THREE DECADES OF DISTRICT ASSOCIATIONS
1868 - 1898
During the Civil War period, and the three years following its close, no Baptist associations were formed in Kentucky, but during the succeeding decades, many of these popular Baptist bodies came into existence. The constituting of new churches, and the division of the extended territory of many of the older associations for convenience, made the occasion for organizing such a large number of these Baptist bodies during the period indicated above.
The twenty-three associations, thus formed were as follows: Henderson, Lynn Camp, Blood River, Booneville, Rockcastle, Shelby County, Enterprise, Blackford, Union, Greenville, Ohio River, Mt. Zion, Ohio Valley, Central, Warren, Upper Cumberland, East Union, West Kentucky, Graves County, Edmonson, East Lynn, Wayne County, Bell County, and Goose Creek. Consideration will be given to these associations according to records available.
Henderson County Association was formed the latter part of October, 1868, of messengers from eight churches, dismissed from the Little Bethel Association, at its regular session with the Richland Church, October 1868. These churches were Grave Creek, Bethel, Zion, Henderson, Mt. Pleasant, Cash Creek, Cherry Hill, and Pleasant Valley. Little Bethel and Uniontown churches came in two years later. At the meeting of the Association with Grave Creek Church, in October 1875, Dr. James P. Boyce, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Greenville, South Carolina, preached the introductory sermon, and "received a warm encouragement for the Seminary."
In the session of 1874, strong resolutions were passed against "the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage", and also against "the evils of lotteries." The Association, at its tenth anniversary in 1878, had increased to sixteen churches with 1616 members, but the churches were reduced to twelve when the Union County Association was formed in the fall of the same year.1
The Lynn Camp Association was constituted at Lynn Camp Church, in Knox County on November 6, 1868 of ten churches. In the previous October, the Laurel River Association in annual session, voted to divide into two bodies. The Laurel River was to be the dividing line, and the following churches on the south side of the river should form a new Association: Friendship, Indian Creek, Robinson Creek, Mt, Olivet, Lynn Camp, New Bethel, London, Mt. Zion, Richland, and Bethlehem. Elder H. D. Harmon, who had served as Moderator of the Laurel River Association, was elected to the same position in the new organization. The Constitution was adopted and the fraternity was designated "Lynn Camp Association of United Baptists." The last three articles of the Constitution were as follows:"14. We, as an Association, will not receive, nor hold in our union, members from other denominations without baptism.In the session of 1870, a missionary board was appointed, consisting of S. C. Jackson, P. T. Hodges, C. S. Brown, H. D. Harmon, and J. C. Westerfield. Elder W. B. Estes was appointed missionary to labor in the bounds of the Association. The following query was presented by two churches: "Shall we advise the churches to appoint their pastors annually?" After some deliberation, the Association advised the annual calling of pastors. In the session of 1871, the following resolution was adopted, involving two principles: "Resolved, that this Association advise the churches composing the same to take full control of their membership, and hold no member in fellowship, who does not prove his faith by his works; and that we advise our ministers to lay hands on no man for the ministry, who does not possess the qualifications required by the Bible."
"15. We, as an Association, will not hold as a bar to fellowship, for our members to give to, or withhold from, missionary or benevolent purposes.
"16. We will not fellowship ministers nor churches that hold to the doctrine of free communion."
The Lynn Camp Association has had a peaceful, prosperous growth. It is located in a mountainous section. In 1870, the body numbered fifteen churches, with 751 members; in 1880, seventeen churches, 1049 members, and in 1883, twenty-one churches, 1260 members. In the session of September 1947, after an elapse of sixty-five years, this same Association reported twenty-four churches with 3508 members, and five of them supporting full time preaching. Lynn Camp, the largest church reported 318 members, and Rev. N. S. Partin, pastor. The churches of the Association reported $8,084.50 paid on pastoral support, and $1,151.31 for mission causes.2
The above named Association was formed on Friday, October 28. 1870, of eleven churches, which had been dismissed from West Union, Little River and Western District Associations. Messengers from these churches met with the Jonathan's Creek Church, later known as Elm Grove, and constituted the "Blood River Association of United Baptists." The following churches went into the organization: Blood River, Locust Grove, Jonathan's Creek, Sinking Sprin[g], Pleasant Hill, Crockett's Creek, East Liberty, Benton, Oak Grove, Turkey Creek, and Tucker's Springs. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder Jack Padgett from Psalms 23:1. Elder J. C. Spann was elected Moderator and served eighteen years, except an interval of one year. Elder William Gardner was the first Clerk, and continued four years.
The second annual session of the new Association was held with Oak Grove Church, in Henry County, Tennessee, October 20-22, 1871. The number of affiliated churches had increased from eleven with 873 members, to sixteen churches with 1204 members. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder William Skinner. This pioneer preacher was born in 1800, and ordained to the ministry in 1839. He passed into the beyond October 19, 1872, one year after preaching the sermon. Elder Skinner was the grand- father of Rev. J. E. Skinner, the author of the "History of Blood River Association," and the great-grandfather of Dr. R. T. Skinner, the present Editor of the Western Recorder (1948).
A resolution was adopted in this session, advising and earnestly recommending the churches composing the Association "to increase the contributions to their pastors and other ministers within their bounds, so as to enable them to supply the destitution as far as possible."
The Blood River Association had a continued steady growth. In 1880, there were twenty-four co-operating churches with 1565 members, and in 1883 the number of churches had increased to thirty with 2027 members. In 1895, thirty-one churches reported 342 baptisms, and a total of 3152 members. Thirty-seven churches were represented in the session of 1946, and reported 8218 members; while in 1948, forty-two churches numbered 8549 members.
The First Baptist Church, Murray, constituted in 1846, reported 1219 members in 1948, and Dr. H. C. Chiles, pastor. The Hazel church was the second largest with 408 members, and Rev. H. F. Paschall, pastor, who was also moderator of the Blood River Association. Elder N. S. Castleberry served as moderator twenty-two years out of a period of thirty-seven years, 1891 to 1928. Elder L. H. Henson served as clerk twenty-seven years out of thirty-three, 1908 to 1941. The present policy of the Association limits the term of the moderator to two years.3
This association, located in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, was constituted on Thursday before the first Saturday in September, 1871 at Beattyville, the county seat of Lee County. The following resolution adopted by the Irvine Association in 1870 explains the origin of the Booneville fraternity: "Resolved, That, inasmuch as this Association is, in our judgment, too extensive in territory, we, therefore, propose a division, as follows: Beginning at Ells Branch Church in Clay County, thence Northwest, so as to include Union and War Fork churches, thence with Brushy Mountain, so as to include Beattyville, and all the churches East of said line." In compliance with this resolution, messengers from sixteen churches, located in a rough mountainous country, gathered at Beattyville to organize the proposed "Booneville Association of United Regular Baptists." The following churches entered into the organization: Beattyville, Zion, Cross Roads, Ells Branch, Greenville, New Hope, Island Creek, Shiloh, Royal Oak, Bethlehem, Ivy Patch, Elk Lick, War Fork, Corinth, Union in Jackson county and Union in Breathitt county. Elder Harvey Hall, was elected Moderator.
In 1874, the Association reported thirteen churches with 927 members. Prior to 1880 seven churches were dismissed to form another association, leaving ten, aggregating 303 members. The session of 1883 reported eleven churches with 397 members. The Association met in 1885 with the Athens Church, Owsley County, and Elder R. G. Murray was elected Moderator, and W. A. Smith, Clerk.
The Booneville Association has had only one period of disturbance in its eighty years' history. The trouble began about 1904, and came out in the open in 1907, when the Riverside Church at Oneida was excluded from the Association for preaching heresy known as "hardshellism." The Hart's Branch Church was "dropped" for the same reason. The very existence of these churches was threatened by this "hardshell" teaching, which would destroy the spirit of missions altogether. It was through the leadership of Elder Hughes Bowling, who was Moderator of the Association seventeen years, that the churches were saved to the cause of missions. This beloved brother "of great determination" is still living, in his ninety-second year (1949).
The Association has covered a large territory, reaching into Clay, Owsley, Lee, Jackson, Knott, Perry and Wolf Counties. Though organized in Lee County, it has met in Lee only two times since 1871, the first session, and in 1896, its 26th annual session. Of the sixty-eight times of meeting according to the records, the Association has met at least forty-one times in Clay County; fifteen times in Owsley; two times in Perry; two times in Lee; one time in Knott; and once in Wolf. At present (1948) the Booneville Association serves the southern part of Owsley County, and the northern part of Clay, which are the religiously active sections of the two counties.
