The Baptist Associations constituted in Kentucky during this period came in direct conflict with the various forms of Anti-Missionism led by John Taylor, Daniel Parker and later by Alexander Campbell. The purpose of these opposing forces was to quench the spirit of missions engendered by Luther Rice and his associates. Later in the period the missionary battle was waged against "Hardshellism" and "Campbellism" combined. The conflict continued in the churches and associations for more than a quarter of a century as we shall see in considering the associations formed during two decades.1
BURNING SPRING BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
This Association was constituted in 1814 of eleven churches with 403 members located in Morgan and surrounding counties. Most of these churches had been dismissed from the North District Association. At first this new organization was in harmony with the General Union of Baptists in Kentucky, but the Association adopted the name of Regular Baptists, and soon became anti-missionary in theory and practice, opposing all benevolent and missionary societies. In 1860 there were only thirteen churches with 560 members, but in 1880, twenty years later, the Association numbered thirty-one churches with 1376 members, and its territory extended over at least ten counties.
This Association was generally well supplied with preachers, especially when its territory was enlarged. The records show that "the preachers were nearly all very illiterate, and differed greatly in doctrine and practice." Many of the older ministers were hyper-Calvinists in doctrine, while the younger preachers were divided in their views, some holding to Daniel Parker's Two-Seed theory, and others to Arminianism. Under these conditions the Burning Spring Association never made any contribution toward spreading the gospel and finally went out of existence.
Daniel Williams, came to Kentucky in an early day, from either Virginia or North Carolina. It is known that he served in the War of the Revolution. He was described as "a plain pious old preacher," who led the churches in the Upper Licking Valley to obtain letters from the North District Association in 1814 to go into the Burning Spring organization. This brother was an early settler in Montgomery County, where he preached to the Lulbegrud Church. Here he purchased 100 acres of land and according to the court records of Clark County, the deed was dated June, 1784. He moved to Morgan County in 1805, then a wilderness, and settled upon the side of West Liberty, cleared a farm and "preached the first sermon ever delivered in that county." This old pioneer preacher obtained license to perform marriage ceremonies September 22, 1795. He died in 1820 at "a good old age" and was long remembered by the old citizens
of Morgan County. Elder Daniel Williams was the grandfather of Mr. E. W. Williams, now living in Georgetown, Kentucky, having reached the age of seventy-six years. (1949.)2
FRANKLIN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Franklin Association was constituted in 1815. The name was derived from the county in which most of the churches, which composed the body, were located. The session of 1816 was held with the Mt. Pleasant Church in Franklin County. John Penny was chosen Moderator, and John Scott, Clerk. The latter also preached the introductory sermon. At this session twelve churches were represented, with 819 members. A revival began at this meeting and continued through the ensuing year, which re-sulted in 351 converts baptized. The reports to the session of 1820 showed that the number of churches had increased to nineteen with 1709 members.
This Association was in full sympathy with the Foreign Mission movement at its constitution. This sentiment was soon changed through the influence of John Taylor, who became connected with the Association during the year 1816. The correspondence with the Board of Foreign Missions was discontinued in three years. The majority of the churches were missionary, but were greatly hindered by the anti-mission minority. A new day dawned for missions, when the eminent and goodly Silas M. Noel became pastor of the Frankfort Church about 1820. He led the mission forces forward in spite of the opposition to all missions in the Association.
In 1821, the Franklin Association sustained a considerable loss in churches and preachers, when the Concord Association was constituted on the northern border of its territory. But the loss was regained by 1824 as a result of "gracious revivals", which prevailed in the churches. In the session of 1840 an Executive Committee was appointed, whose duty should be to employ a missionary to labor in the destitute part in the bounds of the Association. A resolution was also passed, recommending Georgetown College "to the prayers and liberality of the churches." At the meeting of 1844, the Agent for Indian Missions was permitted to take up a public collection. Not until 1848 did the Franklin Association enter into correspondence with the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky.
In 1854 the Lebanon Church in Franklin County expelled several members for joining a temperance society. At the next session of the Association, the Lebanon Church was kindly advised "to reconsider their action, and re-instate those brethren into their fellowship." But the church continued expelling members, who joined "the interdicted society." The Association then took action, declaring the grounds for such expulsions insufficient, and that another church receiving such expelled members would be acting in harmony with the will of the Association. The subject of reading sermons from the pulpit was before the session of 1857, and the following was passed: "We do not approve of reading sermons from the pulpit, as a common custom, in our denomination."
Some very eminent pastors labored in Franklin Association through its history. Among these were William Hickman, the son of the pioneer preacher by the name; Silas M. Noel; J. M. Frost, Sr.; Porter Clay, a son of Elder
John Clay of Virginia, and brother of the statesman, Henry Clay; Joseph M. Taylor, and many others.
In 1850, the Franklin Association numbered seventeen churches with 2821 members; but in 1860 the number had increased to nineteen churches with 3125 members, which was reduced to about 2500, caused by the loss of the colored members at the close of the Civil War. In 1882, seventeen churches reported about 2500 members. In 1946, there were nineteen churches, which reported 6954 members, while in 1948, the same nineteen churches reported 7,247 members. The First Church, Frankfort, was the largest in the Association, reporting 2,593 members in 1948, and Dr. Fred T. Moffatt, pastor.3
SOUTH UNION BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The South Union Association was constituted at Clear Fork meeting house in Whitley County, on the third Friday in September, 1815. The churches which went into the organization were located principally in Knox, and Whitley Counties, and some of them came out from Stockton's Valley Association. No published statistics of the Association could be found until the session of 1830 when there were eighteen churches with 489 members. The available records show that the Association was generally inefficient in its early history. The churches were either anti-missionary in sentiment or entirely indifferent on the subject.
In 1880 this Association reported seventeen churches with 1275 members. In 1946, there were thirty-seven churches with 3830 members, and sixteen churches reported contributions to missionary causes. In 1948, the membership had increased to 3998. The Association embraced a small territory bordering on the Tennessee line and many of the pastors of the churches live in that state. The oldest churches in the Association now in existence are Cumberland River and Redbird, both constituted in 1810, and Jellico Creek, in 1809.4
CONCORD BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Concord Association, which was to become a prosperous body, was constituted at White's Run Church in Carroll County, September 28, 1821, of eight churches, six of which were dismissed from the Long Run Association. Thomas Craig was chosen Moderator, John H. Morris, Clerk, and Silas M. Noel preached the introductory sermon. In 1826, the body numbered twelve churches with eight hundred and forty members. In 1829, the importance of distributing Bibles among the people was emphasized, and the organization of Bible Societies was recommended. In the following year the Association as a body was requested to give advice to the churches as to the preaching and teaching of the followers of Alexander Campbell. The response was as follows: First, the "churches should not invite them to preach in their meeting houses." Second, "That we should not invite them into our houses to preach, nor in any way bid them Godspeed, nor their heretical doctrine. We advise you, brethren, to be particularly on your guard. When they are talking about the Spirit we believe they only mean the written word; and when they speak of regeneration, they only mean immersion in water." The result was that the Campbellites never gained a foot-hold in this Association.
In 1831, the Ten Mile Association was constituted on the northeastern border of the Concord body, which reduced it to eleven churches with only seven hundred and ninety-eight members. But during the next ten years, there was a constant growth, and by 1841, there were fourteen churches aggregating one thousand four hundred and thirty-three members. In 1840 an effort was made in the Association to supply its destitute territory with the gospel. Accordingly, arrangements were made to hold ten protracted meetings during the ensuing year.
It had been a custom among the churches of the Concord Association to thank publicly their pastors for their long terms of service rendered "without money and without price." In 1838, William C. Buck, Agent of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, constituted the year before, visited the Association and succeeded in persuading a number of the churches to pay $100.00 each to the pastor for a year's service, thus giving a pastor with four churches a salary of $400.00 per year. This plan met with stern opposition. The preachers who received remuneration from the churches enlisted by Elder Buck were reproached by the opposers as "hirelings" and "money hunters." This plan of paying pastors was classed as "Missionary schemes."
