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A Brief History of
David's Fork Baptist Church
Fayette County, Kentucky
By the Committee: (G. Weathers, J. H. Darnaby,
A. M. Alexander and Elder R. M. Dudley) - 1876
ARTICLES OF FAITH OF
DAVID'S FORK BAPTIST CHURCH.
1. OF THE SCRIPTURES. - We believe the Holy Bible was written men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.
2. OF THE TRUE GOD. - That there is one, and only one, true and living God, whose name is JEHOVAH; the maker and supreme ruler o! heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness; worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love; revealed under the personal and relative distinctions of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct and harmonious offices in the great work of Redemption.
3. OF THE FALL OF MAN. - That man was created in a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, wholly given to the gratification of the world, of Satan, and of their own sinful passions, and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defence or excuse.
4. OF THE WAY OF SALVATION. - That the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace, through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God, who took upon him our nature, yet without sin; honored the law by personal obedience and made atonement for our sins by his death; being risen from the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven; and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, is every way qualified to be a suitable, compassionate and an all-sufficient Saviour.
5. OF JUSTIFICATION. - That the great Gospel blessing, which Christ of his fulness bestows on such as believe in him, is justification; that justification consists in the pardon of sin and the promise of eternal life, on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed not
in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, hut solely through his own redemption and righteousness; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.
6. OF THE FREENESS OF SALVATION. - That the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the Gospel; that it is the immediate duty of all to accept this by a cordial and obedient faith; and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth, except his own voluntary refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ; which refusal will subject him to an aggravated condemnation.
7. OF GRACE IN REGENERATION. - That in order to be saved, men must be regenerated or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind, and is effected in a manner above our comprehension or calculation by the power of the Holy Spirit, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and that its proper evidence is found in the holy fruit which we bring forth to the glory of God.
8. OF GOD'S PURPOSE IN GRACE. - That election is the gracious purpose of God according to which he regenerates, sanctifies and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end; that it is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, being infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable; that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy; that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree; that it is ascertained by its effects in all who believe the Gospel; it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves, demands and deserves our utmost diligence.
9. OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. - That such only are real believers as endure unto the end; that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark that distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special Providence watches over their welfare; and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
10. HARMONY OF THE LAW AND GOSPEL. - That the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government; that it is holy, just, and good; and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to men to fulfill its precepts, arises entirely from their love of sin; to deliver them from which, and restore them through a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy law, is one great end of the Gospel, and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible church.
11. OF A GOSPEL CHURCH - That a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by his laws; and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by the word; that its only proper officers are bishops or pastors, and deacons; whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined in the epistles to Timothy and Titus.
12. OF BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER. - That Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, to shew forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its purifying power; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord's supper, in which the members of a church, by the use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.
13. OF THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH. - That the first day of the week is the Lord's day, or Christian Sabbath, and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes, by abstaining from all secular labor and recreations; by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for that rest which remaineth for the people of God.
14. OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. - That civil government is of divine appointment, for the interest and good order of human society; that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed, except in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the Conscience, and the Princ of the Kings of the earth.
15. OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED. - That there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that only such as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem; while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under thecurse; and this distinction holds good among men both in and after death.
16. OF THE WORLD TO COME. - That the end of this world is approaching; that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will then go to be judged with endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of man in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.
Having been, as we trust, brought by divine grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and to give up ourselves wholly to him, we do now solemnly and joyfully covenant, with each other to walk together in him with brotherly love, to his glory as our common Lord. We do therefore in his strength engage,
1st. That we will not omit closet and family religion at home, nor allow ourselves in the too common neglect of that great duty of religiously training up our children, and those under our care, with a view to the service of Christ and the enjoyment of heaven.
2d. Not willingly to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but constantly attending our appointed meetings as far as the Lord shall enable us, not neglecting any of them but in cases of necessity.
3d. To bear each one his part according as the Lord shall prosper him, in defraying such expenses as are necessary for maintaining the worship of God in decency and in order.
4th. Not to expose the infirmities of one another by any means when it may be lawfully avoided.
5th. Not willingly to live in the neglect of any known duty to God, or our neighbor, or to one another; but to endeavor to walk in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless.