The session of 1948 was held with the Island Creek Church, September 10, represented by thirty-three churches, with a total of 3862 members. Horse Creek was the largest church in the Association with 420 members, Rev. Clinton S. Wright, pastor; and Oneida, the second largest, with 373 members, Rev. Lyn Claybrook, pastor. Elder F. R. Walters was elected Moderator the ninth time, and was rounding out his fortieth year as mis-sionary in the mountains of Kentucky under the State Board of Missions. Oscar Hornsby was elected Clerk for the twenty-third year. He succeeds H. C. Hornsby, who served as clerk twenty-five years, making forty-eight years of service for the Hornsbys in the clerk's office.4
The Rockcastle Association, located in Pulaski and Rockcastle Counties, was constituted in the fall of 1871 of fourteen churches with 764 members, which were dismissed from the old Cumberland River Association, organized in 1809. In the session of 1872 three churches - Union. Mt. Pisgah, and Pleasant Grove - were added, making a total of seventeen with 989 members. Principles in harmony with missions and other benevolent enterprises were adopted, but according to the following report on missions in the session of 1876, little had been done: "We find .... that we .... have not been living up to our duty as an association, as churches, or as Christians, and that the remark so often made that we are stingy, is too true. That the parallel line between us, who profess to be Missionary Baptists, and the so-called iron jackets run (sic) too close, that our religion is so dampened by asking us for a little money for some deserving charity, that our hands hold tighter to a dime than religion to our souls." After a few years some improvement appears according to the records, in the liberality of the churches, especially in local missions, and in maintaining the Sunday School work.
In the session of 1875, a stand was taken against the members of the churches engaging in distilling intoxicating liquors, and declared: "We discountenance dram drinking by Baptists, whether at the public bar, or in the private family." A resolution was introduced in the session of 1878 as follows: "Resolved, that, as our sisters help to bear the burdens of the church and have a vote therein, they be eligible as messengers to the association." After the question was extensively discussed, the vote was taken and the resolution defeated. In 1880, the following question was presented to the Association: "Is alien immersion valid baptism?" The answer was: "That this Association advise her churches not to receive alien baptism."
Among the most prominent of the pioneer preachers, who labored in the territory of the Rockcastle Association was Elder Jesse Tyree, who came from Virginia and settled in Rockcastle County in 1842. He led in the gathering of Mt. Zion, Pine Hill, Flat Rock, Brodhead, and Pleasant Hill churches, all of which he served as pastor through the years. He was the principal leader in the forming of the Rockcastle Association. Moderators have included: Jesse Tyree, 1871-72; Wm. T. Reynolds, 1873; John C. Carmical, 1875; Jesse Tyree again in 1882; Alfred T. Pike, 1883; J. C. Carmical, 1884; Jesse Tyree, 1885; A. G. Whitt, 1887; A. J. Pike, 1888-89; J. C. Cartnical, 1890; H. H. Baker, 1891; James H. Albright, 1892-97; H. H. McKinney, 1893; J. C. Carmical, 1899; William Williams, 1901-03; Nathan Buchanan, 1904-06; William Williams, 1908; A. E. Albright, 1909-11. In 1912 A. J. Pike was again elected to that position and served nine more years. He was followed by Rev. L. D. Gooch in 1921, who was Moderator fourteen years. Rev. C. H. Philbeck was elected Moderator in 1937, and served eight years out of ten.
In 1880 the Rockcastle Association numbered sixteen churches with 1119 members; in 1883, nineteen churches with 1351 members; in 1897, twenty-one churches with 1391 members; and in 1906 twenty churches with 1691 members. The session of 1948 was held with the Mt. Pleasant Church August 3-4. Rev. George Fletcher was elected Moderator, and Edward K. Cook, Clerk, for the fourth time. Twenty-three churches reported 3712 members and 1091 enrolled in the Sunday schools. The church at Mt. Vernon, the County seat of Rockcastle County, Rev. Wendell Belew, pastor, reported 584 members, and the Brodhead church, Rev. Joseph R. Robinson, pastor, 357 members. Rev. W. A. Stokes, association missionary, presented an outline of his work, showing a good record.5
The Shelby County Association was organized August 16, 1872 at Clayvillage Baptist Church of fourteen churches located in Shelby County. Four churches - Mt. Moriah, Mt. Vernon, Pigeon Fork, and Salem - were members of the Middle District Association, constituted in 1837, but dissolved at this time. Four of the churches - Buck Creek, Clayvillage, Shelbyville, and Little Mount - came from the Long Run Association; while Buffalo Lick and Christiansburg were from Franklin Association. Indian Fork was received after the organization of the body, which made eleven churches, aggregating 1797 members.
Elder B. F. Hungerford, principal originator of the Shelby County Association, was elected Moderator, and served six years. He came to Shelbyville in 1860, where he was ordained to the ministry. T. J. Doolan was elected Clerk, and continued in the office eight successive years. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder J. D. Bohannon. A circular letter was sent out from this meeting, requesting correspondence with the neighboring associations. In this letter appears the following: "As a body, we encourage all causes of benevolence. We sustain by our prayers, our influence, and our contributions, Sabbath schools, and Foreign, State and Domestic Missions."
The session of 1873 was held with the church at Shelbyville, and Elder William M. Pratt delivered the introductory sermon. A constitution was adopted, of which the ninth article reads: "No church of this Association shall be considered as acting in good faith with sister churches, which practices receiving the excluded members of a Baptist church, without first investigating the case in connection with the church, in which the exclusion occurred." Elder George W. Gibson was appointed missionary in the Association. His duty was to teach sacred music. As far as is known this action was the first taken in an association in Kentucky to appoint a missionary to the exclusive work of teaching singing. In 1876, the following was adopted: "We record the sentiment of this body as decidedly opposed to the manufacture, traffic, and use of what intoxicates, except it may be for mechanical or medicinal purposes." Three years later a similar resolution was adopted: "No church can permit its members to engage in this traffic (of intoxicating liquors) without ignoring the teaching of God's word, and compromising its claim to be a church of Christ."
The Association met with the Indian Fork Church in 1880. Elder Shelby Vannatta was elected Moderator and continued to serve until 1897, a period of twelve years. J. E. Nunn was elected clerk and continued in that office seven years. Fifteen churches were represented with 2096 members. In 1893, the twenty-one co-operating churches reported 236 baptisms, 64 received by letter, and a total of 3417 members. In 1903, the Association met with the Buck Creek Church. Twenty-two churches were represented, which reported 334 baptisms, 117 received by letter and a total of 4113 members. Elder John A. Middleton was elected Moderator for the seventh time, and John T. Doyle was elected Clerk for the fourth year, and continued to serve in that office until 1924, twenty-five years. Thirty years later, 1933, there were twenty-three cooperating churches with 5889 members.
In 1948, the Shelby County Association met with the Hempridge Church, September 2-3. Twenty-four churches were represented, which reported a total of 8,027 members, and 4,040 pupils enrolled in the Sunday schools. The First Church, Shelbyville, reported 1280 members, and Dr. C. W. Elsey, pastor, who was in the twenty-second year of service. The second largest church was Salem, Rev. D. R. Bennett, pastor, with 629 members.6
The Enterprise Association, located in the eastern region of Kentucky mountains, was constituted at Providence Church, in Carter County, November 10, 1876, of eight churches dismissed from Greenup Association. These churches were located in Johnson, Lawrence, and Carter Counties, and are as follows: Flat Gap, Grayson, Hopewell, Liberty, Mt. Nebo, Providence, Pleasant Grove, and Wolf Creek. A local mission board was appointed, and also committees were named to report on State Missions, Sunday Schools, Education and Foreign Missions. The Association, then, adopted the following policy:"That we solicit correspondence with, and become auxiliary to the General Association.This Association made steady advance from the beginning, though located in anti-missionary territory. It increased from eight churches with 291 members at its organization in 1876, to thirteen churches with 534 members in 1880; and to seventeen churches with 837 members in 1883. The most rapid growth was made between 1900 and 1920. In 1900 the Association reported eighteen churches numbering 517 members; and in 1920, thirty churches, with 1556 members. At the session of 1930, seventeen churches reported 1143 members, while in 1940, twenty-five churches reported 2720 members.
"That we procure our religious literature from Baptist depositories.
"That the churches report annually, what they spend in the cause of benevolence.
"That each minister make annual reports of his labor to this body.
"That the churches exercise strict discipline.
"That we will not receive, nor hold in fellowship any church that receives alien immersions."
In 1948, the Enterprise Association met at Prestonsburg, August 26-27, when Rev. A. O. Allison was elected Moderator, and D. C. Anderson, Clerk. Thirty-five churches were represented with a total of 4404 members. Six of these churches were located in County-seat towns as follows: The church at Pikeville, Pike County, was constituted in 1904 with twelve members, but reported in 1948, 451 members and $9040.00 contributed to missions, and benevolences. Rev. E. L. Howerton was in the twenty-eighth year as pastor of this church. He was elected Moderator of the Association in 1938, and served until 1947, nine years.
The Irene Cole Memorial Church located in Prestonsburg, the county seat of Floyd County, was constituted in 1907, and at present has 180 members and an enrollment of 267 in Sunday school. Rev. L. W. Benedict has recently become pastor of this church (1948). He had labored in that section for a number of years as Regional Rural Church Worker.
The church at Paintsville, the county seat of Johnson County, was constituted in 1903, and in 1948 reported 371 members and contributed $4,016 to missionary objects. Rev. Roy A. Hamilton, the present pastor, succeeded Rev. Ralph E. Webb.
The church at Salyersville, county seat of Magoffin County, constituted in 1909 was pastorless in 1948, but reported 320 members, and $296 contributed to all missionary purposes.
The church at West Liberty, the county seat of Morgan County, constituted in 1913, reported 96 members and $295.00 to all missions in 1948. Rev. W. C. Younce had recently become pastor, succeeding Rev. J. Hoyt Robertson.