Several churches divided into two violent parties, which soon set up each a mission and anti-mission church. This relieved the Association of the usual strife, occasioned by two factions working togther with antagonistic views. In 1842, the first resolution favoring Georgetown College was adopted, and young men were advised to enter that institution.5
In 1880, the association comprised thirty-three churches with 4299 members. Nine churches were dismissed in 1900 to go into the constitution of the White's Run Association, and in 1924 the Owen County Association was formed embracing Owen County, after which the Concord Association dissolved.
BOONE'S CREEK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Boone's Creek Association was constituted at the Mt. Gilead meeting house in Fayette County, May 28, 1823, which was composed of messengers from four churches as follows: Boone's Creek and Mt. Gilead, dismissed from the Elkhorn Association; and Boggs Fork and Hickman, from Tate's Creek Association. Elder George G. Boone was chosen Moderator, and B. W. Riley Clerk. A meeting was held at Mt. Gilead the following September when the same officers were reelected and two churches were received.
The first anniversary session convened with Bowne's Creek Church, September, 1824, and it was composed of nine churches with nine hundred and sixty members. At the annual meeting in 1825, Friendship and Nicholasville Churches were added to the fellowship. The Association met with Friendship Church, at Winchester, Kentucky, in 1828, and was composed of thirteen churches with a membership of 1,835, of which 869 had been received by baptism during that year. This large ingathering had been received according to Alexander Campbell's teaching, "for the remission of sins." In 1829, the Association numbered thirteen churches with 1800 members. In 1830 the separation between the Baptists and Campbellites began and by
1836 the body was reduced to seven churches with only four hundred and twelve members. The Association then assumed the attitude of a missionary body and began to prosper. The churches were visited with a gracious revival in 1838, which increased the membership to five hundred and one. The Association received another setback in 1840, when the division came over missions, but within three years the membership increased to eight hundred and thirty-two. In 1877, there were seventeen churches with 1284 members.
During the existence of the Association from 1823 to 1882, 3738 converts were baptized unto the fellowship of the churches. In 1946, the Boone's Creek Association numbered twenty-seven churches with 5478 members, and in 1948 it numbered thirty churches with 5578 members. The Central Baptist Church, located in Winchester in Clark County, was the largest in the Association with 1106 members, with Dr. T. Emerson Wortham, pastor.6
BETHEL BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
Bethel Association, later to become one of the most wealthy and prosperous in the state, was constituted on October 29, 1825, at Mt. Gilead Church, Allensville, Todd County, as a result of a division in the Red River Association. A doctrinal difference arose in that body about 1816, which led to a division about a decade later. In 1820, the Licking Association withdrew from the General Union of Baptists, and assumed the name of Particular Baptists and accepted Antinomianism in toto. Some disturbances over this doctrine had already been manifested in the Red River Association.
The minutes of the Bethel Association of 1826 related the beginning of trouble. "In the year 1816, an unpleasantness was manifested by some of our older brethren in the ministry, towards some iof our doctrinal views, namely, the calling on sinners, in our congregations, to repent of their sins, and believe the gospel; and that the invitations of the gospel were to all to whom it was preached.
"Secondly, the nature and extent of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, then became a matter of controversy, tho' not serious, until certain baptists, from the upper counties of this state, settled among us. At first, they manifested an appearance of friendship and fellowship towards our churches and ministers, which led us to suppose they were desirous to return into the general Union again. We, therefore, upon their application, received them into our churches. But, alas! Some of them, so soon as they obtained a standing amongst us, manifested a party spirit, which soon found its way into our Association. Things now become serious . . . especially at the Associations, from year to year. Instead of meeting in love, for the mutual edification and comfort of each other and to preach the glorious gospel to sinners, it became a scene of contention, which reflected on us, as a religious society, and greatly injured the cause of God among us."
This state of things continued to grow worse in the Red River Association until 1824, when a resolution was adopted in that session, calling for a convention, to be composed of messengers from all the churches, to attempt to adjust the doctrinal differences, and to report to the next session of the Association in 1825. Accordingly twenty-four churches sent
their messengers, who met with the Union Church, Logan County, on November 24, 1824. After being organized, the causes of grief were called Jar and the only one discussed was whether the preaching of the atonement was general or universal in its nature. After discussing the subject, the Convention by a unanimous vote agreed, after all that hed been said on the subject of the atonement, "to live together in peace and harmony, bearing and forbearing with each other." When this convention thus determined to recommend to the churches to bury their contentious weapons and exercise brotherly love and Christian forbearance, many rejoiced at the prospect of peace and harmony among the brethren and in the churches - but alas! it was of short duration.
When the Association met in 1825, it was found that sixteen churches determined not to receive the advice of the Convention. Some of the letters breathed an uncharitable temper, in a greater degree than had been witnessed on any former occasion. The Association, then, resolved to divide peaceably, and to grant the churches freedom to unite with either body, that is, to remain in the Red River body, or go into the organization of a new association. The money in the treasury was to be divided equally.
The messengers from ten churches met with the Mt. Gilead Church near Allensville, in Todd County, to consider the constituting of a new association. On the first day the introductory sermon was preached by Isaac Hodgen of Russell's Creek Association. Elder William Warder was chosen Moderator, and Sugg Fort, Clerk. It was voted that it was in order to constitute an association. On the following morning, October 29, a permanent organization was formed by electing Reuben Ross, Moderator and Sugg Fort, Clerk. Reuben Ross, the real father of Bethel Association, continued in the office of Moderator for twenty-six years. He had already served in that capacity in the Red River Association for eight years.
The messengers of the Russellville and Union Churches, Logan Coumy, Kentucky, dissented from the organization and withdrew from the session. The Muddy River Church, the oldest in the Association, located in Logan County, remained with the Red River body. The following churches entered into the organization of the Association: Red River and Drake's Bend in Robertson County, Tennessee; Spring Creek of West Fork and Little Wes: Fork in Montgomery County, Tennessee; Mt. Gilead in Todd County, Kentucky; New Providence, later Hopkinsville, and Bethel, in Christian County, Kentucky; and Pleasant Grove, Logan County, Kentucky. The messengers of these eight churches resolved themselves into a cooperative body, under the name and style of Bethel Baptist Association. Three new churches located in Todd County, Kentucky, were received as follows: The Elkton Church, organized with sixteen members, October 15, 1825, with the pastor, John S. Wilson; the Lebanon and Mt. Zion Churches with their pastors, Isaiah H. Boone and Robert Rutherford, respectively.
The Constitution, Abstracts of Faith, and Rules of Order of the Red River Association were adopted as the plan and form of government. Brother Stephen Trabue of the Mt. Gilead Church, was appointed treasurer and instructed to "call on the treasurer of the Red River Association for our portion of the monies now in his hand." The Finance Committee reported
$11.25 for minutes in Kentucky money, and $3.00 in Tennessee money, and the Clerk was instructed to have 500 copies of the minutes printed and distributed according to membership.
The constitution stated: "New churches may be admitted into the Association who are to petition by letter and delegates, and upon examina-tion, if found orthodox and orderly, may be received by the Association, manifested by the Moderator's giving the delegates the right hand of fellowship." Also, "The Association has power to withdraw from any church in this union, which may violate the rules iof this Association, or deviate from the orthodox principles of religion." The custom of writing circular letters was adopted in the first session, and a committee consisting of Reuben Ross, William Tandy and Sugg Fort was appointed to prepare a letter to be read before the next session and sent to all the churches.
The new Association was composed of eleven churches with 949 members, while the Red River, the mother fraternity, had twenty churches with 1268 members. Bethel started on her mission, holding that the sacrifice of Christ was adequate for the redemption of all men; that God used means in bringnig men to salvation, and, that it was the duty of ministers to preach the gospel to all men, warning all to repent and believe the gospel, while the Red River body believed and taught a limited sacrifice in the death of Christ, that God would save the elect without human means, and that ministers were not to preach the gospel to unregenerated sinners, nor to warn them to repent and believe on Christ. Bethel Association started on her wonderful mission completely separated from the anti-mission party of the Red River body, as described above. In the second session held with the Bethel Church in Christian County, in 1826, a program of circuit preaching was adopted which was "to embrace all the churches in our Association."
