Unity Baptist Church The Unity Baptist Church building stands in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, eight miles west of Greenville on Highway 62. It is in the Pond River country, about two miles east of Harpe's Hill, in a section that was among the first settled in the county. Unity Church was established in 1812 and is the third oldest Missionary Baptist church now in existence in the county. When this church was established Muhlenberg County was only 14 years old. Farms were few, and in most cases the nearest neighbor was several miles away. Transportation to and from church was done mostly on horseback or afoot over a trail through the woods.
Among the early and prominent first-comers in this section, who were charter members of Unity, were three Revolutionary soldiers, Major Jesse Oates, Sikes Garris, and Baylis Earle. Pioneers Barnett Eades, Jesse Murphy, and Peter Goad, whose farms were about seven miles from Unity, were also among the prominent first-comers connected with the church.
Unity Church is now occupying its fifth building. The first log structure was built about the year 1812. It was a small building with a puncheon floor, a block pulpit, and several puncheon benches. The second building was constructed in 1841. The third log church house was built by members of Unity in 1875 and was used both as a church and a school until 1883. The fourth house was a frame building constructed on the present site in 1883. It was destroyed by fire in 1897, and the building now occupied by the church was constructed.
The records of the church from 1814 to the present have bean preserved and based on these records Mr. Otto A. Rothert wrote a HISTORY OF UNITY BAPTIST CHURCH. Many of the early records are a somewhat monotonous repetition of the order of the proceedings of the business meetings. However, it is interesting to note how this routine wording underwent changes. For many years the clerk noted that the church "opened a door for the reception of members." Later these entries were "opened the door", and about 1875 the phrase was changed to "gave an opportunity for membership."
Many entries, especially previous to 1867, show that members were brought before the church and called on to answer charges made against them. Often members came forward and made complaint against themselves and asked forgiveness of the church. This church like many of the early ones, had a number of negro members. It seems that they were involved in a large proportion of the charges. This is an example. "Brother ______ exhibited charges against Brother _____ , first for drinking three glasses of whiskey three parts full, and second for giving the lie several times. The church appointed a committee to try to settle the matter between the two black brethren, and the committee reported to the church a reconciliation between the two black brethren." An entry made a few years later shows that a certain sister charged her husband with "drinking too much and swearing profanely, and stinginess in debarring her from the use of the necessities of life for the accommodation of those who visit her house." A later entry shows that this man "gave satisfaction by agreeing to give up to his -wife the whole control of the house that belongs to a woman."
Charges, complaints, and acknowledgments are frequent entries until 1867. A few such matters are still brought to the attention of the church after this date, but not as often as formerly. Foot washing in the church was also discontinued about this time. Tradition has it that revivals took place every year, but the minutes do not mention them until 1839. A pool in Pond River was used for a century and a half for the baptizing of those who joined the church upon a profession of faith.
No reference is made in the church .minutes to the Mexican War, the Civil War, the question of slavery (many of the Unity members were slave holders), or to any of the allied topics of the time. However, it is difficult to believe that the men and women of Unity did not discuss these topics, not only before and after church meetings, but in their meetings as well. Many men of the community were in the Union army and a few in the Southern Army.
The records for 1872 and 1873 show that Unity lost many of its members to Pleasant Hill Church which had been established as an "Arm" of the church. It had also lost many members when "Arms" had been extended to East Union and to Oak Grove churches. The question of disbanding was discussed but rejected. However, the next year Unity had a rousing revival and many influential men and women joined the church, and a new church house was built in 1875. The old house was then turned over to the negroes who had been separated from the congregation in 1867. The negroes continued to use the old house until it was too dilapidated for repairs. Unity then helped their colored brethren to erect a new building.
Sunday School was started at Unity in May 1886. The first officers were M. R. Mercer, superintendent; Wyatt Oates, assistant; and J. Wallace Gates, secretary.
One of Unity's greatest revivals was held in 1889. Brother Leander Stirsman was the pastor during this time and proclaimed it one of his greatest experiences in church work. Many of the people came to church singing and shouting, and mourners walked up to "the bench" before services began. On some occasions preaching had to be dispensed with on account of the great enthusiasm of the mourners and others present.
The Unity Church house burned to the ground in March of 1897. Meetings were conducted in nearby Yeargin's Chapel Methodist Church until the early part of 1898 during which time a new building had been erected on the site of the old one. The new house was dedicated on July 4, 1898. Unity later returned the courtesy of their Methodist neighbors while they were rebuilding their church house in 1902.