6th. Not to remove our residence to any distant part without applying to the church for dismission.
7th. To bear reproof and to reprove each other, in case of visible faults, in Christian charity and brotherly love, as ordered by Christ in the Gospel.
RULES OF DECORUM.
1st. That no proposition or motion shall be made and debated unless made by one member and seconded by another.
2d. All motions and propositions shall be decided on as they are proposed, nor shall any new action be made or taken up while there is one undetermined before the church, unless the first be postponed or refused.
3d. Any motion made and seconded may be withdrawn by the member making such motion, before any decision be had thereon.
4th. Every motion shall be made in writing, if requested by the Moderator or any other member, and read by the C!erk, before any debate or decision be had thereon.
5th. Every member about to make a motion or proposition shall rise from his seat and respectfully address himself to the Moderator.
6th. No member shall speak more than twice to any question without leave from the church, nor more than once until every member who chooses shall have spoken once.
7th. Every member in debate shall confine himself to the subject in hand, and if he shall wander from the question, shall be called tn order by the Moderator or any other member, and every member called to order shall immediately sit down, unless permitted to proceed or explain himself.
8th. Every member shall keep his seat while the Moderator puts any question, which he shall do standing.
9th. If any proposition shall be made which to the church may appear improper to decide on, the church may quash it by the previous question, which shall be in this form: Shall the main question be now put?
10th. All questions that respect members being received into the church, and officers being chosen, shall be determined by the unanimous voice of the church present, male and female; and all other questions to be determined by a majority of males and females present.
11th. All members under dealing shall come forward to the table to answer cornpliants.
David's Fork Baptist Church was once a part of the fold at Bryan's Station. The church at Bryan's was so large, and its membership was scattered over so great an area, that another house of worship was built upon the headwaters of David's Fork Creek. This done in 1786. The church at Bryan's worshipped alternately in the two houses. This continued until 1801, when, on 26th of August, a distinct and separate church was organized at David's Fork. It was from the first a large and vigorous body, numbering two hundred and sixty-seven members. From this we may form some idea of the former prosperity of the mother church at Bryan's. "What is the cause that the former days were better than the latter?" May the spirit of grace and revival yet revisit her!
The David's Fork Church - for this is the name she took - held their meetings the first Saturday in each month and the Sunday following. Though it was now a separate fold, it had the same pastor, Elder Ambrose Dudley. Mr. Dudley was a Virginian by birth, but had removed to Kentucky the year before the house of worship was first built on David's Fork. He was a man of erect statue, black hair, piercing eye, and uncommon neatness of person. He was a. firm disciplinarian; an active laborer, whether as pastor or evangelist; a fine theologian of the Calvinian type. A sketch of his life may be found in Taylor's Lives of Virginia Baptist Ministers. Because of a difficulty between him and one of the members, Mr. Dudley asked leave to withdraw, November, 1802. Leave was granted; but after an earnest investigation, the church voted herself satisfied with Mr. Dudley; and in February, 1803, invited him to resume the pastoral charge. This call he accepted, and continued to serve the church until November, 1806. At this time the church received a request from the Bryan's Church, asking her to change her day of meeting, so as to give the Bryan's Church opportunity to hold semi-monthly meetings. This request. David's Fork declined to grant, and Mr. Dudley again withdrew.
The church remained without a pastor until August, 1807, when Elder Robert Hunt appeared as Moderator of the church, and probably as pastor; though no record of a call is found on the church book. Mr. Hunt continued to preside over the church until December, 1808, when he was removed by death. He continued but a short while, and of his labors but little is now known. There are two items on record that bespeak the thoughtful and affectionate regard of the church for Mr. Hunt. In April, 1810, a committee was appointed to settle with brethren respecting monies that had been raised to pay for Bro. Hunt's land. In June, 1811, the church requested a brother to see to the grinding of Sister Hunt's grain this year and bring in his bill. This was done and the bill was paid. And now that they have all gone to their reward, it gives us pleasure to note these acts of considerate kindness.