The church at Inez, county seat of Martin County, constituted in 1904, reported seventy members and $280 to mission causes. Rev. C. D. Stevens, who has given almost his entire ministry to the mountain section, was pastor. All these churches have been aided by the Baptist State Board of Missions, but only the churches at Inez, and West Liberty were still being aided in 1948.7
The Blackford Association, located principally in Hancock County, was formed in the Bethlehem Church on November 30, 1877, of fourteen churches dismissed from the Goshen Association for the purpose of organizing a new fraternity of churches. These fourteen churches were as follows: Pisgah, Mt. Pleasant, Blackford, Union, Hawesville, Bethlehem, Pleasant Grove, Zion, Lewisport, Friendship, Mt. Eden, Sandy Greek, Pleasant Valley, and Roseville. Elder Robert Bruner was elected Moderator. He served three years. A Board was appointed to provide for the preaching of the gospel in the territory of the Association.
In the session of 1878, Panther Creek, Yelvington, Pellville, Chestnut Grove and Pleasant Ridge Churches were added to the union. Committees were appointed to report on Home, State and Foreign Missions, Sabbath schools, Orphans Home and Temperance. These objects have been fostered by this Association throughout its history.
The fourteen churches with 1320 members represented at the organization of the body in 1877, increased to twenty-one churches with 2264 mem-bers in 1880; and to twenty-four churches with 2508 members in 1882. The Association reported 725 baptisms during the first five years of its existence. In the session of 1892, there were thirty churches represented, which reported a total membership of 2740. In the next thirty-five years there was a decline in membership. In 1927 twenty-three churches reported 2506 members, and each church supporting only one-fourth time preaching.
In the session of 1948, Rev. W. O. Spencer was elected Moderator, and Rev. Ezra D. Meador, was re-elected Clerk. Nineteen churches were represented with a total of 3112 members, and $7,544 contributed to missions and benevolences. Nine churches were supporting full time preaching. The church at Hawesville, the county seat of Hancock County, reported 444 members and Rev. C. L. Hardcastle, pastor. The Blackford Church, the second largest, reported 375 members and Rev. W. O. Spencer, pastor.8
The Union County Association was constituted in the fall of 1878 of nine churches, located in Union County as follows: Little Bethel, Woodland, Highland, Seven Gums and Mt. Olive, dismissed from Henderson County Association; and Little Union, Pleasant Ridge, and Bethany, from Little Bethel Association. The preachers who labored among the churches were Elders Newton Short, J. B. Haynes, S. B. Withers, and J. L. Ferryman.
The Association favored missions, and made some efforts to provide its territory with the gospel. At the first anniversary session in 1879 the Association numbered nine churches with 526 members, which was increased to twelve churches with 890 members in 1880; and to twelve churches with 893 members in 1883. This Union County Association and Henderson County Association in November, 1888, were merged to form the Ohio Valley Association.9
The Greenville Association, a small body, was constituted at the Greenville Church on November 7, 1879 of six churches located principally in Wolf County. This Association had its origin in the division of the territory of the Booneville Association of which the Kentucky River formed the dividing line. The new organization was named "Greenville Association of United Regular Baptists." In 1881 it was composed of the following churches: Shiloh, Greenville, Laurel Spring, Union, Newport, Mt. Nebo, Indian Creek and Strongville, which aggregated about 176 members. In 1884 there were nine co-operating churches with 280 members; in 1899, eleven churches numbering 444 members; in 1907 fourteen churches numbering 510 members and in 1924, eight churches, 456 members.
The session of 1947 was held with the church at Pine Branch, September 12, and Rev. M. A. Eggleston was Moderator, and Roy Kash, Clerk. Twelve churches were represented, numbering 766 members. The church at Campton, the county seat of Wolf County reported 123 members, Rev. Earl Morris, pastor, full time preaching, and the only church in the Association which made a contribution to mission causes. Pine Hill was the second largest church, reporting 111 members, and Rev. Wilson Chaney, pastor.10
The Ohio River Association was constituted at the Crooked Creek Baptist Church, in Crittenden County, October 13, 1883, of fifteen churches, dismissed from the Little River Association. These churches were as follows: Blooming Grove, Caldwell Springs, Camp Creek, Clear Spring, Crooked Creek, Deer Creek, Dyers Hill, Friendship, Good Hope, Mt. Olivet, Piney Creek, Pinckneyville, Sulphur Spring, Walnut Grove, and Walkers Hill. These churches aggregated 1425 members. The new organization took the name of "Ohio River Association of United Baptists." Elder J. W. Crewdson was elected Moderator, and Elder J. S. Miller, Clerk. The following ministers held membership in the churches: W. R. Gibbs, C. Ogleby, J. M. Bebout, J. S. Miller, Collin Hodge, J. W. Crewdson, D. P. Campbell, Peter Melvin, and E. B. Blackburn. Cave Spring, with thirty members, was received into the union.
The first anniversary meeting of the new Association was held at the Good Hope meeting house in Livingston County, commencing on October 4, 1884. Elder Collin Hodge was elected Moderator; Elder J. S. Miller, Clerk; and J. S. Henry preached the introductory sermon. A church recently constituted at Marion, the county seat of Crittenden County was received; and Union, Dunn Springs, and Salem Churches were received by letter, from Little River Association. There were then twenty churches with 1844 members. The following article was added to the constitution: "llth. This Association will not retain in fellowship any church which will persist in keeping, as a member of her body, anyone engaged in the manufacture or sale of alcoholic drinks to be used as a beverage."
In September 1888, the Association met with the church at Marion. Elder G. N. McGrew was elected Moderator, Elder J. S. Miller, Clerk, and W. R. Gibbs preached the introductory sermon. Twenty-seven churches were represented with 2611 members. In August 1903, the Association met with the church at Pinckneyville. Elder W. R. Gibbs was elected Moderator to succeed G. N. McGrew, who had served fifteen successive years; and Elder R. A. LaRue was elected Clerk as a successor to J. S. Miller, the first clerk, who had completed twenty years in that position. Thirty-six churches were represented in this session of 1903, which reported 252 baptisms and a total of 3456 members.
The thirty-second annual session of the Ohio River Association was held in August, 1914 with the church at Macedonia, in Lyon County. Hon. Harry F. Green, Smithland, was elected Moderator and Elder R. A. LaRue, Marion, Clerk. Elder C. H. Wilson, Murray, Kentucky, preached the annual sermon. Thirty-seven churches were represented, which reported 237 baptisms, 113 received by letter, a total of 3,965 members, 2,396 pupils, enrolled in the twenty-eight Sunday schools, and $2,577.51 contributed to missions and benevolences.
The Association met in its 44th annual session, August, 1926 with the church at Marion, Elder J. C. Lilly, pastor. The thirty-nine churches were represented, and reported a total of 4377 members, and $4688 contributed to all denominational causes. Elder C. D. Chick, pastor of the Second Baptist Church at Marion, preached the introductory sermon and was also elected Moderator. Mr. Clarence G. Thompson was elected Clerk, having served since 1916, when he was chosen to succeed R. A. LaRue, the second clerk, who continued in the office for thirteen years.
The session of 1937 was held with the Ohio Valley Church, in Livingston County. Elder J. C. Asbridge, long pastor in the Association, was elected Moderator and Orman Stegall, Clerk. Six churches were pastorless. The thirty-eight churches represented reported 131 baptisms and $1,296.60 contributed to mission causes. The session of 1948 was held with the church at Dycusburg, August 18-19. W. O. Wicker was Moderator, and R. F. Crutcher, Clerk. Thirty-five churches were represented, and reported 4418 members and 2720 enrolled in Sunday school. Ten of these churches supported full time preaching, and sixteen, half time. The Marion Baptist Church, Rev. C. R. Hill, pastor, the largest, numbered 404 members and Dyers Hill Church, the second largest, 324 members, Rev. B. D. Sills, pastor.11
The Mount Zion Association constituted October 30, 1885, at Mt. Zion Church of the following churches located in Whitley County: Pleasant Grove, Meadow Creek, Woodbine, New Zion, Robinson's Creek, Williamsburg, White Oak Mission, Corinth, Mt. Zion and New Prospect. An introductory sermon was preached by Rev. W. B. Estes, after which the messengers of the above named churches met in a preliminary convention for the purpose of forming an Association. Temporary officers were elected and committees were appointed to draft constitution and rules of order and recommend articles of faith.
The ministers and deacons present were constituted a presbytery and reported as follows: "We ... do declare that the churches composing this Convention are duly organized and constituted into an Association of the United Baptist faith and order, to be called and known as the Mt. Zion Baptist Association." Later it was "ordered, that we hold our first annual meeting with the church at Williamsburg, Whitley county, Ky., commencing on Thursday before the second Saturday in September 1886." Rev. E. H. Revel was elected Moderator, and H. C. Harmon, Clerk.
The churches composing the body were advised "to organize Sabbath schools, and report their success at our next annual meeting." An Executive Board was appointed to "take steps to supply the destitute churches, and vicinities with the preaching of the Gospel, . . . and report their success to our next annual meeting." The following was adopted: "That we advise the churches composing this Association not to receive, nor hold in their fellowship, members who make, sell, or drink intoxicating liquors as a beverage." The policy and definition of a church appears as follows: "We believe the church is composed of baptized believers, and none others, and that Baptism is the immersion of the body in water, ... in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost upon a profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ...."