Many of the early pioneers in this section came from the Carolinas where Baptists were largely anti-missionary. Early records of Unity Church show the influence of these people upon this church as is also seen in the other early churches of the county. Having changed with the times, the beliefs and practices are today in harmony with other Baptists known as Missionary Baptists.
The number of members has varied widely over the years. A list dated 1815 which appears in the first minute book contains the names of 62 white persons and (one name only) 7 negroes. A list headed "1840" contains 121 names of white persons and 11 negroes. When the church entered the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association in 1907 she reported 140 members. The 1964 minutes show 34 resident and 20 non-resident members, a total of 54 members.
Unity has belonged to several Associations. It belonged to the Little River Association until 1820 when it joined the newly constituted Highland Association. It joined the Little Bethel Association in 1837 and remained in that organization until it became a constituent member of the Muhlenberg County Association in 1907.
The records show that the following ministers were ordained by the Unity Church:Lewis Goad 1816 Stephen Harris 1848 Dureen Allcock 1816 William Bennett 1849 Benjamin Clark 1817 James Bennett 1854 Benjamin Rhoads 1817 E. L. Ragon, 1894 Esias W. Earle 1826 James V. McClearn 1901 Kinohen G. Hay 1839
The clerks of Unity Church were probably selected from among such members of the church as were regarded to be its best scribes. It is doubtful that any of them expected their writing would be source material for a church history. Up to 1835 no one was appointed clerk for a definite period, and only a few of those who served signed their names. During the period from 1814 to 1835 it seems that William Oates wrote most of the minutes. Others who served in this capacity during this period were Jesse Murphy, Major Jesse Oates, Benjamin Clark, Duren Allcock, Benjamin Rhoads, John Moore, Bennett Stewart, and Esias W. Earle. After 1835, these members of the church served as clerk: Nathan Hibbs, Jesse Oates, Jr., Beverly Coleman, Wyatt Oates, James Arnett, Stephen Harris, Archibald Coleman, Bennett Mercer, J. Wallace Oates, Bert Oates, Lucian F. Oates, J. Frank Robinson, W. L. Winebarger, B. G. Atchinson, W. D. Arnett, Everett Arnett, Douglas Oates, Kenneth Robinson, Mrs. Kenneth Robinson, and Birkley Oates.
It is difficult to give a complete list of all the pastors of the church because a number of the pages of the records are faded. Most of Unity's early pastors lived in Muhlenberg, Hopkins, and Christian counties. Very few of them devoted all their time to religious work; some were farmers and school teachers. The names of pastors on record who have served the church are: Brothers Leroy Jackson, John Bourland, Kinchen B. Hay, Joseph Board, Pryor S. Loving, William W. Whane, James Bennett, Thomas W. Pritchett, Charles Carnes, William McLean, W. W. Williams, Leander Stirsman, William P. Henry, W. D. Cox, Richard Carroll Allen, Robert Danks, P. E. Herndon, John Kennerly, J. P. Cleavenger, H. D. Bruce, G. H. Brien, C. R. Evitts, S. P. Browning, Frank Farmer, J. J. Collier, Fred Fox, H. D. Divine, Dewey Noffsinger, W. D. Oakley, Chester Moore, Larren Atkins, Homer Cartwright, Ben Woodburn, Wade Kennedy, Harold Stewart, and George Durall. MRS. KENNETH ROBINSON, W. L. WINEBARGER, Historians
Vernal Grove Baptist Church The Vernal Grove Church is not an old church, comparatively speaking, but much of its history is shrouded in antiquity. Tradition in the church says that the early church books were loaned to an eminent college professor who grew up in that community. The professor in question says that he made a hobby of collecting and preserving old manuscripts, and he has a large library of same, but he has been unable to locate anything from Vernal Grove in his library.
The biggest question concerning the history of the church is tine year of its origin. Tradition in the church says it was 1900, although no one seems to be sure of this. Minutes of Muhlenberg Association from 1943 down give this date; and an earlier history of the church written by a former pastor gives 1900. But the fact that another figure has been erased and the last zero written over it; and the words "to the best o.f our knowledge, Vernal Grove Church was organized in the year A.D. 1900," indicates possible doubt in that author's mind.
On the other hand, Muhlenberg Association minutes prior to 1943 — back to its organization in 1907, give the organization date of Vernal Grove as being 1901. One of the most prominent histories of Baptists in Kentucky gives the date as 1901. And certain it is that the church joined Little Bethel Association in December of 1901. So this writer will have to say simply that the evidence seems to lean toward 1901 as the date, but apparently no one knows for sure. There are people still living (1965) who attended the organizational meeting, but like the man in the Bible, "They have been young and are now old ..." and memories have grown dim.
