Committed to Preserving and Promoting our Kentucky Baptist History and Distinctives
Table of Contents
Charles Blair. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Purpose Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Membership List. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2011 Agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2011 Minutes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
History of J.H. Spencer Historical Society
Ben Stratton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Ambrose Dudley (c. 1752-1825)
Steve Weaver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
The Early Baptists of Northern Kentucky
James R. Duvall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
The First Confession of Faith Uniting Baptists In Kentucky
Charles Blair. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Lewis Craig's Plan to Bring Baptists to Kentucky
Samuel H. Ford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Northbend Association of Baptists, 1846 Circular Letter
James A. Kirtley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Book Review: Church Member's Handbook By Joe T. Odle
Don Houston. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Book Review: History of the Baptists By John T. Christian
Charles Blair. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Book Review: Pillars of Orthodoxy By Ben M. Bogard
Ben Stratton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
JHSHS Membership Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
It has been an honor to serve our J. H. Spencer Historical Society as your Vice-President and now as your President. As my second term comes to an end, I pray that my successor will find co-workers as compatible and helpful as I have found, and that the society will flourish in the coming years to preserve and publish the story of Kentucky Baptists.
Of course we would all be pleased to see more members, and we certainly need to invite and encourage those we know personally who should be part of this effort. However, I've looked back over the records of earlier groups, the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society and Commission, the Archives Board, and others, and noted that none of these were "large" in numbers.
As my wife Alma is fond of saying, "There aren't that many people interested in history to start with, and when you narrow it down to Baptist history that reduces the pool, and when you say 'Kentucky Baptist history' the potential is even smaller." Of course some good friends from other states have joined us, and we're grateful for their participation, but most of them have some Kentucky roots as well.
Speaking of the earlier groups, Alma and I have been involved in all of them since we came to Kentucky in 1958. Someone may need to write a "history of our historical groups." Possibly when I'm no longer President there may be a little extra time for research on that, but if anyone else has the "itch" to do the work, you are welcome!
One thing I noticed in looking at my files; most earlier history groups did not produce such an ambitious Journal. Brother Stan Williams is to be highly commended for his labor of love in this far from simple activity. Thanks, Brother! And of course Brother Ben Stratton has done a yeoman's job on the finances and records, and in reminding me of what a President needs to be doing at any given time (just now helping complete this year's Journal and preparing the program for the fall).
But surely the most ambitious and significant project of our young society is the biography book on which Brother Bill Whittaker has spent countless hours. With some 400 sketches of 20th Century Kentucky Baptists who served faithfully, often with inadequate recognition, done by nearly a hundred writers, this will be a unique reference tool for the centuries till Jesus comes! Neither Spencer nor Masters did so much in-depth work on individuals; of course that was not the primary purpose or plan of their valuable writings. But wouldn't it be wonderful to have had a 19th Century volume! How many unsung heroes have we missed knowing for lack of such a product. Be sure to arrange for your personal copy.
Wishing you His best,
Your retiring President, R. Charles Blair
Purpose Statement of the J.H. Spencer Historical Society
The purpose of the J.H. Spencer Historical Society shall be to:
- to preserve and promote the historical distinctives, doctrines, and history of Kentucky Baptists.
- to cooperate with other historical societies, commissions, and agencies.
- to publish an annual journal containing articles, sermons, and papers relating to Kentucky Baptist History.
- to sponsor annual meetings that will include traditional worship, 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 Historic Baptist Distinctives
The Lordship of Jesus Christ
The Sole Authority of the Holy Bible
The Autonomy of the Local Church
Regenerated and Baptized Church Membership
The Priesthood of the Believer
Believer's Baptism by Immersion
Individual Soul Liberty
Friendly Separation of Religion and Government
Two Ordinances: Baptism and the Lord's Supper
J.H. Spencer Historical Society Membership List, Summer 2012
1. Dean Anderson
2. Paul Badgett
3. Edith Bennett
4. Carlton Binkley
5. Charles & Alma Blair
6. Cloys Bruce
7. James Carlin
8. John Chowning
9. Daryl Cornett
10. Josh Davenport
11. James Duvall
12. Eugene Enlow
13. Michael Farmer
14. Adam Greenway
15. Brad Hall
16. Rick Hatley
17. D. Leslie (Les. or D.L.) Hill
18. Jerry Hopkins
19. Don Houston
20. Robert J. Imhoff
21. Buster Jordan
Bowling Green, KY
22. David A.M. Keyes
23. Don Mathis
Bowling Green, KY
24. Ronnie Mays
25. Jeff Noffsinger
26. Ron Noffsinger
27. Don & Glenda Patterson
28. Ken & Carol Potter
29. Tom Quimby
30. Rick Reeder
31. Bobby Reeves
32. Joed Rice
33. Hughlan Richey
34. Jeffrey Sams
Fall Rock, KY
35. Bobby Sellers
36. Thomas Shelton
Beaver Dam, KY
37. Rodney Skipworth
Bowling Green, KY
38. Chris Skipworth
39. Eric Smith
40. Glen Stewart
41. Ben Stratton
42. Bill Sumners
43. Robert Tarrence
Bowling Green, KY
44. Chuck Terry
Swartz Creek, MI
45. Steve Thompson
46. Jerry Tooley
47. Shane Tucker
48. R.L. Vaughn
Mt. Enterprise, TX
49. Versailles Baptist Church
50. Walton, First Baptist Church
51. Neal Weaver
52. Steve Weaver
53. Jerrell G. White
54. Bill Whittaker
55. Bob Winstead
56. Charles W. Winstead
Lake Charles, LA
57. Stan Williams
58. Stephen Wilson
59. Mickey Winter
Mt. Vernon, KY
60. Danny Zickefoose
The 4th Annual Meeting of the J. H. Spencer Historical Society
Meeting at Florence Baptist Church,
642 Mount Zion Road
Florence, Kentucky 41042
on November 14, 2011
Order and Agenda
Welcome ..... R. Charles Blair
Pastor, Poplar Grove Baptist Church,
Invocation ..... Stan Williams
Pastor, First Baptist Church,
Congregational Hymn ..... "He Leadeth Me! O Blessed Thought"
Secretary / Treasurer Report ..... Ben Stratton
Pastor, Farmington Baptist Church,
Report on 20th Century KY Baptist Biographies Book ..... Bill Whittaker
Clear Creek Baptist Bible College
"The Early Baptists of Northern Kentucky" ..... Jim Duvall
Editor, Baptist History Homepage
"Ambrose Dudley: A Forgotten Founder of Kentucky Baptists" ..... Steve Weaver
Pastor, Farmdale Baptist Church,
Closing Words ..... R. Charles Blair
Benediction ..... Bobby Sellers
Pastor, Pembroke Baptist Church,
Minutes of the 4th Annual Meeting of the J.H. Spencer Historical Society
Monday, November 14, 2011, Florence Baptist Church, Florence, KY
1. The JHSHS annual meeting was called to order by President Charles Blair. There were 21 people in attendance.
2. Vice President Stan William gave the invocation.
3. Secretary / Treasurer Ben Stratton led those present in singing the hymn "He Leadeth Me! O Blessed Thought."
4. Secretary / Treasurer Ben Stratton gave his report. As of November 1, 2011 the J.H. Spencer Historical Society had 63 members and $620.28 in the bank.
5. Secretary / Treasurer Ben Stratton drew names for the book giveaways.
a. Stephen Wilson won the book The Face of God by Stephen Charnock.
b. Charles Blair won the book he History of Southern Baptists in Ohio by L.H. Moore.
c. Hannah Weaver won the book A Messenger's Memoirs by Robert E. Naylor.
d. Bobby Sellers won the book Did Man Just Happen by W.A. Criswell.
6. Bill Whittaker shared about the 20th Century Kentucky Baptist Biographies project. He currently has 250 of the 400 entrees assigned to about 40 different writers. He asked for more individuals who are willing to write a 700 word biography. He also asked for churches and individuals to help sponsor the book for $100. Their names will be printed in the back of the book and they will receive a copy when it is published.
7. In the business session there was the election of officers.
a. Stan Williams nominated that Charles Blair be reelected as President. Adam Greenway gave the second. There were no other nominations. Motion passed.
b. Adam Greenway nominated that Stan Williams be reelected as Vice-President. Jim Duvall gave the second. There were no other nominations. Motion passed.
c. Stan William nominated that Ben Stratton be reelected as Secretary / Treasurer. Adam Greenway gave the second. There were no other nominations. Motion passed.