After Mr. Hunt's death the church remained without a pastor until February, 1810. when Elder Jeremiah Vardeman received a unanimous call to become pastor, and remove within the bounds of the church. The call was accepted. The church was greatly animated with hope with reference to the coming of Mr. Vardeman. The Clerk says that, at the next meeting, "the church threw down $62.50" for the purpose of hiring four wagons, to move Mr. Vardeman. Yet these fathers did not entirely forget the value of money in their enthusiasm over their new pastor; for it was ordered that the money be given into the hands of certain brethren "to hire as cheap as possible."
In April Mr. Vardeman took his seat in the church as Moderator. In the earlier history of this community there lived in it no more noted man than Jeremiah Vardeman. He was a man of florid complexion, brown hair, ponderous frame, vigorous health, and great activity. His voice was of rare volume and power. He was a master of the human passions, and vigorously used this advantage for his Master's glory and the salvation of sinners. Wherever he went crowds flocked to hear him, and multitudes of both men and women were added to the Lord. His preaching was largely emotional and hortatory. His first labors at David's Fork were so blessed of the Lord that the whole community was soon brought under the influence of the Gospel. At the church meeting in July twenty-one persons were received for baptism; at the August meeting, forty-five; at the September meeting, seventy; at the October meeting, twenty-two; at the November meeting, five, at the December meeting, two;
and at the January meeting, five. In six months one hundred and seventy souls were added to the church. One of the fruits of this meeting was Elder Jas. E. Welch, who was ordained to the Gospel ministry February, 1815, by Elders David Biggs, Ambrose Bourn, and J. Vardeman. Mr. Welch removed to another field of labor, and died only during the past summer.
The signal success of Mr. Vardeman led to a demand for his services in adjacent fields. At the February meeting in 1811, a. letter was received from the minority of the church at Bryan's, asking for the labors of Mr. Vardeman the fourth Saturday, and Sunday following, in each month. At the March meeting a letter was received from the Boon's Creek (now Athens') Church, asking a share in his labors. Both these requests were sanctioned by the church.
The winter and spring of 1827-28 witnessed another glorious revival of religion. The first fruits were gathered at the December meeting from the pastor's own family. The meeting continued from day to day and before it closed upward of two hundred precious souls were added to the church. The whole community was again brought under the influence of the great revival. Among its fruits was the eccentric and gifted Fisher, who began his labors as a licentiate in this church.
But if the church was blessed in 1827-28 she was soon to be as sorely tried. Alexander Campbell, at that time a member and minister of the Baptist denomination, began to bring in doctrines that greatly agitated our churches. He was a learned and talented man, and we must accord to him, at least what we claim for ourselves, honesty and sincerity in what he promulgated. But it was the beginning of dark and trying times. Brethren and churches that had taken sweet counsel together were compelled to part company, to be re-united on earth no more. But fidelity to convictions must ever override considerations of expediency or good will. While deeply regretting it, yet looking at it in the calmer mood which always prevails after the conflict, and in the maturer judgment of a riper manhood, we leave Mr. Campbell and his brethren to answer to their God, without a word of angry crimination from our lips. Two can not walk together except they be agreed; and when they can not agree, then let them agree to disagree, and part in peace. At the June meeting, in 1830, when the Moderator of the church asked for the peace of the church, several brethren expressed dissatisfaction. The matter was laid over until the next meeting. The charge was preferred
against certain brethren that they had cast reflections upon the church in saying that she was in Babylon, and comparing her Covenant to Aaron's golden calf. The brother who represented the disaffected members entered his explanations, which were voted unsatisfactory. The church reproved him and agreed to bear with him. A preamble and resolutions, prepared by Mr. Vardeman, were adopted and ordered to be recorded on the minutes. They were a sober and earnest remonstrance against the action of these brethren, and urging them to desist. Instead of accomplishing the end, the disaffected members sent in a counter petition to the church at her next meeting. Seeing that they could not be brought back to fellowship, their petition was laid on the table, and they, to the number of thirty-one, excluded from the church. They asked an interest in the house of worship, which was granted; but their interest was so small that they finally withdrew. Whatever may be the destinies of the two peoples, let us hope that we may never know such a time of dissention and bitterness as that through which we have passed.
In August following Mr. Vardeman asked for a letter of dismission. In September a letter of commendation was added by the church, and this devoted servant left for Missouri. Mr. Vardeman served the church twenty years and five months. During this time there were two mighty revivals of religion and nearly four hundred added to the church.
