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Early Difficulties at Great Crossing Baptist Church
Scott County, KY
Elijah Craig and Joseph Reding
By Samuel H. Ford, 1856
In 1790, Joseph Reding emigrated to Kentucky, and located in the neighborhood of Great Crossing. He at once became the most popular preacher in Kentucky. Elijah Craig was the pastor of the Crossings Church, but had lost the fiery zeal which made him so distinguished and useful during the times of persecution in Virginia. He had speculated largely in land, and become interested in several money-making enterprises. Unfitted by this for the sacrifices and endurances of a minister of Christ, preaching but little, and that little without interest or success, he still clung to the pastorship of the Crossing Church. An avaricious, covetous minister, must ever be a curse to a Church; despised by the world, and will meet the frown of the Almighty.

Reding, on the other hand, was poor, laborious, and earnest. The Church needed a man, and a large majority determined to secure his services as pastor. Craig was chagrined and disappointed. He threw every difficulty in the way of Reding; and injurious remarks about his preaching, his doctrines, and standing, were whispered through the neighborhood. Things soon assumed a serious and sad aspect. Craig was taken under dealings by the Church. No favor or mercy was shown to him. He was not even admitted to make acknowledgements or ask forgiveness. In the house of Robert Johnson, in 1793, the Church met, with closed doors. It was an upper room, and crowded to excess. Discussion, division, and confusion, prevented everything like compromise or forbearance. A party spirit, a roused up zeal for a private champion, will, while it lasts, bear down every other principle or attachment.

The motion was finally made that Elijah Craig - the eloquent, fearless herald of the cross, whose commanding voice had often sounded out the glad tidings of great joy from the prisons of Virginia - be excluded from the Great Crossing Church. The confusion was such in the crowded room that the vote could not be taken. Richard Cave, the Moderator, then proposed that the yeas and nays occupy different sides of the room. A large beam ran along the center of the ceiling. Those for expulsion were requested to take the right of the beam, those opposed, the left. Amid increased confusion it was announced that the majority were for exclusion, and the Church adjourned.

The Craig party, however, were not to be thus defeated. They met the following week and organized as the Crossing Church, and expelled the majority, including Reding, the pastor. As a consequence, the majority in their turn, expelled them. There were now two organized and determined parties, each claiming to be the Church, and holding the others as excluded. Was not the inherent weakness of Baptist Church government fully exemplified in this shameful state of things? Was there not here the strongest evidence of the absolute need of a presiding Bishop or Elder - a super-ecclesiastical court of appeal?

The sequel will answer. The word of God makes no provision for such a judicature; and the influence of that word, and the strong sense of justice and love of truth implanted in the human mind and developed by Christianity, will ever when the storm of passion subsides, rectify the errors of faction

The calm soon returned. The advice of disinterested brethren was sought. Their counsel was followed. The difficulties finally resulted in good, and a new and flourishing Church was constituted. McConnell's Run, near stamping ground.

[From Samuel H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, August, 1856. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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