So we say simply that either in 1900 or 1901, a brush arbor meeting was held beneath the branches of a spreading elm tree on the old Jessup farm (now the property of a member of the Bard family) less than a mile from the present site of the church. This revival was conducted by the Rev. J. H. Newman. One wishes fervently that more was known of these meetings, but about all that can be recalled is that out of it came a desire to build a church in that community. It must have been a good revival, for shortly thereafter the Vernal Grove Church was organized with twelve charter members. It would be interesting to know how many (if any) were saved in that revival, but I found no information on that point. There is some evidence that at least a part of the members came from neighboring churches — .notably Unity. It is also a deep disappointment that practically nothing is known of the procedures or persons
present at the organizational meeting. Certain it seems to be that Bro. Newman was there, and he was duly elected the first pastor and Bro. T. H. Bethel the first clerk. I find a reference to what was apparently some of the first deacons whose names were D. E. Jessup, John Scott, and Jim Hancock.
In the December 5, 1901 Minutes of Little Bethel Association, it is noted that there came before the Association the "Vernal" Church asking membership. The messengers from the church having "omitted to have" their church covenant and declaration of faith with them, the matter was deferred until the next day. The next day (December 6, 1901) the church was admitted on presenting the above mentioned credentials.
That year the church is listed as the "Vernal" church, but in 1902 the name is corrected to "Vernal Grove" without any explanation. By 1902 the membership had grown from the original twelve to thirty-two members. Messengers were T. H. Bethel, Jubel Vincent, and T. J. Oglesby. By 1903 the membership had increased to fifty. Messengers were Wash Jessup, W. W. Bethel, and T. H. Bethel. Bro. Newman is still pastor and T. H. Bethel, clerk.
For a short time after its organization, the church met in the school building, but seeing their need of a church building, they started a wooden building in 1902 and completed and dedicated it in 1903. There is a notation that the dedication sermon was preached by "Rev. Truman." One wonders if this doesn't mean the Rev. Newman. On or about May 8, 1936, the original building was wrecked by a storm and "the body deemed it necessary to build anew." At the present time, 1965, this building has been enlarged by a concrete block addition, and now consists of the auditorium, three upstairs and four downstairs Sunday School rooms, all equipped and in good condition and debt free. The church is gas heated and electrically lighted.
I might pause here to mention that two of the earliest joiners of the church following its organization (now charter members) were Wash Jessup and Jim Bethel, both of whom are still living and greatly interested in its progress.
In 1907 the Minutes of Little Bethel Association state that it was moved to open "correspondence" with Muhlenberg Association when it was organized. It was moved and carried to appoint a committee at the request of Muhlenberg to visit in that county and assist them iu organizing an Association. Then we find a motion to grant letters of dismissal, at their request, for Vernal Grove and eleven other churches to go into the Muhlenberg Association.
Like most churches there seems to be a better record of the troubles and financial struggles of the Vernal Grove Church than there is of its revivals and triumphs. An undated letter bearing an old style penmanship, and written by a committee appointed for the purpose, is found, addressed apparently to absentee members and stating in part "that we are fighting the fight of our lives to try to hold our church together and win the battle for Christ." The letter expressed concern for these absentee members and assures them they are deeply missed. It urges them "to pledge something per month, if it is only 10c" to help carry on the church. The treasurer is listed as Van Jernigan. In the year 1907, the last year the church was in Little Bethel Association, its contributions to the Association
were listed as $13.65 which appears to be about average for the Churches of that time. As late as 1940, we find a Sunday School collection of 4c (19 persons present) and in 1942, we find a motion that the total collection of the Sunday School be sent for State Missions. The amount was $1.57. In the late 1930's the pastor's salary averaged less than $5.00 per Sunday. But in the 1960's, the church, in spite of the fact that it was 41st or 42nd in size in the Association, ranked 11th in giving one year; and in a Special Drive was outgiven by only the First Churches of Greenville and Central City. It also had a comfortable treasury of a few thousand dollars.
Similarly the church has had its share of spiritual depressions and glorious revivals. Many souls have been saved — any one of which is worth all the struggles, troubles and sacrifice — financial and otherwise — that the church has undergone.
