expenses. At the last session, the Executive Board was advised to appoint a General Superintendent over the entire mission work of the State, including the Sunday School Department, State, Home and Foreign Missions, whose duty shall be "to aid in so arranging our missionary operations as to prevent the friction and collisions we now have under our present plans; said Superintendent to act under the direction of the State Board."

      In pursuance of this advice the Executive Board at its first meeting elected W. W. Gardner to the office. He accepted and entered upon his duties July 2, but before the month ended he tendered his resignation, "for reasons satisfactory to himself," which was accepted. In his letter of resignation, Dr. Gardner gave some very useful information, which he had gathered during his brief term of service. "Of the 1250 Baptist churches in Kentucky, 1157 of them have only monthly preaching; and no system of benevolence can be effective in them. Of the remaining 97 churches, thirty-five have preaching every Sabbath; three have preaching three times a month; fifty-nine have preaching twice a month, and thirty-eight have adopted a system of their own, and dispensed with agents. Of the 97, fifty-nine need to be organized and systemized."

      The Board reports the following based on this letter: "If it was left to voluntary action on the part of churches to sustain our missions, probably not more than one in twenty would make a respectable contribution. We are not prepared at present to dispense with a collecting agency. Not only churches must be visited but individual members at their homes, and personal application made for assistance to carry on our missionary enterprise."

      It was found necessary to establish a Student Fund to aid needy ministerial students in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville and those ministerial students at the two colleges, Georgetown and Bethel. Brethren John A. Broadus, Basil Manly and Leslie Waggener were appointed to collect from the Baptists of Kentucky a fund for the above purpose, and disburse same.3


      The Baptist Church at Winchester, the County Seat of Clark County, entertained the forty-second annual session of the General Association composed of 191 messengers, which convened on May 23. Elder Green Clay Smith, pastor at Frankfort, was chosen Moderator. No permanent leader had yet been found to promote the many interests of the General Association. Rev. W. M. Pratt, pastor at Shelbyville, served as Superintendent of Missions for six months in connection with his pastoral work without expense to the Board, except for office and travelling. He recommended that the district associations should endeavor to cultivate the territory within their bounds, and that each church, in each association make an annual contribution to the State Board. The Sunday School Department was without a Superintendent, and was dependent on the students at the Seminary in Louisville for summer work. Under these conditions there was a decline in the offerings for missions. The financial reports showed $3,433.42 for State Missions, $4,846.81 for Foreign Missions, and $2,643.45 for Home Missions.

      Georgetown College sustained a great loss in the resignation of her highly esteemed president, Dr. Basil Manly, who after eight years of acceptable service, returned to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, as Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, succeeding Dr. Crawford H. Toy. The distinguished R. M. Dudley was called to the presidency of the College. Bethel College, Russellville, with Leslie Waggener, president, reported that the great boarding house, known as N. Long Hall, in honor of Nimrod Long, had been finished and was housing a large number of young men, at $2.50 per week for room and board.

      The Western Recorder, with Dr. A. C. Caperton in his ninth year as iditor, was recommended as "an excellent periodical." The American Baptist published in Louisville was supplying a long felt need among the colored Baptists of the South and West. The Foreign Mission Journal published by the Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia, was commended to the pastors and churches as the best means "of kindling their missionary zeal." Ford's Christian Repository, of St. Louis, and the Baptist Review of Cincinnati were recommended to the brotherhood as religious magazines valuable for their "good and varied reading, denominational and general." Dr. J. H. Spencer, who was appointed three years before by the General Association to write the History of Kentucky Baptists, reported that he had written 272 pages, covering the period from 1769 to 1789.

      The Kentucky Baptist Ministers Meeting was becoming more popular, with such men as Brethren Basil Manly, J. A. Broadus, J. P. Boyce, J. M. Weaver, J. M. Frost, Lansing Burrows, and other distinguished brethren appearing on the program from year to year. Dr. George Hunt, a former president of Bethel College, and now pastor at Versailles, was Moderator, and Rev. J. Pike Powers, pastor at Mt. Sterling, Secretary.4


      The forty-third session of the General Association was called to order ky the Moderator, Rev. Green Clay Smith, in the First Baptist Church, Owensboro, on May 18 and the messengers were made welcome in an address by the pastor, Rev. J. B. Solomon.