Being without a pastor, at the November meeting the church went into the election of one by private ballot, and Elder R. T. Dillard was unanimously chosen. The committee appointed to wait on him reported, at the December meeting, a satisfactory reply. Mr. Dillard appeared and took his seat as Moderator of the church in 1831. He was called from the practice of law to the nobler work of a Gospel minister. He was then a comparatively young man. His education was liberal for the times. His natural endowments were very fine. His voice was a rare gift, being as soft as a musical instrument, and as clear as a bell. His power in exhortation was almost unequalled. His presence and manner in the pulpit were exceedingly appropriate and graceful. He studied much and advantageously, and became, in his prime, one of the foremost men in Kentucky, in usefulness and reputation. In the part of the State where he lived, he reigned as a king; and justly deserved the honor that he enjoyed.
At this time the church numbered four hundred and seventy
members. This after the reformers had withdrawn. The church observed the last Friday in May, 1832, us a day of fasting and prayer, for the blessing of God upon the churches. The day was to be one of general observance throughout the State.
At the December meeting, 1836, the church resolved to hold meeting twice a month, the third Sunday being the time appointed for the extra meeting. In the autumn of 1837 the church enjoyed another gracious season of revival, in which the Spirit of the Lord was abundantly poured out. The meeting began the first week in October, and continued through several weeks. Among those who were brought in during this meeting are many who still linger on the shores of time; and, what is far better, who are yet engaged in work for Christ. In all, there were upward of a hundred added to the church during this revival. - Owing to ill-health, Mr. Dillard was advised to take a sea voyage, and at the February meeting, in 1839, Elder J. M. Forst, lately gone to his reward, was elected to supply the church during the pastor's absence. He returned the following summer and resumed his labors in July. - In October, 1841, another meeting was held, in which thirty-five professed religion and united with the church. On the suggestion of Mr. Dillard, it was agreed that he should preach on every ihird Sunday afternoon to the blacks. - In 1843 the pastor was appointed to the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction by the Governor of the State. In order that he might accept this offer, the church agreed to release him the third Sunday. He continued to supply the church the first Saturday and Sunday following.
At the March meeting in 1850, a motion was made to strike out a portion of the fifth item of the articles of faith. The item read as follows: "We fully believe the great, doctrine of particular redemption, personal election, justification by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, pardon of sin by his atoning blood, believers' baptism by immersion, the final perseverance of the saints, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." The objectionable portion, without doubt, was the clause relating to particular redemption, or personal election, or, perhaps, both. Instead of rescinding the portion objected to, the church authorized a committee to alter, revise, or amend the articles in such manner as to them might appear necessary. In due time the committee presented their report, which, after laying over a month for deliberation, was unanimously adopted. The articles are to be found in the first part of this pamphlet. The
only doctrinal difference between the two sets of articles is that the latter presents broader views of the death of Christ. The latter are also superior in being a fuller statement of doctrinal views. - In this same year the list of members was thoroughly revised, and the names of about one hundred and fifty stricken off. Most of them had died; some had been excluded; some had removed to parts remote from the church; and others were then excluded for violating Gospel order. - In July, 1856, it was determined to rebuild the house of worship. A committee was appointed to select a suitable spot, and, after canvassing the merits of different locations, finally selected the spot occupied by the present house. The ground where the old house stood was sold; and also the house, to the contractors of the present house; and such of the material of the old as was fit for use was wrought into the present building. While the question of re-building was before the church, on account of his failing health, Mr. Dillard addressed a letter to the church asking for a release from pastoral dutiss for the space of twelve months. With reluctance the church granted the request. The questions then arose as to a supply during his absence; and a place of worship after the old house was torn down, and before the new one was built. As a supply, the church chose that excellent man, Elder Wm. M. Pratt, at that time pastor of the First Baptist Church, Lexington. As a place of worship they chose the grove in the present church-yard. The hour of service was the afternoon at 3 o'clock. A stand was erected and seats were arranged for the convenience of the preacher and congregation. It is pleasant to note the fact that while they met in the grove to worship God, while the present house was being built, they were not interrupted a single day by the weather, which was always favorable.