The following is believed to be a complete list of the pastors of the church up to the present time: Brothers J. N. Newman, J. R. Jenkins, L. J. Stirsman, J. R. Kennerly, W. W. Woodson, J. H. Ashlock, T. G. Woodson, Paul Shanks, C. R. Evitts, S. A. Kittinger, J. W. Elliott, H. D. Devdne, M. V. Cotton, Fred Fox, J. B. Matheny, Ira McCay, R. H. Forsythe, Carlos Skaggs, James Vincent, Henry Roland, O. K. Johnston, Estill Goff, Kermit A. Lovelace, Larry Fitzhugh.
Editor's Note: Vernal Grove, located in a rural community, has never had a large membership. There were 60 members enrolled in 1907 when she entered the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association; 106 members in 1930; 66, in 1940; and 92 in 1964.
This church paid her pastor $75.00 a year for quarter time preaching in 1907; $1,484 for full time preaching in 1964. She contributed $5 for missions in 1907; $1,461, in 1964. Her total expenditures as reported in 1907 was $82.00; in 1964, $4,235. 182 baptisms have been reported from 1907 to 1965. __________________
Woodland Baptist Church
Missionary Baptists of the surrounding country met at the Pleasant Hill Schoolhouse to engage a new church. After the election of a moderator and clerk, names were entered by those wishing to form a church. This meeting adjourned to meet on the grounds located in the forks of the Greenville-Elkton and the Greenville-Russellville roads for the purpose of organization.
The organization was perfected the first Sunday in June 2, 1912, with nineteen charter members as follows: W. H. Kennedy, Martha Kennedy, Georgie Kennedy, Lawrence W. Campbell, Geneva Campbell, N.
W. McClellan, Bettie McClellan, W. J. Powell, Fannie Powell, W. B. Denny, J. B. Gill, Pincie Gill, Jacob Stolz, Florence Stolz, P. H. Campbell, D. Mae Campbell, C. G. Newman, Ethel Mae Newman, and Grace Newman.
In July the church was named Woodland in honor of Mr. and Mrs. G. P. Wood who donated the land for the building site.
A building committee composed of Brothers J. B. Gill, W. J Powell, W. H. Kennedy, N. W. McClellan, and Jacob Stolz was empowered to build a building according "to their own idea." John McClellan was hired as contractor at $2.25 a day to superintend the building. It was completed on the 11th day of November, 1912, at a cost of $1,214.58. It was necessary to borrow $216.88 to pay the balance due on the completed building. On the 8th day of February, 1913, the note was paid in full. Twenty-five pews at a cost of $208.84 and six lamps at $7.35 were a part of the furnishings. An organ was added in September 1913 at a cost of $58.50. Pulpit chairs were bought for $11.25 in December of 1914, and 20 song books were added in February of 1915.
The treasurer's report for the year 1914 read: Total Received $135.97
Paid out Pastor's salary $60.00 Revival help 35.00 Missions 25.47 Sexton 12.00 Coal and oil 1.30 School literature 2.15 Total paid out 135.92
Balance on hand .05
Rev. W. Y. Clardy was called as the first pastor. The following brethren served in this capacity later: T. G. Woodson, J. W. Gill, S. P. Browning, F. W. Cooper, J. H. Taw, A. M. Parrish, M. V. Cotton, Drezel Hankins, Ishmael Phillips, T. G. Shelton, Dewey Noffsinger, Fred Fox, J. H. Lyon, Harold L. Greenfield, and Gifford W. Berry.
The first deacons were W. W. McClellan, W. J. Powell, Jacob Stotz, P. H. Campbell, and J. B. Gill. Since then Elwood Kennedy, J. C. Thomas, Luther Craig, Clyde Smith, P. H. Campbell, A. B. Cornette, Bob Robinson, J. B. Gill, Ben Gardner, Everett Arnett and Roy Brasher have served as deacons.
Ordained ministers sent out by the church are Brothers Fred Fox and Boyce Newman. Brother Doyle Fitzhugh. was licensed to the gospel ministry.
The first revival service (service of days) resulted in 11 professions of faith with ten additions to the church by baptism. They were baptized January 19, 1913.
The church grew steadily in membership and program. It advanced from quarter time to half time — then to full time in 1958. To better teach the Bible in the Sunday School a full basement was added to the building in 1953. Vacation Bible Schools, Training Union. Woman's Missionary Union, Girl's Auxiliary, Sunbeam, and study courses were added to aid in Bible study and evangelism. The church grew in missions by supporting the Cooperative Program and Associational Missions. It has also made liberal gifts to designated objects. The church was concerned about the pastor and faithfully provided for his needs, not only in salary, but also in relief and annuity payments. It provided a beautiful pastorium built in 1961, on a lot donated by Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Kennedy, at a cost of $10,650.