8. Jim Duvall spoke on "The Early Baptists of Northern Kentucky."
9. There was a short break.
10. Adam Greenway prayed after the break.
11. Steve Weaver spoke on "Ambrose Dudley (1750-1825): A Forgotten Founder of Kentucky Baptists."
12. President Charles Blair thanked everyone for attending the meeting.
13. Bobby Sellers gave the benediction.
History of the J.H. Spencer Historical Society
By Ben Stratton
The J.H. Spencer Historical Society was formed in 2008 to promote and preserve our Kentucky Baptist heritage. It is the latest in a noble line of organizations with a similar purpose. Its roots go back to May 28, 1866 when the General Association of Kentucky Baptists voted to establish a Committee on Kentucky Baptist History with five elected members. On May 3, 1870 this committee recommended the organization of a Historical Society with an open membership. The Kentucky Baptist Historical Society was chartered on March 21, 1871. Unfortunately there is little record of any activity of this original Historical Society. The Committee on Kentucky Baptist History continued to give an annual report to the General Association. This committee was a driving force behind the securing of John Henderson Spencer's services to write a history of Baptists in the Bluegrass state. In 1885 Spencer published his monumental work A History of Kentucky Baptists in two volumes. Besides promoting Spencer's history, this committee collected historical materials which were stored in a fireproof room at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
Apparently, by the late nineteenth century the original Historical Society had ceased to function. Consequently, on June 18, 1903 the Committee on Kentucky Baptist History again recommended the formation of a Kentucky Baptist Historical Society. At this time a constitution was adopted which detailed membership guidelines, officers, and meeting times. The new society immediately became active publishing biographies of W.C. Buck and Lewis Craig as well as a yearly journal. While this society was dormant during the Great Depression years, it revived after World War II and once again began publishing materials. The most important of these was Frank M. Master's A History of Baptists in Kentucky, published in 1953.
Due to a desire for a stronger relationship with the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society, in 1959 the Kentucky Baptist Convention formed the Committee to Report on the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society. Formed of members from the Executive Board, this committee began giving annual reports to the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 1961. In 1966 the Kentucky Baptist Historical Commission was created to take the place of this committee. Composed of eleven elected members, the Historical Commission handled any funds given by the Kentucky Baptist Convention for history projects. The Kentucky Baptist Historical Commission worked together with the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society in a number of ventures such as the publication of the Kentucky Baptist Heritage Journal and the promotion of a bicentennial history entitled Baptists in Kentucky, 1776-1976, edited by Leo Taylor Crismon. While each organization had its own officers, its meetings were often held in the same location so the members could attend both sessions.
With such similar goals between the two groups, some thought a merger of the two organizations would be more efficient. As a result, on December 7, 1993 the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society voted to unite with the Kentucky Baptist Historical Commission. The Historical Society members would become "Friends" of the Historical Commission and the Commission would seek to appropriate the activities of the Society into its program. The elected membership of the Historical Commission was also enlarged from eleven to fifteen members. The Commission and its "Friends" soon began seeking the publication of an updated history of Kentucky Baptists. This led to the publication of Kentucky Baptists, 1925-2000, A Story of Cooperation by James Duane Bolin in 2000.
While the Kentucky Baptist Historical Commission was made up of elected members from all across the state, the Kentucky Baptist Convention constitution prohibited any of these members from being faculty or staff of KBC institutions. Because this excluded some professional Kentucky Baptist historians, it was felt that reorganization was needed. Therefore, on September 13, 1999 the Historical Commission voted to become Archives Advisory Board. With up to fifteen elected Kentucky Baptist members, this board would work with the Kentucky Baptist Convention Archives to preserve and record Kentucky Baptist history.
During its short history, the Archives Advisory Board assisted in collecting new historical materials. The members worked closely with Archivist Cheryl Doty to update and organize the Kentucky Baptist Convention Archives Room. Local church history was promoted and historical materials continued to be collected.
However, by 2008, many felt there was the need to return to the open membership of the old Kentucky Baptist Historical Society. This plan would allow anyone interested in Kentucky Baptist History to become a member, regardless if he lived in Kentucky or was a Southern Baptist. On February 7, 2008 the Archives Advisory Board voted to disband and establish a new Kentucky Baptist historical society in its place. To show a new beginning, the group choose to call themselves the J.H. Spencer Historical Society, after the first writing Baptist Historian in Kentucky. With an initial membership of only six, the J.H. Spencer Historical Society has now grown to sixty members. The Society publishes an annual journal as well as booklets and tracts relating to Kentucky Baptist History. In 2010 the society voted to begin working on a book of 20th Century Kentucky Baptist Biographies. This volume is currently at the publisher and will be available for sale at the 2012 annual meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. The future of the J.H. Spencer Historical Society looks bright as we continue to remind Kentucky Baptists of the "great things God had done" in our midst.
Ambrose Dudley (c. 1752-1825)
by Steve Weaver
Ambrose Dudley was born in about 1752 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He served as a Captain in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War. He moved to Kentucky in 1786 and served as the pastor of the Bryan's Station Baptist Church from October 22, 1786 until his death over thirty-nine years later on January 27, 1825. He was recognized as a leader by the other pastors of the associations to which he belonged by being elected moderator twenty-five times. Dudley preached all across the countryside and was instrumental in the organization of several churches in Kentucky during his lifetime. One early Kentucky historian wrote of the indomitable spirit of the first generation of pioneer preachers. After listing a number of names, including Ambrose Dudley, he wrote that they were all "men of ardent piety, untiring zeal, indomitable energy of character, of vigorous and well-balanced intellects, and in every way adapted to the then state of society." He continued to extol these men as:
Pioneers to a wilderness beset with every danger and every privation, they were the first ministers of the brave, the daring, and noble spirits who first subdued this country - such men as the Boones, the Clarkes, the Harrods, the Bullitts, the Logans, the Floyds, and the Hardins would respect and venerate, and listen to with delight and profit.
Truly, this must have been a remarkable generation of preachers who could command the attention of their rugged pioneer contemporaries. Their story deserves to be told once again. In what follows an attempt is made to relate the story of one of the more prominent of these pioneer preachers.
The parents of Ambrose Dudley were Robert (1726-1766) and Joyce nee Gayle Dudley of Fredericksburg, VA. Ambrose was only fourteen years old when in 1766 his father died. Robert left behind a widow and five minor sons. Ambrose was the second born of these five sons. His elder brother Robert, who was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, died in September of 1777 from wounds received in the Battle of Brandywine. His brother Peter was a Major in the Revolutionary War, but died of natural causes on the family estate in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Another brother, James, moved to Bourbon County, Kentucky and died there in 1808.
Ambrose's youngest brother, William, deserves a little more attention since by 1778 he was under the guardianship of Ambrose after having been orphaned when he may have been as young as twelve. When Ambrose moved to Kentucky in 1786, William was apparently still a member of his household. In the first tax records for which the Dudleys were present in Fayette County, William was listed as a male above 21 in the household of Ambrose Dudley. By 1792, William had his own 150 acres. William would become a respected resident and a leading magistrate in Fayette County. He was received as a candidate for baptism at the Bryan Station Baptist Church in November of 1801. During the War of 1812, William served as a Colonel and courageously led a group of 800 men to silence a British battery of cannons at Fort Meigs on May 5, 1813. This effort was successful, but in a subsequent engagement with British troops in the area he and his company were lured into the woods, surrounded by Indians and defeated. Early Kentucky historian Lewis Collins provides the gruesome details of the death of the Colonel. "Colonel Dudley was shot in the body and thigh, and thus disabled. When last seen, he was sitting in the swamp, defending himself against the Indians, who swarmed around him in great numbers. He was finally killed, and his corpse mutilated in a most shocking manner." These events caused William Dudley to achieve infamy as this episode became known nationally as "Dudley's Defeat." Undoubtedly, given the closeness between these two brothers, William's tragic demise would have pained his brother deeply when the news reached Fayette County, Kentucky.
Marriage and Children
On February 2, 1773 Ambrose would marry Ann Parker (1753-1824) of Caroline County, Virginia. They would remain together for fifty-one years until Ann's death at the age of 72 on November 7, 1824. Their union was blessed with eleven sons and three daughters. James Welch, one who was personally acquainted with the Dudley family and would have observed Dudley's interaction with his children, wrote that Dudley was a loving father who did not like to be apart from his family and home. Nevertheless, he was also a strict disciplinarian: "He never spoke but once. This combination of loving discipline undoubtedly had a positive impact on the lives of his children. Of the male descendants of this couple, J. H. Spencer could write in 1885 that:
The Dudleys have been men of strongly marked characteristics, bearing strong impressions of those of their reverend ancestor. They have been men of strong symmetrical intellects, of unflinching integrity and firmness, and of dauntless courage. They have possessed practical intelligence rather than genius, frankness and candor rather than suavity and blandishments, and have been strong props rather than brilliant ornaments to society. There have been among them preachers, lawyers, doctors, bankers, soldiers and farmers, all prominent in their callings. But there have been among them no poets, no painters, no orators and no rhetoricians, on the one hand, and on the other hand no dandies, no loafers and no mendicants, at least till the blood of their noble ancestors has become much diluted in the remoter generations. How hath God blessed, and made a blessing, the numerous seed of his faithful servant and hand maiden. Surely the promises of God are all yea and amen.
God truly multiplied Dudley's progeny as at the time of his death on January 27, 1825 he left behind nearly 100 grandchildren.
Before the Revolutionary War began, Ambrose Dudley provided for his young family as a master joiner and house carpenter. On September 14th of 1774, John Darnaby apprenticed himself to Dudley in his occupation as a joiner and house carpenter. Interestingly, Darnaby would follow Dudley into military service, as well as to Kentucky where he would be ordained as a deacon in the Bryan's Station church in November 1786, the month after Dudley accepted the call as pastor of the church.