The house having been finished, the first Saturday in December, and Sunday following, 1857, were set apart for the dedication services. The ministers present were Elders Dillard and Helm. The meeting was protracted until Christinas day, and twenty-two persons were added to the church. The preaching was done by Mr. Helm. The baptism was administered on Christmas day. Would that the annual return of this eventful day could thus be celebrated throughout our land. - At the February meeting in 1858, Mr. Dillard was unanimously invited to resume his labors with the church as pastor, which he accepted. He served the church until October, 1859, at which time he wrote to the church, tendering his resignation. At the November meeting it was received. This closed an extended pastorate, covering
a period of about thirty years. The church expressed deep regret at the loss of his services, and bore testimony to his exemplary Christian character, and the faithful discharge of his pastoral duties during that entire period.
Finding herself again without a pastor, the church began to look about for another. At the January meeting, 1860, Elder S. L. Helm was unanimously called, with a salary of not less than $600. A committee was appointed to wait on him, and, after due deliberation, he notified the committee that he would accept the call, and enter upon his labors the first Saturday in June following. The church had had a.taste of Mr. Helm's services in the meeting already mentioned, and were anxious to obtain them as pastor. There are few names more intimately connected with Kentucky Baptist history during the present generation than that of Mr. Helm. A man of splendid natural endowments, of great Christian activity, of warm and generous impulses as a friend, he could not other than leave his impress upon his time. Beginning under great disadvantages, without education, without means, or opportunity to acquire one, save as he became self-taught, he has yet worked his way to the front of the living ministry. And now, as he begins to feel the approach of old age, may the Lord of the harvest deal kindly with him, and grant that in future he may gather as much precious grain for the heavenly garner as has been already stored there from former labors. At the October meeting it was resolved to revive the prayer meeting at 3 o'clock p. m. of every Wednesday. Do we wonder that we soon thereafter read the Lord was pleased to revive his work, and that souls were born unto God? The Lord will be enquired of by the house of Israel. - At the January meeting, 1863, it was resolved to observe the Lord's Supper four times a year, and the times designated are the Sundays after the business meetings in January, April, July, and October. Experiencing some difficulty in arranging her finances at her April meeting in 1865, the following plan was adopted: A finance committee was appointed, to apportion the expenses of the church among the members according to their ability, allowing ench member the right to enter objections if he felt himself aggrieved in the matter of contributions. The members thus apportioned were divided into four classes; and the four classes are to contribute during the four quarters of the year, one class to each quarter. It is also made the duty of the treasurer to rise in the church, the meeting next preceding that at which the money becomes due, and inform the
church as to whose contributions are due. It is made the duty of those whose names are read out for a given quarter to come forward and pay their part of the church expenses. Time has proved that the plan is an admirable one. It will require a reapportionment every five or ten years, to meet the variations of church expenses and of individual fortunes, but it is infinitely better than the constant worry to which many of the churches expose themselves, to the detriment of their peace and spirituality.
In 1867, October meeting, a regular plan of contributions to the various benevolent denominational enterprises was adopted, and at the December meeting following, the times arranged as follows: To Foreign Missions, first Saturday in February; to Domestic Missions, first Saturday in May; to Ministerial Education, first Saturday in August; to State Missions, first Saturday in November. Thus the church has systematized her plans, both of church expenses and benevolent contributions. The plans are excellent, and are well worthy of being carried out. - At the December meeting, 1865, a list of twenty-one delinquents was read, and committees appointed to see after them. Some were reclaimed, some excused, and others excluded. A committee was appointed to revise the list of colored members. In June, 1866, they reported that ninety-one had died; four were disorderly; thirty-four unknown; and ninety were scattered abroad. The disorderly were excluded; the unknown were stricken from the list; the ninety scattered were placed on the list of non-residents. Since they obtained their freedom the blacks have nearly all withdrawn and formed themselves into separate churches. The records of this church fully falsify the charge that the blacks, who were our former servants, were left uncared for, as to their spiritual wants. Provision was made for them to hear the Word of God; even special services held for their exclusive benefit. They were received into the same churches with their masters; they ate of the same loaf and drank of the same cup; and were watched over as to their Christian deportment with the same fidelity and care, as the whites. They were regarded as the members of our families; they nursed ourselves and our children; in turn they were well-fed and clothed and sheltered; kindly cared for when sick; and tenderly buried when they died. The blacks never had, and have not now, truer or kinder friends than their old masters.