On Saturday morning, November 13, 1954, the church supported a great loss when its church building burned. Services were held that afternoon under the trees, and on November 17 a building committee was appointed to recommend plans for a new building.
Divine Brothers was awarded the contract to build at a cost of $9,225. Dedication was held in June 1955. Pews, a piano, carpetry, and accessories were added to aid in the worship of the Lord. The total value of the church property at present is $27,500.
Present membership of the church is 167. 404 members have been received into the fellowship of the church since it was organized.
The church has had five clerks: Jacob Stotz, L. M. Campbell, J. C. Newman, Clyde Smith, and Bernard Jones. Mr. Smith served a total of 25 years.
May the church continue to serve in the will of the Lord, and when a history may be written 50 or 100 years from now, may it be recorded that she rendered a service worthy of His church, and may she receive the commendation of the Lord, ". . . Thou hast been faithful over a few things . . ." Matthew 25:23.
Now may the grace of our Lord and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit abide upon the church now and forever more. Amen. REV. GIFFORD W. BERRY, Historian
Editor's Note: Brother Berry stated in the history of Woodland that the pastor's annual salary was $60 in 1915; in 1964 she paid her pastor $4,160. The Associational minutes of 1912 reported $6 given to missions; the 1963 minutes reported $2,405 given to missions. The largest total amount expended by the church was $16,507 in 1955. The rebuilding of their burned church building probably accounted for this. Woodland has reported a total of 254 baptisms. In 1966 this church reported 13 baptisms, 186 members, 145 enrolled in Sunday School, $3,291 contributed to missions, and $13,618 expended for all purposes.
Woodson Baptist Church The Woodson Missionary Baptist Church was organized by members from the Cherry Hill Missionary Baptist Church in November 1910. On this date twenty-two members asked to be dismissed by letter to join what is now the Woodson Missionary Baptist Church.
The church was located in the Morehead Community. It started its work by having services in a brush arbor. Revival services were held in the summer months and in the fall the services were moved to the Morehead School House. In 1912 plans were made to build a one room church building.
In 1913 a plot of ground was given by the late Fannie Grundy heirs. Alvie Hendricks, Rod Perry, and Wood Morris, church trustees, visited these Grundy heirs. They gave the ground for the church building. Trees were sawed into lumber, and the lumber donated to the church. The church was dedicated in 1914. It was named for the organizer and first pastor, Rev. W. W. Woodson.
We would like to express our gratitude to and respect for the following Brethren who have served the church as pastor: W. W. Woodson, J. L. Clark, L. D. Spears, Latt Grundy, B. S. Stuart, Sam Browning, C. R. Evitts, J. W. Elliott, J. J. Collier, Robert Spears, L. B. Wice, Delmas Oakley, Ora DeArmond, Joe Spears, Jewell Vincent, Roy Shepherd, and our present pastor, Huston Noffsinger.
In the Morehead Community the church grew and did proper in winning the lost to Christ, but then the sad day came when Peabody Coal Company bought all the property in and around Morehead and the church had to be moved to a new location. We had a reasonably large and nice rural church. It was 43 feet wide and 48 feet long.
The church was moved to a new location about one and one-half miles south of the Morehead Community on Highway 62 near Powderly, Kentucky. Elmer Buchter of Otwell, Indiana moved the building in May 1962. Surely this was the right place. The church has grown in leaps and bounds, spiritually and financially. We have a membership of 165, regular attendance, and a wonderful pastor, Houston Noffsinger. We are fortunate to have Brother and Mrs. Dudley Richey and Rev. Robert Spears, who were charter members, attending our services — also Mrs. Mary E. Perry, the wife of the late Rod Perry. MARJORIE DENNISON, Historian
Editor's Comments: Woodson Church first reported to the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association in 1915. That year she had 43 members, paid her
pastor, L. D. Spears, $56 out of a total annual expenditure of $75. She had a Sunday School with an enrollment of 45 — O. C. Holland, superintendent.
By 1920 the membership had increased to 85. Out of a total expenditure of $212, $100 went to her pastor and $73 to missions. In 1930 the membership had reached 203; in 1940 she reported 187; and in 1945, 195. In 1950 the membership was 182, the total expenditure $1,058 of which $466 went to her pastor and $336 to missions. The Sunday School had an enrollment of 109 and the Vacation Bible School had an average of 72. Brother Orville Denison was superintendent. By 1964 the church had gone to full time work. The pastor, Rev. Huston Noffsinger, was paid $2,613; $875 was paid to missions; and $799 was paid on the church building — Total expenditures $5,570. The church has reported 402 baptisms since 1914. In 1966 Woodson reported 5 baptisms, 195 members, 92 enrolled in Sunday School, $1,156 contributed to missions, and $9,934 expended for all purposes.