In the Spring of 1776, when the War for Independence was just beginning, Dudley was moved by his "ardent love of freedom" to enlist in the Virginia Militia in order that he might fight "for the emancipation of his down-trodden country." Dudley was evidently a natural born leader, because at the age of twenty four he was immediately commissioned as a Captain in the 2nd Regiment of the State of Virginia Line of the Continental Army upon enlistment. Although she provides no documentation for this claim, in her genealogical study of the Dudley and Pratt families Mary B. Pratt asserts that Dudley was commissioned by his fellow Virginian patriot Patrick Henry. James E. Welch, whose parents were baptized by Dudley, wrote that his "manners and general habits seemed to indicate that he was born to exercise authority." Welch attributes Dudley's rapid commissioning as Captain to the fact that he was "a man full six feet high; of fine personal appearance; unusually active, intelligent and decided." Whatever the reason, Dudley seemed to rise to a position of leadership wherever he went. This was borne out in later years as he became the pastor of the Bryan Station church within months of having arrived in the community and afterward as he was regularly elected by his fellow pastors as moderator of both the Elkhorn and Licking associations. The same natural gifts of leadership which would eventually be recognized during his Kentucky ministry were already evident at this early date.
Before Dudley and his men marched into service in the Spring of 1776, his company was stationed in his own barn in Fredericksburg for two weeks. They then marched through the counties of Caroline, Hanover, King William and King and Queen Counties, Virginia to Williamsburg. They apparently remained stationed there for the remainder of Dudley's service. Dudley only remained in the Continental Army for approximately a year before he resigned his post for what he clearly considered a higher calling - the call to preach the gospel of Christ.
Although both Gwathmey's Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution and Heitman's Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution list Dudley's years of service as 1780-1781, it is clear from other sources that he actually served 1776-1777. Three soldiers who served under him bear separate, but corroborating testimony to the fact that Dudley served in the years 1776-1777. John Darnaby, Benjamin Wilkerson and Miller Bledsoe each state in their individual applications for pension that they enlisted under Captain Dudley in either 1776 or 1777. Dudley himself confirms that he was in the army in 1777 in his letter of April 17, 1818 which is attached to Wilkerson's application:
Fayette County April 17 1818Sir in answer to yours of the 3rd of this inst. relative to an old soldier who says he was in my Company of Regular troops in the Army of the United States in the Revolutionary war and want some Certificate or assistance from me to establish the facts - the length of time that has rolled around since being forty-one years and having nothing but my recollection to help me in this case I cannot say much but Sir what I can say I will say with pleasure and from the best recollection I have I am strongly pressed with the opinion that there was a man in my Company by the name of Benjamin Wilkerson and that he must have been enlisted sometime in the spring of the year 77 that being the year that I was in the Army - and after my resignation a Captain H. Dudley a distant relation of mine had the command of the company and they were marched to the North to join the main Army these troops were enlisted for 3 years and did belong to the 2nd Virginia Regiment of Continental troops.Three pieces of evidence in this letter assist in proving the case that Dudley's time of service was in 1776 and 1777. The first two are rather obvious and sufficiently prove the point, but the third piece of evidence adds some additional information which helps to fill the gaps nicely. First, Dudley refers to the events in question as having occurred forty-one years before his letter of 1818, or in other words, in 1777. Second, Dudley specifically states that 1777 was "the year that I was in the Army." Third, Dudley mentions that a distant relative of his had taken over for him after his resignation, a Captain H. Dudley. Heitman lists a Henry Dudley who served as Captain in the Virginia State Regiment from October 15, 1777 to January 1, 1780.
S/ Ambrose Dudley
John Darnaby's application for pension also provides helpful information toward ascertaining more precisely when Captain Dudley's service began and ended. Darnaby states that he enlisted in the Spring of 1776 "with Captain Ambrose Dudley, and served in the 2nd Regiment of the State of Virginia Line, under Captain Ambrose Dudley." Darnaby, who was previously shown to be a carpenter apprentice of Dudley beginning on September 14, 1774, seems to distinguish between enlisting "with Captain Dudley" and serving "under Captain Ambrose Dudley." This most likely indicates that the master and the apprentice joined the army together in the Spring of 1776. We also know the approximate time of Dudley's resignation from the army due to information provided by Darnaby. After a total of approximately twelve months of service, ten of which were served while stationed in Williamsburg, Darnaby was forced to leave his company when he took a fever and was placed in the hospital. When he had recovered enough to return to service in the Fall of 1777, Dudley had already resigned. It would therefore seem conclusive that Ambrose Dudley served as Captain of a company in the 2nd Virginia line of the Continental Army from the Spring of 1776 through, no later than, the Fall of 1777. There is not any evidence that Dudley's company experienced combat during his time in command.
Conversion and Call to Ministry
At some point in 1776 or 1777 while stationed in Williamsburg, Ambrose Dudley became "deeply impressed with his ruined condition as a sinner, being brought to feel that he had been all his life in an attitude of rebellion against an infinitely higher power than the King of England, - even the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords." James B. Taylor records the incident in the following terms:
During the early part of the revolution, he was commissioned to some office in the army, and while absent from home, his heart was pierced by the arrows of truth. He saw that he had all his days been waging war against his almighty sovereign, and in deep humiliation he cast himself before the throne, pleading for mercy. He was heard; his iniquities were forgiven; he became a loyal subject, and avowed his subjection by being baptized, according to the direction of his king.
Each of these early accounts makes a not so subtle play on words regarding Dudley's involvement in the war against the King of England and his realization that in his sinful state he was also at war against the King of all creation. His conversion brought him into subjection to a higher power than King George III. Dudley's conversion experience would have brought a remarkable change in his life, since before he left on the march to Williamsburg "he was not only openly immoral, but it was understood that he was inclined to infidel opinions." This would have meant that Dudley was known, not only for his wicked lifestyle, but that he also held to agnostic, and perhaps even atheistic views.
What or who were the instruments of Dudley's conversion to Christianity? William Pratt, who had personal communication with Dudley's son Thomas, indicates that Dudley heard Lewis Craig and John Shackleford preach through the prison bars in Williamsburg at which hearing he "was convicted of sin and led to the foot of the cross, where he found peace in believing in the ability and willingness of Christ to save." These men, along with other Baptists, were often imprisoned for their preaching as "disturbers of the peace." By labeling Baptist preachers as "disturbers of the peace," they were able to be persecuted even though their preaching was not technically illegal. Semple provides one example of how these preachers might be accused. The lawyer would say to the court: "May it please your worships, these men are great disturbers of the peace; they cannot meet a man upon the road, but they must ram a text of Scripture down his throat." While there is no record of a Craig or Shackleford imprisonment in Williamsburg in 1776 or 1777, it is not impossible. One account does survive of an imprisonment with Lewis Craig and four others (John Waller, James Reed, James Chiles and William Mash) in Fredericksburg a decade earlier in June of 1768. Not only does this account illustrate the manner in which Dudley may have heard the gospel ten years later in Williamsburg, but since it occurred in Dudley's hometown it may also be an early instance of his exposure to the preaching of the Baptists.
After Craig and his four companions were sentenced, they were marched from the court to the Spotslyvania County gaol. As they walked through the streets of Fredericksburg they sang the Isaac Watts (1674-1748) hymn, "Broad is the Road":
Broad is the road that leads to death,
And thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrower path,
With here and there a traveler.
"Deny thyself, and take thy cross,"
Is the Redeemer's great command;
Nature must count her gold but dross,
If she would gain this heav'nly land.
The fearful soul that tires and faints,
And walks the ways of God no more,
Is but esteemed almost a saint,
And makes his own destruction sure.
Lord, let not all my hopes be vain
Create my heart entirely new;
Which hypocrites could ne'er attain,
Which false apostates never knew.
Could Dudley have heard these convicting lyrics as a sixteen-year-old boy? If so, it seems certain that he could never have forgotten the haunting words sang by these joyful "disturbers of the peace." The prison bars did not stop these preachers from their preaching. Little cites Morgan Edwards record of their deportment while in the Fredericksburg jail:
During their stay they preached thro' the bars & were means of making very serious impressions on the minds of 11 heads of families and some of their domesticks with many others. The populace did everything they could invent to keep the people off and to plague the prisoners, till at last they let the prisoners out in order to get rid of them.
In a similar manner, Dudley must have heard the preaching of Lewis Craig and John Shackleford through the prison bars in Williamsburg in mid-1777. The words coming out of the jail window were, what James B. Taylor called, "the arrows of truth" which pierced the heart of this military man in his mid-twenties. Dudley was not ashamed to be identified with the persecuted minority of Baptists as he subsequently submitted to the public demonstration of his new faith in Christ by being immersed. James Welch records the bold response of Ambrose Dudley to the preaching of these prisoners.
This conviction of his sinfulness was succeeded by a truly penitent and contrite spirit, associated with joy and peace in believing. He was, at this time, in command of his company, and stationed at Williamsburg; and, notwithstanding his circumstances seemed most adverse both to the culture of religion, and to a public profession of it, he had too much firmness of purpose to yield to the influence of circumstances in so momentous a concern. He therefore publicly declared himself on the Lord's side, by being baptized at Williamsburg; and, if I mistake not, it was done in the presence of the company he commanded, and of some of his fellow officers of the army.