In the first anniversary session at Williamsburg in 1886, according to appointment, thirteen churches were represented, which reported 97 baptisms, 36 received by letter, and a total of 841 members. The church at Williamsburg, constituted in 1883, reported 56 members, cost of the meeting house, $3,508, Pastor's salary $480, gifts to missions, $12.25, and 146 pupils enrolled in Sunday school. In 1892, the Association had increased to twenty-two churches with 1859 members. In 1945, thirty-five churches were represented with 7408 members. Roscoe R. Rudder, Corbin, was Moderator and Edward Haun, Williamsburg, Clerk.
The Mt. Zion Association met with the Chapel Grove Church, September 14-15, 1948. Ray M. Hill was Clerk. Thirty-six churches were represented, which reported 464 baptisms, a total of 8162 members, 5004 pupils enrolled in the Sunday schools, and the sum of $31,232.00 contributed to denominational causes. The First Baptist Church, Williamsburg, reported 1,177 members, and Rev. H. C. Gabhart, pastor. He was also Moderator of the Association. The First Church, Corbin, reported 1146 members, and Rev. E. O. Edwards, pastor; while the Central Church, Corbin, the third largest church, reported 1045 members, and Rev. Glynn Harwood, pastor.12
This Association was constituted, November 22, 1888 at Corydon, Henderson County, of churches from Union County and Henderson County Associations, which united to form the new body. At the tenth annual session of the Union County Association, October 11-13, 1888. the Morganfield Church organized on February 11, was received, and it was reported that a mission had been started at Sturgis. A resolution was adopted at this meeting favoring a union with the Henderson County Association, under a suggested name of Ohio Valley. A committee was appointed to present this resolution to the Henderson Association at its coming session October 19-20 with Zion Church. The resolution was read and adopted by that body and the churches of both Associations appointed messengers to meet at Corydon, to form the new fraternity. All the churches were represented at the proposed meeting except New Hope in Henderson County, and Highland, Pleasant Eidge, New Harmony, New Hope, and Utley Chapel, in Union county, all of which came in later. Bethel Church in Henderson County was represented by letter, but disapproved of the union, and requested a letter of dismission.
Accordingly, messengers from eighteen churches met at Corydon on November 22, 1888, which responded to roll call, favoring the union. Elder C. H. Gregston preached the introductory sermon, Elder J. M. Phillips was elected Moderator, and T. E. Taylor, Clerk. On motion the two Associations were declared one body, under the name "Ohio Valley Association of Baptists." Moderator J. M. Phillips, then led in prayer "pouring out his thanks to Almighty God, for the union ..." The prayer was followed "by hand shaking, and the shedding of tears of joy." The two Mission Boards of the two old Associations were consolidated and located at Corydon to consist of the following members: George B. Martin, John McGill, J. H. Craddock, W. M. Carr, John A. Bennett, John Conway, J. M. Phillips and H. C. Snider. A good missionary program was adopted, recommending to the churches systematic giving, and that the Sunday School and colportage work be blended into one missionary program. Circle meetings were recommended to be held on Fifth Sundays, throughout the territory of the Association.
The first annual session was held with the Little Union Church, beginning October 17, 1889, and was a spiritual and enthusiastic meeting. Elder S. W. Martin preached the introductory sermon, Elder J. B. Haynes was elected Moderator, W. E. Vance, Clerk, and W. M. Carr, Treasurer. Elder G. H. Simmons was elected messenger to the Southern Baptist Convention to meet in Fort Worth, Texas, May 9, 1890 with expenses provided. The church at Sturgis, constituted December 6, 1888, was received into the fellowship of the body.
The Association had a steady growth from the beginning. The number of churches increased from eighteen with 2,468 members in 1888, to thirty-five churches with 4070 members, in 1899. The Sturgis Baptist Institute was established bv the Ohio Valley Association with Professor I. M. Wise, President. Three times during the past ten years Elder J. N. Hall, Fulton, Kentucky, had preached the doctrinal sermon before the Association.
The twentieth annual session was held with the Mt. Pleasant Church, Henderson County, October 1908. McGill Home, the dormitory of the Ohio Valley Baptist College (formerly Sturgis Baptist Institute) had been completed. An appeal was made for the furnishing of the rooms at a cost of $60.00 each. The membership of the churches had increased from 4070 members to 5255 in ten years. During the period 1899-1909 local church expenses had grown from $8,959.67 to $16,712.34. In the session of October 1914, the trustees of the Ohio Valley College at Sturgis reported that the college had closed, and that the property was being sold to pay the indebtedness. The Baptist church at Sturgis purchased the main building to be used in the erection of a new commodious house of worship. The Association did not hold the session of 1918 because of the influenza epidemic.
The thirty-ninth annual session was held with the Little Union Baptist Church, September 18-19, 1928. R. E. Downing, pastor at Morganfield, was elected Moderator, Brother C. I. Hibbs, Clerk, and Brother L. L. Talbott, Treasurer. Dr. F. W. Eberhardt, pastor at Georgetown, Kentucky, preached the annual sermon, and Rev, A. E. Cross, Benton, Kentucky, the doctrinal sermon. A committee was appointed consisting of F. M. Masters, pastor at Sturgis, chairman, C. Q. Jones, pastor at Sullivan, Jerry McGill, W. W. Schwerdtfeger, and C. I. Hibbs, to prepare a history of the Association to be read at the session at Corydon next year, marking the fortieth anniversary of the Association.
The session of 1939, held at Henderson, was the Fiftieth anniversary. Deacon M. W. Cusic of Sturgis was elected Moderator to succeed Dr. C. S. Bratcher, pastor at Morganfield, who had served six years. Rev. Z. T. Connaway, pastor at Sullivan was chosen Clerk, and continued until 1948. Forty-three churches were represented at Henderson with 9460 members. In 1947 the number of churches had increased to forty-six with 12,903 members.
There were two sessions of the Association held in 1948, of one day each. The first day's session was held with the Tabernacle Church at Sturgis, September 21. John R. Flynn, pastor of Audubon Baptist Church, Henderson, presided. After the devotional service, and the enrollment of messengers, J. T. Ford, pastor of the First Baptist Church at Sturgis, was elected Moderator, and Z. T. Connaway was continued Clerk.
The second day's session was held with the Grace Baptist Church, Evansville, Indiana. At the close of the day's session, the agreement was reached to divide the Association. Accordingly twenty-five churches located in Henderson County, Kentucky, and in or near Evansville, Indiana, called for their letters for the purpose of forming a new Association. A temporary organization was set up with Rev. E. Keevil Judy, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Henderson, as Moderator. Committees were appointed, preparatory to perfecting a permanent organization on October 19, when the new Association was constituted under the name of West Kentuckiana Baptist Association. The remaining twenty-four churches, located in Union and Webster Counties continued under the name of Ohio Valley Association of Baptists. The second day closed with prayers of consecration, and the giving the parting hand.13
The Central Baptist Association was constituted at the Bethlehem Church in Washington County, October 22, 1889 of churches which had been lettered out of the South District Association the previous August, i.e.: Springfield, Lebanon, Bethlehem, Deep Creek, Mackville, and other churches. The organization was preceded by a convention composed of messengers from several churches, held with the Bethlehem Baptist Church, June 28, 1889 to consider the question of forming a new Association. The organization was completed the following October by electing Elder W. E. Selecman, Moderator, and J. R. Claybrook, Clerk. Twelve churches were represented with 1756 members.
The first anniversary session was held with the church at Springfield, September 23, 1890. Eleven churches were represented, which reported 1911 members, nine Sunday schools with 64 officers and teachers, and 511 pupils enrolled. The session of 1892 was held with the Pleasant Grove Church, and F. M. Campbell, was elected Clerk, while Elder W. E. Selecman, was continued Moderator. Eleven churches were represented with 1,539 members. On August 7, 1897, the Association met with the Muldraugh's Hill Church, Elder A. Offutt, Moderator, and J. R. Breeding, Clerk. Eleven co-operating churches reported 1,899 members, and seven Sunday schools with 396 pupils enrolled.
The Central Association was composed of about the same number of churches through its entire history. In 1927, twelve churches reported 2653 members and $1780.78 contributed to missions, education and benevolences. The Association met with the church at Willisburg, September 1-2, 1937, and T. D. Tapp was elected Moderator and Clarence Carpenter, Clerk. Twelve churches were represented reporting 3,736 members and ten Sunday schools with 1,752 pupils enrolled. The session of 1946 was held with the Brush Grove Church, September 25-26. The thirteen churches represented, reported 4,378 members and 2,104 pupils enrolled in the eleven Sunday schools. Clarence Harmon was Moderator, and Clarence Carpenter, Clerk.
The session of 1948 was held with the church at Bradfordsville. Twelve churches were represented with 4455 members. The church at Lebanon reported 4,378 members, and Rev. F. G. Schlafer, pastor, successor to Dr. T. J. Porter, who became pastor of the church in 1912, and continued thirty-four years. Springfield was the second largest reporting 502 members, and Rev. W. Lloyd Hellams, pastor, who succeeded Rev. Bailey F. Davis.14
The Warren Association was formed in Bowling Green, September 22, 1890 of churches located in Warren County. In compliance to a call from the Bowling Green and Smith's Grove Baptist churches, messengers from the following churches met in Bowling Green for the purpose of organizing the Warren Association: Smith Grove, Bowling Green, Union, Green River Union, New Jasper, Oak Forest, and Pleasant Grove. W. H. Cooke was elected Moderator, J. C. Potter, Clerk, and J. Whit Potter, Treasurer. A constitution, Order of Business, and Articles of Faith were adopted, and committees were appointed to report the following year to the first annual session, which was fixed for the third Wednesday in September 1891, with the Oak Forest Church.