These churches did not submit a history of their local church so the author-editor has compiled these histories from reports to the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association. Without recourse to local church minutes and reports from long-time members, the histories are necessarily brief and they probably leave out information that a local historian would have included. _______________
Paradise Baptist Church
The Paradise Baptist Church was constituted in 1900. She affiliated with the Gasper River Association until 1907 when she became a constituent member of the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association with 61 members on her roll. M. Mason was her messenger to the Association that year. R. W. Danks was pastor and H. H. Cundiff was clerk. She did not report a Sunday School that year. The pastor's sa'ary was $50 a year.
The membership did not increase very rapidly until 1940. 75 members were reported in 1920; 115 in 1939. Brother M. V. Cotton was pastor from 1940 to 1946. During his ministry of six years, the church baptized 75 people — 21 in 1942 alone. Church membership reached 198, the largest number for any year in her history. She reported 172 in 1950, 183 in 1960, and 181 in 1965.
There have been a number of years when no Sunday School
was reported. The largest enrollment, 102, was reported in 1964. C. D. Cavanaugh, Superintendent.
Pastor's salaries have ranged from none reported to $1,731 in 1965. Mission offerings have varied from not any to $360 a year. She contributed $89 to the 75 Million Campaign — 1920 through 1924. The least annual expenditure reported has been $8; the largest, $5,139. Church property was valued at $500 in 1907; at $5,000 in 1965.
This church has reported 291 baptisms from 1907 to 1965.
Pastors who have served the church are: Brethren R. W. Danks, 1907; J. N. Jarnigan, 1908; none reported, 1909; J. E. Gardner, 1910; R. W. Danks, 1911 and '12; A. T. Ross, 1914 and '15; R. W. Danks, 1916 and '17; W. Y. Clardy, 1918-1920; I. B. Stewart, 1921; none reported, 1923; E. Tucker, 1924 and '25; R. E. Gregory, 1926 and '27; none reported in 1928; Lat Grundy, 1929-1933; William Clark, 1934; H. F. Jarvis, 1935 and '36; Fred Fox, 1937-1939; M. V. Cotton 1940-1945; C. J. Hughes, 1946-1948; Albert Bowley, 1949; none reported, 1950; L. A. Whitaker, 1951; none reported, 1952; John S. Jennings, 1953; Carlos Skaggs, 1954-1957; Chester Moore, 1958; L. B. Wice, 1961-1963; Sylvester Vaught, Jr., 1964 and 1965. _______________
Riverside Baptist Church
The Riverside Baptist Church was constituted on August 14, 1892; organized by F. M. Welborn, J. E. Gardner, E. L. Craig and P. M. Knight; adopted New Hampshire Confession of Faith and became affiliated with the Gasper River Association 1892-1908. She was not listed as a constituent member of the Muhlenberg County Association, but did report to that Association in 1908 with 60 members. She did not report in 1909, 1910, or 1911.
In 1912 she reported 42 members and a Sunday School with an enrollment of 35. J. V. McClearn was pastor; C. M. Pendley and J. C. Pendley, messengers; C. C. Arndell, clerk.
In 1920 membership had increased to 65 and Sunday School enrollment to 60. She contributed $115 to the 75 Million Campaign — 1920-1924.
In 1950 Riverside reported 109 members; Sunday School enrollment, 112 with J. C. Pendley as superintendent. Her largest membership was reported in 1962 when she had 215. Her largest Sunday School enrollment was in 1950 — 112.
This church has baptized 167 people since 1907.
Pastor's salaries have ranged from none reported in some of the earlier years to $879 in 1965. Likewise mission offerings have ranged
from not any to $215. Total expenditures for all purposes have varied from none reported to $1,937. Property value has increased from $600 to $5,000. Pastors who have served the church are Brethren J. E. Gardner, 1908; J. V. MoClearn, 1912-1914; S. P. Browning, 1915; Emrel Grimes, 1916-1924; E. Tucker, 1925; R. E. Gregory, 1926; I. B. Stewart, 1926-1929; none reported, 1930 and '31; I. B. Stewart, 1932 and '33; W. W. Johnson, 1934 and '35; H. F. Jarvis, 1936; none reported, 1937; Frank Cox, 1938; Henry Walden, 1939 and '40; Arch Proctor, 1942-1950; Clyde Cristy, 1951 and '52; A. R. Proctor, 1953; W. D. Oakley, 1954; Homer Cartwright, 1955-1957; Earl Harper, 1958 to the present.