      In the annual report of the Executive Board some of the long standing Sfficulties in the way of Baptist progress were again presented. The first difficulty was the continued lack of cooperation of the state and district boards. This trouble had long existed. The boards of many of the district associations carried on the mission work in their own territory independent on the state Executive Board, and gave no support to the general mission work. Other associations did little toward evangelizing their territory, and gave but little or nothing to the support of the general work in the state.

      An unsolved problem presented was the ignorance of the members in most of the churches of missions and educational work. Many of the pastors did not read the denominational papers and missionary magazines and therefore were not prepared to lead the people. Also the want of religious interest in the cause of Christ at home and abroad, was greatly hindering the progress of the gospel. But one hopeful sign in these discouraging days was that the brethren had begun to pray the Lord of the harvest to give the Baptists of Kentucky a great spiritual leader. The financial exhibit for the year closing May 1, showed that $4,782.96 had been contributed to State Missions, and $5,447.86 to Foreign Missions.

      How best to advance the Sunday school work was again seriously considered. According to the action of the previous session of the General Association a State Sunday School Convention had been organized to meet annually in connection with the General Association. Editor A. C. Caperton of the Western Recorder was chosen president, and Elder J. M. Weaver, pastor of the Chestnut Street Church, Louisville, Corresponding Secretary. An Executive Board to be appointed annually, consisting of seven mem-bers was to "have charge of all business, while the Convention is not in session."

      The first meeting of the newly organized Convention was held in Owensboro on Thursday, May 20, in an all-day session. The General As-sociation adjourned for this meeting. Many important topics were discussed. Rev. P. H. Lockett, pastor at Henderson, spoke on "How to interest the Church in the (Sunday) School," and Dr. John A. Broadus and others delivered addresses on "How to interest the (Sunday) School in the Church." "The Importance of Teaching Our Peculiar Doctrinal Views in the Sunday Schools" was presented by D. Dowden, pastor at Brandenburg, followed by Brethren S. H. Ford, W. W. Gardner, and A. B. Cabaniss. The treasurer of the new Convention reported that $706.02 had been received during the year. It was then resolved to look to the Sunday schools of the state, for financial support, expecting a small amount from each school. The first Sunday school statistics ever gathered in the state, which was put into a statistical table, was reported, and printed in the minutes of the General Association. There were 317 Sunday schools in the missionary churches of the state, with 17,808 scholars, an average attendance of 8,590.5

      In 1880 the population of Kentucky was 1,648,490. The General Association the same year reported fifty-one district associations and 1170 churches with 106,619 members. Of the colored Baptists, there were twelve district associations and 443 churches with 50,368 members. The Anti-Missionary United Baptists reported ten associations, 154 churches, and 8,965 mem-bers; while the hyper-Calvinistic Baptists claimed twenty associations; 235 churches and 6,710 members. The Separate Baptists had three associations, thirty churches, and 1,613 members. The grand total of all these Baptists in Kentucky in 1880 was 98 associations, 2,073 churches and 176,250 members. The General (Arminian) Baptists had two associations, forty-one churches and 1,978 members.6


      For the second time the church at Shelbyville entertained the General Association, which convened on May 18. At the meeting of the Execu-tive Board following the last session, Rev. J. W. Warder, pastor of the Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, was elected Corresponding Secretary of the General Association and entered upon his duties in that position, the following July 1. Two pastors from Louisville were seated as messengers for the first time - T. T. Eaton, who became pastor of the Walnut Street Church on May 1, and J. P. Greene who had recently accepted the pastorate of the East Baptist Church. J. Lansing Burrows was in his seventh year as pastor of the Broadway Church in Louisville.

      Corresponding Secretary J. W. Warder, who had served ten months, made his first report. He had already gotten a vision of the Baptist situation in Kentucky. He described the state as a great mission field with vast undeveloped natural resources, which would insure an ever increasing population. He pointed out the confusion then existing in the Baptist ranks, over methods of promoting missions which grew out of "the tendency to collision between the work and plans of the District Associations and the works and plans of the General Association." He called attention to the distressing fact "that not one-third of our churches were contributing to our missionary enterprises" among the more than one thousand churches. He found the sentiment of the Baptists was divided in regard to agents, whether to employ them, or dispense with them.