In the session of 1832 a resolution was passed heartily endorsing the Kentucky Baptist Convention, constituted in March of that year, and messengers were appointed to attend the next meeting. John S. Wilson, pastor at Elkton, Todd County, went as a messenger and brought back a favorable written report of the meeting which was read before the Bethel Association. The following resolution was then immediately adopted: ". . . . That this Association look upon the 'Kentucky Baptist Convention', in its effort to preach the glorious gospel, to the needy, as doing a good and great work." The Bethel Association contributed $61.00 to the treasury of the Convention at its first session.
At the meeting in 1834 one of the churches requested the body to consider the propriety of raising funds for the purpose of educating young men who might be called to preach the gospel. The Association was deeply impressed with the importance of such a measure and took steps to put it into operation. In 1835 an Education Society was organized and trustees were appointed. Following the Association, $33.00 was sent to this Board, and the first beneficiaries of this fund were two young preachers, L. H. Millikin and James Lamb, who were in school. In 1839 two young preachers in Georgetown College were aided by this Board. One of these young men was W. W. Gardner.
Missionary work was established in the Association in 1839 and a missionary was appointed who made encouraging reports. There was a continued increase of interest in missions and education until Bethel Association became a great missionary body, and in less than thirty years from its origin, founded two colleges, Bethel at Russellville, and Bethel Female College, ax Hopkinsville. The progress numerically during the first thirty-five years of its existence was greater than that of any other association in the state.
In 1860 there were sixty-two cooperating churches, aggregating members. These churches were located in Logan, Simpson, Warren, Christian and Todd Counties in Kentucky; and in the counties of Montgomery, Robertson, and Steward in Tennessee. In this territory were the important towns of Springfield, Clarksville, Franklin, Bowling Green, Russellville, Elkton, Hopkinsville and many smaller towns and villages, in all of which were live Baptist churches. The membership of the churches was reduced in number in 1868, when 1,864 colored members withdrew.
From 1883 on there was a continual decrease in its territorial boundaries. The churches in Tennessee withdrew from the mother association and became affiliated with similar bodies in that state. In 1900 the churches of Simpson County received letters of dismission to constitute an association of the name of the county. The churches of Warren County withdrew to form another association. In 1923 letters of withdrawal were granted to twenty-four churches to form the Christian County Association. Bethel Association was then limited to twenty churches located in Todd County and part of Logan. In 1946, these churches reported 4456 members and in 1948, 4942 members. The First Church, Russellville, was the largest, reporting in 1948 a membership of 896, and Dr. Howard D. Olive, pastor. The Muddy River Church is the oldest, constituted in 1798, but it has not had a continuous history.7
GOSHEN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Goshen Association was constituted in the fall of 1817 of eleven churches dismissed from the old Salem fraternity for that purpose. It is supposed that the messengers from these churches met with the Goshen Church, from which the new organization took its name. It is not known where the first anniversary session was held, but the session of 1819 met with the Concord Church in Grayson County, at which time there were eighteen churches with four hundred and forty-seven members. Thomas Downs preached the introductory sermon, and James H. L. Moorman was elected Moderator, and he continued in that position until his death in 1834. James Moorman was chosen Clerk.
The session of 1820 was held with the Rock Spring Church in Daviess County when twenty-one churches were represented, which reported one hundred and seventy-eight baptisms, and a total of seven hundred and seventy-three members. During the next few years the growth of the churches was slow. About 1832 Daniel Parker's Two-Seeds doctrine began to be manifested in some of the churches, and out of it grew strong opposition to missions. In 1833, two of the leading preachers of the Association - James H. L. Moorman and David J. Kelley - were appointed missionaries of the newly organized State Convention.
The same year, 1833, the Cloverport Church sent to the Association the following query: "Should it, or should it not, be a matter of dealing, in a church, or a bar to communion, for a member of a church, either to join, or not to join, the Baptist Board of Missions, the Bible society, the Sunday-school society, the Kentucky Baptist Convention or the Temperance society?" The Association answered the query as follows: "We believe that members ought to be left to their own choice, respecting the joining of any of those institutions; and we believe that it ought not to be a matter of dealing, in any church, or a bar to communion, either to join, or not to join, any of these institutions."
The missionary party was greatly weakened in the loss of J. H. L. Moorman, the Moderator, and D. J. Kelley, by death during the following summer. At the session of 1834, the Little Flock Church sent in a query, requesting the Association to reconsider their action of the year before, and to send the query back to the sovereign churches far their approval or rejection. The association refused to reconsider the matter. In 1835 the Hopeful Church sent in a query: "Is the Association in favor of the Mission System or not?" The reply was: ". . . . That the Association do not think that they are prepared to give an answer, at this time, further than to say, that the churches should be left to their own choice upon the subject of missions; but would advise the churches not to make the joining, or not joining, of the missionary society, a bar to communion, or a matter of dealing." This action shows the anti-4mission party was gaining strength in the Association at that period.
At the session of 1835 Rock Creek Church presented a query on the subject of Communion. The Association gave the following answer: "First, we believe that it is wrong to commune with unbaptized Christians of any denomination. Secondly, the general tenor of the New Testament throughout forbids it. Thirdly, the universal usage of all orderly Baptist churches forbids it."
In 1839, the Goshen Association opened up correspondence with the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, and became auxiliary to that body. This brought the missionary matter to a head, and committed the Association to the mission system. By 1842, the anti-mission forces had withdrawn, and the Association was left free in promoting all mission interests.
In 1844, nine churches with one thousand one hundred and forty-five members were dismissed to go into the organization of the Daviess County Association. In 1860, there were thirty churches in the association, aggregating 2346 members. In 1877, fourteen churches, having 1320 members, were dismissed to form the Blackford Association.8
In 1948, the Goshen body was composed of sixteen churches, which reported 2214 members. Leitchfield, the largest church, reported four hundred and ninety-two members, and Clinton B. Coots, pastor.
NOLYNN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Nolynn Association of Separate Baptists was constituted at Little Mount Church, in LaRue County, November, 1819. This body originated from
the division of the South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists, which had split off from the South District in 1803, after the Regular and Separate Baptists had united in 1801. This division of the South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists to form the Nolynn fraternity was not for any doctrinal reason, but for convenience, since these Separate Baptist churches were scattered over every part of the state. In 1822, the Nolynn body was composed of fifteen churches, with five hundred and eighty-five members, which occupied a large territory, extending from the Ohio River across the central part of Kentucky into Tennessee.
The Nolynn Association gradually receded from Baptist principles, and had no correspondence with regular Baptist bodies. The churches were strictly anti-missionary in practice, and required their preachers to render gratuitous labor. This body, according to latest records, was in correspondence only with the little East Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists, and with the mother fraternity of South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists. Nothing is known of these bodies at present (1948).9
HIGHLAND BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Highland Association was constituted at the Highland Church in Union County, September, 1820, of thirteen churches, 12 of which had been dismissed from the Little River Association. The total membership was 429. The names of these churches were: Bethel, Cypress, Canoe Creek, Cane Run, Flat Creek, Grave Creek, Highland, Providence, Salem, Tirzah, Unity, New Hope and Little Bethel. The preachers who cared for these churches were William C. Buck, Benjamin Bourland, William Davis, John Christian and Benjamin Berry. Most of the churches and preachers leaned toward hyper-Calvinism, and soon opposed all mission and benevolent societies.