In January, 1866, it was voted that no member taking a letter from this church shall be considered dismissed until a certificate is received
that he has united with another church. At the February meeting it was voted that no letter shall be good for longer than six months.
At the January meeting, 1868, Mr. Helm gave notice of his intention to resign. The Board of State Missions at Louisville was anxious to procure his services as State Evangelist. Under the conviction that a field of greater usefulness offered itself to him, Mr. Helm accepted the call of the Board.
Political passions and prejudices were running high all over Kentucky, and party lines were sometimes seen running through the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. In view of this state cf things, the church wisely counseled, in a series of resolutions offered at the same meeting, "mutual forbearance, patience, and concession;" and exhorted the members "to lay aside all personal partialities and prejudices, and act only with reference to our own spiritual good, the peace of the church, and the glory of God." A committee was appointed to recommend another pastor, and at the March meeting the name of Elder Geo. Hunt was presented to the church, and he was elected. This call Mr. Hunt declined. The church then elected Mr. Helm as a supply, and he accepted.
The latter part of August the Ministers and Deacons' Meeting of Elkhorn Association met with the church. It was a fortunate thing for the church, as it brought to her notice the gifted brother who was so soon to become pastor. At the next meeting for business the church went into the election of a pastor, and Elder L. B. Woolfolk received a unanimous vote. The call was indefinite, and the salary $800 a year. Mr. Woolfolk accepted, and began his labors the first Sunday in October, 1868. His election at this time was a fortunate thing for the church. A man of catholic spirit, a genial gentleman, a fine scholar, a superb orator, and, withal, as artless as a child; and yet, when occasion required, as bold as a lion; he was the very man to weld the hearts of God's people to himself, and through himself to one another. He led the flock safe through all the commotion and bitterness that followed in the wake of a dreadful civil war - a war that divided families and churches alike in the heat of unholy passion. And the church to-day, thank God! is, we believe, without alienation or strife growing out of that awful struggle. May she never know such a time again; and if she does, may she have such an under-shepherd to guide her beside the still waters of peace and love.
In April, 1869, the church was asked to give her old Bible to a poor church in the mountains. Unwilling to part with the old book
out of which they had been so often fed on the bread of life by her former pastors, the church refused to give it away; but bought a new one for the sister church. - The Sunday-school Convention of Elkhorn Association held its fall session with us the first Saturday-and Sunday in October. - During a meeting held in October, 1869, seven persons were added to the church. Greatly to the surprise and regret of all, on the 3d Sunday in December, 1870, Mr. Woolfolk tendered his resignation. His reason for doing so was that he might seek a home in the far West. His resignation was accepted at the February meeting, to take effect in April.
As it is not the purpose of this sketch to go beyond the election of Mr. Woolfolk's successor, it is a befitting time to say that this church may well be proud of the men who have served her as pastors. We doubt if there is a church of equal age and strength throughout the whole land that can average a ministry of equal ability. Ambrose Dudley, Jeremiah Vardeman, R. T. Dillard, S. L. Helm; L. B. Woolfolk. They were all men of commanding stature, of excellent endowments, of fine pulpit gifts, and of blameless reputation. Their weight would have been felt in any community. The church has certainly "coveted the best gifts," and thus far she has had them. - Finding herself again without a pastor, in April, 1871, a call was extended to Elder R. M. Dudley, of Louisville. The call was declined. The call was then extended to Elder W. H. Felix, of Covington. Mr. Felix declined. Meantime Mr. Dudley, having severed his connection with the Western Recorder, on account of the health of his family, had determined to remove to the country. The church learning this, renewed the call at her July meeting, with a salary of $800. This second call Mr. Dudley accepted, and immediately entered upon his labors. - If we date the existence of this church from the building of the house of worship on the headwaters of David's Fork creek in 1786, she has reached her ninetieth anniversary. In that time she has had six regular pastors - Ambrose Dudley, from 1786 to 1806 - twenty years; Jeremiah Vardeman, from 1810 to 1830 - twenty years; R. T. Dillard, from 1830 to 1860 - thirty years; S. L. Helm, from 1860 to 1868 - eight years; L. B. Woolfolk, from 1868 to 1871 - three years; R. M. Dudley, from 1871 to date. The present pastor is a great-grandson of the first pastor of the church. - The omission of the name of Elder Robert Hunt from the list of regular pastors is in no sense intended as a discourtesy to him. Little is now known of his labors, but what is
known is altogether favorable. The reason why his name is omitted from that list is that it does not appear that he was ever formally elected pastor.