The first annual session was held at the appointed time and place, Rev. John Bass Shelton, pastor at Smith's Grove, preached the introductory sermon. Rev. J. M. Bent represented the Liberty Female College at Glasgow, and Rev. R. N. Barrett, pastor at Bethel Church, Fairview, Bethel Association, represented his book, "The Child of the Ganges." Dr. J. W. Warder, Corresponding Secretary of State Missions, addressed the body. Twelve churches were represented, which reported a total of 1,634 members and $5,999.43 contributed for all purposes, of which $4,045.10 came from the church at Bowling Green.
The second annual session was held in September, 1892 with the Union Church. An Executive Board was appointed, consisting of two members from each church. Dr. W. A. Mason was the first chairman, and the new Board held its first meeting in the basement of the Baptist Church at Bowling Green, October 10, following the session of the Association. A resolution was adopted suggesting "to all the churches of this Association that they pass rules requiring their members to give a satisfactory reason for an absence of twelve months from their church meetings, or exclude them."
In the session of 1893, the following churches applied for membership by letter: Friendship, Delafteld, Greenwood and Liberty Hill. In a vote taken separately, the three first named churches were unanimously received, but objections were made against receiving Liberty Hill, on account of that church holding a man in its membership, who was a distiller of intoxicating liquors. After a heated discussion a committee was appointed to look into the matter, but the church withdrew the letter by mutual consent.
At the session of 1897, twenty-one churches reported 129 baptisms and a total of 2564 members. In 1898 J. B. Benton was elected Moderator to succeed W. H. Cooke, the first Moderator, who had served seven years. The motion was made and carried, that, when churches make application for membership in this Association, the messengers be required to appear before a committee for questioning, whether "any of their members were distillers or liquor dealers."
The Warren Association met in Bowling Green in 1911. James Chenault, Smiths Grove, was elected Moderator and H. P. Summers, Clerk. Twenty-seven churches were represented, and reported a total of 3,770 members, and 1,792 pupils enrolled in the Sunday schools. The Association met again in Bowling Green, September 1925. E. J. Keen, M. D. was elected Moderator and J. Leslie Adkins, Clerk. Twenty-eight churches were repre-sented with a total of 4,991 members. In the session of 1935, John W. T. Givens was Moderator, and L. C. Roberts, Clerk. The twenty-eight co-operating churches reported 5,524 members, and 3,590 pupils enrolled in the Sunday schools. The First Baptist Church, Bowling Green reported 1524 members, and R. T. Skinner, pastor.
The Warren Association met September 8-9, 1948 with the Pleasant Grove Church, twenty-nine churches were represented, numbering 6718 members, and 3394 pupils enrolled in the Sunday schools. The First Church, Bowling Green, reported 2470 members and Harold J. Purdy, pastor; while Smiths Grove, the second largest church, reported 338 members, and G. G. Graber, pastor.15
The Upper Cumberland Association of United Baptists was constituted, March 17, 1890 at Mt. Pleasant Church, Harlan County. A convention of the Baptist Churches in the North Concord Association, situated east of the Pine Mountains, in Harlan County was held for the purpose of organizing these churches into an Association. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder Jacob Carmack, after which Elder R. C. Medaris was elected temporary chairman, and H. C. Rice, temporary secretary. A presbytery was appointed which reported on Monday, March 17, as follows: "We the Presbytery ... do declare that the churches composing this convention, are duly organized and constituted into an Association of the United Baptist faith and order, to be known as the Upper Cumberland Valley Association."
Rev. H. P. Hensley was elected Moderator, H. C. Rice, Clerk, and T. G. Harris, Treasurer. In the following autumn the newly organized Association met again with the Mt. Pleasant Church and Elder N. H. Noe preached the annual sermon.
The next session was held with Wallins Creek Church in Harlan County, August 1891. The following churches with their membership was represented by messengers: Middleton Settlement, 51 members; Jesse's Creek, 11; Wallin's Creek, 94; Middle Fork, 38; Mt. Pleasant, 53; Browney's Creek, 26; Catrons Creek, 36; Martin's Fork, 73; and Forristers Creek, 27; a total of 409 members. Elder J. G. Parson was elected Moderator and Randolph Browning, Clerk. In 1893 Elder W. H. Shoemaker was appointed missionary to labor in the bounds of the Association. At the session of 1894, he reported 51 conversions under his ministry, baptized 23, organized one church, and five Sunday schools, labored 104 days, preached 157 sermons, visited 150 families, of which 27 had no Bible or Testaments and received $14.10 from the field. He was elected missionary for full time for the following year.
In 1898 only six churches were represented with 215 members. In 1901, Rev. J. W. Mahon, pastor at Harlan, preached the introductory sermon and was elected Clerk, and Rev. George G. Brock, Moderator. Letters were read from seven churches. In 1902, J. W. Mahon was chosen a messen-ger to the Southern Baptist Convention, and Robert Browning a messenger to the General Association. The following resolution on pastoral support was adopted in the session of 1907: "We recommend that our pastors study, train and teach our people of the importance of giving their means for the support of the cause of Christ." Ten churches reported 108 baptisms, a total of 590 members and $236.55 for pastors' salaries and church expenses.
In 1912, the Association reported 59 baptisms, and fifteen churches with 740 members. Five of these churches were pastorless. The Harlan Church, Rev. J. K. Smith, pastor, had become a member of the Association, and the session of 1916 was held with that church, with C. D. Stevens, Moderator. In 1925, the Association numbered 24 churches with 2,692 members. Dr. R. P. Jasper, pastor of two churches was elected Moderator, and succeeded Professor F. D. Perkins, who had served four years. In the session of 1945, thirty-seven churches were represented with 7,330 members. Rev. John Buell was Moderator, and J. D. Sayers, Clerk.
In 1948, the Association numbered forty-one churches, reporting 8,193 members. The First Church, Harlan, numbered 2018 members, Dr. W. J. Bolt, pastor, who was also Moderator of the Association. The Loyall Church was the second largest, with 448 members, Rev. Rans Hill, pastor.16
The first session of "East Union Association of United Baptists" met Nov. 27, 1891, with the Boston Church.
The second annual session was held with Little Poplar Creek Church, in Knox County, September 1-2, 1892. Elder S. Stanfill delivered the introductory sermon, Elder J. A. Ingram was chosen Moderator, and G. T. Hill. Clerk. This session was composed of messengers from the following churches: Pleasant View, 35 members; Little Poplar, 162; Ephesus, 45; Boston, 123; Cumberland, 160; Mossy Gap, 28; Poplar Creek, 97; Clear Fork, 108; Kensee, 36; Maple Creek, 124; Sulphur Springs, 21; Jellico, 124; and Rock Springs, 45; a total of 924 members.
The session of 1895 was held with the Cumberland River Church in Whitley County commencing on September 5. Elder S. Stanfill was elected Moderator and J. R. Foley, Clerk. Dr. J. N. Prestridge, who at that time was President of Cumberland College, was present. In 1945, after fifty years had elapsed, the East Union Association numbered twenty-nine churches with 4834 members, of which ten supported full time preaching.
In 1948, the twenty-nine churches reported 196 baptisms, and a total of 4646 members. The Association being located on the Tennessee and Kentucky line, twelve of the pastors lived in Tennessee. The largest church was First Church, Jellico, Tennessee, with 728 members and Rev. F. R. Tallant, pastor. The second largest was Little Poplar, in Kentucky, with 338 members, and Rev. Steve Philpot, pastor. Edward Haun, Eagen, Tennessee, was Moderator and T. E. Moses, Clerk.17
The West Kentucky Baptist Association was constituted October 12, 1893 at the Bardwell Church. Elder T. H. Pettit was elected temporary Moderator, and Elder W. D. Nowlin, temporary Clerk. Messengers from the following churches gathered for the purpose of forming a new Association: Arlington, Bardwell, Bethlehem, Berkley, Hopewell, Clinton, Columbus, Emmaus, Fulton, Liberty, Mayfield Creek, Milburn, Mississippi, Mt. Carmel, Mt. Moriah, New Bethel, New Hope, Pleasant Ridge, Pleasant Valley, Poplar Grove, Shiloh, Spring Hill, South Ballard, Hickman, Obion, and Zoar. The Convention proceeded to elect permanent officers, which resulted in Elder J. N. Hall, Fulton, becoming Moderator, and Elder Martin Ball, Clerk. The name "West Kentucky" was selected as the name of the Association, and a constitution and Rules of Decorum were adopted. The clerk was authorized to fill in the names of all the standing committees.