In 1830, the Association numbered fifteen churches with four hundred and eighty-six members. At that time a Bible Society was organized with Elder William C. Buck as president. This aroused such opposition to missions that in 1835 Little Bethel, Highland and Grave Creek Churches, withdrew from the Highland body and constituted Little Bethel Association the following year. The missionary preachers left the anti-mission forces and joined in the work of the new Association. The Highland body by 1877 had assumed the name of Regular Predestinarian Baptists, and later went out of existence.10
DRAKE'S CREEK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Drake's Creek Association was constituted October 6, 1820, of thirteen churches, as a result of the division of the territory of the Gasper River Association, by a line running from Russellville to Bowling Green on to Green River. The following churches south of that line composed the new body: Bays Fork, Salem, Union, Sulphur Spring, Trammels Fork, Middle Fork, Lick Fork, Mt. Zion, Bethany, Ivy, New Hope, Ebenezer, and New Bethel. Some of the above churches were the oldest in the Green River section. This was a great missionary territory.
The Association began its mission with bright prospects. Some of its preachers were men of ability and experience, but there were trying times
ahead. Three of the pastors of churches had to be cut off for immorality, drunkenness, and falsehood, and the work of the Association was retarded for ten years. In the session of 1833 at the New Salem Church in Simpson County, there was great rejoicing that the awful scourge of cholera, which had raged for the past two years, had passed, and that the churches reported three hundred and twenty-nine baptisms. But in the session of the year previous, the Association had advised "the churches and members thereof to abstain from joining temperance, Bible, tract and missionary societies, and the Sunday School Union."
In 1835, the churches were advised to have no correspondence with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, also that correspondence be dropped with neighboring associations. In 1841, the name of the body was changed to "Drake's Creek Baptist Association United Upon the Doctrine of Predestination and Election," by which "clumsy" name, the fraternity was designated for thirty years. In 1879 there were thirteen churches aggregating two hundred and seventy-three members. This is the last historic reference made to this anti-mission fraternity, which was soon to cease to exist.11
SOUTH CONCORD BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
This Association was constituted of eleven churches in the Big Sinking Meeting House in Wayne County on the fourth Saturday in October, 1825. The following churches were dismissed from the Cumberland Association to form this fraternity: Big Sinking, Otter Creek, Cedar Sinking, Stephen's Creek, Pleasant Point, New Salem, New Hope, White Oak, Monticello, Bethel and Concord, all aggregating 462 members. These churches were located in Wayne and adjoining counties, and were supplied with the following ministers: Elders Matthew Floyd, Richard Barrier, William Smith, Henry Tuggle and Thomas Hansford.
The session of 1826 met with the Bethel Church in Wayne County in October. Thomas Hansford preached the introductory sermon; Matthew Floyd was chosen Moderator, and served seventeen successive years; and John Dick, Clerk, who served fifteen years. Two new churches, Beaver Creek and Jordan were received into the union. Corresponding messengers were received from Cumberland River, Stockton's Valley and South Union Associations. Three "general meetings," afterwards called "section meetings," were appointed to be held at Monticello, White Oak and Big Sinking meeting houses within the ensuing year. Ministers were named to attend these meetings and preach to the people. This was the first method of mission work in the territory of the Association.
In 1832 the thirteen churches of the Association reported 386 members, and ten years later seventeen churches reported 1892 members. During 1842 an attempt was made to withdraw correspondence from all the associations, which were adopting the "Mission System." As a result of this action, Big Sinking, New Salem, White Oak, Cedar Sinking, New Salem, Welfare, Big Creek and Pleasant Grove churches demanded the Association to resume the suspended correspondence, or to grant them letters of dismission. Letters were granted these churches which afterwards formed South Cumberland River Association, thus reducing South Concord to eleven churches with 572 members.
In 1866, as a result of a revival, the churches reported 363 baptisms. In 1876 the twenty-four churches reported 1554 members. There were twenty churches in the Concord Association in 1946 with 3564 members, and twenty-one churches with 3673_members in 1948. Bethel constituted in 1810 is the oldest church. Only one church, New Haven, has full time preaching. Its pastor is Rev. Ross Dobbs.12
NEW SALEM BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
New Salem Association, located in Letcher, Floyd, Perry, and Pike Counties, was constituted in 1825, composed of New Salem, Mud, Sandlick, Stone Coal, Owen Fork, Union, Raccoon and Louisa Fork churches, which were dismissed from the Burning Spring Association, an anti-missionary body formed in 1814. The New Salem fraternity made little permanent progress, numbering only fourteen churches with 758 members in 1844. In 1873, there were eighteen churches with 834 members, when the term "United Baptists" was dropped and the name "Regular Baptists" was adopted.
In 1875, the following resolution was recorded in the minutes: "Resolved, therefore, That we, as the Regular Baptist Association do declare a non-fellowship with all modern institutions, called benevolent: such as missionary, Bible and tract Societies, Sunday School Union and Masonry, and all societies set on foot by men, whether secret or open religious or political, outside of the word of God." Some of the members of the Union Association, one of its correspondents, filed an objection against the above resolution in 1876. In response to this, the New Salem body records the following in their minutes: "We . . . do declare a non-fellowship with all modern institutions: such as missionary Baptists and all societies set on foot by men or devils, outside of the word of God."
As a result of these resolutions, nine churches demanded letters to form a new Association, which took the name of Sand Lick. This also was an anti-missionary Association, but rejected the hyper-Calvinistic doctrine as held by the self-styled "Old Baptists" of the times. In 1880, New Salem Association numbered twelve churches with 377 members, but like all such anti-mission bodies soon ceased to exist.13
SULPHUR FORK BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Sulphur Fork Association was constituted in July, 1826 of nine churches dismissed from Long Run. The organization was completed by electing Elder Alan McGuire, Moderator, and John A. McGuire, Clerk. The introductory sermon was delivered by Isaac Foster. The churches which went into the organization were: Sulphur Fork, North Six-mile, Pigeon Fork, Rock Lick, and East Fork in Henry County; Pattern's Creek, Union Spring and Friendship in Trimble County; and Lick Branch in Oldham County.
The session of 1827 was held in September with the Union Spring Church in Trimble County. Corn Creek and Providence Churches were received. Correspondence was accepted from Long Run, Concord, and Franklin Associations; and later correspondence was extended to Licking, Elkhorn, Salem, Baptist and some other associations. A query on Campbellism was presented by one of the churches, but no action was taken "inasmuch as we are not apprised of what Campbellism is, we are not prepared to
answer that query." But about three hundred members were lost to the Association in the separation of the "Campbellites" from the Baptists. In 1830, the Friendship Church divided, and the majority with the pastor, Isaac Foster, joined the Campbell forces.
In 1837, Elder R. W. Rickett, a popular preacher among the Antinomians, came into the Sulphur Fork Association as pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Church, and was later chosen Moderator. He at once introduced anti-missions into the association. Though in the minority, they endeavored to destroy all missionary activity. Finally when the anti-mission party was driven out, it constituted the Mt. Pleasant Regular Baptist Association, which was strictly anti-missionary.
This division cost the Sulphur Fork body about three hundred members, but left the Association free to propagate the mission work, which it failed to do for several years. In 1845, it resolved to take a collection for Indian missions and in 1847 a contribution of eleven dollars was made for the same purpose. In 1848, the work of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky was presented, and the amount of $202.35 was contributed. During the following year the Association made an attempt to provide its own territory with the gospel. A committee was appointed to gather funds and secure a missionary. With $145.00 collected, Elder W. W. Force was chosen, and began work as the first missionary in the bounds of the Associa¬tion, January 1850.
As early as 1848 the Fox Run Church in Shelby County reported a Sunday school with seventy-five scholars, but the Association took no action on the Sunday school subject until 1857, when it was recommended that the churches establish 'Sunday schools, but they did not heed the recommendation. The Sunday school work was not mentioned again until 1864, when an Associational Sunday School Convention was endorsed.
The subject of alien immerson was introduced in 1858 with a query, and was discussed, but no definite action was taken until the following year, when a report was made on the subject by B. T. Taylor. This report was adopted, rejecting all alien baptism.