Ministers. - The following persons have been licensed or ordained in this church: In 1812 Geo. Boon and Green Allen were permitted "to exercise a publick gift by exhortation or doctrine as the Lord shall give light and liberty." - In 1815 Jas. E. Welsh was ordained to the Gospel ministry and dismissed to another field of labor. - Among the fruits of the revival of 1827 was the eccentric and talented T. J. Fisher, under whose labors as an Evangelist thousands have been added to the churches of this country. He began his career as a licentiate of this church. - In 1839 A. D. Sears was permitted to exercise his gift in preaching, prayer, and exhortation wherever his lot may be cast. In 1840 he was ordained by Elders Dillard, Leak, and Darnaby. Mr. Sears served for many years the Baptist Church in Hopkinsville; and is now pastor of the Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn. He is an able and efficient minister of the New Testament. - Elder N. B. Johnson, our faithful mountain missionary, was for many years a member of this church. In later years he has been the object of her benefactions, and for a while labored under her pay. - In 1845 R. M. Jones was authorized to exercise his gift in the bounds of the church. He afterwards removed to Missouri. - In 1850 John M. Robinson was licensed to preach the gospel. In 1852 written license was given to him, that he might attend the Theological school at Covington. In 1854 he was ordained to the ministry by Elders Dillard, Allen, Pratt, and Gentry. Brother Robinson is now laboring in Missouri. - In 1855 license was issued to J. B. Tharp to exercise his gift, and in October of the same year he was ordained by Elders Lynd, Pratt, Link, and Dillard. Mr. Tharp still lives in Elkhorn Association, and is well known to all the churches. - In 1873 Mr. J. K. Nunnelley was ordained, at the request of the Sharpsburg Baptist Church, by Elders J. L. Smith, Woolfolk, Dobbs, Freeman, Harris, and Stansberry.* Brother Nunnelley still labors acceptably for the Sharpsburg church. In 1874 Alexander Fleet, who joined the church by letter from Virginia, was licensed to preach. He is a pious, sensible, well-educated young man; and we trust the Lord may open to him a door of great usefulness.*
Deacons. - The following persons have served the church in the responsible office of Deacon: The first deacons were Benjamin Robinson
* Mr. Dudley, the pastor, was in the South.
and James Welch. In 1810 A. Wilson and Edward Darnaby were chosen and set apart to the work. In 1815 Thomas Ellis was chosen to fill the place of Benjamin Robinson resigned. In 1822 Hezekiah Ellis was set apart to fill the place of Thomas Ellis, who was thrown from a horse and killed. In 1828, James Weathers was elected to fill the vacancy caused by the death of "old father" Welch. In 1835, Boswell Mitchell was elected to fill the place of A. Wilson deceased. In 1838 the church elected two deacons; one to fill the place of Boswell Mitchell removed, and one in addition. G. W. Darnaby and Enoch Bryan were elected. In 1849 T. M. Wilson and Martin Coons were elected deacons to fill the vacancies caused by the death of E. Darnaby and James Weathers. In 1857, J. H. Darnaby and Caswell Weathers were elected to fill the places vacated by the death of M. Coons and H. Ellis. In 1863, James A, Darnaby was elected to fill the place of Enoch Bryan deceased. In 1865, D. T. Carr was received by letter from East Hickman church. Brother Carr had served Hickman church as deacon and moderator; and at the same meeting that he was received in David's Fork, he was added to the list of deacons. In 1873, A. M. Alexander was elected to fill the place of Caswell Weathers, deceased.
Clerks. - The following brethren have served the church as clerk: Richard Hulett from the organization of the church until 1819, eighteen years; George Mitchell from 1819 to 1825; Thomas Ellis from 1825 to 1827; Silas M. Hunt from 1827 to 1830; Wm. Wilson from 1830 to 1832; James Dawson from 1832 to 1838; J. H. Darnaby from 1838 to 1865, twenty-seven years; C. B. Quisenberry from 1865 to date. The church also had what she called singing clerks. In 1834, B. Crim, L. Crim, and B. Mitchell were appointed to assist George Mitchell to set the tunes.
