A publication of the J. H. Spencer Historical Society
Table of Contents
President's Page 1 R. Charles Blair An Open Letter to JHSHS Members 2 Ben Stratton Western Recorder Article 3 Purpose Statement, Officers, and Baptist Distinctives 4
W. R. Pettigrew: Pastoral Love and Evangelistic Zeal 5 Dr. Bill Whittaker
Friendly Separation of Religion and Government 22 R. Charles Blair
Minutes of the November, 2010 JHSHS Meeting 33
JHSHS Membership List 35
Captain John "Jack" Jouett 36 Mickey Winter
Jeremiah Vardeman 42 Mickey Winter
Andrew Tribble 47 Mickey Winter
Book Review: Re-Thinking Baptist Doctrines 51 Ben Stratton
Book Review: Baptist Succession 52 R. Charles Blair
Circular Letter: 1831 to the Bethel Baptist Assoc. 53 William Warder
The Shelton-Wright Family Preachers 55 Thomas Shelton
How To Become a Member of the J. H. Spencer Historical
The purposes of our J. H. Spencer Society, though not in these words formally, is to collect, preserve, publish, and discuss anything related to the more than 250 years of Baptist influence in Kentucky. That goes back to 1744, when Squire Boone, like his more famous brother Daniel, got "itchy feet" in Virginia and did some exploring, making him the first Baptist preacher to set foot in this "dark and bloody ground" (also known as "the land of canes and turkeys.") By the way, Daniel told his daughter in a letter that he was inclined toward the Baptists, but had never joined, as his wanderings would have kept him from being a faithful member and he would have no doubt been excluded! Squire is said to have been "of the Calvinist persuasion," and while some said he did preach in the area, no record seems to have been kept. He did "tie the first knot," doing a wedding ceremony in 1776.
The first known Baptist preaching in the bounds of what became Kentucky involved two preachers, Thomas Tinsley and William Hickman, in 1776. It was a tune of great political and social upheaval, the formal first year of the American Revolution, and Baptist thinking and preaching fit the revolutionary mold almost hand hi glove. The liberty we have in Christ was a constant Baptist theme in England from the early 1600's, when our churches came out of hiding to challenge the idea of a state religion imposing doctrines upon God's free people. Many of them, beginning with John Clarke, came to these shores, and when Massachusetts and Virginia began to act like King James, or King Charles, or King George, many of them came on to Kentucky. If the battle cry of the Revolution was "No Taxation without Representation," the battle cry of Baptists was "No Taxation for Religion!" The fact that so many of our early settlers sought genuine freedom of conscience and the end of religious persecution helps explain Kentucky's deeply independent thinking even today. Our story goes on, through five generations of Shelton preachers, millions of individuals, thousands of churches, hundreds of associations, some short-lived one-issue groups, some highly varied in their texture. The amazing thing is that we get along together as well as we do! Frank Mead, a Methodist, possibly quoting someone else, said (in his excellent Handbook of Denominations) that Baptists are bound together by "an amazingly strong rope of sand" and some of us feel it is a "rope of blood," both that of Christ and that of the martyrs of twenty centuries whose sacrifices have resulted in the liberties we now enjoy. Surely a word of caution is in order: let us "not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh."
Whether or not you are a Baptist, if you are interested in any aspect of the Kentucky Baptist story, we welcome you to become a member of our society. We'll learn some fascinating stories as we go along together. Come go with us - we trust all the way to glory! R. Charles Blair, President, 2011
J. H. Spencer Historical Society
R. Charles Blair, President
P.O. Box 281
Clinton, KY 42031
pr. eprayer@integrity. com
I regret that you weren't able to attend the spring meeting of the J. H. Spencer Historical Society which was held May 21, 2011 at the Caldwell-Lyon Baptist Associational office in Princeton, Kentucky. We had a fine time of fellowship with 8 members and visitors from western Kentucky in attendance. Both Bro. Glen Stewart and Bro. Tom Shelton gave helpful presentations on their historical subjects. At this meeting, several tracts and brochures of historical significance to our Kentucky Baptist heritage were handed out. Since you were not able to attend the meeting, we are mailing these to you. On the back of the sheet you will find an article about the JHSHSthat appeared in the June 7, 2011 issue of the Western Recorder. If you would like to submit the name of an influential 20th century Kentucky Baptist or write a short biography about one such individual, please contact Bro. Bill Whittaker at BRWhitt@Glasgow-Ky.com. More information about this project will be shared at our annual meeting at the Florence Baptist Church on November, 15, 2011. I hope all of you will be able to attend.
We are continuing to work on our third annual J. H. Spencer Historical Society journal. It will include highlights of our second meeting which took place November 15, 2010 at the Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. If you have a short article relating to Kentucky Baptist History you would like to see included in the journal, please contact Bro. Stan Williams at email@example.com. We hope to have it ready to mail out sometime this summer.
Also, if we do not have your current e-mail address, please e-mail Bro. Charles Blair at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bro. Ben Stratton at email@example.com. That way we can keep you up to date with JHSHS happenings and send you reminders of future JHSHS meetings.
Thank you again for your support and interest in Kentucky Baptist History.
R. Charles Blair, President
Stan Williams, Vice-President
Ben Stratton. Secretary/Treasurer
J. H. Spencer Historical Society
The purpose of the J. H. Spencer Historical Society shall be to preserve and promote the heritage, history, distinctives and doctrines of Kentucky Baptists by sponsoring annual meetings that will include traditional worship, as well as workshops on preserving the histories of churches and associations, presentations of papers, and sermons.
R. Charles Blair President
Stan Williams Vice-President
Ben Stratton Secretary/Treasurer
The Baptist Distinctives
Supreme Lordship of Jesus Christ
Sole Authority ofthe Holy Bible
Autonomy ofthe Local Church
Regenerated and Baptized Church Membership
Priesthood of the Believer
Believer's Baptism by Immersion
Two Ordinances: Baptism and Lord's Supper
Individual Soul Liberty
Friendly Separation of Religion and Government
W. R. Pettigrew, 1900 - 1965
Pastoral Love and Evangelistic Zeal
A paper written and presented by Dr. Bill D. Whittaker, Glasgow, Kentucky
at the J H Spencer Historical Society
Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington, KY on November 15, 2010
The fall of 1965 was my first semester at Southern Seminary - single, living in the dorm. I had a student pastorate in Bowling Green, my home town, to which I returned each week-end. One Wednesday evening I visited Walnut Street Baptist Church in downtown Louisville to meet Dr. W. R. Pettigrew, their pastor for 19 years. At the time Walnut Street was among the top churches in the Kentucky Baptist and Southern Baptist Conventions in baptisms, attendance, and influence. I wanted to meet the man. Looking back, maybe I hoped he would lay hands on me and pass on some of that ability to a young preacher from the other side of the tracks. Little did I know it would be the first and last time I would see or hear him - he died of a major heart attack a few months later.
Fast forward to today. As pastor of Glasgow Baptist Church I visited with member and Bible study teacher Grace Hyde and heard her story of moving to Louisville. Her husband, businessman Gillie Hyde, was a believer but more interested in business than the church. She invited him to attend Walnut Street Baptist with her, but he refused. She went anyway; and one Sunday she is surprised that he meets her after Bible study for worship. The fellowship and the preacher, W. R. Pettigrew, are used by the Holy Spirit to draw him back to God. Soon the couple is attending Bible study and worship together; he is strengthened by the church's vibrant men's ministry. Mr. Hyde remained a faithful Christian until his death, serving through the churches wherever they lived, becoming a deacon. His wife continues to express deep appreciation for Dr. Pettigrew. The intersection of those two events was the stimulus for my presentation today. I wanted to know more about Pastor W. R. Pettigrew. Although I'm retiring from the full-time pastorate at the end of this year, I hope to have more years to minister before the race is finished. All of us continue to need good examples to motivate us in the race. At the time of his death Western Recorder Editor Chauncey Daley wrote of Dr. Pettigrew, "Of those
who have served the Lord among Baptists in this generation, none was greater than Dr. W. R. Pettigrew."1 Sounds like a great example!