After the elimination of Campbellism and anti-missionism, the Sulphur Fork Association had a steady growth. In 1882 there were twenty-five churches and 2709 members. From the constitution of the Association in 1826 to the session of 1882, 4802 converts had been baptized into the fellowship of the churches. In 1946, the Association reported sixteen churches with 2848 members, and in 1948 it reported 2974 members. Harrod's Creek is the oldest church, constituted in 1797, and the next oldest are Corn Creek and Eight Mile, each organized in 1800. The largest church in the Association is DeHaven Memorial, in LaGrange, C. J. Alford, pastor.14
THE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
This Association called Baptist was constituted of messengers from four churches at Glen's Creek meeting house, in Woodford County, in October, 1826. These four churches were Salt River, Hillsboro, Glen's Creek, and Fox Creek, This Association, though it has had a continued history of 120 years, yet came into existence in contention and strife.
There was a small party in Elkhorn Association in 1824, who desired that body to exercise some authority over the churches, in order to maintain a stricter discipline, and more uniform doctrine among them. This would have called for a revision of the constitution of the Elkhorn Association. In view of this, a committee had been appointed "to revise the constitution and, if, in their opinion, it is necessary to make amendments thereto, and report to the next association." At the session of 1825, this committee reported in favor of leaving the constitution without "revision or amendment." A committee was then appointed consisting of J. T. Johnson, James Fishback and Rhodes Smith, who were men of ability, to prepare a letter on the "Nature and Power of a Baptist Association" and report same the following Monday morning. The letter was presented at the time appointed, and was adopted by a majority of "ten to one." The minority was greatly offended and some left the session, declaring they would never again attend the Elkhorn Association.
The messengers of Glen's Creek church were so offended that they resolved, after consideration, to form a new association. The Glen's Creek Church, then sent out a circular letter to fourteen churches inviting them to send "delegates" to her meeting house on a certain day for the purpose of forming a new association. This letter stirred up considerable strife among the churches of both Elkhorn and Franklin Associations. One of these letters, sent to the North Elkhorn Church, received a sharp reply, evidently written by Silas M. Noel. But in 1826, Hillsboro, Clover Bottom and Glen's Creek churches from Elkhorn Association obtained letters of dismission; and Salt River, Fox Creek and Goshen churches obtained letters from Franklin Association, but with the advice not to constitute another association.
Messengers from these churches and from Grier's Creek met at Glen's Creek, and after the introductory sermon and some business, Grier's Creek Church withdrew, and, since Goshen and Clover Bottom were not represented, there were messengers from four churches which constituted themselves into an association, styled the "Baptist Association." They adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, as their Constitution, the preamble of which was regarded as unbaptistic, since they styled themselves "the authorized Delegates of the Baptist Churches of Jesus Christ."
The new Association, despite the false theory on which it originated, was soon established on Baptist grounds, and conducted its operations in full accord with the neighboring associations and in full correspondence. The four churches, which went into the constitution of the body, were composed of 593 members. Only two preachers went into the organization, Elder John Penny and John Edwards, but Edwards soon left the state.
At the session of 1827, the Baptist Association was enlarged by the addition of Goshen, Providence and Clover Bottom Churches. In 1828 Unity was received. In the session of 1829, the Little Flock Church was received, and the churches were advised not to receive any members into their fellowship, or preachers into their pulpits, who were in any way the followers of Alexander Campbell. The session of 1840 was held with the Goshen Church in Anderson County when the Association's five churches
reported only 251 members, but the Association then being in harmony, began to experience a healthy growth friosm that time. The session of 1846 recommended to the churches to consider favorably the General Association; in 1850 it was agreed to open correspondence with that body, and in 1852 the Association resolved to become an auxiliary to it.
Following the Civil War the Baptist Association had a rapid growth. It numbered twelve churches with 875 members in 1860; in 1870, fifteen churches with 1406 members, but in 1882, nineteen churches with 1999 mem¬bers. There were sixteen churches with 4747 members in 1948. In 1948, the Sand Springs Church was the largest, reporting 867 members and Rev. Roy A. Hamilton, pastor; and Lawrenceburg Church the next largest with 542 members. The Goshen Church is the oldest, being constituted in 1812.15
CAMPBELL COUNTY BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
This Association was constituted at Brush Creek Church on Friday, September 21, 1827, of eight churches with 347 members, which had been dismissed from the North Bend Association. The churches constituting the body were Licking, now Cold Springs, Four Mile, Bank Lick, Wilmington, Brush Creek, Twelve-Mile, Alexandria and Flower Creek. The ordained ministers who ministered to these churches were Robert Ware, Elam Grizzle, George Vice, William Gosney, John Stephens, George Graden and John Taylor. Elder John Stephens was elected Moderator and served in that position, with the exception of one year, until 1840.
A spirit of discord and dissension prevailed in the Association from its organization, extending over a period of about twelve years, which greatly retarded its growth. The first disturbance was caused by the Alexander Campbell division, by which the churches lost more than they had gained between the years 1827 and 1833. Soon after this division the work of the Association was paralyzed by the determined opposition of the large anti-mission minority in the churches. In 1829 the organization of Bible Societies was presented to the Association, but nothing came of it.
The following year, there were appointed four "yearly meetings" to be held during the succeeding year. The subject of employing one or more preachers to labor in the destitute places in the territory of the Association was discussed in the session of 1835. It was agreed to appoint a meeting to be held at Brush Creek Church the following October "to consider the propriety, or impropriety, of setting at liberty one or two ministering brethren, to devote their time to preaching for which they shall be paid." In this meeting "it was agreed to let the matter rest."
Nothing further was done until the session of 1839, when Bank Lick Church sent up a query as to whether or not the Association was "missionary in spirit" and would "support the board."
The Association, desiring to maintain peace among its members, answered the query thus: "We have had nothing to do with the missionary question, whether home or foreign, since the meeting at Brush Creek (in 1835) where it was agreed to let the matter rest. We are not connected with, or known as auxiliary to, the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. As to what we are in spirit is known between us and our Master."
As the result of a revival in 1839, the Association increased from eight churches with 370 members in 1838 to ten churches and 757 members in 1840. The revival pervaded the meeting of the Association in 1839 with such power that a number of persons were converted and baptized in the session. For these "disorders" the North Bend Association dropped correspondence with the Campbell County fraternity, until the act was rescinded the year following.
Shortly after the session of 1840, the more extreme anti-mission members split off from the churches and with like members from the churches of North Bend Association organized themselves into what was styled the "Salem Association of Predestinarian Baptists." But even after this schism the Campbell County Association was not entirely free from the anti-mission spirit. In the session of 1844, it was recommended that the churches become informed with the object of the Indian Mission Association and act as their Christian duty and as prudence might dictate. At the same session some "lay brethren" sent in a letter suggesting the propriety of employing one or more ministers to labor in the territory of the Association. To this end the churches were requested to send one member from each church to convene at the Alexandria meeting house to consult, and then act as the churches requested. The messengers came to the agreement not to do anything at present about employing missionaries.
In a few years after the anti-mission forces split off, conditions began to improve. In 1848, the Association recommended Georgetown College, and the Western Baptist Theological Institute at Covington; and in 1849 a collection of $12.40 was taken up for the benefit of two aged needy preachers. An offering of $23.50 was contributed to the General Association in 1851. Since that time this fraternity has been a missionary body.
In 1850 the Association was composed of fourteen churches with 1047 members; and ten years later, fifteen churches, and 1823 members. In 1880, the number of the churches had increased to seventeen, but the membership had decreased to 1780 in number. In 1946, the Association was composed of twenty churches with 6604 members; and in 1948 the same number of churches reported 6602 members. The First Baptist Church, Newport, the largest in the Association, reported 2059 members in 1946 and W. H. Rone, pastor, who was succeeded by O. J. Steger. Dayton, the second largest church, reported 608 members in 1948, W. R. Cole, pastor.16
BARREN RIVER BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Barren River Association was constituted September 15, 1830, at the Mt. Pleasant meeting house of fifteen churches from the Green River Association. The churches aggregated 830 members. The churches were located south of a line drawn from Glasgow to Scottsville, and are as follows: Concord, Glover's Creek, Mt. Pleasant, Skagg's Creek, Dover, Doughty's Creek, Mt. Vernon, Pleasant Hill and Peter's Creek in Barren County; Bethlehem, Puncheon Camp, and Mt. Gilead in Allen County; Fountain Run in Monroe County; Dripping Spring in what is now Metcalf County; and Liberty in Smith County, Tennessee. The ordained preachers, who held their membership in these churches, were Zechariah Emerson, George Hern, John
H. Baker, Levi Roark, Joshua Welburn, Augustine Clayton, Andrew Nuckols, Benjamin Bailey and Thomas Scrivner. The last named, the most prominent leader of the missionary party, was elected Moderator.