The new Association met with the Spring Hill Churchh, October 1894. Dr. D. B. Ray, American Baptist Flag, Dr. J. W. Warder, Corresponding Secretary of the State Board of Missions, and Professor Aaron Williams, Vice-President of Bethel College, Russellville, were seated as visitors. Elder Ben M. Bogard read the report on Foreign Missions, which emphasized the fact "that there are two plans of doing Foreign Mission work, now prominently before our Southern Baptist people." The report stated that "the most prominent of these plans is known as the Board or convention plan; the other plan is known as the Gospel Mission, which is led by T. P. Crawford, G. P. Bostick, D. W. Herring and others." The report recom-mended that the brethren of this Association carefully study these methods and decide which one is better, and act accordingly. Some of the pastors in the Association who became well known in the years ahead, were as follows: W. D. Nowlin, pastor at Hickman; B. A. Copass, pastor at Clinton, where Clinton College was located; George Burlingame, pastor of two country churches, then a student in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Ben M. Bogard, pastor at Fulton, who for nearly half a century has led the anti-convention forces of Arkansas and other states.
The session of the West Kentucky Association of 1895 was held with the Liberty Church and Elder J. N. Hall was re-elected Moderator, and T. C. Mahan, Clerk. The Association Mission Board reported that Elder B. F. Hyde had been employed as missionary for half time with a tent. He presented a fruitful report of work done. The report on Foreign Missions again requested the Association to decide between the Convention and Gospel Mission plans of promoting Foreign Missions. In the session of 1896, held with the church at Arlington, Elder J. N. Hall was continued Moderator. Two reports were presented on Foreign Missions - one for the Board and Convention plan, and the other for Gospel Missions, each setting forth their statistics. Thirty-three churches represented in this session, reported 126 baptisms and a total of 3099 members.
In the session of 1898, the statement was made by report "That there seems to be a growing feeling ... in favor of ... Gospel Missions .... Send the amount given to this plan to T. K. Taylor, Clinton, Kentucky, who will forward the amount to the place designated without trouble of any kind to anyone." The report on foreign Missions urged the support of the Foreign Board at Richmond, Virginia, which had reported to the Southern Baptist Convention at Norfolk, Virginia "out of debt, and with nearly $3000 in the treasury for the work ..." Two reports on Foreign Missions, one for the Board, the other for Gospel Missions, continued to be made to the West Kentucky Association until 1921.
The thirteenth annual session was held with the Liberty Church, in Fultom County. October 1905. Thirty-one churches were represented, and reported 3435 menbers and $5824 contributed to the support of the pastors. Elder J. N. Hall was elected Moderator for the last time, as he passed from this life during the following year, 1906. He had served as Moderator from the beginning of the Association with the exception of two years. In the session of 1906, Elder R. W. Mahan was elected Moderator, and M. E. Dodd, pastor at Fulton, Clerk.
In 1926, thirty-five co-operating churches reported 4718 members and L. R. Riley. Moderator. In 1945. after nineteen years had elapsed, the churches numbered thirty-seven with 6359 members. In 1948, after three years, thirty-eight churches reported 7007 members. The First Church, Fulton, with 930 members reported James G. Heisner, pastor. He had succeeded Sam Ed Bradley. West Hickman was the second largest church, which reported 449 .members, and G. R. Abernathy, pastor.18
The Graves County Association of Baptists was constituted in the Mayfield Baptist Church on November 22, 1893 of messengers from the following twenty-six Baptist churches, located in Graves County, Kentucky: Bethany, W. F. Lowe, pastor; Boydsville, Charles Bell, pastor; Cuba, J. L. Perryman, pastor; Chapel Hill, W. J. Nowland, pastor; Clarks River, E. H. Whitt, pastor; Dublin, W. H. Williams, pastor; Enon, T. L. Shelton, pastor; Emanuel, J. K. Kesterson, pastor; Farmington, Oak Grove, Wingo, and Sharon, T. B. Rouse, pastor; Little Bethel, J. R. Stewart, pastor; Little Obion, J. Bell, pastor; Mayfleld, A. S. Pettie, pastor; Hopewell, E. H. Whitt, pastor; Hickory Grove, A. H. Murphy, pastor; New Concord, W. F. Lowe, pastor; New Liberty, J. B. Henry, pastor; Pryorsburg, no pastor; Sand Hill, E. H. Whitt, pastor; Trace Creek, H. E. Hogan, pastor; Mt. Pisgah, no pastor; Lebanon, no pastor; Backusburg, no pastor; Liberty, H. K. Thomas, pastor; Mt. Olivet, J. E. Hogan: pastor; Pleasant Grove, W. F. Lowe, pastor; Water Valley, W. F. Matheny, pastor.
An opening devotional service was conducted by Elder A. S. Pettie, pastor of the Mayfield Church. A temporary organization was then formed. W. P. Harvey of the Western Recorder, and J. W. Warder, Corresponding Secretary of the Baptist State Mission Board, were appointed reading clerks, and the messengers from the churches were enrolled. The permanent organization was completed by electing Elder W. F. Lowe, Moderator, Stephens Elmore, Clerk, and Marshall Wilson, Treasurer of the minute fund.
The forming of the Graves County Association was preceded by action taken in the forty-fourth annual session of the Mt. Olivet Association with the Mt, Olivet Church, October 5-7, 1892. The Mt. Olivet body was constituted July 1848 of churches, which split off from the West Union Association over the T. L. Garrett controversy.! This Association adopted the following resolution at the session referred to above:
"Whereas, the territory now occupied by this Association, and our sister, the West Union Association, is unequally divided;
"Whereas, we believe that the cause of Christ would be advanced, and God glorified, in a better division of territory;
"Resolved, therefore. That the territory now occupied by the two associations be so divided as to make three associations. This division to be made as follows: The churches of Graves County to compose one association; the churches of McCracken and Ballard Counties to compose the second; the counties of Carlisle, Hickman, and Fulton to compose the third.
"Resolved, That this preamble and resolution ... be forwarded by our corresponding messengers to the next session of the West Union Associa¬tion for the consideration of that body."
In the session of the Mt. Olivet Association, with the Hickory Grove Baptist Church, October 4-6, 1893, the following action was taken:
"Resolved, That Bro. W. F. Lowe, our Moderator, be authorized to attend the West Union Association, and if that body shall dissolve, he is authorized to call a meeting of all the churches of Graves County to meet at Mayfield with the Baptist church there at their invitation, on Wednesday before 4th Sunday in November 1893 to form a new Association;
"Resolved, That the churches in this Association (Mt. Olivet) located in McCracken, Hickman and Carlisle Counties be requested to meet with West Union Association at its next session by messengers to assist in the organization of the new Association."
At the close of the session, the Mt. Olivet Association dissolved to meet no more, and the churches of that body located in Graves County were formed into the Graves County Association. On October 12, 1893, the West Kentucky Association was constituted out of the churches located in Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton Counties. Thus the large territory was occupied by three associations - West Union, West Kentucky, and Graves County.
The second annual session of the Graves County Association was held with the Water Valley Church, October 31-Nov. 2, 1894. Elder W. F. Lowe was re-elected Moderator, and was continued in that position until his death, December 14, 1907. The annual sermon was preached by A. S. Pettie. Twenty-eight churches were represented, reporting a total of 2922 mem-bers. The church at Mayfield was the largest with 530 members. J. N. Hall, pastor at Fulton, representing the Western Recorder; J. W. Warder, Corresponding Secretary of the State Board of Missions; and Miss Mary Hollingsworth, Superintendent of the Louisville Orphans Home, were recognized, and seated as visitors.
The session of October, 1895, held with the Trace Creek Church, marks the beginning of years of strife and division on the methods of carrying on foreign mission work. The Committee on Foreign Missions presented the two plans of performing the mission task.
First the Board Plan. "The Convention or Board Plan, which had its origin in the parlor of Mr. Beeby Wallis at Kettering, England, in October, 1792, has continued to grow, until it has become an immense organization, with its central boards, and subordinate societies, too numerous to mention, with still others to be added, which give great reasons for apprehension among Baptists; yet we would say that this system has done and is doing much good in the world. The Southern Baptist Convention has foreign missionaries in Africa, Brazil, China, Italy, Japan and Mexico, besides ninety-one native helpers in these fields."
The other plan is known as Gospel Missions which is set forth in the report as follows: "The Gospel Mission Plan had its origin with Jesus Christ and his apostles, but was very recently revived in China and in America by T. P. Crawford, T. J. League, G. P. Bostick, D. W. Herring, W. D. King and others."
The principles, they alleged, were few and simple, so as to commend them to every truth loving Baptist. "1. Missionaries are sent out by churches and not by boards. 2. They trust God and the churches for their support. 3. The missionary and the church fix their salaries. 4. They become all things to all men, that they may save some. 5. They give the heathen the gospel, not hospitals and schools. 6. The gospel and the Holy Spirit are sufficient to convert them. 7. Foreign money is not used to hire heathens to preach. 8. No churches or school houses are built for them. 9. When converted they will do these for themselves."
"Connected with this system, we now have thirteen missionaries in China, two others preparing to go, besides others are preparing to go to other parts of the world."
These two mission methods were presented to the Graves County Association in one report until the session 1899, when the report on Foreign Missions was confined to the work of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention; while the report on Gospel Missions was made by a separate committee. This controversy over methods continued until 1922, when the last report on Gospel Missions appeared in the minutes.
In the session of October 1897, thirty churches were represented, which reported 198 baptisms and a total of 3570 members. These churches contributed $498.78 for all organized missions, and $134.10 for gospel missions.