Miscellaneous. - The Thursday after the first Saturday in September 1813, the church observed as a day of fasting and prayer for God's blessing on the church and nation. This was during the war of 1812 between this country and England; and many of the husbands, brothers, and sons were absent in the war. - In 1813, October meeting, the church "agreed to advance money next meeting for the purpose of aiding the missionaries in India." The church has all the time acknowledged her obligation to aid in carrying out the Commission of Christ to his people: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." - In 1815 it was voted to hold a yearly meeting commencing Friday before the first Saturday in
June. These have been famous meetings of the church, to which hundreds have resorted. - In 1815 it was agreed that the church comply with the recommendation of the Governor of the State advising a meeting on the 24th inst., "for the purpose of rendering thanks to Almighty Cod for the termination of war among us. and the introduction of peace." This was at the close of the war of 1812. - The clerk pro tem, at that meeting was Uriel B. Chambers, the first editor of the Baptist Chronicle. Mr. Chambers was for some time a member of this church.
Elkhorn Association has held her annual sessions with this church in 1827, 1838, 1849, and 1864. - The present pastor of the church has held, two protracted meetings since he has been laboring with the church; one in 1871, during which there were twelve additions by experience and baptism; and one in 1874, during which there were twenty additions, - From its organization to the present time there have been received into this church, two thousand two hundred and seventeen souls. - In July, 1874, Elders Boyce and Broadus, agents of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, visited the church and received in subscriptions over $3,000, for the removal of that institution to the City of Louisville. This is the largest, subscription made by any country church in Kentucky to that object.
Discipline. - We now call special attention to this branch of the church's history. As early as 1803 we read from the minutes for February, "On motion agreed to go uito an impartial and tender examination individually how we spend our vinie in known duties to God and each other." At the March meeting a committee was appointed "to tenderly labor with brother B_____, in order to show him his duty in family worship." From this it appears that there was an alter of prayer in every family belonging to the church. - From the first the church has been out-spoken against such immoralities as drunkeness, theft, adultery, fornication, sodomy, profanity, gambling, card-playing, Sabbath-breaking, the race field, tattling, and lying. Dancing has always been, and is now, a prohibited amusement in this church. In 1846 a series of resolutions was passed by the church, the 2nd and 4th of which read as follows: and "Resolved that this church does not tolerate the practice of card-playing, dancing, visiting the race field, betting, and any kindred practice." 4th "Resolved, that this church individually and collectively will keep a strict watch over each other and themselves, and not engage in any amusement which has a tendency to lead away from the
path of rectitude or duty, or to bring reproach upon the cause of our Saviour which we have pledged to maintain through life." In 1826 a resolution was passed requiring a member who had been absent from one of the meetings to explain the cause of his absence; and if absent twice, he was to be sent for, and required to give an account of his dereliction. In short the church has tried to bring up its members to that standard of fidelity which all have a right to expect of a Christian and a church member.
Conclusion. - We have thus briefly sketched the history of a noble church. Planted towards the close of the last century by pious fathers who have gone to their blessed reward, the church still abides in the midst of the years, a monument of grace and mercy from God. In many respects she has advanced upon what was her condition in the times of the fathers; in some, it is feared, she has receded. While offenses have become less frequent, discipline has also been relaxed. It is also feared that there is not that fervid zeal, that tender watch-care over each other, that fidelity to the personal duties of religion, that characterized our fathers. And while this remains so, it ought to be the constant cry of every child of God, - "O! LORD revive thy work."
It is meet to say that this is a sketch of the history of the church, not of the individual members. This accounts for the fact that the names of hundreds of men and women of noble deeds and vital godliness, who have belonged to this church, do not appear upon these pages. But their names are in the Lamb's Book of Life.
By order, of the church, G. Weathers, J.H. Darnaby, A. M. Alexander, Eld. R. M. Dudley \ Committee. December. 1876. =================
[This document is from the Kenton County Public Library, Covington, KY. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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