The new Association, ibeing composed of churches from the old Green River fraternity, inherited some elements of discord from that mother body, which retarded its progress for more than a decade. Andrew Nuckols, a preacher of ability, who held the Two-Seeds doctrine of Daniel Parker, caused considerable disturbance. He led in securing the adoption of the following resolution in the session of 1835: "Motioned that we declare non-fellowship with the Baptist State Convention and all like institution of the day."
During the following year, Nuckols became involved in a difficulty with the Pleasant Hill Church, where he held membership. This resulted in his exclusion along with all those who followed him in holding Parker's Two-Seeded heresy. The excluded party led by Nuckols declared themselves the church and in turn excluded the majority. At the meeting of the Association in 1836, the majority group of the Pleasant Hill Church was recognized as the church. The Association, then, proceeded to withdraw fellowship from Glover's Creek and Mt. Vernon churches for retaining Andrew Nuckols as pastor, whom they styled "an excluded member." Immediately the resolution adopted the year previous was taken up and passed as follows: "Resolves, that the act of the last Association, which declares a non-fellowship with the Baptist State Convention and all like institutions, ought to be, and the same is, hereby rescinded."
Following the adoption of this resolution, the messengers of six churches, with 145 members withdrew from the body, and later formed what was known as Barren River Association of Regular Baptists. The going out of these churches did not eradicate the disturbing element from the Association, as some of the most violent opponents of missions, who did not accept Daniel Parker's Two-Seeds doctrine, advocated by Nuckols, remained.
A revival prevailed in the churches in 1838 which resulted in four hundred seventy-six baptisms. But Iby 1840, the revival had subsided, and the irritating subject of missions and benevolent societies was brought before the Association. The missionary party, being in the majority the following was adopted: ". . . . it is hereby Resolved by this Association, that joining any of the benevolent societies of the day, or contributing to its funds, or refusing either to join or contribute, shall not be made a bar to union and fellowship; but that all shall, be left to exercise their own free will." The anti-mission party submitted for the present, but set out to gather a majority for the next session, in order to repeal what they regarded as an "obnoxious resolution."
When the Association met in 1841 with the Peter's Creek Church, Elder Thomas Scrivner, the recognized leader of the mission forces, was elected moderator. The one absorbing question with the opposition was to achieve the repealing of the resolution of the previous year. After a long and exciting discussion, the vote was taken, which resulted in twenty-four votes for, and twenty-four, against. The Moderator cast the deciding
vote against the motion to rescind the resolution. Immediately the defeated anti-mission party, representing six churches, withdrew from the house. Messengers from these six churches, composed of 358 members, met the same fall with the Concord Church and constituted what is styled, "The Original Barren River Association of the United Baptists." This was known as Barren River Association Number 3.
The churches of Barren River Association were now freed from all the extreme anti-mission forces, and had the liberty to contribute to all mission and benevolent causes without association censure, but many of the churches did not avail themselves of this liberty for several years. The first contribution to missions by the advice of the Association was in 1845, when an offering was taken by Sidney Dyer, agent for Indian Missions. In the session the following year several ministers were requested to visit New Hope, a weak pastorless church, and preach as often as possible but no means of support was mentioned. In the session of 1848 a collection of $15.65 was raised and equally divided between the three preachers, with the request that they continue to supply the church with preaching. This was the beginning of mission work in the Association, though in a small way.
In 1851 it was "Resolved, That we as an association become auxiliary to the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky." The churches contributed very little to the General Association, but the preachers made liberal subscriptions and paid them in mission work. In 1853, twelve preachers reported 415 days of labor, 225 baptisms, and the receipt of $57.25 from the brethren. This led the Association to appoint a missionary board to receive contributions from the churches and appoint missionaries. Elder Thomas Scrivner, the heroic leader, was appointed the first missionary by the Association. His labors during the succeeding year resulted in 311 professions of faith, 141 for baptism, and $44.50 was received from the Board for his services.
The growth of the Barren River Association was very slow prior to 1842, but from that date to 1850, it increased from eleven churches with 704 members, to seventeen churches with 1635 members. There were thirty churches with over 2500 members in 1860. In 1880, thirty-five churches reported 3875 members. In 1946, the Association reported 46 churches and 7414 members; and in 1948, the same number of churches reported 7676 members. The church at Tompkinsville, Raymond Jones, pastor, was the largest in the Association, reporting 451 members in 1948, and was the only one located in a town. The Temple Hill Church, Joe Richey, pastor, was the only one having half time preaching, while the remaining forty-four churches supported preaching only one Sunday in each month.17
LAUREL RIVER BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Laurel River Association was constituted of five churches, which, eminated from South Union, on September 30, 1831, at the Providence meeting house, in Laurel County. These churches were Mt. Pleasant, Rockcastle and Providence in Laurel County; and Indian Creek and Lynn Camp in Knox County, all of which aggregated 153 members. The principle preachers
were David Weaver and William Hopper. David Weaver was born in Tennessee in 1791. He came to Kentucky, and after he was ordained to the ministry in 1826, he labored in Laurel, Knox, Whitley and Clay Counties, until his death in 1854. William Hopper was one of the most prominent preachers in the South Union Association and led in the formation of the Laurel River body. The new Association was organized by electing him Moderator, and he continued in that position, except two years, until his death in 1861.
The growth of Laurel River Association was slow until 1843, when the churches experienced a gracious revival, resulting in 242 being received by baptism. In 1860 the Association was composed of seventeen churches with only 795 members. During the Civil War the churches were greatly disturbed by the political conditions of the times. In 1863, the London and Robinson Creek churches introduced into the Association the following query: "Do we fellowship the principles of secession and rebellion against the Government?" The Association answered, "Nay." This action made the political views of the members of the churches a test of fellowship. This decision remained on record until 1867, when the following was adopted: "This Association believes it committed an error in making politics a test of fellowship; therefore, we rescind said act." At this same session the first mission report was printed. Elder Hiram Johnson, one of the leading preachers, was the first missionary. His report was as follows: "I have been engaged 65 days, delivered 60 sermons, traveled 525 miles, baptized 31, attended five prayer meetings, visited 13 churches and collected $38.00."
In 1868 the Association numbered twenty-two churches with 1263 members, but it was decided to divide the territory with Laurel River as the dividing line. Ten churches with an aggregate of 524 members located south of the Laurel River were constituted into an Association, called Lynn Camp. The mother Association made a rapid increase and soon regained the loss in the division. In 1870, sixteen churches reported 885 members; in 1880, twenty-eight churches, showed 2008 members; while in 1882, twenty-nine churches reported 2193 members. During forty-four years of the first fifty-one, there were baptized 3064 converts, and added to the churches. In 1946, the thirty-nine churches reported 5304 members, and in 1948 thirty-eight churches reported 5438 members. The London Church was the largest, reporting 1205 members in 1948, and George W. Phillips, pastor.18
TEN MILE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Ten Mile Association was organized, October 7, 1831, with the Ten Mile Church, in Gallatin County, of nine churches dismissed from the North Bend and Concord Associations. These nine churches were Ten Mile, Lick Creek, Dry Ridge, Providence, Grassy Creek, New Salem, Poplar Grove, Mt. Zion and New Bethel, aggregating 383 members. The ministers who were in the organization were David Lillard, Christian Tomlin, Joseph Crouch and A. D. Landrum.