This remarkable expression of humility and boldness undoubtedly made an impression upon his company, as also would his subsequent resignation of his position of Captain in the Continental Army. Evidently Dudley wanted to make a complete break with his life prior to his conversion. It was also around this time (September 1777) that Ambrose's older brother, Robert, was killed in the Battle of Brandywine. Though this fact is not mentioned in any of the nineteenth-century biographical sketches, it may have been another factor in his decision to resign from the military and even his sudden soberness regarding his spiritual state. There may also have been a responsibility to return home and take care of family affairs as he assumed the role of the eldest surviving brother.
After Dudley's conversion to Christianity and resignation from his station in the army, he returned home to Spotsylvania County. He seemed to immediately sense that he was called to preach the gospel of Christ. Thomas P. Dudley (1792-1880), who would succeed his father as the pastor of Bryan's Station in 1825, related to William M. Pratt that before his father's return home one of the churches near his home had been praying for God to supply them with a preacher.
It is an interesting fact, communicated to me by his son, Elder Thomas P. Dudley, that the church in Spottsylvania, where he lived, had a special meeting for prayer that God would send them a preacher. This prayer was answered. He returned to them as a candidate for baptism and membership and with the impression of duty to preach the gospel. He resigned as officer of the army, entered the Christian ministry and was faithful to this high and holy calling until removed from earth. John Shackleford and Lewis Craig ordained him in Virginia.
There is a slight contradiction in this account from Pratt and Welch's description of the circumstances of Dudley's baptism. Pratt has Dudley being baptized upon his return to Spotsylvania, while Welch is very specific in describing Dudley as being baptized in Williamsburg in the presence of his company. Pratt's account, while later, relies upon the testimony of Dudley's son. Welch's account has the kind of specificity that sounds like something he might have heard Dudley himself refer to in his preaching as he recalled his conversion experience and the details seem unlikely to be made up. Could this be an evidence of some redaction history by Pratt in order to safeguard the validity of Ambrose Dudley's baptism in the Landmark climate of the day? Or, perhaps James Welch, like some preachers today, was simply creative in his telling of Dudley's story. Regardless, Dudley was baptized as a believer and subsequently ordained to gospel ministry. The ordination would have occurred by 1778 since the Bryan's Station church book records that when Dudley died he was in "about the 47th year of his ministerial labour." For the next several years, Dudley served as pastor of a Baptist church in Spotsylvania County. Robert M. Semple indicates that Dudley preached in the neighborhood of Massaponax in Fredericksburg prior to 1785.
Move to Kentucke
On a Sunday morning in September of 1781, Ambrose Dudley was present to say his farewell to his friends Lewis Craig and William Ellis, who along with virtually the entire Upper Spotsylvania Baptist Church were to set out for Kentucky on the next day. The pilgrimage of this "travelling church" has been well documented by the historian George W. Ranck. Most of this church planned to settle "in the neighborhood of Logan's Fort in the Dick's River region of Kentucky." A smaller number located "a few miles east of Lexington." Although Dudley would remain in Virginia on this autumn day, he would eventually follow the minority to the Lexington area. As early as 1780, Dudley already owned property on the Elkhorn Creek in the vicinity. A deed for 250 acres neighboring a piece of property in the name of Lewis Craig was entered in Dudley's name on May 22, 1780. It is unclear whether Dudley had already made a scouting trip himself at this early date or if someone had claimed the land for him. Lewis Craig filed for 1,000 acres in the same area on the same day, along with dozens of other properties around the same date. Perhaps Craig filed Dudley's initial claim for land in Kentucky on behalf of his friend.
The first record showing that Ambrose Dudley was settled in Kentucky occurs on the third Saturday of May 1786 when he was received into union of the Particular Baptist Church at Bryan's Station. Ambrose and his wife Ann had sold 375 1/2 acres in Spotsylvania County to a William McWilliams on March 1, 1786. Therefore, the Dudleys' journey to Kentucky must have occurred between March 1, 1786 and May 20, 1786 (the third Saturday). Ambrose s younger brother William would have traveled with him, his wife Ann, and their seven children aged twelve and under. He would also have brought with him approximately ten slaves. In 1783, an Ambrose Dudley of Spotsylvania County was listed with 10 slaves. Then again in the 1787 Fayette County Tax List, Dudley listed 10 slaves. If there were ten, that would bring the total number in the Dudley party to twenty individuals, plus livestock and personal possessions.
Arriving in Kentucky, Dudley and his family settled about two miles above Bryan Station on a plantation of 1,010 acres. James Welch, who knew Dudley personally, writes that once Dudley settled "near Bryan's Station, in the vicinity of Lexington," that he did not change his place of residence until he moved to the "house appointed for all living." Dudley apparently raised tobacco on his plantation for he was one of a number of signers of a petition in 1787 asking the General Assembly of Virginia for a tobacco inspection site to be located on the north side of the Kentucky River at the mouth of Hickman Creek. The Baptists who settled from Virginia "were fairly well-to-do, many arriving with slaves to help till the land." Dudley, as was shown above, brought ten slaves with him from Virginia. That number, however, steadily increased over the next couple of decades. By 1803, 18 were listed as his property on the tax form and by the 1810 census there were 24 slaves were listed. Paradoxically, like many others of the period, Dudley seems to have been opposed to slavery in principle. He was part of the committee that drafted the memorial on slavery and religious liberty for the Elkhorn Association in 1791. Nevertheless, economics must have driven Dudley, like many of his fellow Baptists in the South, to forsake principle for the sake of prosperity.
Bryan's Station Baptist Church
After joining the church at Bryan's Station in the May 1786 church meeting, Dudley was chosen as moderator for the church meeting in July. Once again Dudley's leadership qualities caused him to rise to the top. In August, he was nominated to become the first pastor and on the 22nd of October, Dudley was unanimously voted in as pastor. He would stay in this charge until his earthly labors ended on January 27, 1825. "Few men have ever laboured in the West with greater success than he," wrote James Welch of Dudley's ministry in Kentucky.
Bryan's Station was one of the first permanent English settlements in Fayette County. It was founded by four Bryant (or Bryan) brothers from North Carolina in 1779. Fayette County was still wilderness at the time, being first explored by English speakers in 1774 and 1775. Conflict with the Indians was common. In fact, one of the key founders, William Bryan, was killed when his hunting party was ambushed by Indians around May 20, 1780. Virginia Webb Howard notes the danger that the early settlers faced from the threat of Indians.
The men could not safely plant the crops, nor could the women milk the cows, except under the protection of armed guards who stood ready to ward off surprise attacks of the Indians who were always alert for an opportunity to kill and scalp the white settlers and burn their homes. Women and children were often captured and carried away by wandering bands of Indians who seemed to be always roaming the forests.
After a year marked by intense fighting with the Indians in 1782, the threat had largely dissipated by the Spring of 1783 and the settlers were able to leave the fort and go to live on their own lands. Nevertheless, "for years after that, the torch and the tomahawk of the predatory savage brought ruin to many an isolated cabin." During these early years religious services had been held in the station, but a church was not organized until April 15, 1786 when the "Particular Baptist Church, Bryan's" was established at the fort. The church was organized by Lewis and Benjamin Craig from the South Elkhorn Baptist Church, along with William Cave and Bartlette Collins from the Big Crossing Baptist Church. As already noted above, Dudley had arrived by the next month.
During Dudley's nearly thirty-nine years at Bryan's Station his ministry experienced great success. Spencer summarizes something of the scope of his ministry at Bryan's Station in the following words:He was always prominent among the pioneer preachers of Kentucky. His fine natural gifts, his superior education, and his clear, practical judgment made him a leader in the business affairs of the churches and associations. He was a preacher of much zeal, but his zeal was tempered by wisdom. He was often moderator of the two associations of which his church was a member at different periods, and was one of the committee that arranged the terms of general union between the Regular and Separate Baptists of Kentucky, in 1801. From the time he came to Kentucky, in 1786, till 1808, few preachers in the State baptized more people than he.Throughout the 1790s, Bryans Station was either the second or third largest church in the Elkhorn Association in their total membership. However, during the "Great Revival" in 1800-1801 the already sizeable congregation which numbered 170 in August of 1800, more than tripled by the addition of 406 members. 367 converts were baptized at Bryan's Station during this one year. As a point of contrast, the church had baptized only one during the previous year. Welch provides his own eyewitness testimony of seeing two of Dudley's extraordinary baptismal services that year: "I saw him baptize, on one occasion, fifty-eight persons at David's Fork; and the following Sabbath he baptized sixty-eight at Bryan's Station, only six miles distant." Another eyewitness, Robert B. McAfee, wrote in his autobiographical account that "i was at Bryants station when the Revd. Ambrose Dudley Senr Baptized fifty three persons in one day." As a result of this explosion in numerical growth, the church released 294 of its membership to constitute the David's Fork on August 26, 1801. The Bryan's Station church had held meetings on a rotating basis at a meeting house at David's Fork for the previous fifteen years with Dudley preaching there and at Bryan's Station on an alternating schedule. But now these became two separate congregations. Dudley served both churches as pastor until 1806 when he resigned from the David's Fork congregation to provide pastoral care exclusively for the mother church. One evidence of his busy schedule is that in the thirteen years between 1802 and 1814, Dudley performed 135 marriages, an average of just over 10 a year. This was but one small facet of his ministry, but represents the kind of time commitment that shepherding a congregation of over two hundred requires. In 1809, due to a dispute within the Elkhorn Association, the Bryan's Station Church split with a minority remaining within the Elkhorn and the majority following Dudley into the Licking Association where he would serve as the moderator for the remainder of his life.