On June 30, 1900, William Robert Pettigrew was born in the little town of Humboldt, TN, 18 miles north of Jackson. An uncle who was a missionary in Brazil named one of his sons the same name but called him "Bob." W. R. was sometimes called "Bill" and his mother called him "Willie". Some memories of those "humble circumstances,"2 include "his first black eye in a fight at the age of seven, a strong admiration for the third grade teacher, the formation of lasting friendships, suffering the untimely death of a schoolmate, and finally arriving to the age of "long pants"3. His involvement at the First Baptist Church of Humboldt was "one of the most powerful influences" in young Willie's life. He was converted at age 15 and was baptized into the church.4
Preparing for the Call: Union University and Southern Seminary
At age 17, with America facing world crises that would soon bring a formal declaration of war, Pettigrew surrendered to the ministry. He wrote Dr. G. M. Savage, president of Union University in Jackson, "offering to take any job if he might come there to study."5 Dr. Savage encouraged him to come and Willie completed high school at Jackson Academy, and attended Union University, graduating with an AB degree in 1923. His Academy grades contain a few C's, possibly reflecting the transition from home, but his University study received mostly A's.6 The school annual published in 1922 listed the following for school activities: President Calliopean Literary Society and Mission Band; Vice-president J. R. Graves Society; Secretary C. L. S. and J. R. Graves Society; Winner J. W. Porter Award; Winner Rhodes and T. T. Eaton Medals. 7
While at Union, Pettigrew preached in several churches and at age 18 was called to pastor Forest Hill Baptist Church, Forest Hill, TN. "Sitting on the church steps at Forest Hill he had the unforgettable experience of winning his first soul to Christ," no doubt an early inspiration for his life tune commitment to evangelism.8 The Forest Hill Church requested the young pastor's ordination and it occurred at First Baptist Humboldt on
September 19, 1920. Nine pastors and ten laymen participated in the service. The Council included his missionary uncle, R. E. Pettigrew, a native of Madison County, TN, a Union graduate and a Southern Baptist missionary in Brazil 1904-1934. Union University President Emeritus Dr. G. M. Savage also participated. J. E. Skinner, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Jackson preached the ordination message.9
Pettigrew's days at Union University introduced him to Mary Moody Yancy, also a student. "She accompanied him wherever he went to preach."10 After her graduation from Union they married on September 4, 1922.11 Following his graduation the next year the couple moved to Louisville, and both of them enrolled in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth was born February 28, 1925 and Helen Ruth came on October 7, 1926.12 From the fall of 1924 until Pettigrew received his Th.M. degree in 1927, he was pastor of Hazelwood Baptist Church in Louisville.
A few months after the young pastor and his wife moved to Louisville, Southern Seminary broke ground at "The Beeches" with Seminary President E. Y. Mullins leading efforts to raise funds to complete a plan for "a three-million dollar plant with twenty-one buildings in the architectural style of the University of Virginia. With the Southern Baptist Convention 75 Million Campaign faltering, Pettigrew observed the determined fortitude of Mullins, who reported once to a colleague, "I...am going to kill myself, if I don't let up somewhere." In March, 1926 the seminary moved from Broadway to Lexington Road; Pettigrew finished his last classes at the new campus. In 1924 the student enrollment was 424, in 1928 the seminary had a "teaching staff of ten professors with six fellowship scholars as their assistants.13 The faculty included Greek scholar A. T. Robertson, homiletics professor Charles Spurgeon Gardner, and missions professor W. O. Carver. The world impact of Baptists was felt on the campus since E. Y. Mullins served as president of the Baptist World Alliance in 1923-28; A. T. Robertson in 1904 "conceived the idea of a world gathering of Baptists in London, England.14 Students focused on more than theological debate and preparation to serve. In 1925 "ninety-one men signed a petition protesting the food served in the seminary dining hall."15 Married
to a Southern cook and with a new baby girl in the home, it is highly unlikely W. R. Pettigrew was involved in that protest.
The leadership of Mullins was also involved as Southern Baptists sought to clarify their doctrinal position. The 1924 Atlanta convention asked a committee to work on a statement of faith and Mullins, whom historian Jesse Fletcher described as "the undisputed theological authority among Southern Baptists," chaired the committee. The 1925 report was a modified version of the 1833 New Hampshire Statement of Faith, and a "shorter and simpler" version of the 1742 Philadelphia Confession. The document would be a major tool hi the life of churches that Pettigrew lead. 1925 brought another significant development to Southern Baptist Life, the approval of the Cooperative Program, the unified channel of support for national convention causes.16
Springfield Baptist Church, Springfield TN, 1927-1936
From 1927 to 1936 Pettigrew was pastor of Springfield Baptist Church, Springfield, TN. Their daughter Mary's husband, Dr. Joe King, retired history professor from Furman University, describes the Springfield pastorate as "extremely successful and harmonious."17 W. R. Parrish, Chairman of Deacons at the church later wrote, "At the time Dr. Pettigrew came to us we had a debt-free church and educational plant. Under his leadership ... our church weathered one of the worst depressions our country has ever known; the membership grew from 734 to 1095; the Sunday School enrollment increased from 824 to 1019; the Training Union more than doubled. ... Dr. Pettigrew, loved by his people for his Christ-like spirit, is a spiritual giant, with a humble spirit." While pastor of Springfield, Pettigrew "formed a policy of organizing and nurturing missions," resulting in four new churches in the area18.
The church sent pastor and wife to Europe and the Holy Land in 1934.19 Ruth Dillard, the Pettigrew's younger daughter, recalls her father as "really the finest person. He inspired our family; he was a very strong family man. Growing up, we went every summer to Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly. As a pastor he would go hi the night to make calls."20
During the first year of the Springfield pastorate, George W. Truett presided at the Southern Baptist Convention. In Pettigrew's eighth year a Tennessee friend and fellow Union graduate, M. E. Dodd, was convention president. Dodd had served as pastor of First Baptist Church Shreveport, LA since 1912. He was a former president of the Louisiana convention, a major influence in the beginnings of New Orleans Seminary and the Cooperative Program.21 This national leader very likely encouraged others in the SBC to call upon W. R. Pettigrew who would later be a member of the Foreign Mission Board for eight years, a trustee of Southern Seminary for eight years, and a trustee of New Orleans Seminary. In 1948 Pettigrew preached the annual sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention.22 When the SBC met in Louisville's Freedom Hall in 1959, Pettigrew was elected first vice-president. He presided at some of the sessions of the 1960 convention in Miami Beach.23
Citadel Square Baptist Church, Charleston SC, 1936-1946
For one of the revivals planned at Springfield, Pettigrew asked the pastor of Citadel Square Baptist Church, Charleston, SC, to preach. When Dr. Purser later moved from Charleston, he recommended Pettigrew to the church.24 A distinguished predecessor in the Charleston pulpit was Edwin Charles Dargan, who left Citadel Square in 1892 to become associate professor of homiletics and Latin theology at Southern Seminary. In 1912 Dargan published the two-volume A History of Preaching, that remained widely used in the 1960s.25 Pettigrew left Springfield in 1936 to "spend ten happy and productive years during World War II in Charleston." Dr. Joe King observed, "I have long felt it was so providential for Pettigrew to be there during the Great War because so many servicemen and women passing in and out of Charleston. The Pettigrews and many members of Citadel Square entertained numerous service members in their homes, especially for Sunday dinners. A lovely lady, Miss Olive Allen, who had gone with them on the trip abroad, came to be his associate. She even lived in their home because of a unique arrangement." While in the Charleston pastorate, Union University awarded Pettigrew the Doctor of Divinity. During a "slight upheaval of students," Furman University President Plyler invited Dr. Pettigrew to campus for a series of meetings. He also served on Furman's Board of Trustees.26
It was in January 1946 that Navy Lt.(jg) Joe King was sent to Charleston. Assigned to a desk job at the Navy Yard, King served until his release from active duty in June. His Bachelor Officers Quarters in downtown Charleston were a few blocks from Citadel Square Baptist Church. King remembers a 19th century sign, "seats free," was still on the front of the church. King stated, "After my first experience there, with Dr. Pettigrew in the pulpit, with the church packed, including the balcony, with 6 to 800 people, I knew there were many other 'free' things at Citadel Square." A few Sundays later, King joined the church. "In introducing me to the congregation, when he saw my name and where I was from [Shreveport, LA] he was ecstatic because he and Dr. [M. E.] Dodd, my pastor, were both from west Tenn. and Union University. He said to the congregation, "I just saw Dr. Dodd this past week." Dr. Dodd had married Emma Savage, the daughter of Union's president, Dr. S. M. Savage. 27