      In view of these conditions Secretary Warder recommended that a joint agency be appointed by the State and District Boards, "to raise a common missionary fund, an equal division of the fund, and mutual consultation and advice, as to the wisest and most effective methods of carrying on the common missionary work." This plan involved the following results: First, "to create an agency sufficiently extensive to canvass the entire State, reaching every church and every member." Second, "to create in every district association an effective missionary board - many of the district associations appoint no boards." Third, "To develop and foster district missionary work, placing under the control of their boards half of all the funds raised in their territory." Fourth, the over shadowing purpose shall be "the spiritual welfare of the churches, their education in the missionary spirit and in missionary activity," and to effect this end "it is proposed to enlist the services of men full of faith, wisdom and the Holy Ghost."

      Fifteen associations at once adopted this plan of cooperation submitted by the Corresponding Secretary. The treasurer's report showed 85,097.09 was contributed to State Missions during the past year. Also twenty-nine churches reported Woman's Missionary Societies which had contributed $687.81 for missions. The churches were urged by the committee on Woman's Work read by Dr. H. Allen Tupper, to form Woman's Missionary Societies of the women of the churches with a President, Secretary and Treasurer, to meet monthly or quarterly, but to be sure to meet regularly, and to have some missionary news or an essay, or talk from the pastor, or some member each month.

      The Kentucky Baptist Sunday School Convention met on Saturday of the General Association. The State Secretary, Brother A. B. Gates, after serving ten months resigned and no successor had been secured. Rev. B. D. Gray, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Missionary Society of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, had led in the Sunday school work in the city of Louisville, with the help of other seminary students. This work was supported by a group of Louisville Baptists. Eight mission Sunday schools were organized, aggregating 875 pupils during the vacation and each having a superintendent. Young Brother B. D. Gray addressed the Convention on "What is the true aim of the Sunday School?" In the years to come this young preacher was destined to be one of the great leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention.7


      The General Association composed of 125 messengers convened in its forty-fifth annual session with the Baptist church at Hopkinsville. During the meeting Rev. T. T. Eaton reported "that the State Sunday School Convention had dissolved and requested this body to take charge of the Sunday School work."

      Later the Committee on Sunday Schools submitted the following report, quoted in part: "We further believe that heretofore our brethren generally have regarded this subject in a wrong light. The idea seems to be prevalent both with the ministry and laity, that Sunday schools are for children alone, and hence the great difficulty in getting the membership generally of our churches to engage in this work. This idea should be thoroughly uprooted, and all our people should be taught that it is the duty of every church member to work in this department, either as teacher or pupil; that every school organized should be a church act, to be maintained by the membership." The committee recommended that a board be appointed to have "full control over the subject of Sunday schools and colportage work of the whole state, and said Board may appoint such committees and fill vacancies as in its wisdom may seem best." This Board will be required to make a report to the next General Association "by tabulated statement, and in such other way as it may deem proper."

      The plan of cooperation with the district associations adopted at the last session of the General Association was accepted by thirty such associations, which embraced two-thirds of the Baptist population of the state. The plan adopted was that all funds collected in each association by any agency were to be divided equally between the State and District Boards, after expense of collecting was deducted. This plan "powerfully tends to establish hearty fellowship throughout the denomination." If an association were strong in numbers and wealth, half of the mission funds was placed in the hands of the State Board, to help the more needy sections. If an association were weak in resources, co-operation with the General Association would bring its needs to the attention of that body. There was received $6,027.47 for State Missions for the year ending May 1.

      Increased interest was manifested in the History of Kentucky Baptists, being prepared by J. H. Spencer. The Standing Committee on Baptist History reported that Dr. Spencer has been traveling over the state for months collecting facts for the completion of the History, and hopes to be able to have the work ready for the press in the next twelve months, if Providence favors. A committee of some of the leading brethren of the State, with W. W. Gardner as Chairman, was appointed to assist Dr. Spencer in gathering material, "whose duty it shall be to correspond with the Presidents and Principals of our colleges and high schools, and with clerks of associations, pastors of churches and others, and request them to furnish biographical sketches, associational minutes, pamphlets, and such, other materials as will help Brother Spencer in completing the History of Kentucky Baptists, with as little delay as possible."8


      For the first time the General Association met with the Baptist church at Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County. Moderator Green Clay Smith, then pastor of 22nd and Walnut Street Mission, Louisville, called the meeting to order at 10 A. M., May 23. Four young ministers, who were to become well known in Baptist affairs were among the messengers enrolled. These were: John N. Prestridge, pastor at New Castle; A. J. Holt, pastor at Portland Avenue, Louisville; J. G. Bow, pastor at Newport; and B. D. Gray, Sunday school worker, while in the Seminary at Louisville.