Ambrose Dudley was evidently a powerful preacher of the gospel. He was described by a contemporary as "a good natural orator, warm and affectionate in preaching." Spencer called him "a preacher of much zeal, but ... tempered by wisdom." A remarkable description of the impact of his preaching survives in the diary of Mary Beckley Bristow. Her detailed account as a forty-nine year old of her memory of a sermon which she heard when she was a girl of only eight provides a glimpse into what it must have been like to hear Dudley preach.The first serious impressions made on my mind that I have any recollections of were produced by hearing old Father Ambrose Dudley preach the funeral sermon of Aunt Sally, Uncle James Clarkson's first wife, and upon examining the date of her death, I find that I was then in my eighth year. This sermon must have made a deep impression on my young mind, for though so many years have elapsed, I have a perfect recollection of his appearance, the solemnity of his manner, the place where he stood in my Grandfather's house. It seems I can almost hear the sound of his pleasant voice this quiet morning, as he repeated his text, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." I remember he exalted the character of God, and one expression of his I shall not forget until memory becomes extinct. It was this, "Oh, Eternity, Eternity, awful, solemn thought! If a little bird was to come once a year and take one grain of sand away until every grain on earth was gone, eternity would be just begun." So great was the awe inspired in my mind by those solemn words that I trembled from head to foot. Nor was the impression lost for years, but often when I would find myself alone, if that solemn word, eternity, came into my mind, I would immediately run to find company. From that time I was subject to deeply serious impressions, particularly if I heard of the death of anyone near my own age. As I had been sickly from my birth, I greatly feared death and the lonely grave, and worse than either that dread eternity beyond. As I grew up my health improved a little, and I was beginning to enjoy the world, forgetful of eternity.This striking testimony highlights the fervent method of Dudley as a preacher of the gospel. It bears out what the frontier missionary James Welch said of his preaching: "No one who heard him could doubt that he was deeply impressed with the truths which he delivered, and that the grand object at which he constantly aimed, was not to gain the applause of his hearers, but to save their souls."
As for the content of Dudley's preaching, he was known for his proclamation of the doctrines of God's sovereign grace, or Calvinism. In the minutes for the February 1825 church meeting, the first since Dudley's passing on January 27th, Dudley is described as having "served this church for near thirty-nine years, during which time he zealously and undeviatingly maintained the Doctrine of Special Grace as held forth in her Church Covenant." This is undoubtedly a reference to Article 5 in the doctrinal statement from the Church Covenant which states:We fully believe the great doctrine of particular redemption, personal election, effectual calling, justification by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, pardon of sin by his atoneing blood, believers baptized by immersion, the final perseverance of the saints, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.Dudley himself was involved in the writing of this statement. When the church was constituted in March of 1786 they had simply adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith "as the best human Composition of the Kind and Contains a summary of the articles of our Faith, particulary [sic.] we Receive what is generally termed the Doctrine of Grace as they are therein contained." Twelve and a half years later the congregation apparently felt the need for a more concise statement of faith and practice. Accordingly, in the church meeting held in October of 1798 a committee of five men was appointed to revise their Church Covenant. The Committee was made up of Ambrose Dudley, Leonard Young, Bartlett Collins, Henry Roach, and John Mason. The revised Church Covenant was summarily adopted by the church in December of 1798. This document included six expansive points of doctrine which were seen as summaries of the doctrine "contained at large in the Philadelphia Confession of faith," along with the rules for church government normally contained in a church covenant. Thus, Dudley clearly identified himself with the theologically robust Calvinism found in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith of 1742. Given Dudley's role in the composition of his church's summary of their confessional statement, that document can be examined for a fuller understanding of his beliefs. Dudley also assisted in crafting another confessional statement which can likewise be seen as indicative of his doctrinal commitments. This document consisting of twelve concise creedal statements was adopted in September 1812 by the fledgling Licking Association which Dudley was instrumental in starting in 1810. These statements were drawn up by Dudley along with the association's clerk, John Price.
The churches composing the Licking association are united as brethren upon the doctrines of grace contained in the Scriptures of the old and new testament, an abstract of which is as follows -
1st We believe in one true and living God, and that there are three persons in the Godhead - The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and that these three are one.
2. We believe that the Scriptures of the old & new testament are the word of God, and the rule of Faith & practice.
3. We believe in the doctrine of Eternal, particular, unconditional election.
4. We believe in particular redemption by Jesus Christ.
5. We believe in the doctrine of Original Sin.
6. We believe in the uter [sic] inability of man to save him self [sic], either in whole or in part.
7. We believe that sinners are Justified in the sight of God by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
8. We believe that God's elect shall be called with a holy calling, regenerated, converted & sanctified in time.
9. We believe that the saints shall persevere in grace and never fall finally away.
10. We believe that baptism and the Lord's supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ, and that true believers are the subjects of these ordinances & that the mode of baptism is by immersion.
11. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment, and that the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
12. We believe that no person has the right to administer the ordinances, only such as are regularly called and come under the imposition of the hands of the Presbytery.
In this confession of faith, Dudley affirms his commitment to the doctrines of the Trinity, the authority of Scriptures, the five points of Calvinism, the imputation of Christ's righteousness in justification, baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper, the final judgment, and the necessity of ordained persons administering the ordinances. Together these two confessional statements, to which Dudley not only assented but helped craft, serve as reliable evidence of where Dudley stood on the great doctrines of the faith.
Dudley not only proclaimed the doctrines of grace, he was also an ardent defender of these doctrines. One example of this is found in a biography of the pioneer Disciples of Christ preacher "Racoon" John Smith by John Augustus Williams. Williams describes the preaching of Dudley to "a large concourse of people" at Grassy Lick where a number were being led into embracing the Campbellite teaching through John Smith's preaching. Dudley made "a pleasing and powerful argument" to the effect that the crowd was "deeply impressed with the reasonableness of the Calvninian theory." The leaders among the Campbellites became worried at the success with which Dudley refuted their teaching. Williams described the substance of Dudley's discourse at some length:He argued that obedience to any physical law presupposes physical life. The plant, for instance, that unfolds its leaves in the light of spring, obeys a vegetable law by the power of a vegetable life, previously imparted. A dead tree puts forth no leaf, or blossom - it can obey no law. In the animal world, also, there are certain physiological laws which each living creature obeys - not by the energy of a vegetable, but of an animal life. Obedience, therefore, does not confer life: the animal must first be made alive, before it can begin to obey. It is so in the spiritual world; there must be spiritual life, before there can be obedience to spiritual law. For argument's sake, indeed, it might be admitted that life is afterward enjoyed only so long as the quickened man continues to obey; but the first act of obedience, whether it be to repent or to believe, is impossible until life is given by the Spirit of God.After summarizing a portion of Dudley's address, Williams then seems to quote him directly in the following:
"How absurd, then," he concluded, "is the doctrine of some, that the gift of life is conditioned on an act of obedience! Rather is obedience conditioned, in the very nature of things, on the previous gift of life. Without life imparted by the Holy Spirit, then, it would be impossible, not only to obey, but even to understand the law.
"Yea, though I were to read and ponder the Word for a hundred years," said he, "I would not, at the end of that time, unless quickened by the Holy Ghost, have any more knowledge of its meaning, or ability to obey it, than my horse hitched to yonder tree."
Even Williams' unsympathetic recounting of Dudley's teaching on man's total inability demonstrates how effective his impassioned rhetoric must have been. No wonder so many, as Williams regretfully acknowledged, were influenced by his discourse.
Clearly, Dudley was an ardent Calvinist who was passionate about defending the doctrines of grace against any who would seek to denigrate them. Nevertheless, despite his strong personal convictions on Calvinism, Dudley was one of those who served on a committee which drafted Terms of Union between Regular and Separate Kentucky Baptists in 1801. Amidst this list of doctrinal and practical agreements, one doctrinal disagreement was allowed. The ninth of the eleven "Terms of Union" stated "that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man, shall be no bar to communion." This meant that a particular church's position on the extent of the atonement would not be considered a cause for division among these two bodies of Baptists. Dudley's role in drafting such a statement demonstrates his willingness to cooperate with otherwise orthodox bodies of believers whenever possible.