Forest Oak Baptist Church
Forest Oak was constituted in 1913 with 35 members. B, E. Green was pastor; Jas. Downing, clerk; Robert Peay and Robert Eddings, messengers. She reported a Sunday School with an enrollment of 60 — Cornette Allen, superintendent.
Forest Oak entered the great 75 Million Campaign Era, 1920-1924, with 63 members. She was paying her pastor $75 a year. She reported no Sunday School. In 1924 she reported 53 members; a Sunday School enrollment of 52; pastor's salary, $100 a year. She had baptized 20 during the period and had averaged $4 a year to missions.
Forest Oak attained her largest membership in 1945 — 98. Her Sunday School enrollment that year was 28; her mission offerings $16; her total expenditures, $370. In 1950 she reported only 40 resident members, but she went to half-time, had a Sunday School enrollment of 45 — Carl Pendley, Superintendent — paid her pastor $246, paid $35 to missions, total expenditures $427.
This church started 1955 with 30 resident and 29 non-resident members, but during the year she gained 15 by baptism and 4 by letter. The Sunday School and Vacation Bible School under the leadership of Carl Pendley had an enrollment in excess of her resident membership. The church reported 10 tithers; pastor's salary, $715; mission offering, $81; and total expenditure of $2,412. The following year 13 joined the church and the mission offering was $201.
In 1959, 10 additions brought the membership to 90 — 40 resident. The Sunday School enrollment, Carl Pendley still superintendent, was 105 — 2% times the resident church membership. The mission offering was $372. A building program brought the total expenditures to $9,466, the largest in her history.
For some reason there was a sharp decline in the offerings, membership, Sunday School enrollment, etc. after 1959. In 1965 she reported 59 members; 52 enrolled in Sunday School; 32 enrolled in Vacation Bible School; $41 mission payments; and $1,076 total expenditures.
This church reported 132 baptisms from 1913 to 1965. Property value increased from $1,000 to $9,000.
Pastors who have served the church are: Brethren B. E. Green, 1913; L. P. Whitaker, 1915 and '16; R. W. Danks, 1917; no report, 1918; E. Grimes, 1919 and '20; no report, 1921; Harvey Abbott, 1922; E. Grimes, 1923 and '24; Dave Tougget, 1925; no report, 1926; J. A. Downing, 1927; R. H. Forsythe, 1928; W. W. Woodson, 1929; E. Grimes, 1930; I. B. Stewart, 1931 and '32; no report, 1933; M. E. Prince, 1934; no report, 1935; Hubert White, 1936-1938; J. E. Craig, 1940-1942; A. R. Procter, 1943-1949; J. R. Russ, 1950 and '51; Leon Young, 1952; Clyde Christy, 1953; E. T. McDoniel, 1954; John U. Owens, 1955 and '56; Wendell Knight, 1958 and '59; H. E. White, 1960; Chester Moore, 1961; Bill Thomas, 1962; Raymond Burke, 1963; Raymond Forsythe, 1964.
Brother J. A. Downing was church clerk for a long period. _______________
New Prospect Baptist Church
New Prospect was a constituent member of the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association having received a letter of dismission from the LittJe Bethel Association. She had been constituted in 1881. A copy of the Little Bethel Minutes for 1890 shows her with a membership of 98. That year she had baptized 13 and had received 3 by letter. R. O. G. Walker was her pastor and J. T. Wilcox her clerk; R. Ford Hocker and George Sieber, messengers.
She entered the Muhlenberg County Association with 92 members. J. H. Coleman was pastor; M. Cobb, clerk; L. J. Cobb, messenger. No Sunday School was reported either in 1890 or 1907.
New Prospect entered the 75 Million Campaign Era, 1920-1924, with 113 members. She was paying her pastor $75 a year. She was having an average attendance of 37 in Sunday School. In 1924 she reported 135 members and a Sunday School enrollment of 58. Her pastor's salary was $200 a year. She had baptized 32 people and had averaged giving $6.50 a year to missions.
This church continued to grow in membership. In 1935 she reported 11 baptisms and 1 addition by letter, making her membership 187 — the largest she has ever reported. Then for the next five
years she lost steadily, reporting 166 members in 1940 and the same number in 1945.
New Prospect went to half-time in 1951. That year she reported 20 resident members and 120 non-resident members.