The Pettigrew daughters were students at Furman University, and at Easter, 1946, Lt. King met Mary. They were married four years later; the couple had two sons, both of whom are now in Christian ministry. King entered Southern Seminary the same month Dr. Pettigrew began his ministry at Walnut Street in 1946. Following graduation Dr. King served 57 years at Furman University. "I have never known a couple more devoted to each other and their work than Dr. and Mrs. Pettigrew," Dr. King stated. "I daresay that they probably never spoke a cross word to each other. She was a woman of steel, who handled situations with kidd gloves. In all the time I knew them, before and after I was a member of the family, I never heard anyone speak a negative word against either of them. People loved them because they were so lovable."28
The ten years at Citadel Square saw the membership increase 100%, and three missions were established that grew into full-time churches. In June 1949, Pettigrew returned to Charleston and in one day preached in the new buildings of all three churches. Horace Adams, Citadel Square Chairman of Deacons wrote of his former pastor, "When Dr. Pettigrew began his ministry with us there was a burden of debt which was lifted under his leadership and the ceremony of the burning of the $120,000 mortgage was a time of
rejoicing. It was under his ministry that plans for a new three story education building was begun. Few pastors have been loved more than was Dr. Pettigrew. He and his lovely family were a very real part of our church family, and because of his ministry with us during the "war" years his ministry reached multitudes of people from every part of our country and many foreign countries as well. He was ready to be of service to people in our city and was deeply interested in the general welfare of the whole community." 29
Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville KY, 1946-1965
During the summer of 1946 a pulpit committee from Louisville's Crescent Hill Baptist Church visited Citadel Square. Crescent Hill was known then as "the seminary church" and Southern Seminary President Ellis Fuller had recommended Dr. Pettigrew "as one who would minister well to Seminary students." Pettigrew declined the committee's request to come in view of a call. Two weeks later a search committee came from Walnut Street Baptist Church. "After considerable prayer, he felt that God wanted him in Louisville, so he accepted the call."30 The 54-member search committee was composed of 27 Deacons, three at-large members, six from Sunday School, six from Training Union, six from Woman's Missionary Society, and six from the Men's League. Can you imagine meeting with that committee? Pettigrew followed two Southern Seminary men in the Walnut Street pulpit - Finley Gibson, who served as pastor for 22 years, and Kyle Yates, the previous four years. Seminary faculty member and Pettigrew's former teacher W. O. Carver was an active member of the church and other faculty helped with the music ministry.31
The family left Charleston on Tuesday, September 10, 1946 and after a two-day drive to Louisville arrived "good and tired" about 8 pm Wednesday. The church put them up in the Brown Hotel, and the next day, after a brief visit at the church they moved into the parsonage. The church newsletter stated, "We pray that today may be the beginning of a perpetual revival in our church that will continue throughout the years ahead." On September 15, Pettigrew preached his first sermon in Louisville, entitled, "A Charter of Church Consecration." That evening the message was, "The Consuming Passion."32 Soon after arriving in Louisville, Pettigrew stated, "It seems all of my experience up until
coming to Walnut Street headed up in the work of Walnut Street Church. Surely I have found the Lord's will for my life, and I trust that I may ever stay in His will."33
Two years later, this testimony was in the church newsletter, "We called a leader, we procured one beyond our hopes; but we have found also that we procured a whole family of workers. Quietly, modestly, effectively Mrs. Pettigrew and both daughters work with skill and grace. And Mother Yancey's benignant spirit is an added blessing." The congregation praised God and saluted the pastor for "increased membership, zealous evangelism, enlarging income for growing support of Gospel needs, deepening fellowship in laboring "together" in the Lord."34
The ministry of William R. Pettigrew is a superb example of pastoral love. Andrew Pratt wrote, "The strength of his leadership stemmed from the kind of person he was. Pettigrew was a quiet, soft-spoken, southern gentleman. Though small of stature, his demeanor commanded respect. ... a strong leader with a mediatorial rather than a confrontational style... qualities of compassion and gentleness shaped his concern for people both evangelistically and pastorally. His was a quiet charisma ...the consummate pastor. ....Throughout those years he gave unreservedly to Walnut Street Baptist Church. ... The congregation was his life. Pettigrew was the last pastor of Walnut Street who continued to conduct all the weddings, and funerals, the hospital and nursing home visitation, and most of the personal counseling. He did not want staff or laity doing what he believed to be his primary job. Yet this strong commitment to shepherding the flock was a monumental responsibility."35
The load of pastoral care, ministry, and evangelistic outreach sought some relief in the annual vacation each summer, usually the month of July or August. Pastors from strong churches in Kentucky and Tennessee, seminary faculty, missionaries, or the Western Recorder editor supplied the Walnut Street pulpit.36 About midway through the Louisville pastorate, the Pettigrews purchased a small tract of land on Big Indian Creek, across the Ohio River in Indiana. The property included a small house and barn. Son-in-law Joe
King recalls, "Church schedules usually allowed them only an afternoon there, and that rarely." When family members came from South Carolina, they went to the farm for picnics and a few hours of family time. It was not uncommon on the return trip for them to stop at a hospital for Dr. Pettigrew to visit a patient. "The place had a healthy sense of isolation," King stated. For several years both Dr. and Mrs. Pettigrew had heart problems which required regular physician consultations and medications.37 The Indiana property appears to have been an effort to add some balance to his busy life.
State Denominational Leader in Missions and Evangelism
The 50s saw a growing emphasis on ecumenical endeavors, with some pointing to a day when the various Christian denominations would unite. Pettigrew was not among those advocates as his involvement in Kentucky Baptist life illustrates. "Let's be realistic," he wrote. "Baptists are not going to be drawn into the merging, neutralizing pool of ecumenicalism. ... they are to remain "the bad boy" among denominations. They are going to keep faith with their doctrinal traditions.... Let Baptists justify their separatism upon apostolic success, rather than upon apostolic succession or its equivalent by some other name. ... Let Baptists justify their separation upon the basis of holy zeal and compassion for the masses. It is a tragic truth that denominations born in the white heat of zeal for holiness and evangelism, in time, become so "logical," "respectable," and so enamored with elaborate creedal demands and rituals that they come to lose the hearts of the great masses of plain people."38
Dr. Pettigrew's heart for evangelism around the world was nurtured by the congregation. In 1950 the church sent Dr. and Mrs. Pettigrew on a month mission trip to Hawaii. They attended the 1950 and 1955 meetings of the Baptist World Alliance. Their 10th Anniversary gift was a 1958 mission tour around the world, with stops in ten countries. On eight Sunday nights after their return he showed slides from the trip and "preached the Gospel.39" During Pettigrew's 19 year pastorate, total contributions were $5,017,723.74 with $2,230,530.17 of the total going for missions.40
At the 1954 General Association meeting ni Georgetown, Dr. Pettigrew preached the annual sermon, "Love, the Hope of the World," based on First Corinthians 13. The message stressed Christian love as "The Hope of the Home, The Hope of Churches."41 In 1956 Kentucky Baptists elected Dr. Pettigrew as Moderator when they met in Madisonville. The Western Recorder commented, "The Baptists of Kentucky are fortunate ...He knows Kentucky Baptists and their work."42 In later years Editor C. R. Daley described his leadership "during two tempestuous years ... his fairness, calmness and Christian statesmanship will never be forgotten."43
On July 1, 1957, Moderator Pettigrew preached the dedicatory message at the opening of the new state Baptist offices on Shelbyville Road.44 He described the building as the "nerve center of state missions.... Our people look to our Baptist Nerve Center for vital, throbbing, inspiring leadership, and our people shall not look in vain."45 He presided at the 1957 meeting at Harlan Baptist Church. In the spring of 1958 Pettigrew preached at four regional Conferences on World Missions in western Kentucky, stressing that state missions is "beginning at Jerusalem," and "strengthening the stake" which anchors world mission work.46 At the 1958 General Association session in Elizabethtown record attendance debated a controversial survey and proposals related to state Baptist educational institutions.47 The previous year Walnut Street had voted to "participate in and co-operate with the campaign to establish a Baptist college in the Louisville area." Kentucky Southern College opened in the fall of 1962, under sponsorship of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Lacking operating resources and with a $4 million debt, the school merged with the University of Louisville in 1968.48 Dr. Pettigrew was active in seeking support for the $9 million Christian Education Advance campaign, launched hi 1963 to provide needed funding for Kentucky Baptist educational institutions, a campaign that reached less than $3 million by 196949.