Dudley and Missions
One final question to consider is Dudley's attitude toward the fledgling mission board movement in America during the early part of the nineteenth century. The Licking Association, as opposed to the Kehukee Association in North Carolina, is considered by some to be the founding association of the Primitive Baptist movement in America. This movement was known for its hyper-Calvinism and opposition to organized mission agencies. It is certainly true that by 1873 Thomas P. Dudley, Ambrose's son and successor as both pastor at Bryan Station and moderator of the Licking Association, had come to regard Luther Rice, representative of the Baptist Board for Foreign Missions, as having "drugged to intoxication" the Elkhorn Association through "the poison of missionism." Nevertheless, the relationship between the elder Dudley and Rice seems to have been one of mutual respect. In 1814 the Licking Association responded to materials containing information about the new missionary endeavors received from Rice. They agreed to repay Rice for the cost of the pamphlets, but to "not join the missionary business in its present form." Dudley was instructed to write "a friendly letter" on behalf of the association to Rice informing him of the decision. In the very next year, Rice was traveling in Kentucky and "spent a Sabbath" in Dudley's home and could refer to his host as "that venerable father in the ministry ... whose praise has long been in the churches in that quarter." It was perhaps at this same time that Luther Rice was present at the annual meeting of the Licking Association held on the second weekend of September. Rice preached one of the sermons during the meeting and although once again the association did not enter into support of the mission board, they did express "their thanks - to their respected brothers of the board of foreign missions, for their attention towards us, and that we will chearfully [sic.] send them A copy of our minutes annually." In fact, there were not any noteworthy theological differences between the Licking Association and the other Baptist associations in Kentucky during the earliest years of its existence. The twentieth century historian of Kentucky Baptists, Frank Masters, wrote quite confidently that: "The Licking Association - did not differ in doctrine nor polity from surrounding associations, during the first five years of its existence. There was no difference in doctrine from Elkhorn."
Though he might not have been fully on board with the establishment of missionary boards, Dudley's actions speak for themselves. Throughout his ministry, Dudley was instrumental in establishing a number of churches in Kentucky. In 1791, Dudley had hazarded the dangers of the wilderness to travel, along with John Taylor, nearly two hundred miles on horseback to establish the Red River Church, the first Baptist church in middle Tennessee. Clearly, one involved in such activity could not be opposed to the idea of missions, whatever he might have thought about the propriety of mission boards. Thus, it seems more likely to conclude that Dudley was undecided about the merits of the American Board for Foreign Missions, which was just beginning in the last decade of his life. While after his father's death Thomas would become a vocal opponent of the mission board movement, Ambrose remained charitable though unconvinced during his lifetime. The Licking Association's report to Luther Rice in 1815 no doubt accurately reflected Dudley's own "wait and see" approach to this question when it stated that they did "hope that God in his providence will open A door for the entrance of the Gospel among the heathen of our own country, when we trust we shall be willing to attend to this business as may then appear best to us."
Ambrose Dudley died rather suddenly on January 27, 1825 after a short 24 hour illness at the home of his son, the eminent physician Benjamin W. Dudley, in Lexington. He had presided over the monthly church meeting less than two weeks prior. The church which he had served so faithfully for almost forty years lamented the "melancholy event" of their pastor's death in the following words:
the Death of our much beloved and lamented Brother and Pastor Ambrose Dudley, who departed this life on the 27th day of January 1825 after about 24 hours illness, in the 73rd year of his age and about the 47th year of his ministerial labour; and who has served this Church for near thirty nine years, during which time he zealously and undeviatingly maintained the Doctrines of Special Grace as held forth in her Church Covenant.
J. H. Spencer well summarized the end of this faithful man of God: "He continued to labor faithfully - till the Lord called him to the better country." Having responded to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ while serving as a Captain in the Continental Army so many years before, Dudley never resigned from that calling to gospel ministry until the heavenly commanding officer at last called His faithful servant home.
The Early Baptists of Northern Kentucky
By James R. Duvall
John Tanner was the first known Baptist minister to come to Northern Kentucky. He and his family, originally from Virginia, first came to Central Kentucky; then they settled near what is now Petersburg in Boone County during the 1780s (it was at first called Tanner's Station); he built a cabin, and began raising crops. American Indians kidnapped Tanner's nine-year-old son, also named John, in 1789. The Tanner family is reported to have lost a second son to the Indians also, and they soon moved back to Central Kentucky. John Tanner held some religious services locally but never established a church in Northern Kentucky.
In August 1791 a Baptist congregation was established, known as the Old Baptist Church on the Dry Ridge, in what later became Grant County. Elders John Conner and Lewis Corban assisted in the constitution of this nine-member frontier church. John Campbell, after whom Campbell County was named, lived at the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville) and periodically came to the region to trade for furs with the Indians. He built a block house that was believed to be used by the church once a month in their early days of worship.
In June 1794 a small group of Baptists moved to what is now Boone County from Central Kentucky and organized a Baptist church of seven members in the North Bend area of the Ohio River. That church, called the Bullittsburg Baptist Church, retains its original records from early 1795 to the present. Soon other Baptist churches were established in Northern Kentucky: Mouth of the Licking (now First Baptist Church, Cold Spring) in 1794, Forks of the Licking Baptist Church (now Falmouth Baptist Church) in 1795, Dry Creek Baptist Church in 1800, Bank Lick Baptist Church in 1801, and Middle Creek Baptist Church (now Belleview Baptist Church) in 1803. The Ten Mile Baptist Church, in what is today Gallatin County was established in 1804. David Lillard became pastor there in 1817 and served for 42 years. When Lillard began his ministry, the church had about 50 members; when he retired, it had nearly 400.
In the early 19th century, Baptist churches met only one Sunday of the month; usually they accepted members and conducted any other business that was necessary on the Saturday just before their Sunday worship service. Churchgoers would travel by horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage or wagon, and most of the early church meetinghouses were located near a water source, so that peoples' animals could be watered properly. Often a preacher would pastor as many as three or four churches at the same time. Ministers received very little financial compensation throughout the 19th century and generally were bi-vocational. Not until near the end of the century did many of the churches begin meeting on a bi-weekly or weekly basis. If evening services were held, light was supplied by lanterns in the days before electricity became available.
The great frontier revival of 1800-1801 occurred in Northern Kentucky as in other areas of the state. Rev. John Taylor was a frontier Baptist preacher who came to Northern Kentucky and preached (though he never officially pastored) at the Bullittsburg Baptist Church. He described in his book, A History of Ten Baptist Churches (1823), how the revival he conducted in Northern Kentucky began in a service in the Corn Creek community of Gallatin (now Trimble) County. Soon the revival spread to Boone County and to other parts of Northern Kentucky. There were many unusual activities (the falling-down experience, the barking experience, the swooning experience) described at Cane Ridge Campground in Bourbon County and other Central Kentucky communities, but these were not reported in Northern Kentucky. In 1800 more than 122 persons professed faith in Christ and were baptized in the four churches that existed in Northern Kentucky, and as a result some new Baptist churches were organized. More revival activity followed in 1801. Revivals among the Baptist churches in Northern Kentucky were also recorded in 1811, when 277 were baptized; again in 1817-1818, with 728 baptisms; and in 1828-1829, with 228 immersions. These events led to the organization of more new churches in the region's out-lying areas.
The first Baptist churches of the Northern Kentucky area became members of the Elkhorn Association of Central Kentucky which was organized in 1785 (the exception was the Dry Ridge church). The North Bend Baptist Association (named after the northern most curve in the Ohio River) was established in 1803 with 9 churches. It grew to 25 churches by 1827, but then 8 churches from Campbell County withdrew and established another association, which they named Campbell County Baptist Association. These two associations merged in 1967 and became the Northern Kentucky Baptist Association; the year after they merged, 61 churches and 22,199 members belonged to the association. In 2005 the association had 70 churches with 34,600 members reported, the third-largest number for any association in the state. But this is not the only Baptist association in the region.
The Bracken Association was established in 1799. Lewis Craig, leader of the famed "Traveling Church" that came to Kentucky from Virginia, was regarded as the father of this association. In the Bracken Association during the years 1827-1828, there were 1,116 persons baptized. Some members in the Bracken Association were adamantly opposed to slavery. For example, a church near Mayslick (Mason County), pastored by Donald Holmes, adopted emancipation principles. Some of the churches separated from the Bracken Association and formed an association that emphasized the abolition of slavery: "Licking-Locust, Friends of Humanity Baptist Association." David Barrow (whom J. H. Spencer said was a great orator, only being excelled by John Gano) was also a leader among this group.
The Bracken Association presently extends along the Ohio River from Augusta eastward to beyond Vanceburg and as far south as Morehead.
The Ten Mile Association was constituted in 1831 from 9 churches, with 4 churches from the North Bend Association and others from Gallatin County. This association presently has 15 churches in its membership. The Crittenden Association includes 29 churches in Grant, Pendleton, and Harrison counties. The Union Association has 15 churches from Falmouth, Brooksville, and Cynthiana. The Owen County Association has a total of 24 churches, and the White's Run Association has 10 churches in Carroll County and the surrounding area.
For most of the 19th century, the various associations annually sent out a circular letter to member churches, according to a custom that began among Baptists in early 17th century England. The letter was written by a local pastor or church leader and usually emphasized a doctrinal theme or an exhortation to the churches. The writer was generally assigned the previous year.
These early Baptists were noted for their doctrinal beliefs: that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that there are two symbolic ordinances of the church, baptism and the Lord's Supper, or Communion. Baptism is for believers only, by immersion of the believer in water, and the Lords Supper is administered by a church to its members. The two offices, or official positions, in Baptist churches are pastors and deacons.
There are some Baptists who believe that foot-washing is also a church ordinance, and some hold that elders are a third type of official in the church. Individual churches are autonomous bodies and are self-governed. The earliest churches in Northern Kentucky adhered to the Philadelphia Baptist Confession; many of the later 19th century churches adopted the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith after it was published.