David Lillard was chosen Moderator, which position he occupied for thirty years, and he was pastor of the Ten Mile Church for more than forty years. During the early history of this new Association, there was small increase in membership caused by internal contentions. In 1841 the twelve
churches reported only 472 members, which showed the little increase of fifty-six members in a decade. But in 1842 a great revival prevailed in the churches, and 752 baptisms were reported to the Association in the fall of that year, which brought the membership up to 1296. During the revival which continued into the next year, the need of more preachers was so greatly felt, that a day was appointed by the Association for "humiliation and prayer to God," that He would send more preachers in the field, now "white unto harvest."
It was not until 1845, that the Ten Mile Association made the first move in favor of missions, when messengers were appointed to the General Association. In the session of 1848 a resolution was adopted, ". . . to appoint a minister to ride in the bounds of this Association." But there is no record that indicates that this action was ever put into effect. It was a sad situation, when the very popular moderator, Elder David Lillard, was not a promoter of mission work. During his long pastorates in the Association, he refused to receive any compensation for his services. In the session of 1867, an Associational Mission Board was appointed, and a strong appeal was made to the churches for the support of a missionary, but only one church responded with a $10.00 contribution, and hence no worker was appointed.
The Association favored the mission enterprise of the state, and passed a resolution favoring the benevolent work of the General Association, but for the lack of knowledge of the subject, its intentions were ineffective. There was some friction in 1846 over Masonry, but finally a reconciliatory resolution was passed "that Masonry shall not be considered a test of fellowship."
In 1850 the Association numbered seventeen churches with 104 members; in 1860, nineteen churches with 1706 members; while in 1880, only fourteen churches with 1785 members. In 1946, there were fourteen churches and 3222 members, and in 1948, the same number of churches reported 4443 members. The Warsaw Church is the largest with 454 members, and Robert Willets, pastor. The Ten Mile Church, constituted in 1804 is the oldest, which has full time preaching with Elder W. M. Smith, pastor.19
CLARK'S RIVER BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The Clark's River Association, an anti-mission body, was constituted of seven churches, in the New Salem meeting house in Calloway County on the third Sunday in November, 1831. This was the first Association constituted in Kentucky west of the Tennessee River. The churches which went into the organization were Beaver Dam, Barren Fork, Bethlehem, East Fork, New Salem, New Hope, and Shiloh. Some of these churches were in the constitution of the Obion Association in 1828, located almost entirely in Tennessee.
In 1830, non-fellowship was declared for all churches that "would suffer its members to join the Masons, or frequent their lodges." This resolution caused great disturbance and revealed the fact that some of the most prominent and efficient members of the churches were Masons, and that two preachers were also members of the indicted fraternity. As a result of
this strife, seven churches of the Obion Association, located in Kentucky withdrew, and formed the Clark's River Association which made little progress. In the session of 1837 the fifteen churches, then composing the body, reported 508 members. In 1845 effort was made to unite three anti-mission associations, the Obion, Soldier's Creek and Clark's River, but the attempt failed. The Clark's River, like all anti-mission bodies, gradually declined, until 1868, when it dissolved.20
WEST UNION BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
The West Union Association was constituted at Gum Spring Church in McCracken County of ten churches in the fall of 1834. The Clark's River Association formed in 1831 of nine churches, though willing to tolerate Masonry, already referred to, was hyper-Calvinistic in doctrine, and opposed to missions and benevolences. However, some of the churches were in favor of missions, and desired a separate association. A Convention was called to meet at Wadesboro Church in Galloway County, December, 1832, composed of messengers from ten churches, aggregating about 500 members. This is all that is known of this convention and there are no records of any meeting in 1833. But in 1834 the messengers from the following churches met at Gum Spring, McCracken County: Wadesboro, West Fork of Clark's River, and Sinking Spring, in Galloway County; Gum Spring and Ohio in McCracken County; Trace Creek, Mayfield and Little Obion, in Graves County; and Emmaus and Clinton, in Hickman County. These messengers resolved to form a new association, styled Union Association of United Baptists. Later the word "West" was prefixed to distinguish the new body from another association in the state called Union. The organization was completed by adopting a Constitution, Rules of Decorum, and Abstract of Faith. The next session was held with the Wadesboro Church, but no records of the meeting are available.
The Association met with the Trace Creek Church in Graves County in 1836. James P. Edwards, who was known as the father of the Association, was elected Moderator. He also preached the introductory sermon, and J. C. Wilkins was chosen Clerk. Fourteen churches were represented with 397 members. In 1837 the session was held with the Little Obion Church, in Graves County, when Durin Alcock preached the opening sermon, J. P. Edwards was re-elected Moderator, and A. E. Daniel was chosen Clerk. Two new churches were received, and the membership was increased to 408. About 1840 a revival began in the churches and continued about three years, which resulted in a total of twenty-nine churches with 1474 members in 1843. An Executive Board was appointed to conduct missionary operation, and the following year the board reported seven months of missionary labor and a balance of $125.00 in the treasury.
Trouble began in the Association in the session of 1844. The constitution was amended so as to permit individuals to bring all kinds of queries before the Association through the committee on arrangements. The West Union fraternity at that time comprised all the Baptist churches in that part of the state except the anti-missionary churches. There appeared to be a number of inefficient preachers, some of them reported as unsound in doctrine. A resolution was adopted, declaring that any minister, preaching
the doctrine of apostasy should be considered in opposition to the gospel of Christ, and contrary to the abstracts of faith adopted by the Association. This was intended as a warning to such preachers, but no names were mentioned. A resolution was also adopted, condemning open communion, which was directed against the Columbus and Paducah churches, which had been reported as practicing free communion. A committee was appointed to visit these churches and report its findings to the next session of the Association.
The way the charges brought against the Paducah Church were conducted, proved to be an unfortunate affair, which caused continued agitation among the churches of West Union Association for more than two decades. The church at Paducah was constituted in 1840 by Elders J. P. Edwards and Willis White, pioneer preachers in West Kentucky. A young preacher, A. W. Meacham, was called as the first pastor. In 1842 Elder Thomas L. Garrett, Hardinsburg, Kentucky, was invited to assist the pastor in a protracted meeting, which was successful and made the visiting preacher very popular in the church. Young Meacham soon resigned and Elder Garrett was called to succeed him in 1843. His biographer says, "Mr. Garrett was a preacher of marked ability and superior acquirements. But he was ambitious and dictatorial, and, possessing an unhappy natural temper, he could not tolerate opposition."
When Elder Garrett ascertained that the church at Paducah, under A. W. Meacham's pastorate, had permitted persons of other denominations to partake of the Lord's Supper, he objected to the letter from that church when presented to the Association in 1843, though he was its pastor at that time. A committee was appointed by the Association in 1844 to investigate the report against the Paducah Church, and to report the findings one year hence. Elders William E. Bishop and J. P. Edwards were on this committee, which reported that, though the church at Paducah had suffered two women of the Reformers to commune a considerable time before Elder Garrett became pastor, yet the church now declared herself against open communion. When the report of this committee was read, Elder Garrett pronounced it false, which resulted in a long debate.' The church through her messengers, acknowledged all former errors and was retained in fellowship by a vote of twenty-eight to nineteen.
In the session of 1846 some of the churches sent in complaints in their letters that the Association had made a mistake in retaining the Paducah Church in fellowship, and that the action of the last session should be rescinded on the grounds that the acknowledgement of the church was not included in her letter. But at the session of 1847 the church did acknowledge her error in the letter, and the Association expressed satisfaction by a vote of thirty to twelve. The difficulty with the Paducah Church was then settled, but the conflict continued under a new form.