      The importance of "unity, harmony and co-operation among the mission forces" of the State was emphasized in the report of the Executive Board, read by J. W. Warder, the Corresponding Secretary. The report declared that "Foreign Missions, Home Missions, State Missions, and District Missions are simply four forms of obeying the same command - 'Go disciple all nations'. To isolate them, to cause one to jar on another is unnatural, illogical, and works harm to all, good to none. It will eliminate one of the difficulties from the missionary problems, a difficulty that has stood in the way of healthful growth, to bring out clearly in the consciousness of our people the fact of the oneness of spirit, purpose and work of all our missions."

      Good progress was made in the State Mission work during the past year as is well illustrated in the establishing of churches in the important towns of Ashland, and Catlettsburg. Ashland was then a town of about 4500 population, and Catlettsburg, with about 2000, both located in Boyd County, in the Northeastern part of the State on the Ohio River. In March 1883, J. W. Warder, the Corresponding Secretary, visited these two towns to prepare the way for a protracted meeting in each place. He procured an Opera Hall in each town at $2.00 per day in which to conduct the meetings. Rev. A. F. Baker, a strong preacher and a prominent pastor, was employed by the State Board to conduct these meetings. Brother Baker began services at Ashland on March 18, and continued eighteen days; and then began at Catlettsburg on April 26 and continued about two weeks. As a result of this ministry, a Baptist church was constituted at Ashland on May 6, with thirty members; and at night on May 9, a church was organized at Catlettsburg with twenty-three members. Brethren J. W. Warder and A. F. Baker composed the organizing council.

      A subscription for pastoral support was raised in Ashland, amounting to $521.10, and $342.20 was secured in Catlettsburg for the same purpose. Rev. A. F. Baker was unanimously chosen pastor of the two churches. It is interesting to note that Dr. W. B. Caldwell, Louisville, and Brethren T. S. Powers, Augusta, and S. S. Minor, Maysville, contributed $25.00 each; and Brother J. B. McFerran, Louisville, $50 for the formation of these two churches.9

      The Sunday School and Colportage Board showed marked progress. On January 1, 1883, the Board employed Rev. W. P. Harvey as General Superintendent of the Sunday School Department. He was "a man of known activity and excellent influence." He immediately entered on his duties "with his characteristic enthusiasm, aiming principally to quicken the interest of the (Sunday School) Conventions already organized, and endeavoring to establish such bodies, where they did not exist." The new superintendent had gathered some revealing statistics. There were 322 churches with a membership of about 37,000, which maintained Sunday schools; while 969 churches with around 72,000 members were without Sunday schools. The statistics showed also that churches with Sunday schools increased at a ratio of 8% per cent in membership, and each member contributed 33 cents to Foreign, Home and State Missions; while the churches without Sunday schools increased in membership at a ratio of 6 perent and contributed 2l/2 cents per member to the same missions.

      The Baptist institutions of learning were reported to be in "a vigorous and flourishing condition." R. M. Dudley, D. D., was still the efficient President of Georgetown College. Twenty out of a student body of 153 were preparing for the gospel ministry. The trustees were devising plans to raise $100,000 additional endowment. Bethel College at Russellville was deploring the loss of their distinguished President, Leslie Wagrgener, who had resigned, after a term of ten years, to accept a position in the University of Texas. Professor J. H. Fuqua was chosen Chairman of the faculty. The report further states: "The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary may now be regarded as established. The term just completed has been the most successful in its history. During the past session 120 students were enrolled, and nine full graduates and four in the English course passed from its instructions into the more active duties of the ministry."

      The Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute, which is fostered by the colored Baptists is situated in Louisville on about two and one-half acres of land, on which a spacious building was erected. In the session last year 149 students were enrolled, of which twelve were preparing for the ministry. The enrollment has increased to two hundred students in the present session to close in June 1883.10


      The General Association met with the Baptist church at Glasgow, May 21. It was composed of 127 messengers. The pastor of the church, Rev. S. C. Humphreys spoke a few words of welcome, to which response was made by Rev. T. T. Eaton, Louisville. The following visiting brethren were seated: Rev. A. E. Dickinson, editor of the Religious Herald, Richmond, Virginia; Rev. J. J. Porter, editor of the Missionary Baptist, Nashville, Tennessee; Rev. I. T. Tichenor, Corresponding Secretary Home Mission Board, Atlanta, Georgia; and Rev. G. A. Nunnally, Secretary of the Church Building Department, Atlanta, Georgia. The Annual Sermon was delivered by M. M. Riley, pastor at Bowling Green.