The membership record at the end of his 19 years at Walnut Street reflects the consuming passion of his life. There were 8,292 additions to the church; 2, 854 of those came by baptism.50 Pettigrew's evangelistic zeal started early. In a paper describing "the essence
of my side of a soul-winning conversation," he wrote, "As a young Christian I was given a copy of the Gospel of John issued by the Pocket Testament League of New York. Its markings helped formulate just what had taken place hi my own experience of salvation. As my ministry unfolded, I found myself using it in my efforts to lead others to understand the way of salvation. With a Gospel in the unsaved person's hand and one in mine, and as we've read together, the Spirit has brought many hundreds to trust Christ as Savior and Lord."51
Pettigrew wrote on another occasion, "I had a rather cataclysmic and revolutionary experience, which revealed to me that I was not prepared for Sunday simply because I had two well worked out sermon outlines; that I could only be really ready for the service when I had during the previous week won at least one soul to Christ, and had that one dedicated to the Christian duty of making his confession public by uniting with the church in one of the services on Sunday. Since that date there have been only three Sundays when I was in my pulpit that there has not been at least one who united with the church."52
Church evangelism was encouraged by revival meetings. The preachers for these meetings included leading pastors, vocational evangelists, and denominational workers of the era: Vance Havner, H. Leo Eddleman, W. A. Criswell, Allen Graves, Franklin Paschal, Vincent Cervera, Chester Swor, C. E. Autry, Ray Roberts. For several years the church led the state of Kentucky in the number of baptisms.53
After reading the book, A Historical Approach to Evangelical Worship by Ilion T. Jones, Pettigrew submitted a short article to the Western Recorder warning against "hurtful formalism." He stated, "We Baptists have been and are a great evangelical people. Formalism, ritual and fixed worship cuts the nerve of vital evangelism." The editor added a personal comment: "He is not only a pastor to his people; he is also a great evangelist in his Sunday-by-Sunday ministry and out on the field among his people more people, by far, surrender to Christ and unite with the church in the regular Sunday morning and Sunday night services, than come during the average revival campaign. Very frequently,
on Wednesday nights, at the close of prayer meetings service, as he makes evangelistic appeals, there are professions of faith and additions to the church."54
Southern Seminary preaching professor James Cox described Pettigrew's preaching as expository sermons that combined moving illustrations and often picturesque language.55 Even when he preached a message focused on Christians, he saw the implication for the lost. A three sermon series of messages on the theme, "Getting Through To God," focused on prayer - "repairing sagging lines of communication between God and me." The first sermon begins with John 15:7, following this division statement: "One who gets through to God must have a personal experience which vitally connects him with Christ.56 In the message, "The Lord Himself Shall Descend" based on Acts 1 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Pettigrew says at the end of the message, "I have been talking about what would happen to the saved when the Lord comes. But what is going to happen to the unsaved ones who have rejected Christ in that day when He shall come? ... Leave Christ out of your life now and you shall be left here in the earth in unspeakable tribulation when Christ shall catch up saved people to meet Him in the air. Shut the door of your heart against Christ now and then the door in heaven shall be shut against you. Accept Him now, and He will accept you into that heavenly throng caught up to meet the Lord in the air.57 Dr. Pettigrew's sermon at the 1948 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Memphis was entitled, "The Rending of the Veil," based on scriptures from Matthew, Mark and Luke concerning Jesus' death on the cross. Joe King observes, "This sermon was the overall central theme of Dr. Pettigrew's preaching." King felt Walnut Street Baptist Church - "A membership of young and old, rich and poor, with a strong middle class, beautiful music, a warm fellowship - all of these things brought out the best in the preaching of Dr. Pettigrew, who was already a superb preacher and minister.58
A Church in a Changing Community
Like many Southern Baptist churches in the 1950s, Walnut Street experienced growth in numbers and improved facilities. The church redecorated the sanctuary and chapel,
converted three nearby houses into a Beginner's Building and an educational annex on Second St. Pettigrew led the church to begin broadcasting the Sunday morning service on radio. In 1961 the church was sponsoring four missions.59
Sunday school attendance on various Sundays through his tenure indicates the initial growth, but the leveling off as the community faced transition during the 1960s: 1142 (20 Jan 46), - 1717 (22 May 49), - 1951 (25 Mar 51), - 1699 (20 Mar 55), - 1842 (24 Mar 57), - 1731 (24 Mar 60), - 1608 (24 Mar 63), - 1284 (21 Mar 65).60
Urban renewal "transformed neighborhoods north and east of the church." Expressway construction brought demolition of homes and the central community experienced an economic decline. A reporter described the Walnut Street area of the 60s: "Many older residents had moved. They had been replaced by non-members, mostly poor white and a few blacks living in small apartments in the once-stately mansions lining Old Louisville streets." Assistant Pastor Robert Young indicated that the pastor "insisted that Walnut Street would not build a mission nearby designed solely to minister to the poor of the area." Many people thought the church could only survive by leaving the inner city. The deacons recommended the church continue ministries committed to the city; but the church never voted on relocation. The pastor and the majority of the members were committed to a downtown ministry. Dr. Pettigrew told the Courier-Journal newspaper: "We're digging in. We've gone through the hardest years of inner decay of the city and we have no intentions of moving out." A Long Range Planning Committee was appointed in 1964 and was active the pastor's last two years. Six specific goals were adopted:
~ Expanded educational program and facilities for 2000 in Sunday School ~ An enlarged sanctuary ~ Development of a weekday nursery and childcare program ~ Construction of an adequate facility for weekday recreation and ail-age Christian activities. ~ Develop a Christian Social Ministries Program ~ Construction of a high-rise apartment providing adequate low-cost housing for the elderly.61
The call of a Social Work minister in 1968 and a Christian Activities minister the next year, followed by completion of The William R. Pettigrew Christian Activities Building in 1972 met two of these goals. The Pettigrew Building "has become a place of stability, security, and affirmation hi (the lives of youth and children), fulfilling the dream and mission of W. R. Pettigrew." In subsequent years, Baptist Towers and Treyton Oak Towers fulfilled the goal of housing for the elderly, and the Clara Nussbaum Children's Building supports weekday nursery and childcare.62 Few pastors have ever seen as many goals fashioned during their ministry come to pass hi the succeeding years. Pettigrew is listed among the five Walnut Street pastors who made important contributions that "so shaped the church's ministry and vision as to be considered particularly unique in their ministry."63
Finishing the Race
In March 1965, Dr. Pettigrew's "heart condition" kept him from preaching at the church for six weeks.64 At Walnut Street's Sesquicentennial Celebration on November 4-7,1965, Dr. Pettigrew preached at the closing service which climaxed with baptism and the Lord's Supper. He returned from a revival meeting in South Carolina and preached on Sunday November 28, his last Sunday in the Walnut Street pulpit. The subject was "The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus" from Mark 10. Driving home after church the two of them talked about the good service. His customary help with the dishes after lunch couldn't be done because of arm pains. He entered Baptist Hospital that afternoon.65 On December 9, members were informed about his recovery from a coronary thrombosis - He "seems to be making progress but it will for a certainty be very slow."66 However, his condition worsened; "as the end clearly drew near Mrs. Pettigrew joined her husband under the oxygen tent, bringing to him scripture and prayer."67 He died December 12, 1965. Two days later, Kentucky Southern College President Rollin Burhans and Assistant Pastor Robert Young conducted the memorial services in the sanctuary where the pastor with the shepherd's love and the evangelist's zeal had faithfully preached for 19 years.68
During the last several years in Louisville, Dr. Pettigrew "refused to take any raise in his salary." This motivated the Finance Committee and Deacons to lead the church in giving
the parsonage to Mrs. Pettigrew. She had taught a women's Sunday Bible study for 19 years.69 At the 1966 SBC meeting in Detroit Mrs. Pettigrew received an award on behalf of her husband from the Radio and Television Commission "for his outstanding contribution to the radio ministry of Southern Baptists."70 Mrs. Pettigrew continued to live in the parsonage until October 29, 1986, when she moved to South Carolina to live with her daughter Ruth. She often stayed weekends in nearby Greenville, SC, where her daughter Mary lived. Mrs. Pettigrew died on January 12,1989, following one night in the hospital. The memorial service was held at Walnut Street.71 Twenty-five years earlier, following the death of her husband, she was described as "an indispensable part of his ministry.... They were inseparable and Mrs. Pettigrew will always be a model for preacher wives."72
"Above all, a pastor and a personal evangelist," C. R. Daley wrote of Dr. Pettigrew. "To each [pastorate] he gave himself completely and his ministry became an epoch in the life of each church. His modesty would never let him parade statistics. Any way he was measured, his dimensions were great and magnificent."73 W. R. Pettigrew's life of pastoral love and evangelistic zeal remains a powerful example for ministry.