In the session of 1907, of the thirty-one churches represented, thirty reported only one-fourth time preaching. Twenty-three of these thirty churches supported Gospel Missions to the amount of $338.86. Six of the thirty churches contributed to Foreign Missions, nine to Home Missions, and ten to State Missions, a total amount of $230.62. The Mayfield Church reported 848 members, 350 enrolled in Sunday school, and $906.96 contribu¬ted to State, Home and Foreign Missions.
The Association met with the Sedalia Church in the twenty-ninth annual session October 26, 1921. A special report on Gospel Missions showed that about $8,000 had been raised the previous year for the support of eleven foreign missionaries then on the field, and four home missionaries. An earnest request was made in the report that the gospel mission brethren and churches send their contribution to "our treasurer," instead of directly to the workers on the field. The co-operating churches contributed $14,548.28 to all mission and benevolent causes during the past year, as a result of the 75-Million Campaign.
The forty-third annual session, October 1935 reported thirty-one churches, represented with a total of 6020 members, 2877 enrolled in Sun-day school, and $7853.96 contributed to missions and benevolences.
The session of 1948 showed that the number of churches had increased to thirty-eight with a total of 9153 members. Thirty-two of these churches reported full time preaching, and six with half time preaching.
The First Baptist Church, Mayfield, the largest in membership in the Graves County Association from the beginning, was constituted in 1844 with fourteen members. The first house of worship was dedicated in 1858, and destroyed by fire in 1867. That same year the second house was erected, which the church occupied until the present building was erected, and in which the first service was held on the 4th Sunday in August, 1929 in the second year of the pastorate of W. H. Horton.
Elder Henry Richardson was the first pastor of the Mayfield Church and preached his first sermon on July 13, 1844. The following ministers served as pastors in succession: J. P. Edwards, C. W. Miller, J. M. Harrington, T. L. Garnett, D. R. Ray, Hardeman Puryear, Willis White, E. W. Benson, a Brother Norton, T. H. Pettit, G. W. Lane, A. C. Caperton, T. L. Du-pont, Ray S. Flemming, Ezra Smith, L. W. Morrison, C. M. Williams, W. C. Taylor, Gilbert Dobbs (supply), A. S. Pettie, H. C. Roberts, W. D. Nowlin, W. M. Wood, J. W. Gillon, and Arthur Fox. W. H. Horton, the present pastor, began his pastorate in 1927, and was completing his twenty-second year of continued service in 1949.
The Northside Church, Mayfield, constituted in 1938, was the second largest church in the Association, reported 644 members in 1948 with Artell Wright, pastor; while Liberty 'Church formed in 1845 was the third largest with 454 members and B. F. Bynum, pastor.19
The Edrnonson Association of Missionary Baptists was organized in a preliminary meeting at Brownsville, Edmonson County, June 25, 1894. Churches entering upon the establishment of the body were: Brownsville, Liberty Hill, Pleasant Grove and Silent Grove. Several committees were appointed, and plans were set in motion to have the first session of the body at the Liberty Hill Church, September 26, 1894. Robert Luttrell was Moderator, and Elder B. F. Page, who was largely responsible for the or-ganization of the new group, preached the annual sermon.
At the meeting in 1898 at Holly Springs Church, eleven churches reported 58 baptisms, twenty-eight by letter and a total of 827 members.
J. U. Wells preached the annual sermon, Elder J. L. Smith was elected Moderator and served twenty years in succession until his death, April 16, 1919. In 1901 the session was held with the Silent Grove Church and ten churches were represented, which reported 819 members, total value of church property, $3,100 and $64.42 contributed to all missions. D. H. Howerton preached the annual sermon, Elder J. L. Smith was elected Moderator, and O. P. Shackelford, Clerk.
The following churches were represented in the session of 1915; Bee Springs, 122 members; Brownsville, 192; Cedar Spring, 98; Hill Grove, 50; Holly Springs, 124; Hopewell, 59; Joppa, 164; Little Jordon, 55; Mammoth Cave, 106; Silent Grove, 137; Sulphur Well, 65; Sweeden, 90, and Union Light, 49, total 1311. These churches were rural and never attained to a large membership. The Mammoth Cave National Park in after years was located in the territory of the Association.
In 1918, the Association met with the church at Liberty Hill, September 4, G. W. Argabrite preached the annual sermon, Elder L. C. Ray was elected Moderator to succeed Elder J. L. Smith and L. G. Spillman, who had continued in that office six years, was elected clerk. In this session $568.70 was contributed for missions, ministerial education, and Orphans' Home. In 1926, the Association met with the Hopewell Church, and Joseph E. Fulton, was moderator and Walter F. Davis, Clerk. Fourteen churches were represented, numbering 1387 members. The 1928 session was held with the Holly Springs Church. Deacon L. G. Spillman, of the Silent Grove Baptist Church, who had already served five years as Clerk, was elected Moderator, and continued until 1940, thirteen consecutive years.
In the session of 1948, the Association numbered fourteen churches with 1,975 members. Deacon W. D. Ray was elected Moderator the seventh time, and Rumsey Harrison, Clerk, and the introductory sermon was preached by Lacy Minton. The Sweeden Church, Elder Amos Crenshaw, pastor, was the largest with 373 members, but reported only one Sunday a month preaching. The church at Brownsville, the County seat of Edmonson County, numbering 281 members, was the only church in the Association supporting a full time pastor, though pastorless at that time.20 W. C. Harrell, associational missionary, made a good report and was unanimously elected to serve the ensuing year.
The East Lynn Baptist Association was evidently constituted in the fall of 1893 of rural churches, located principally in LaRue County. The organizing session was held with the Corinth Church, and the introductory sermon was preached by Elder Jas. F. Hunt. Elder W. R. T. McFarland was elected Moderator and served twelve years with an interval of one year. Elder J. B. Ferrill was elected Clerk, and continued four years.
The Association met with the Good Hope Church, September 24, 1896, and was composed of messengers from thirteen churches with a total of 1,545 members. The session of 1897 was held with the Pleasant Grove Church in LaRue County. The number of churches had increased to fifteen with 1,620 members, and in the session of 1898 the number remained at fifteen, and the membership increased to 1,665.
The session of 1912 was held with the Pleasant Hill Church, in Taylor County on October 23-24. Elder W. T. Short was elected Moderator and continued in that office until 1937, a period of 26 years. T. J. Arvin was elected Clerk for the sixth time. Twelve churches were represented as follows: Bethel, 62 members; Corinth 128; Good Hope, 337; Holly Grove, 223; Liberty, 175; Mt. Carmel, 195; Mt. Roberts, 63; Mt. Washington, 203; Pleasant Grove, 123; Pleasant Hill, 288; Rolling Fork, 103; and Union Band, 140, a total of 2,040 members. The number of the churches remained about the same in the future.
The 46th annual session was held with the Gilboa Church, August, 1938. Abraham Berry, who succeeded Elder W. T. Short, was elected Moderator, and H. P. Ford was chosen Clerk for the eighth year. Rev. D. L. Druin preached the introductory sermon. Thirteen churches represented, reported 2,260 members, 918 pupils enrolled in the Sunday schools, and $7,788.72 contributed for all purposes, of which $807.47 was for mission causes.
In 1948, the 56th annual session of the Association was held with the Rolling Fork Church, September 2-3. B. E. Settles was elected Moderator and Forrest Fields, Clerk. Thirteen co-operating churches reported 2,286 members, and 854 persons enrolled in the Sunday schools. Pleasant Grove Church, Rev. G. T. Smith, pastor, reported 308 members; Mt. Carmel, J. L. Bradshaw, pastor, had 282 members, and Good Hope, Rev. Carl Loy, pastor, the third largest church, numbered 250 members.21
The Wayne County Baptist Association had a preliminary meeting at the Big Sinking Church, Wayne County, May 27-29, 1904. The body was constituted the next October at Steubenville, of the following churches: Liberty, Zion, Big Sinking, New Salem, Shiloh, Monticello, Mt. Pleasant, Charity, Beaver Creek, Cedar Hill, Pleasant Hill, Mt. Pisgah, Parnell, and Steubenville.
The Association was organized by electing J. H. Shearer. Moderator and P. B. Cooper, Clerk. The introductory sermon was by J. M. McFarland.
The next session of the new Association was held with the church at Monticello beginning October 5, 1905. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder Eli Correll. Elder J. H. Shearer was elected Moderator and P. B. Cooper, Clerk. This session was composed of messengers from seventeen churches which reported 56 baptisms and a total of 1986 members. The church at Monticello, County seat of Wayne County, reported 265 members, and Pleasant Hill, the second largest church, 243 members. In 1921, the nineteen churches represented reported 2498 members, the amount of $5,178.74 for pastoral suport and $4,933.05 to the denominational budget. Brother P. B. Cooper, who had served the South Concord Association as Clerk for nine years, and then served the Wayne County Association, since its organization, died February 11, 1927.
In 1945 the nineteen co-operating churches, reported a total of 3677 members. Rev. C. R. Barrow, pastor at Monticello was Moderator, and S. E. Anderson, Clerk. In 1948, twenty-two churches were represented with 4,125 members. The church at Monticello numbered 688 members, and the Stubenville Church, the second largest, reported 334 members and R. E. Sasser, pastor.22 In early 1949 C. R. Barrow accepted a pastorate in Oregon.