      One of the most important actions of this session was the attempt to unify the mission interests of the State to avoid the attempt to push five collections through the majority of the churches for the five separate objects by five separate Boards and Agencies. A meeting was called to be composed of the State Mission and State Sunday School and Colportage Boards, together with representatives of the Foreign and Home Mission Boards to convene in Louisville, February 14, 1884, "to confer together as to the best methods of conducting the work committed to their oversight in this State."

      After careful and earnest consideration they united in recommending that article 7 of the constitution be stricken out and the article be made to read as follows: "That at each annual meeting the General Association shall appoint one General Executive Board, to be known as the Board of the General Association of the Baptists of Kentucky, said Board to consist of thirty members, thirteen of -whom shall reside in the City of Louisville, and five of whom shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. To this Board shall be committed the oversight of the State Mission, and Bible-School and Colportage work, and collections for Foreign and Home Missions in the State. The Vice-Presidents for Kentucky of the Foreign and Home Mission Boards, and the members of the Boards of the District Associations in the State shall be the advisory members of the Board of the General Association. The Board shall appoint a Secretary and Treasurer, and such Superintendents, Agents, Missionaries and Colporteurs, as they may deem proper, fix their salaries, fill all vacancies that may occur, and report annually to this body".

      Contributions to State Missions for the previous year were $6,157.56, to Foreign Missions in Kentucky, $10,474.40, and to Home Missions $3,069.22.

      Rev. W. P. Harvey, Superintendent of the Sunday School and Colportage Board, "has labored with great wisdom and vigor, and to the entire satisfaction to the Board". There was received for this department of work $3,751.77 from the churches, $412.65 profit on sale of books, $293.01 from the colporteurs and $112.50 in donation of books from the Publication Society, making a total of $4,576.16. There were employed during the past year twenty-six colporteurs and Sunday school missionaries to labor with Brother Harvey. The report shows that these workers performed 1914 days of labor, organized 230 new Sunday schools, preached 1,017 sermons, witnessed 458 additions to the churches, made 3,728 visits in the homes, and sales of books $1031.56. For all Sunday school and colportage work, "we have this year expended $7,200, and have besides good will, experience and enthusiasm, $915 assets with which to begin another year".

      The Sunday School Board felt the loss of Dr. Lansing Burrows, who had resigned the pastorate of the First Baptist Church in Lexington, and became pastor in Augusta, Georgia. This distinguished brother was the efficient Secretary and Treasurer of the Board, and "had contributed much to the Sunday School work of the State".

      The Church Building Department of the Home Mission Board, inaugurated at the Southern Baptist Convention in Waco, Texas, 1883, was heartily approved by resolution as follows: "We are gratified at the organization of the Church Building Department by the Home Mission Board. The need of houses of worship is evident, even in our own State. In Kentucky there are 37 county towns, in which the Baptists have no organized churches. There are 71 organized churches which have no houses of worship. Many, if not all of these could be built, if the Home Board had the money with which to supplement the local effort; .... We earnestly commend this Department to our brethren as eminently worthy of their sympathy and support".11


      The forty-eighth annual session was held in the extreme western part of the State at Mayfield, where Rev. W. C. Taylor, a son of the pioneer Alfred Taylor, was pastor. Rev. W. P. Throgmorton, Franklin, Illinois, and Rev. J. H. Milburn, Tennessee, were welcomed as visitors.

      The Sunday School and Colportage Board, located in Lexington, reported a great forward movement under the leadership of W. P. Harvey, the Superintendent of the Department. There had been employed during the year thirty-two workers, who labored in different sections of the State "distributing Bibles, Testaments and other good literature, organizing and encouraging Sunday schools, preaching the gospel in destitute regions, and visiting from house to house". The Board also showed 517 persons converted and baptized, seven churches constituted, 288 Sunday schools organized, and $5,522.72 received from the churches, and $2,848.05 from other sources, besides having on hand $556 worth of books. Three of the seven churches constituted under the direction of the Sunday school and Colportage Board were at Pineville, Harlan and Hyden, County seats of Bell, Harlan. and Leslie Counties, which were located "in the most des-titute part of the State". The Board in its report urged that Brother Harvey "be not permitted to retire from the Sunday school work".