1 Western Recorder, 23 December 1965.
2 Joe M. King, "A Remembrance of W. R. Pettigrew," 8 October 2010.
3 Walnut Street Baptist Church, "Our Pastor..." 10th Anniversary Program, 16 September 1956.
4 Southern Baptist Historical Library, Operation Baptist Biography, May 1960.
5 King, op.cit.
6 Union University Academic Center, Willie Robert Pettigrew Permanent Record Card, fax received 25 October 2010.
7 Union University Library, Jenny Lowery Archivist, email received 8 September 2010.
8 Anniversary Program, op.cit.
9 Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, Archives file on W. R. Pettigrew.
10 King, op.cit.
11 Operation Baptist Biography, op.cit.
12 King, op.cit.
13 William E. Ellis, A Man of Books and a Man of the People (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2003) 174-183.
14 William A. Mueller, A History of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1959) 188-206.
15 Ellis, op. cit.
16 Jesse C. Fletcher, The Southern Baptist Convention A Sesquicentennial History (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994) 142-144.
17 King, op. cit.
18 Anniversary Program, op. cit.
19 King, op. cit.
20 Ruth Dillard, telephone conversation with the author 21 September 2010 21 Fletcher, op. cit., 165.
22 Anniversary Program, op.cit.
23 George Raleigh Jewell, The History of the Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, Vol II 1949-1965, 212.
24 King, op. cit.
25 Mueller, op. cit, 193.
26 King, op. cit.
29 Anniversary Program, op. cit.
30 King, op. cit.
31 Bill J. Leonard, Editor, Community In Diversity A History of Walnut Street Baptist Church 1815-1990 (Louisville: Sesnores Neely Publishing Co., 1990) 61.
32 Walnut Street Baptist Church, Church Chimes 15 September 1946.
33 Anniversary Program, op. cit.
34 Church Chimes, 19 September l948.
35 Leonard, op. cit, 72-74.
36 Jewell, op. cit, 272.
37 King, op. cit.
38 Western Recorder, "God Can Use Baptists," 28 June 1951.
39 Jewell, op. cit, 244, 253, 260, 267.
40 Church Chimes, 17 February l966.
41 Western Recorder, 18 November l954.
42 Western Recorder, 29 November l956.
43 Western Recorder, 23 December l965.
44 James Duane Bolin, Kentucky Baptists 1925-2000 A Story of Cooperation (Nashville: Fields Publishing and Brentwood, TN: Southern Baptist Historical Society, 2000) 163.
45 Western Recorder, 29 August l957.
46 Western Recorder, 8 May l958.
47 Western Recorder, 27 November l958.
48 Jewell, op.cit., 266, 275.
49 Bolin, op. cit., 197.
49 Bolin, op.cit., 192. 50 Church Chimes, 17 February l966.
5l Walnut Street Baptist Church Archives, W. R. Pettigrew file, August 1961.
52 Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists Vol. III (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971) 1910.
53 Jewell, op. cit., 248-285.
54 Western Recorder, 10 June l954.
55 Leo Taylor Crismon, Editor, Baptists in Kentucky 1776-1976 (Middletown, Kentucky: Kentucky Baptist Convention, 1975) 114-115.
56 Walnut Street Archives, op. cit.
57 Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, W. R. Pettigrew sermon manuscripts, 10 June l965.
58 King, op. cit.
59 Leonard, op. cit., 72-73.
60 Church Chimes, 20 February l946 - 21 March l965.
61 Leonard, op. cit, 73-74, 98, 125.
62 Ibid, 99-100, 147.
63 Ibid, 61.
64 Courier-Journal, 13 December l965.
65 King, op. cit.
66 Church Chimes, 9 December l965.
67 King, op. cit.
68 Louisville Times, 13 December l965; Western Recorder, 23 December 1965.
69 King, op. cit.
70 Western Recorder, 2 June l966.
71 King, op. cit.
72 Western Recorder, 23 December l965.
The Friendly Separation of Religion and Government
A paper written and presented by R. Charles Blair, Clinton, Kentucky
at the J. H. Spencer Historical Society
Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington, KY on November 15, 2010
Our society has set out a list of "Baptist Distinctives." While it is likely that all of us would accept all the published statements, another "Baptist Distinctive" is that if each of us made our own list, which we can do, each would be slightly different!
There is probably no place where that would be more likely than in the wording of the distinctive chosen for this year's meeting. Consider these terms: "Separation of Church and State" - a phrase found in the Soviet Constitution, under which Baptists grew in spite of significant repression.
Jefferson's famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, speaking of a "wall of separation" (which allowed him to support worship services in the White House.)
"Freedom of Conscience" - used in Roger Williams' famous The Bloudy Tenet.
"Freedom of Religion" - as set forth in the Baptist-influenced 1st Amendment.1
"Freedom of Worship" - evidently a slightly different nuance, used recently.
"Religious Liberty," "Soul Liberty," "The Voluntary Principle," and others, all intended to show "no union of church and state," including "A Free Church in a Free State" - the ideal Baptist understanding of Matthew 22:21 and Romans 13, the full-mention passage on the subject; and my personal favorite, "The Friendly Separation of Religion and Government." Note I have not used the word "toleration," which has an unfriendly connotation. While each term has its own significance, all point us in one direction. Why is that direction important to us, as Baptists and as citizens? Let's do a quick fly-over of nearly 1800 years of Christian history, landing not far from here, near Boonesborough, Kentucky, about the end of the American Revolution. We will divide our story in convenient pieces, realizing that most such dates are arbitrary and approximate, though certain events stand out along the way; of course all will be Anno Domini.
First, consider Christianity as Judiaism, 30-70, Acts 18:13-15.
Our Lord was a Jew after the flesh, and so were most of His first followers (though there were more Gentiles, especially God-fearers and proselytes, among them than is usually recognized). While "He came to His own," He came to a world under the dominion of Daniel's fourth beast or world-power. Rome had a licensing system for religions, including "a pinch of incense on Caesar's altar" and a payment, which the Sadducean establishment managed to arrange "at arm's length" with the aid of the Herodians and the tacit complicity of the Pharisees (a far cry from their Maccabean origins).2 This, of course, was the underlying issue in the conflict recorded in Mathew 22. The Pharisees asked the question, with some Herodians standing by, but no Sadducees. Both groups were looking for ammunition against either Jesus or the Sadducees. Either would have been welcome; our Lord's answer gave none. But He did warn His disciples about "3 brands of yeast" - the leaven of the Sadducees, that of the Pharisees, and that of Herod, all of which fermented in Acts 4, 8, and 12 respectively to fulfill His prophecy. So for those early years Rome, when it noticed Christians at all, thought of them as just another sect of a religio licta, therefore tolerated. This began to change earlier, in part due to Nero's fire and the ease with which this different kind of people could be blamed, but the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome gives as good a cut-off date as any for our first unit, leading us to consider
Christianity as Treason, 70-325, Matthew 24:9-10.