Issues the Early Baptists Faced
Alexander Campbell was a religious leader from Virginia who came into Kentucky in the 1820s and edited a newspaper called The Christian Baptist. He opposed missions and taught that baptism by immersion was not merely symbolic but was necessary for salvation. Following the revivals, Alexander Campbell's doctrine, which deviated from Baptist doctrine, created agitation and unrest among many members and attendees at Baptist churches in Northern Kentucky. William Vaughan, a pastor and able theologian, strengthened the Baptist churches of the Bracken Association in their doctrine; in those churches Campbell's influence had been strongly felt. Some churches in the region split and a group of members went with the Campbell faction, though Campbell did not have the impact in Northern Kentucky that he had in other areas of the state, where as many as one-third of the Baptist churches were divided or joined his movement. However, one prominent Northern Kentucky Baptist pastor, William Montague, left his church (Sand Run Baptist Church) after a trial by the church to determine his doctrinal position. He claimed he did not adhere to Campbell's views, was pronounced 'not guilty' by the church, and shortly thereafter joined the Campbell faction. Most Baptists at that time referred to themselves as a "Baptist Church of Christ." Campbell's followers identified themselves as members of the Church of Christ; a title often confusing to frontier believers.
In 1840 the Salem Association of Predestinarian Baptists was formed by 6 churches that withdrew from the Regular Baptists of the North Bend and Campbell County Associations. This group grew to 14 churches and had 413 members by 1845. Known as Primitive (or Old-School) Baptists by some, they held to extreme Calvinistic views and did not practice any evangelizing. They opposed missions, Bible societies (distributing agencies), and the formal education of ministers. Lewis Conner and John Underhill were prominent pastors at Forks of Gunpowder Baptist Church and leaders among these churches. It is believed that T. P. Dudley, of central Kentucky, was the leading influence in this group as he was the primary speaker at their first associational meeting. He had been a critic of the policies of the Northbend Association for several years. Most of these Predestinarian churches died out by the end of the century; there has been a revival of a few Primitive Baptist churches still holding services in Northern Kentucky.
In 1845 the Western Baptist Theological Institute was established at Covington. It was to be a cooperative educational effort between Baptists in the northern and the southern states, but the issue of slavery became a dominant factor, and the school closed after 10 turbulent years. Professors were primarily from the northern states and opposed slavery, so the southern-state Baptist churches would not send students there. The building was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and later part of its campus became St. Elizabeth Hospital.
In antebellum times, slavery proved a contentious issue among Baptists. Many of the early settlers came from Virginia and brought their slaves with them. The counties of Mason, Boone, Carroll and Owen were counties with the majority of the slaves. Slaves became members at local Baptist churches when they made a profession of their personal faith and were immersed in baptism. They were not required to support their church; neither were they allowed to vote or participate in any church business. There was a gallery (balcony) in most Baptist meetinghouses where the slaves were to sit during the worship services. The early meetinghouses had two doors in the front; the women entered the left door and sat on the left side; the men entered the right door and sat on the right side.
Church records mention two African American Baptist preachers, Asa and Barnabas, who became influential preachers and held separate services for the slaves living in their communities. Asa and his wife were purchased in 1839 by a Baptist pastor in southern Indiana, where they were subsequently freed.
During the Civil War men could obtain a waiver from serving in the military, after Federal military conscription became a practice, by paying $300 for a substitute. James A. Kirtley, who pastored three churches during the war, paid for a substitute so he could continue his pastoral work. The Campbell County Association issued a circular letter to its churches during the war, deploring slavery and urging church members not to participate in the war. There were men in some of the churches who volunteered for the Confederate army as well as the Union army.
After the Civil War, African Americans began to establish churches of their own. For instance, the Bracken Association had 26 churches with 2,523 members in 1862; about 1,000 of these were African Americans who left the church rolls after the Civil War. There are now black Baptist churches in Northern Kentucky in Covington, Burlington, Walton, and other towns. However, most of them moved north of the Ohio River.
In the 19th century, local Baptists began an effort to evangelize the German population of Covington and Newport; German-speaking churches were established in those cities for a short period. Today, there is a Spanish speaking Baptist congregation in Covington.
As the 20th century began, Baptists continued to maintain a strong presence and evangelist efforts in Northern Kentucky. Today there are more than a dozen Baptist churches in Norhern Kentucky not affiliated with any association.
The First Confession of Faith Uniting Baptists in Kentucky
By Charles Blair
Partly because of its unique geographical location, Kentucky was settled from two directions, the Northeast or New England, and the Southeast, from Virginia down to South Carolina. Baptists came from both directions, bringing with them slightly differing traditions. Those from New England, often known as "Regular" Baptists, brought with them an allegiance to the old London Confessions, as slightly rewritten by the "Philadelphia Association," which stressed an educated ministry, the sovereignty of God, and uniting with other Baptists for mission work, especially among the Indians.
Those from the southern coastal states were often known as Separate Baptists. They were influenced strongly by the general revivalism in the early years of the new nation, cared less for formal education, and incorporated some of the British General Baptists, though most of these were "Tories" who went to Canada or back to old England after the Revolution. While not fully "Arminian" as were the Methodists and some others around them, they supported revivalism and the "New Light" approach which often involved "trembling, weeping, screaming and catalepsy" (Masters, A History of Baptist in Kentucky, p. 44). The first reaction of New England Baptists to such camp meetings may well be imagined!
Yet these two "parties" soon found themselves neighbors in the new "dark and bloudy ground" of Kentucky, "land of canes and turkeys." And very soon they found that they were in such general agreement on the great principles of the gospel that fellowship, especially in this wilderness, seemed absolutely essential.
The year was 1801. On the second Saturday of October, in the Providence Meeting House on Howard's Creek (Clark County), messengers (not delegates) from churches in the Elkhorn (Regular) Association and churches in the South Kentucky (Separate) Association gathered to discuss "terms of union" on which all could agree. While recognizing the freedom of each church, they "agreed to unite on the following plan:"
1. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the infallible Word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.
2. That there is only one true God, and in the Godhead, or divine essence, there are Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
3. That by nature we are fallen and depraved creatures.
4. That salvation, regeneration, sanctification, and justification are by the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
5. That the saints will finally persevere through grace to glory.
6. That believer's baptism by immersion is necessary to receiving the Lord's supper.
7. That the salvation of the righteous and punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
8. That it is our duty to be tender and affectionate to each other, and study the happiness of the children of God in general; to be engaged singly to promote the honor of God.
9. And that the preaching Christ tasted death for every man, shall be no bar to communion.
10. And that each may keep up their associational and church government as to them may seem best.
11. That a free correspondence and communion be kept up between the churches so united.
Unanimously agreed to by the joint committee:Ambrose Dudley, Robert Elkin, John Price, Thos. J. Chilton, Joseph Redding, Daniel Ramey, David Barrow, Moses Bledsoe, Samuel Johnson.
(Spencer, History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. I, p. 546)
The term "United Baptists" seemed appropriate for the new fellowship, already being in use in the seaboard states. However, some continued to call themselves "Regular" Baptists and more of the "Separates" kept their earlier name. They soon began assisting the sending of missionary preachers among the Indians, in part with the possible motive of encouraging friendship which would provide more safety for the new settlements, but by and large, no doubt, with a sincere evangelistic zeal. Statement #9 in the list is of special interest in the light of the current discussion of "Calvinism" among Kentucky Baptists. It is surely notable that on this contentious issue (then as well as now) the two parties agreed on a statement taken directly from Scripture, the final rule of faith and practice for both groups. Spencer and Masters (the latter my first Bible teacher at Mayfield, 1958) compiled thorough and highly commendable general sketches of early Baptist life in the western lands of Virginia which became the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The state of Virginia in the 18th century was religiously controlled by the English Anglican [Episcopalian] church. The state required Baptist ministers to be licensed in order to preach. Many Baptists who refused to get governmental approval were imprisoned - among them was Lewis Craig. When he saw the opportunity to go west into Kentucky he persuaded many in his church to join him. The following is a brief description of the Spotsylvania Baptist Church's plans for the journey to Kentucky. - James Duvall
Lewis Craig's Plan to Bring Baptists to Kentucky
By Samuel H. Ford, 1856
"In the close of the summer of 1781, the returning explorers of Kentucky spread everywhere the most glowing accounts of its rich soil, its broad and limpid river, its native clover and rich cane-brakes, and everywhere were the poor and enterprising preparing to depart to the paradise of the West. Dangers had to be encountered; mountains scaled, rivers crossed, and a trackless wilderness, filled with savage warriors, to be passed. But there were those in Virginia who knew little of fear, and would dare any danger. Among their number was the pastor of Spotsylvania Baptist church, Lewis Lunceford, who had visited the country and returned.
Lewis Craig decided to go at once, not to visit the country, but to settle there for life. He communicated his intention to his friends and brethren in the church; all caught the enthusiasm. One Sabbath (it was probably the church meeting day, in September, which came on the 2d) he announced his intention to remove to the new country called Kentucky. It was dangerous, at that day, to cross the wilderness alone. Families waited at the out-stations until a company large and strong enough to venture on could be collected. The pastor desired that all who could commit themselves into the hands of the Lord, and would go to the "foreign land," to meet at the meeting house at an appointed day.