What is now known as the Bell County Association of Baptists was constituted at the Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Bell County on Friday before the first Saturday in September 1896, of churches from the North Concord Association, which resulted from a division of that body. At the annual meeting at Little Creek Church, September 13, 1895, a committee on division of the Association was appointed to submit a report, which was adopted as follows: The division of the territory was to commence "on the headwaters of Stinking Creek, and the left hand fork of Straight Creek, and running with the Bell and Knox County line to the Whitley County line. We recommend that its part of the Association below said line in Knox County retain the name of the North Concord Association, and above the line in Bell County be called the East Concord Association. We recommend that the first annual meeting of the East Concord Association be held with Walnut Grove Church, in Bell County on Friday before the first Saturday in September, 1896." This committee also "recommended that William McHutchins preach the first annual sermon, and act as Moderator pro tem and that W. M. Hoskins act as Clerk pro tem." It was also recommended "that the present Moderator and Clerk (of the North Concord Association) visit the new Association at its first annual meeting to assist the brethren in their beginning."
The above resolution was adopted and messengers from the following churches met at the place and date apointed to begin the new Association: Antioch, William Gibson, pastor; Roost, William McHutchins, pastor; Mt. Hebron, G. W. Brooks, pastor; Union and Mt. Hope, Noah Smith, pastor; Jacks Creek, John Collett, pastor; Walnut Grove, William H. Partin, pastor; Little Clear Creek, M. S. Webb, pastor; Harmony, R. G. Evans, pastor; Little Creek, G. W. Brooks, pastor; and Pineville, John Geisler, pastor. These eleven churches reported 704 members, and value of church property $3,425, of which $3,000 was the value of the Pineville property, leaving $425 as the value of the remaining church property.
The new Association was designated by the name of "East Concord" until the session of 1907, when the following resolution was adopted: "Resolved, that we change the name of this Association from East Concord ... to the Bell County Association of Baptists."
The Bell County Association was located in a mountain section and its growth at first was not rapid. The session of 1915 was held with the Fernsdale and Antioch Church, September 1, 2. J. G. Browning was Moderator, and W. T. Kobbins, Clerk. Thirty-five churches were represented, which reported 470 baptisms, a total of 2,750 members, and 1,639 puplis enrolled in 33 Sunday schools. The church at Pineville reported 215 members, and the church at Middlesboro, 321 members.
The Bell County Association met with Meldrum Church September 10, 1924 with J. G. Browning in the Moderator's chair and Rev. W. T. Robbins, Clerk. Forty-one churches were affiliated with the body, which reported 549 baptisms and 357 received by letter and statement and a total of 5,064 members. Rev. L. C. Kelly was pastor at Pineville, 546 members, and Rev. Sam. P. Martin at Middlesboro, 954 members. In 1935, the Association in session with the Concord Church reported 65 co-operating churches with a total of 7,729 members. Eight of these 65 churches were supporting full time preaching as follows: Concord, W. M. Hundley, pastor, 175 members; First Church, Pineville, Dr. L. C. Kelly, pastor, 784; First Church, Middlesboro, Dr. S. E. Tull, pastor, 1453; Fonde, R. B. Moyers, pastor, 298; Kettle Island, J. W. Hall, pastor, 65; Riverside, R. S. Helton, pastor, 800; Second Church, Middlesboro, Wint Bolton, pastor, 465; Wasioto, W. T. Robbins, pastor, 248.
Rev. W. T. Robbins in a letter to the author dated January 29, 1947, thus writes: "I was present, when the Bell County Association was organized over 50 years ago. I have acted as Clerk of the Association 42 years (1946). I have kept a watch on its growth from the very first. We started out with eleven churches and now we have 72 churches. We started with 704 members; our present membership is far in excess of 10,000," or 10,730 to be exact.
The session of 1948 was held with the Alva Church August 27-28. Rev. Beckham Stanley was elected Moderator, and Rev. W. T. Robbins, Clerk for the 44th year. This session of the Association was composed of 76 churches of which 72 were represented by letters and messengers. Thirty seven of the churches report full time preaching, of which the First Baptist Church, Middlesboro was the largest, numbering 1790 members and Dr. Marvin Adams, pastor. The First Baptist Church, Pineville, Wayne Dehoney, pastor, stands second in size with 1,024 niembers.23
The Goose Creek Association of United Baptists held the first annual session with New Home Baptist Church in Clay County, September 24-25, 1897. This Association was evidently constituted in 1896, since the present session was called to order by J. W. Jones, "the Moderator of last year," but no records are available that give an account of the initial organization of this body. Letters were read from the following churches: Paynes, 47 members; Pleasant Green, 21; Friendship, 66; Rock Springs, 44; Providence, 91; Union, 182; New Home, 39; Girdler 76; Manchester, 78; Swafford, 48; and New Home No. 2, no report. The total membership of these eleven churches was 692, and total contribution of $7.25. Twelve preachers held membership in these churches.
In the season of 1898, the Committee on Education made the following recommendations: that "this Association . . . co-operate with other associations, and select a site somewhere in the mountains of Kentucky, and build a college direct under our own control, that we may send our children to a school ... of Baptist people," "not mixed up with other denominations," but schools "that are sound in the faith." A committee was appointed to look out for the establishing of such a school. This interesting resolution was also adopted in this session of 1898 as follows: "We do believe this Association should appoint a committee of three members, to get up a history of the United Baptist of Kentucky, so we Baptist of the mountains can show our successors back to England and Holland, and it would be ... the grand¬est works Baptist ever entered into." It was also recommended in this session that "every church in this Association have a good Sunday school, conducted by Baptist officers and controlled by the churches, and Baptist literature be used." Elder J. M. Jones, who had served as Moderator of the Association from its beginning died on July 5, 1901.
In the session of the Association in 1903, eleven churches reported 818 members; and in 1910, 920 members. Rev. F. R. Walters, who came into the mountain section in 1908, as pastor at Manchester, was Moderator of the session of 1923. M. M. McFarland, State Worker, preached the introductory sermon, preached on the second day by request, and spoke six times on the various reports during the two days' session in 1922.
In 1946 the Goose Creek Association reported eighteen churches with 865 members, all of which were located in the open country in a rough mountainous section and seven of them at that time were pastorless. The reports from these same eighteen churches in 1948 showed that the membership had increased to 1012, and that $838.00 was contributed to pastoral support. The Union Church, Lloyd Smith, pastor, was the largest with 200 members, and the New Home No. 1 was the second largest, reporting 146 members, and Steve Philpot, pastor.24
1. Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 2, p. 621-625.
2. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 626-628.
3. Skinner, J. E., History of the Blood River Association of Baptists; Spencer, John H., op. cit.. Vol. 2, p. 629-633.
4. From minutes and historical records furnished by Elder F. R. Walters, Manchester, Ky.; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 634, 635.
5. Minutes of the Rockcastle Baptist Association; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 636-638.
6. Minutes of the Shelby County Association of Baptists; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 638-641.
7. From minutes and historical records furnished by Elder E. L. Howerton, Pikeville, Ky.; Minutes of Enterprise Association of Baptists; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 641-643.
8. Minutes of the Blackford Association of Missionary Baptists; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 645-646.
9. Minutes of the Ohio Valley Association of United Baptists, 1889, p. 2; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 647.
10. Minutes of the Greenville Association of Baptists; Spencer, John H., op. cit, Vol. 2, p. 650.
11. Minutes of the Ohio River Association of Baptists, 1888, 1903, 1914, 1926, 1937; Spencer, John H., op. cit.; Vol. 2, p. 651, 652; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1948.
12. Minutes of the Mt. Zion Association of United Baptists, 1885, 1886, 1892; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1945, 1948.
13. Masters, Frank M., "History of Ohio Valley Baptist Association," Minutes of the Ohio Valley Baptist Association, 1929, p. 27-39; 1888, 1889, 1899, 1908, 1928, 1939, 1947, 1948.
14. Davis, Bailey F., Baptist Beginnings in Washington County and History of Springfield Baptist Church, p. 13, 14; Minutes of the Central Association of Baptists, 1889, 1893, 1897, 1927, 1937, 1948; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1946.
15. Minutes of the Warren Association of Baptists, 1891-93, 1897, 1911, 1925, 1935, 1948.
16. Minutes of Upper Cumberland Association of Baptists, 1890-1894, 1898, 1901, 1902, 1907, 1912, 1916, 1925, 1945, 1948.
17. Minutes of East Union Association of Missionary Baptists, 1892, 1895; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1945, 1948.
18. Minutes of West Kentucky Baptist Association, 1893-1896, 1898, 1905, 1906; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1945, 1948.
19. Minutes of Graves County Association of Baptists, 1893-1895, 1897, 1907,1921,1935; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1948; Minutes of Mt. Olivet Association of United Baptists, 1892, 1893.
20. Minutes of Edmondson Association of Baptists, 1894, 1898, 1901, 1915, 1918, 1926, 1948.
21. Minutes of East Lynn Association, 1893, 1896-1898, 1912, 1938; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1948.
22. Minutes of the Wayne County Association of Baptists, 1904, 1905, 1921;Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1948.
23. Minutes of East Concord Association of United Baptists, 1896; Minutes of the Bell County Association of Baptists, 1907, 1908, 1915, 1924, 1935, 1948.
24. Minutes of the Goose Creek Association of United Baptists, 1897, 1898, 1901, 1903, 1910, 1922, 1923; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1946, 1948.
[From A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 420-445. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More Kentucky Baptist Histories
Baptist History Homepage