      On the first day of the Association a committee of fifteen brethren was appointed representing different parts of the State with Dr. W. W. Gardner, chairman, whose duty it was to consider, and if possible, devise some general plan for combining, and harmonizing the several branches of the missionary and Sunday schol work, by which all the churches throughout the entire state may be enlisted in the great work of Home and Foreign evangelization and to report on the following day at 10 o'clock.

      This Committee reported at the appointed time and recommended the following: "That the work of State Missions, Sunday Schools and Colportage, and the collections of funds for Home and Foreign Missions be committed to the Executive Board". The Baptist women in their organizations, and the Sunday schools were earnestly requested to co-operate with the Executive Board in the objects fostered. This committee also recommended that statistical letters be supplied to all the churches to be used in making their report to the district associations, and that such associations require said reports from the churches.

      The Committee on Baptist History reported that J. H. Spencer had completed, after nine years of arduous labor, the History of Kentucky Baptists, and that the two volumes were now ready for publication. It was stated that the publication would be impossible unless 1500 subscriptions could be secured as quickly as possible at $5.00 for the two volumes. Brother Spencer "after giving so much time and labor, incurring the loss of health, realizes not a cent from this proposed first edition." Only two months remained to secure the required number of subscribers to insure its publication, and all pastors and others were requested to act as voluntary agents, in their churches and elsewhere, to help secure the 1500 subscribers. Dr. Spencer was taking subscriptions payable on or before the first of September.12


      For the sixth time the church at Bowling Green entertained the General Association, which met on June 23. There were 191 messengers enrolled and among this number for the first time are listed the names of the following young ministers who are to become well known for "their work's sake":

      E. Y. Mullins, Harrodsburg church, ordained to the ministry June 6, 1885; John R. Sampey, South Elkhorn Church, ordained September 27, 1885; J. H. Burnett, Auburn Church, Logan County, ordained March 23, 1886; Arthur U. Boone, Elkton Church, Todd County, to be ordained January 5, 1887; C. M. Thompson, Walnut Street Church, Louisville, to be ordained June 24, 1888, and others.

      Early in the session the announcement was made that "a committee was endeavoring to raise a fund to place a memorial stone over the grave of our deceased Brother, S. L. Helm, and that there was still wanting $125 to complete it". Brother Helm after a long lingering illness died in Fayette County, Kentucky, October 26, 1885, aged 70 years. He was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, May 16, 1816, and was baptized into the fellowship of the Severn's Valley Church during the summer of 1834. He was licensed December 31, 1836, and the following year was a constituent messenger in the organization of the General Association. He was ordained April 7, 1838 in the Mt. Pleasant Church, at Brandenburg. Brother Helm was pastor of some of the prominent country and city churches, and filled many denominational positions. He was moderator of the General Association two years and preached the annual sermon in 1858. He was a strong, vigorous and faithful minister of the gospel, a successful soul winner, and labored for a period of 47 years.

      The address of welcome was made in behalf of the Bowling Green Church and community by General W. F. Perry and the response was delivered by Rev. T. T. Eaton. Professor J. A. Broadus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary preached the annual sermon, Text, Malachi 3:16, 17. The noted Texas Evangelist W. E. Penn addressed the Association. Rev. C. C. Bitting, D.D., Bible and Missionary Secretary, American Baptist Publication Society, and Rev. I. T. Tichenor, D.D., Corresponding Secretary, Home Mission Board, were seated as visitors.

      During the past year, the increased scope of work, which was committed to the Executive Board at the last session, was put into operation. Pursuant to this action of the last General Association, the Corresponding Secretary, J. W. Warder, and the Executive Board at once entered upon their duties of complete management of "not only State Missions, but the State Sunday School and Colportage Work, and the oversight of collections for Home and Foreign Missions." The Board reported that it was found to be a difficult task equally to foster all these causes but "by patient thought and labor, the apparent confusion gradually disappeared and order and practical form was given to the work."