"Traitors!" "Atheists!" "Different!" Such slurs became common as the First Century drew to a close. Possibly the classic documentation of this developing attitude, though coming in the Second Century, is the well-known exchange between Pliny (the Younger), Governor of Bithynia, and Emperor Trajan. While Pliny found only a "depraved and extravagant superstition," his issue was what he called the "inflexible obstinacy" of these followers of Christ in refusing the required incense and the "Caesar is Lord" formula; such still called for punishment. As one of the "Five Good Emperors," Trajan no doubt considered his answer quite tolerant and enlightened, in keeping with his Stoic temperament. But to Christians, his demands differed only in degree from the worst actions of a Nero.3
During these early centuries, emperors varied in their treatment of this odd assortment of slaves and masters, literate and illiterate, rich and poor, male and female, so different from any other group in the empire. At the end of the Second Century, Christians in Asia suffered under Emperor Severus. But soon, under Alexander Severus, who died in 235, pastors were entertained
at court and the first formal houses of worship built with imperial aid. Emperor Decius increased persecution during his brief reign, 249-251, so that many new converts left, but sought to return under his successor, who held out an olive branch to them. For it was becoming increasingly clear that these followers of "one Chrestus," a Latin word evidently used for Christ, were among the best citizens of the Empire, and that they were not going away. Apologists such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian used recognized scholarship to make the case for their brethren, with good results among the literate, who in any case were more inclined to be at least tolerant of such differences.4 And the most severe persecution had failed to slow the movement; as the Russian Commissar of Education Lunacharsky said in 1928, "Religion is like a nail; the harder you hit it, the deeper it goes into the wood."5
As imperial Rome found she could not conquer Christianity with the sword, she gave it a far more deadly blow, that of imperial favor. A series of events early in the Fourth Century led to a major tragedy for Bible-believing Christianity, that of "official" approval, the kiss of death for simple NT faith and practice. They were:
The Edict of Constantine, 311, granting limited toleration to Christians; Constantine's formal "adoption" of Christianity, 312; The Edict of Milan, granting full toleration for Christianity, 313; and The Council of Nicea, 325.
These bring us to "Christendom" as Concubine, 325-1525, Revelation 2:20, 17:1-2; and Christianity as the Woman Hidden in the Wilderness, Revelation 12:13-17. Huge volumes have been written on these centuries; we will only note a few high spots under both headings. From this point, we have a more or less "established" church and more or less hidden churches; persecution shifts from imperial to ecclesiastical Rome, and those being suppressed are those who dare to differ, who oppose this union of religion and government even when the religion is called "Christian." As Dr. Heather M. Vose said in an address to the Baptist World Alliance, published by the Baptist Joint Committee, "Ever since the state related to the church in the fourth century in a way it had never done before, all differentiation between the Kingdom of God, the church, and the state has been blurred. The spiritual independence of the church was largely lost." Dr. Vose goes on in this most insightful paper to link modern Baptists with the continental Anabaptists and their predecessors at precisely this point, not so much by a baptismal chain but by agreement on the Scriptural and practical need for a free church in a free state.6
Thus when Constantine called all the bishops (except the Donatists!) from his empire to the pleasant resort town of Nicea to "settle the Christological question" then in dispute between Arius and his opponents, paid the cost from the imperial treasury, and seated himself in his royal robes at the foot of the table where he said nothing throughout the council's sessions, the die was cast - the Rubicon was crossed, the hireling clergy began to go on the state payroll. Sylvester, bishop of Rome, strongly supported this innovation. Were there true believers in the state churches? Some Anabaptists, looking back at the time of the Reformation, denied that possibility. As Glanmor Williams has written, "The Radicals held it to be utterly unthinkable that true believers could have been comprehended within the utterly corrupt state Church. During the thousand years and more of darkness, the true Church was in dispersion among those called heretics. The succession of the saving remnant was to be traced back from Huss, Wycliffe, to the Fraticelli, the Waldensians and other much more obscure believers persecuted and dubbed heretics by the papal church."7 Others more charitably conceded that some well-meaning people, especially among the laity, had merely been mistaught. We must remember, of course, that for the state-sanctioned group, this was the millennial age, when there was one united "Christendom" which controlled European monarchs, re-established Roman power as the "Holy Roman Empire" and enforced uniformity of thought and practice throughout its wide-ranging domains.8 And for a time, the papacy was in the ascendancy in this incestuous relationship. Examples could be multiplied: consider Constantine's law of 319 giving tax exemption to the [official] clergy, or other laws of that year against Sunday work and the offering of pagan sacrifices. Great edifices were built for officially sanctioned worship in Rome, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and of course in "New Rome" or Constantinople, in fact, the division between eastern and western religion was "more political than religious." For example, the theological dispute over whether to call Mary "mother of Christ" or "mother of God" was settled by an appeal to the Emperor and his calling of a general council in 431. The political issue between Rome and Constantinople played a major role in the decision. Political and theological issues were so inextricably intertwined that emperors imprisoned bishops for heresy! In 445, Leo I secured a decree from the western Emperor ordering all to obey the bishop of Rome, but "he who rises by the state may also fall by the state." A canon of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 exalted the claims of Constantinople to a dignity equal to that of Rome. As Pope Gelasius (492-496) wrote to the Eastern Emperor: "there are two [swords] by whom principally this
world is ruled: the sacred authority of the pontiffs and the royal power. Of these the importance of the priests is so much the greater ...."9
However, Eastern Emperor Justinian soon made himself "master of all", suppressing heathenism and heresy equally so that the church became virtually a department of the state. In this see-saw struggle for dominance, two instances of papal power stand out: one on Christmas Day, 800 A. D., when Leo III placed the crown on the head of Charlemagne, and the other in 1077, when Hildebrand forced Henry IV to kneel barefooted in the snow for three successive days to avoid excommunication.
But as the late middle ages developed, over-reaching claims by the papacy led to a revolt of the rulers, who saw the vast untaxed church lands as a prime source of imperial revenue. Monarchs began to reassert their claims of supreme authority, not only in all things temporal but in all things, period. In short, the two swords were often involved hi duels, and Napoleon's later question, "How many divisions does the pope have?" becomes pertinent as we watch fore-gleams of the Renaissance begin to shine across long-darkened Europe.
We can scarcely imagine the courage and conviction required to protest publicly against this state of affairs, knowing full well that such protests, even when done by bishops, might well result in imprisonment or execution. Even nobles and the well-educated seldom dared challenge the united force of religion and government. Yet through those days, a rag-tag remnant of the powerless were found in free churches, known more from the official documents condemning them than from their own writings. Robert D. Linder, of Kansas State University, described it well, though at length:
. . . there is a long and honorable history of Christians in trouble with "the powers that be." In fact, the striking thing about [this] ... is that throughout Western history there has been a biblically-oriented segment of the Christian community which has been at odds with established governments. The story begins with Jesus Himself and runs like a thread through the pages of early Christian history, to the Waldensians, John Ball and his rebellious English peasants, Wycliff and the Lollards, Hus and his followers, the Anabaptists, the Calvinists hi France, the English Puritans, the French Jansenists, the Baptists in Virginia, the Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in America, and the Baptists in present day  Spain and the contemporary Soviet Union, to cite a few examples. 10
These are the "valley-dwellers" who laid claim to maintaining New Testament Christianity. Their most common thread was our principle, a desire for a friendly separation of church and state. They certainly did not desire anarchy, nor did they wish official support for their congregations; if at times they seemed "subversive" it was more the nature of the state and its official relation with another form of Christianity than any desire to overthrow legitimate government. Over the tax issue and the rising spirit of nationalism, papal power found itself unable to maintain the strength of the High Middle Ages. France under Philip "the Fair" went so far as to actually imprison Pope Boniface briefly, and, in 1309, to move the seat of papacy to the French town of Avignon, where it remained for nearly 70 years under French domination. A bishop at Rome also continued to claim the papacy during this time, and when the German electors declared the right to act apart from any papal approval, a general council deposed both French and Roman bishops and appointed a third "Supreme Pontiff." Truly "what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to interweave" church and state!
Had it not been for the "Protestants before Protestantism" such as Wycliff, Hus, and others like them, and the rising national sentiment in a deeply divided "Holy Roman Empire", Luther might simply have been another victim of the Inquisition. But with the growing independence of the German states, he found strong and sympathetic protectors in Frederick "the Wise" and his successor John "the Steadfast". From that point, national churches began to spring up, little better in Anabaptist eyes than the one coterminus "church and empire." The 1648 Treaty of Westphalia ending the 30 Years' War with its formula "cus regio, cus religio" settled nothing for free churches. In Holland, in a few German states, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and the Alps, some toleration was allowed for the strange view that churches are bodies of scripturally baptized believers and that infants are not proper subjects for baptism, nor should the state interfere with church polity. But by and large the Reformers treated these "Donatists new dipt" as the imperial papacy had dealt with them.11 But who were these subversive protestors who claimed such ancient ancestry against authority? As Solomon asked, in Canticles, Who is This, Coming up out of the Wilderness? - 1525-1688 Song 3:6, 8:5.
