Our Baptist Heritage
By A. R. Lasley
It would be impossible to give a full documentation of all the personal and group contributions to Baptists in Kentucky in the brief space allotted to this volume. Therefore, the writer will attempt to give only a brief synopsis of our Baptist Heritage.
For a more detailed account, it is recommended the reading of the Diamond Jubilee of the General Association; the Centennial Volume of the General Association published in 1943 and 1968 respectively and the bicentennial Volume published by the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 1976.
The roots of Black Baptists in Kentucky had their origin among White Baptists for in the days of slavery prior to the Civil War most White Baptist Churches had some Black members. Some worshipped in the main sanctuary while others were given space elsewhere in the church building. History records that at the beginning of the Civil War, there were 17 black Baptist Congregations (churches) in Kentucky with a total of 5,737 members. The separatist movement among Blacks began with ministers of color administering to churches in Maysville, Mayslick, Danville, Harrodsburg, Lexington, Frankfort, Paris Versailles, Nicholasville and Paducah in Kentucky. From these humble beginnings, the Baptist cause has grown tremendously and spread to every area in Kentucky.
With the numerical growth and organization of more churches came the organization of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky in 1868; the establishment of the Normal and Theological Institute (later named Simmons University) in 1869 and the Baptist Herald (later named the American Baptist).
The pioneers and organizers of these churches, associations, religious school and religious journal made great sacrifices in time, energy, and money. Although they were limited in their material resources and methods of transportation, their spiritual visions transcended all geographical barriers and their courage surmounted every obstacle because they had a mind to work.
Not only were our forefathers great organizers and builders, they were strong in doctrine and discipline. They did not give a liberal interpretation to the Bible as some of our present day theologians. Rather, they held hard fast to the spiritual interpretations of the bible as the inspired Word of God. They held hard to the doctrine of One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism. They did not compromise the teaching and preaching of the Bible to satisfy the desires and beliefs of some individuals such as the so-called to preach by women and open communion. Because of their strong beliefs in the Bible and their sound doctrinal preaching, they established a tradition in Kentucky that remains unique throughout the United States today.
Therefore, we are the beneficiaries of a tradition rich in spirit, deep in faith, and sound of doctrine. We must never stray from the paths of our pioneer fathers, but earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints for we have come this far by faith.
[Amos R. Lasley (1908-2001) pastored the Virginia Street Missionary Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky from 1944 to 1994. He served as moderator of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky for 10 years The above article was published in “The American Baptist Newspaper Centennial Volume, 1878-1978”. Republished by the J. H. Spencer Historical Society. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]