      The State Mission work was signally blessed of the Lord of the harvest. Twelve churches were reported constituted during the year. Among these were the churches at Logan, in Laurel County, September, 1885; at Morehead in Rowan County, October 4, 1885 and at Caskey, Christian County, January 6, 1886. The missionaries reported 1253 members added to the churches, and the receipts for State Missions for eleven and one-half months was $6,833.28. The Foreign Mission receipts reached $8,432.12, and the unprecedented sum of $4,746.93 for Home Missions, nearly one-thousand dollars more than in any former year.

      The work done in the Sunday School and Colportage Department was also encouraging. The report of the Executive Board showed 24 colporteurs employed during the year. They sold $1278 worth of books and tracts, donated $90.27 worth of books, distributed 4081 tracts, held 25 Sunday School Conventions, delivered 292 Sunday school addresses and organized 61 new schools. The Board also reported that 27 Sunday schools in mission churches had an enrollment of 2,422 scholars, who contributed $461.28 to the! Sunday school work. This was a great credit to these mission churches. There was contributed in cash $1332.28 by churches for the Sunday school work, and $5,508.96 was expended in the Sunday School Department, including the amount raised in Louisville for mission Sunday schools.

      Much interest was manifested concerning holding a Semi-Centennial the following year, marking fifty years since the General Association was organized in the old First Baptist Church in Louisville in 1837. It was recommended "That a Special Jubilee service be held in the month of October, 1887, and that the Walnut Street Church, Louisville, be chosen as the place, and that the Executive Board of the General Association be charged with the duty of preparing a programme of exercises." The Board named Brethren T. T. Eaton, B. Manly, and A. C. Caperton as a special committee to prepare a suitable program and report their work one year hence.

      The report on Schools and Colleges stated there were twenty-two young men in Georgetown College preparing for the gospel ministry; also that Rev. W. P. Harvey, "who has been so successful in other denominational enterprises", has been elected Business Secretary with the title Vice-President of the College. In Bethel College at Russellville, Rev. S. M. Provence, pastor of the First Baptist Church, was chosen as Professor of Mental and Moral Science, and Mr. Aaron F. Williams, as Professor of Rhetoric and Literature.

      The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary reported 107 students from eighteen states of the Union and from Mexico and Canada in the past session, closing May 1. The students were carrying on four mission Sunday schools in Louisville, at three of which preaching was kept up regularly. During the Seminary year preceding May 1 last, the studients had preached 2656 sermons, not including those preached during vacation prior to October 1, and reported 1618 professions. Up to this time the Seminary was still occupying rented quarters; but lots had been purchased on Broadway and Fifth, and it was reported that Brother J. P. Boyce had secured about $25,000 in Louisville to pay off the balance due on these lots. At the same time Brother J. A. Broadus was in New York soliciting funds with which to erect a $60,000 building on the new location. The plans were in process, and "it is hoped the buildings may soon be commenced."

      The report on Kentucky Baptist History recommended "That Brother J. H. Spencer be continued the Agent of the Association in circulating the History and collecting and preserving historical materials; and that he retain the profits arising from the sale of the book (if any) for his services, and report to this body next year;" also that pastors and other brethren be "requested to aid him all they can, consistent with other duties, circulating the History" and that "editors of our denominational papers be requested to continue to aid him in the enterprise". It was explicitly understood that the General Association "incurs no financial responsibility in this enterprise".

      This great session of 1886 adjourned with prayer led by Brother Basil Manly to meet at Danville, Boyle County, beginning on Friday before the fourth Sunday in June 1887.13



1. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1877, p. 8, 10, 13, 19, 20, 26, 29, 34, 35.
2. Ibid., 1880, p. 9, 10.
3. Ibid., 1878, p. 8, 9, 13, 14, 17, 24.
4. Ibid., 1879, p. 7, 8, 10, 11, 20, 21.
5. Ibid., 1880, p. 8, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 37-42.
6. Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 1, p. 767.
7. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1881, p. 6, 9-14, 21, 22, 47-50.
8. Ibid., 1882, p. 10, 11, 25-29.
9. Ibid., 1883, p. 13, 14.
10. Ibid., 1883, p. 5-7, 10, 11, 21, 27.
11. Ibid., 1884, p. 5, 8, 14, 16, 18-22, 28.
12. Ibid., 1885, p. 7, 8, 18, 21, 22, 32.
13. Ibid., 1886, p. 5, 9-13, 23-36, 35, 41; 1887, p. 10.


[From Frank M. Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 372-387. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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