Surely hundreds of illegal conventicles demanding Scriptural authority for all acts of a religious nature, refusing conformity even unto death, did not arise de novo. As Vedder pointed out in his "Short History" a century ago, it is surely significant that the rapidly multiplying groups officially
lumped together as "Anabaptists" with all their variety rose in many of the geographic areas where Paulicians, Albigensians, and Waldensians had thrived in the previous centuries.12 While he wisely avoided trying to establish a chain, the strong view of religious liberty against all odds, the fervent desire of so many for unfettered worship in spirit and truth surely showed these people to be "heirs to the flame" which had never been fully extinguished through the darkest centuries. Their relation to Zwingli in Zurich, as he first inclined toward them, then saw the threat to the "seamless web" of church and community and joined the persecutors, was similar to their dealings with Luther and Calvin. All this has been well and often documented, for example by William Estep13 in several formats. Recall the admonition of Dr. Vose not to neglect this part of our heritage because of questions or disagreements. We do well to remember that such an approach today might leave us with almost no one with whom to have wider fellowship!
We have said little about issues in the British Isles. After the Roman takeover of British churches and Irish monasteries in the days of Gregory "the Great", on through Europe's darkness, Baptists in Wales insist that their congregations continued, though often in hiding. A series of religio-political wars left an uneasy relationship between powerful groups, whose differences among themselves often left the common man in distress. For the story of those days in Great Britain, we may refer to a unique old volume, Bye-Paths in Baptist History, from one J. J. Goadby, or to John T. Christian's "Did They Dip?"14 In the days of Queen Elizabeth I, some 27 men and women were charged with being "Anabaptists" at Aldsgage; 11 were convicted of capital crimes against the state, 8 were banished, and the most stubborn two were burned at the stake. When Foxe, the martyrologist, interceded with the Queen for these women, her answer was: "I wonder that such monstrous opinions [as refusing to have their infants baptized [RCB] could come into the mind of any Christian."15 And the last man to be burned at the stake in England for his faith was one Edward Wightman, sentenced by King James in 1611 for being "a seditious and pestilent Anabaptist." 16 Out of this mix, after the "Glorious Revolution," came.
A Free Church in a Free State - 1688 to the present, Revelation 12:16.
Against this background of unrest, many dissenters - including Catholics, under Protestant domination in Britain - saw the prospect of a new world as their most attractive option. Along with various fortune-hunters in the search for "God, gold, and glory" these pilgrims came to their
"new Canaan" where some who had called for religious liberty in England soon began to use their power to stifle similar calls from individuals like John Clarke, Roger Williams, Obadiah Holmes, and the first two presidents of Harvard.
But let us now turn our primary focus to Virginia, the Carolinas, and early movements into Kentucky. Some of God's noblemen, such as the Craig brothers, Jamie Ireland, John Waller and others were among the 83 Baptist preachers who suffered from state-condoned mob violence in colonial Virginia on the eve of the Revolution.17 Lewis Craig brought his "traveling church" into this "land of canes and turkeys," or "dark and bloody ground" as others would call it. Others came as well. We now turn our eyes now to a very specific and highly unlikely scene. A family, contented members of the Virginia Church of England in 1760, when their son was born and christened an Anglican, moved from their rich tobacco land on the James River, near Carter's Ferry (now Cartersville), by way of North Carolina, into Kentucky as Baptists within two short but eventful decades. What happened in the family of James Hammon(d) and his wife Mary Hargis Hammon and son John to bring about so drastic and dramatic a change? In fact, they, with many of their relatives, friends, and neighbors made this same pilgrimage, most of them together. In 1774, these up-scale colonists joined others of standing to Petition the Fauquier County Court, "being Desenters (sic) bearing the Denomination of Baptists, Desiring to Worship God According to the Best light we have in Holy Scriptures, and the Dictates of our Own Consciences, Humbly Prayeth that your Worships would be Pleased to grant us the liberty to meet together for the worship of God in our way." For hundreds of years these families, including some of George Washington's kin, had been the backbone of the establishment, first in England, then in Virginia. The Hammons, pure English, had no Scotch, Welsh, or Irish strains of hostility to their homeland. Nor were they economically oppressed; they were large landowners with numerous slaves. When the "Worshipful Court" gave an unfavorable response, their new Baptist faith with its liberty of conscience and action guided from Scripture by that conscience moved them so deeply that they could no longer stay under an established religion which taxed all to support itself (and gradually a few other acceptable groups). Before the year was out these who had been pillars of the establishment moved to the Yadkin River in North Carolina, not far from a farm belonging to one Daniel Boon(e). For most such families, this two-stage move was the norm; the Baptist groups first moved from Virginia to the frontiers, where a new church would be formed. The older members in general stayed there, the younger
advancing into Kentucky within a few years and forming Baptist churches quickly. One exception was the Upper Spotsylvania Baptist Church, moving from that Virginia county in 1781 to the vicinity of Gilbert's Creek, near Boonesboro. By 1791, the Roaring River Baptist Church was part of the Yadkin Baptist Association in North Carolina, and petitioned for letters to establish new works in Kentucky. Members of the South Fork of Roaring River Church spread quickly over their new home. John Hammon, who had received infant "baptism" from the Virginia Anglicans in 1760, but who became a Baptist in youth and who fought actively in the American Revolution against the "Torries," settled near Stamping Grounds, Kentucky, where he became first magistrate of what would become Lexington. They quickly formed the Mountain Island Baptist Church in what is now Owen County, which in turn helped form Mussel Shoals Baptist Church in what was then Scott County in 1817. His church adopted a covenant and confession of faith and were "pronounced a regular independent Church of Christ" on October 11th of that year. There were 63 men, 65 women, and one slave, with eight families from the South Fork of Roaring River Church in North Carolina, including the Mammons.18 What brought these once-comfortable Anglicans to the Baptist persuasion so thoroughly that they moved rather than submit to a yoke on their conscience? Undoubtedly, the on-rushing tide of Revolution unleashed a free spirit in many, but though they left us few details, it is clear that the issue of church-state union played a significant role in the Baptist settlement of this new land. Little wonder, then, that Kentucky still has so heavy a Baptist population, and so independent a group of thinkers. For these also are "Heirs to the Flame" of religious liberty lit by the fires of Calvary and yet burning nearly 2,000 years later. One other question:
So You Want to go Back to Egypt? Deut. 17:16, today forward
We face today a challenge as serious, if not so dramatic, as those we have reviewed. Many well-meaning Bible believers, noting that their taxes are used in ways abhorrent to their conscience, are tempted to battle for control of that tax money so that they can prevent it going for abortions, government-subsidized pornography, and the like. When we are told by courts that we cannot post the ten commandments on public property, or require prayer and/or Bible reading in public schools, it is easy to look with horror at the rising tide of secularism and seek with the Puritans a "new Canaan," a "City of God" under the control once more of the evangelical Protestants who were so influential in helping establish this "one nation under God." Let me
give you one parallel story from Central America, where a good friend once served as a Baptist missionary. God allowed him to win the Chief of the national police force, which was essentially the small nation's army, to personal faith in Christ and the gospel. The enthusiastic convert said, "Now I will tell all my force they must attend a Baptist church!" What a temptation - and how clearly our brief review of our heritage shows the likely consequences! Our position has been, in the face of the most severe opposition, and the most attractive possibilities if we just put that pinch of incense on the altar with the justification, "Well, that belongs to Caesar, after all!" - to say, with Peter and John, with the early martyrs, with multitudes of Anabaptists, with the 1644 London Confession - "If there is a conflict, we must obey God rather than man, for after all Caesar belongs to God as well!"