This church has not reported to the Association since 1962. (There were five years before this when no report was submitted.) In 1962 she reported 34 resident church members; Brother L. A. Whitaker, pastor; Sunday School enrollment, 30; no Vacation Bible School; total local expenditures, $432; no mission offering.
New Prospect reported 198 baptisms from 1907-1962.
Her pastors since 1907 have been: Brethren J. H. Coleman, 1907; L. J. Stirsman, 1908-1911; T. G. Woodson, 1912 and '13; no pastor, 1914; Y. W. Clardy, 1915 and '16; Lat Grundy, 1917-1919; Charles Evitts, 1920 and '21; J. N. Ashlock, 1922; L. Grundy, 1923 and '24; I. B. Stuart, 1925; L. Grundy, 1926; Dim Wilcox, 1927; L. Grundy, 1928; Drexel Hankins, 1929; J. W. Elliott, 1930; R. H. Forsythe, 1931; L. Grundy, 1932 and '33; Robert Spears, 1934-1936; Ira McKay, 1937; Robert Spears, 1938-1940; M. V. Cotton, 1941 and '42; no report, 1943; Robert Spears, 1944 and '45; no report, 1946; Lat Grundy, 1947-1949; no report, 1950; W. R. Russ, 1951-1953; no pastor, 1954; Joe Spears, 1955-1957; Leman Braden, 1958 and '59; no report, 1960 and '61; L. A. Whitaker, 1962; no report, 1963-1965. _______________
New Prospect Baptist Church
Pleasant Hill was organized as an arm of Unity Baptist Church by John O. Bryant, S. W. Martin, R. O. G. Walker, and James M. Bennett. On January 4, 1873, she was const i t u t e d as an independent church and became affiliated with the Little Bethel Association. The minutes for Little Bethel for 1890 report 47 members (15 members had been excluded that year). No Sunday School was reported. Brother R. O. G. Walker was pastor; Elvain Mercer, clerk; no messengers to the Association — a letter was sent.
Pleasant Hill became a constituent member of the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association in 1907 with 68 members. Samuel Brown was pastor — salary for the year was $48. S. B. Green was clerk; Charley Melton, Sunday School Superintendent; S. B. Green and Roland Moore, messengers to the Association. Brother Brown remained with the church through 1912 during which time the membership increased to 102. The following year, 1913, Pastor T. G. Woodson baptized 34. She reached a membership of 148 in 1916, then began a decline.
In 1920, at the beginning of the 75 Million Campaign, she reported
135 members; a Sunday School enrollment of 42. At the close of the 75 Million Campaign, 1924, she had 123 members and a Sunday School enrollment of 56. She had contributed $510 to the county's quota of $90,000 for the Campaign.
The great depression of the 1920's and '30's affected this church greatly. For the period from 1925 through 1940, this church made no contribution to missions and benevolences for thirteen of the sixteen years. A total of $11.21 was given during the other three years. Figures were not collected for each of the years that followed, but some representative figures show that she reported $20 in 1945; $41 in 1950; $60 in 1953; $70 in 1955; and $519 in 1960. After 1960 there was a decrease: $244 in 1963, $210 in 1964, $212 in 1965, $244 in 1966.
The pastor's salary was $75 in 1935. It then steadily increased until it reached $3,018 in 1963. The largest number of members reported was 214 in 1960; in 1965 she reported 165. Sunday School enrollment also hit a peak in 1960—105. Pleasant Hill has reported 355 baptisms from 1907 to 1965.
Pastors who have served the church are: Brethren Samuel Brown, 1907-1912; T. G. Woodson, 1913; Samuel Brown, 1914 and '15; T. G. Woodson, 1916; L. J. Stirsman, 1917 and '18; P. E. Herndon, 1919-1921; T. G. Woodson, 1922; S. B. Green, 1923; T. G. Woodson, 1924-1929; Jessie Collier, 1930-1934; Bryan Wice, 1935-1939; Robert Spears, 1940-1944; R. H. Forsythe, 1945-1951; J. C. Gunn, 1952 and '53; James Vincent, 1954-1956; J. T. Parish, 1957-1959; John H. Bruce, 1960; J. C. Gunn, 1961-1963; Martin Parkest, 1964 to 1965; Ora DeArmond, 1966- . ____________
There are two tables of associational statistics by the author-editor that are not included. ================
[From William L. Winebarger, A History Of The Muhlenberg County Baptist Association, 1966. Document provided by Joe Williamson, Philpot, KY. - jrd]
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