Elder T. L. Garrett continued to charge that Elder J. P. Edwards had knowingly and willfully made a false report to shield the guilty church at Paducah. Two churches, Humphrey's Creek and Lovelaceville, complained in their letters to the Association in 1847 of the treatment of Mr. Garrett toward Mr. Edwards, and requested that means be adopted to adjust the
difficulty between the two ministers. The discussion of this subject consumed the greater part of three days. The Clerk of the Association records that on the fifth day of the session, the attempt was made to prosecute the investigation relative to the charges made by Elder Garrett against Elder Edwards. "But after much altercation, no progress having been made, and said Elder T. L. Garrett, having, for several days, treated this Association with much indignity, it was moved by Elder J. E. Grace, that we now suspend proceedings, and expel Elder T. L. Garrett for contempt." Mr. Garrett then moved that it be decided by vote whether the body had the right to expel a member for any cause. The question was decided in the affirmative, whereupon Mr. Garrett withdrew from the body. But Elder Grace's motion was put to a vote and Garrett was formally expelled from the Association, but this did not end the trouble. In July, 1848, four churches, Mt. Olivet, Little Obion, Liberty and Salem, withdrew from the Association on account of the Garrett difficulty, and by their messengers constituted the Mt. Olivet Association. This small body of four churches, aggregating 199 members, espoused Elder Garrett's quarrel, and denounced the mother Association with a series of 'bitter resolutions for having expelled Elder T. L. Garrett for the purpose of "blasting his reputation, and thereby covering up the guilt of Elder James P. Edwards; and as having been guilty of the most flagrant violation of truth and justice." West Union Association replied, at length, to the charges made by the new organization and published a detailed account of the whole affair in the minutes of 1848. Mt. Olivet Association reiterated these charges in the next two sessions. West Union dropped the matter and made no further reference to it.
In 1846 during the Garrett-Edwards trouble, the subject of alien baptism was brought up in the Association and the churches were advised by resolution not to receive any applicant for membership, except they had been legally baptized by a Baptist minister. The church at Blandville petitioned for membership in the Association, but when it was learned that the church had received into its membership a Campbellite woman without baptizing her, the church was not received until acknowledgements were made, and a promise not to repeat the act. The Association then adopted a resolution, ". . . That, if any of the churches of this Association shall persist in such practice, it will become the unpleasant duty of this Association to withdraw from such churches." This resolution was re-adopted in 1858.
At the same session of 1846, the Association passed the following concerning Sunday schools: "Resolved, That we regard the Sunday-school as a great blessing to the church, community, and particularly to the rising generation; and therefore recommend S. W. King, the Sunday school agent, to the Christian sympathies and co-operation of our churches."
During these years of internal strife the West Union Association decreased in numbers, as well as declining in spiritual power, but later she re¬gained her former standing. In 1860, there were fifty-five churches with 2899 members. In 1870, eleven churches were dismissed to form the Blood River Association. In 1880 the Association was composed of forty-four churches with 3138 members, but increased to forty-eight churches in 1882 with 3479 members.21
In 1946 thirty-nine churches reported 12,937 members, and in 1948, 13,833 members. The Immanuel Church, Paducah, was the largest, reporting 2306 members in 1948, and no pastor. The second largest church was the First Church, Paducah, reporting 1471 members, and T. R. Brown, pastor.
LITTLE BETHEL BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
Little Bethel Association was constituted at Flat Creek meeting house in Hopkins County, on Saturday before the second Sunday in September, 1836 of four churches, which had split off from the Highland Association, a rank anti-mission body. These four churches were Grave Creek, in Henderson County; Bethel, in Muhlenberg County; Highland and Little Bethel in Union County. The reason given for withdrawing from the Highland Association was "the violent opposition of a majority of that body to the benevolent institutions of the day" and "its repeated violation of the spirit and letter of its constitution."
The new Association was organized by electing Timothy Sisk, Moderator, and A. M. Henry, Clerk. The meeting then proceeded to adopt the constitution of the Highland Association, by adding the following article nine: "Whereas the benevolent institutions of the day have been a bone of contention in Highland Association, to the destruction of the happiness of that body, which contention has led to our separation from the same, we do solemnly agree to abide by the nine articles of General Union of Baptists in Kentucky, of 1801, leaving each church, and every individual member thereof, to his own discretion and sense of duty; to give or not to give to such things, and that this Association shall never have the right or power to intermeddle with churches or individual members thereof, in regard to them; and further, they shall never be made a bar to fellowship in this our union." Also the rules of decorum of the Highland Association were adopted, and the new body assumed the name of Little Bethel Association.
The first anniversary meeting was held with the Bethel Church in Muhlenberg County, when three new churches were received, viz: Bethel in Henderson County, Unity in Muhlenberg County, and Richland in Hopkins, which increased the number to seven churches with 163 members. Small and weak as was this young fraternity, it was imbued by the spirit of missions. Resolutions were passed recommending Sunday schools and benevolent work, and a committee was appointed to raise funds to support a missionary within its bounds. The following year Wm. Morrison was appointed missionary at a salary of $300.00 a year. In 1839 Elder R. Jones was employed at the same salary, and the churches were advised to hold protracted meetings during the year. The Association increased from seven churches with 163 members in 1837 to fifteen churches with 812 members in 1841. On the other hand the Highland Association, an anti-mission body, decreased from fourteen churches with 619 members in 1835 to fourteen churches with 362 members in 1840. Little Bethel continued to support missions in its territory, to foster a Bible Society in its midst, and to contribute to Indian Missions, and so enjoyed a high degree of prosperity. But the anti-mission Baptists, on one hand, and a large Catholic population on the other, strongly opposed the operation of the Bible Society. Elder L. W.
Taliaferro, one of the Colporteurs, reported that the opposition was so great that he could neither sell Bibles or give them away.
In 1848, the Richland church was divided on the subject of Free Masonry, and the matter was brought before the Association and discussed at great length. The following decision was finally reached: "We do not know that belonging to the Free Masons, or any of the secret institutions, is a violation of the gospel, therefore, we do not declare non-fellowship for any brethren who may belong to such institutions, or may wish to do so." This did not end the disturbance; for there was a division in the Friendship Church in 1850, and the matter was again brought before the Association. The following resolution was offered and adopted by a rote of thirty to twenty-eight: "Seeing that brethren's identifying themselves with the Freemason Lodge produces unkind feelings among us, therefore, Resolved, That we advise them to discontinue frequenting the Lodge, and endeavor to carry out the principles of charity, benevolence, fidelity and temperance, in and through the church of God." The question was never again raised in the Association.
The subject of alien baptism was brought before the session of 1854, by a query of the Liberty Church, which was answered as follows: "We advise the churches in our Association, not to receive any into their communion, who shall not have been baptized by a regularly ordained Baptist minister." The subject of alien baptism was again presented to the Association in 1873, when it was "Resolved that the reception of all such immersions is inexpedient and unscriptural."
In 1850 the Little Bethel Association reported twenty-seven churches with 1837 members, and in 1860, thirty-two churches with 2389 members. At the session of 1868, thirty-six churches were reported with 2952 members; but eight churches, aggregating 879 members were dismissed to enter into the constitution of the Henderson County Association. In 1880 there were thirty-seven churches with 2348 members, and in 1882, thirty-nine churches and 2941 members. From the time of the constitution of the Association in 1836 to its meeting in 1883 there were baptized into the fellowship of the churches 7989 converts, exclusive of those baptized in 1840 of which there is no minute available.22
In 1948 the Association was composed of forty-one churches with 7915 members. The First Church, Madisonville, reported 1535 members and old D. Tallant, pastor.
1. Carroll, B. H., Jr., The Genesis of American Anti-Missionism, p. 85-87.
2. Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 2, p. 286, 287. Records provided by E. W. Williams, Georgetown, Ky.
3. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1945, 1948; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 290-306.
4. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 287-289.
5. Waldrop, J. W., History of Concord Association, 1907, p. 1, 9, 25, 26, 55; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 335-347.
6. Conkwright, S. J., History of the Churches of Boone's Creek Association, p. 64-69; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 349-354.
7. Minutes of Bethel Baptist Association, 1820, p. 3, 4; Spencer, John H. op. cit., Vol. 2, 354-364.
8. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 307-311.
9. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 327, 328.
10. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 328-330.
11. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 330-335.
12. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 388-394.
13. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 394-397.
14. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 397-418.
15. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 418-424; Minutes of Elkhorn Association, 1824, p. 3 1825, p. 3; 1826, p. 5.
16. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 424-433.
17. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 433-440.
18. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 455-459.
19. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 459-461.
20. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 466, 467.
21. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 471-479.
22. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 488-492.
[From Frank M. Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 231-255. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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