R. Charles Blair, November 2010
1. Porter, J. W. (a Kentuckian), The World's Debt to the Baptists (Louisville: Baptist Book Concern, 1914), p. 79.
2. Schurer, Emil, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1890), Vol. II, pp. 12-43.
3. Bettenson, Henry, Documents of the Christian Church (London: Oxford U. Press, 2nd ed., 1963), pp. 3-6.
4. Coxe, J. Cleveland, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), Vols. I & III, passim.
5. Walsh, W. B., Russia and the Soviet Union: A Modern History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1958), p. 428.
6. Vose, Heather M., "Baptists: People Rooted in Scripture" in Report from the Capital (Washington: January, 1989), pp. 4-5, 14.
7. Williams, Glanmor, Reformation View of Church History (Richmond VA: John Knox Press, 1970), p. 20.
8. Dawson, Christopher, The Formation of Christendom (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967), passim.
9. Walker, Williston, History of the Christian Church (New York: Scribner's, 1957), p. 124.
Most of the information in this section is documented from Walker's massive volume; notes will not be made for commonly agreed-on data.
10. Linder, Robert D., ed., God and Caesar, "Christian Faith and Loyalty to the State" (Longview TX, Conference on Faith and History, 1971), p.75.
11. Verduin, Leonard, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), passim.
12. Vedder, H. C., A Short History of the Baptists (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publ. Society, 1907), p. 130.
13. Estep, William R., The Anabaptist Story (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), passim.
14. Goadby, J. J., Bye-Paths in Baptist History (London: Elliot Stock, 1871); Christian, John T., Did They Dip? (Louisville KY, Baptist Book Concern, 1896), both passim. For Baptists in Wales, see J. Davis, The Welsh Baptists (Gallatin TN, Church History Research and Archives, 1982 reprint, passim.
15. Howell, R. C. B., The Terms of Communion at the Lord's Table (1846).
16. Christian, John T., A History of the Baptists, Vol. I (Nashville: SSB SBC 1922), p. 217.
17. Harris, Philip B., The Baptist Training Union Magazine (Nashville: Sunday School Board, SBC, March, 1964), p.22 (158).
18. Hammon, Owen Stratton, in 1983 KY Ancestors, VI8-4, "Another Bicentennial - The Baptist Exodus from Virginia, through North Carolina, to Kentucky."
Some Other References of Value:
Fearheily, Don M., The John Leland Story (Nashville: Broadman, 1964).
Rone, Wendell H., The Baptist Faith and Roman Catholicism (Kingsport TN: Kingsport Press, 1952).
Sheridan, Eugene R. Jefferson and Religion (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 1983).
White, Ronald C. Jr. and Albright G. Zimmerman, An Unsettled Arena: Religion and the Bill of Rights (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990).
A Confession of Faith of Seven Congregations ..., (London, 1644; reprint Rochester NY: Backus Books, 1981).
J.H. Spencer Historical Society
3rd Annual Meeting
Monday, November I5, 2010
Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington, KY
1. The JHSHS annual meeting was called to order by President Stan Williams. There were 15 people in attendance.
2. Bro. Stan Williams explained the various materials that had been handed out to everyone in attendance. These included doctrinal tracts, booklets, and copies of the proposed by-laws.
3. Bro. Jim Duvall led in prayer.
4. In Bro. Rodney Skipworth's absence, Bro. Ben Stratton led the congregation in singing "My Jesus, I Love Thee." He explained that this hymn had been written by A.J. (Adoniram Judson) Gordon, pastor of the Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston from 1869 - 1895 and a famous Baptist leader.
5. Clerk Ben Stratton gave the secretary / treasurer's report.
a. The JHSHS currently has $548.39 in the bank.
b. The JHSHS currently has 47 paid members.
6. Bro. Stan Williams called the election of officers for the 2010-2011 year.
a. Bro. Stan Williams nominated Bro. Charles Blair for president. Bro. James Duvall gave the second. Bro. Charles Blair agreed to be nominated if Bro. Stan Williams would serve as journal editor and help him with the next JHSHS journal. There were no other nominations. Bro. Charles Blair was elected president by acclamation.
b. Bro. Bill Whittaker nominated Bro. Stan Williams for vice-president. Mrs. Alma Blair gave the second. There were no other nominations. Bro. Stan Williams was elected vice-president by acclamation.
c. Bro. Jim Duvall asked about the By-laws under Article VI which state that JHSHS officers can only serve 2 years in a row in an office. Bro. Stan Williams replied that since we were just now approving the by-laws, the 2 years could start with the 2010-2011 year. Bro. Bill Whittaker then nominated Bro. Ben Stratton for secretary / treasurer. Bro. Mickey Winter gave the second. There were no other nominations. Bro. Ben Stratton was elected secretary / treasurer by acclamation.
7. Bro. Stan Williams read the proposed JHSHS by-laws and asked if there were any amendments that needed to be made.
a. Bro. Charles Blair made a motion to amend Article IV Meetings, Section 2 to read "The meeting shall be held at a location (such as a church or association) convenient to the location of the Kentucky Baptist Convention in November." Bro. Ben Stratton gave the second. Motion passed.
b Bro. Les Hill made a motion to amend Article II, Distinctives from "Friendly Separation of Church and State" to "Friendly Separation of Religion and Government." Bro. Charles Blair gave the second. Motion passed.
8. Bro. Stan Williams asked if there was any miscellaneous business.
a. Bro. Bill Whittaker asked if the JHSHS would look into putting together a book of 20th Century Biographies of Kentucky Baptist Preachers. The old KBC Archives Board was looking into this before it dissolved. Bro. Bill said this could be done regionally with 12 or so short 1-2 page biographies from each of the 8 regions in Kentucky. We could find sponsors, such as KBC colleges, to sponsor the book and possibility publish 100 copies, with more as needed. Bro. Charles Blair made the motion that the JHSHS take on this project and Bro. Les Hill gave the second. Motion passed. Bro. Stan Williams asked Bro. Bill Whittaker to work together with the JHSHS officers in organizing and planning this project.
b. Bro. Ben Stratton mentioned that a spring 2011 JHSHS auxiliary meeting will be held in the western part of the state. The date and speakers will be given at a latter time.
c. Bro. Stan Williams asked if there was any interest in a Kentucky Baptist History Tour. Bro. Jeff Faggart of the Baptist History Preservation Society, does an annual national Baptist History Tour. The JHSHS could do one focusing on the state of Kentucky. This could perhaps be an overnight trip visiting important Baptist sites throughout Kentucky, ending with a visit to Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville where John Broadus and James P. Boyce are buried. If you are interesting in this please let Bro. Stan know.
9. Bro. Charles Blair presented his paper on a "Friendly Separation of Church and State."
10. After a short break, Bro. Bill Whittaker presented his paper on "W. R. Pettigrew, 1900-1965, Pastoral Love and Evangelistic Zeal."
11. Bro. Stan Williams thanked everyone for attending the third annual meeting of the JHSHS.
12. Bro. Mickey Winters dismissed the congregation in prayer.
J. H. Spencer Historical Society
Membership List, Summer 2011
1. Dean Anderson
2. Edith Bennett
3. Charles & Alma Blair
4. Cloys Bruce
5. Don Burford
6. James Carlin
7. Harold Cathey
8. John Chowning
9. Josh Davenport
10. James Duvall
11. Joe Early
12. Gary Emerson
13. Adam Greenway
14. Brad Hall
15. Rick Hatley
16. D. Leslie (Les. or D.L.) Hill
17. Jerry Hopkins
18. Don Houston
19. Robert J. Imhoff
20. David A. M. Keyes
21. Ronnie Mays
23. Ron Noffsinger
24. Don & Glenda Patterson
25. Ken & Carol Potter
26. Tom Quimby
27. Rick Reeder
28. Joed Rice
29. Jeffrey Sams
30. Thomas Shelton
31. Rodney Skipworth
32. Chris Skipworth
33. John Sparks
34. Glen Stewart
35. Ben Stratton
36. Bill Sumners
37. Robert Tarrence
38. Chuck Terry
39. Steve Thompson
40. R.L. Vaughn
41. Versailles Baptist Church
42. Bobby Waldridge
43. Walton, First Baptist Church
44. Steve Weaver
45. Jerrell G. White
46. Bill Whittaker
47. Bob Winstead
48. Charles W. Winstead
49. Stan Williams
50. Stephen Wilson
51. Mickey Winters
52. Danny Zickefoose
CAPTAIN JOHN "JACK" JOUETT
1754 - 1822
by Mickey Winter