The church had been greatly scattered during the revolutionary war; many had moved to the back-woods of Virginia. But nearly all the remaining members agreed, with enthusiasm, to follow their pastor to Kentucky. They were soon ready to depart. In the middle of October, 1781, the fellow laborers of Craig who lived near him, and some from a distance, came to give him and the church the parting hand. John Waller was there. They commended each other to God, and the words of his grace. Many tears were shed. Craig was parting forever from the scenes of his suffering, where he with his brethren had fought the good fight of faith. The last prayer was offered, the farewells were given.
Lewis Craig and John Waller, those men of God, who sang together in Fredericksburg Jail, wept over each other's embrace, as they parted forever. The scene was as noble as affecting. The father and son in the gospel had stood together in many a trial, in many a hard fought battle. No jar had ever occurred between them, no rivalry had ever soured their feelings, no breach of confidence lessened their affection. They parted. The many farewells were all given, and the church journied on, with humble trust in Him who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, towards the setting sun."
[From "History of the Kentucky Baptists," The Christian Repository, February, 1856.]
Circular Letters were written and distributed each year to the Baptist churches that were associated in particular areas of the nation. This practice began in England in the 17th century and continued in America until the late 19th century.
The Northbend Association was in the northern-most section of Kentucky. Hyper-Calvinism (doctrines emphasizing the sovereignty of God , but not addressing the gospel to lost sinners) had caused a division in this and an adjacent association in 1840. Alexander Campbell's "Reformation" doctrines had entered the area in the 1830s. A Universalist congregation (denying the sinfulness of mankind and eternal judgment) was established in a major Boone County town in the 1840s.
This circular deals with these three issues: Hyper-Calvinism, Campbellism and Universalism, with warnings to the Baptist churches to be aware of their doctrinal errors. James A. Kirtley was twenty-four years old at the time, and became a leading pastor for fifty years in Baptist churches in this section of Kentucky. - James Duvall
Northbend Association of Baptists (KY)
Circular Letter 1846
by James A. Kirtley, Pastor
Bullittsburg Baptist Church
"What is Truth?"
"What is truth?" was a question propounded. The answer is readily supplied, "Thy word is truth." But error is the perversion of truth, and in this perversion it assumes different forms; hence the various systems of error. They are numerous, arrogant in their assumptions, fanatical in their extremes, and corrupt in their influence. Their blind votaries inflated with ignorant zeal and self-complacent bigotry, denouncing all who wisely and religiously differ, attribute to themselves the standard of primitive truth, and the pristine purity of the church. Ultraism is their prominent feature, they overleap the bounds of truth, and run in to dangerous extremes. Their tendency, moreover, is that of discord and corruption; an unholy influence is poured forth, like turbid waters from a foul fountain.
But christianity which the word of truth reveals is not only pure and elevated in doctrine, but lovely in practice and holy in example. It is humble, peaceful, savory, enlightening, giving God the glory, and seeking the salvation of immortal souls. With such as our scriptural landmarks, we can but regard that system erroneous which burdens all things pertaining to the christian character and practice with irreconcilable decrees. Which deals more in eternal purposes than present evidences, or future realizations. - Which has for its principle and central tenet, that the present and ultimate state of man, 'ere he had a being, was eternally fixed by an immovable decree.
Associated with this, is the wanton rejection of the divine command of Jesus, to preach the Gospel to every creature. The evident tendency of such, is, to stifle the vital principles of Christianity, while it virtually justifies the unhallowed practices, of worldly minded professors. Morbidness and insensibility are legitimate consequences, and all activity and energy is prostrated, save that carnal propensity, which tends to strifes, animosities, and dissensions. The inconsiderate advocates of such a system, "are wise to do evil, but to do good, they have no knowledge." - Jeremiah 4.22.
Nor do we esteem that system less dangerous, or less subversive of truth, which declares salvation to be the result of a series of works, or a course of external obedience.
That remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life, are the purchase of the sinner's obedience, in believing, reforming, and being baptised. A system whose zealous advocates promiscuously receive and reject the divinity of the Saviour, and not only deny the work of the spirit in quickening and renewing the heart, but unquestionably make the baptismal fount, the laver of regeneration. The novelty and variableness of such a system is its own condemnation. But a few years since, it sprang up in the fruitful and chimerical imagination of a self-esteemed, and party styled Luther of the nineteenth century. Its origin was begun with fearful paroxysms; its watch-word had been, down with all creeds, church forms, and orders; its progress has been marked by a copious ingathering of nominal professors, self-called, and self-appointed bishops; and now after the lapse of a quarter of a century it presents a lamentable multiplicity of crude notions, absurdly mingled together: in the language of its federal head "every sort of doctrine by almost all sorts of preachers, under the broad banners and with the supposed sanction of the begun reformation!!!"
But, perhaps, the most dangerous heresy with which we have to do, is that which modern infidels have received from the doctrine originally taught by the serpent in the garden, whose captious theme was, "that shalt not surely die." Denying to their father the originality of the doctrine, they presume upon the Gospel of the Saviour; but harrowing up the dregs of old heresies, and clothing them with the semblance of christianity, proclaim their perverse system under the bland title of universal salvation. The fundamental and essential doctrines of christianity are wholly perverted, and especially is the divinity of the Saviour most shamefully slandered, vilified, and blasphemously rejected. Such are men of "itching ears," of smooth words, and wily forms, who, indeed, evince much of the cunning and chicancery of the serpent, but are woefully deficient in the harmlessness of the dove. Serpentine-like, they insinuate themselves into every community; and when they can succeed in breaking down the restraints of conscience and common sense, infuse their poisonous system into the minds of the unwary, and youth; which at once gives verdant growth to immorality, and becomes the seated germs of infidelity.
We must beware brethren, of the intrusion of such wolves who secretly prowl in sheep[']s clothing. At this crisis, it behooves us to maintain and defend the faith which was once delivered to the saints. All the sacred relationships of religion, in connexion with the express commands of God, urge us to gird ourselves for the propagation and defence of the truth.
The arms of our defence, must be spiritual and not carnal; not the low resorts of scurrility, abuse and intrigue, but the high moral dignity of truth, the sword of the spirit must bear the palm of victory. Are we insensible to the innovations and advances of error? already, many from the outskirts of Zion have slided off into the mazes of sin and heresy: many credulous minds have been poisoned by the sophistry of vain and designing pretenders. And do we not see in this, reasons for abounding in the work of the Lord? Surely we have not drank so deeply of the sleep giving spirit of Hyper-Calvinism that we should oppose all efforts to advance the interests of the Redeemer[']s Kingdom. Let us not, dear brethren, deceive ourselves, we "must work while it is day, the night cometh, when no man can work." We must not sleep at our posts, supinely folding our arms and longing for the halcyon days of our fathers. - The time was, in the early stages of this association, when this was wholly a Baptist community, and when nothing was known among us but union, brotherly love, and the plain simplicity of the gospel. Need we say that the introduction of error, in connexion with sloth and indifference upon our part, have largely contributed to mar this lovely state of things? [I]t is but too evident that "while men slept the enemy hath sowed tares," and through our unfaithfulness, error and unconsciousness have quickened apace.
The only effectual way, therefore, by which we may counteract the progress of error, and stay its effusions of vice and immorality, is by a faithful exhibition of the truths of the gospel, accompanied with more ardent piety, and more diligent efforts to increase general information, and inculcate a spirit of inquiry and investigation. Listen not, therefore, to the whispers of that siren which speaks peace in the ear: there is not a more delusive voice. Neither let us stand waiting for a more favorable impulse, but with all diligence, let us purge out the old leaven of sloth and inactivity, and as the zealous advocates of truth, while we remain steadfast and unmovable in its doctrines, let us boldly present its claims, and enforce its heavenly precepts. then shall joy, and peace, fill our cup of blessing, and triumph crown our labors. May the grace of our God be with you all. - Amen.
[From Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1846; now known as Northern Kentucky Baptist Association. The grammar and spelling are unchanged except where [ ] is used.]
Church Member's Handbook by Joe T. Odle
Bro. Joe T. Odle, as pastor of East Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky, saw the need to produce a concise introduction to the polity and doctrines of a Baptist church. In 1941 he produced the training manual that was to be published in numerous languages and to be placed in the hands of millions of local church members world wide. The evangelistic zeal of Pastor Odle convinced him of the need to produce a basic tool for new converts. His understanding of the Great Commission moved him to make available a sound beginning to those God had saved. Vast numbers of Baptist pastors and churches have distributed the work to untold numbers of church members and the book is still in print attesting to its lasting value.
The book has eight chapters that include: (1) The Meaning of Church Membership, (2) The Church Covenant, (3) Christian Growth, (4) Baptist History, (5) Baptist Doctrine, (6) Baptists and Other Denominations, (7) God's Plan of Church Finance and (8) Baptist Churches at Work. They can be used by individuals, in new members' classes, in Sunday school classes, and in church training classes. It is the view of many that the unrevised version is superior to the revised editions. The Holy Bible supplemented with this creditable work and reinforced with other sound books will direct the saint in his walk with the Lord. Many will affirm that God gave Bro. Odle one of his heart's desires by the acceptance and usefulness of his effort.
In the nearly 30 years of my ministry this book has been very helpful in establishing church members on the foundation that is Christ and teaching them how to honor Him. The work of evangelism and the Great Commission is not complete without teaching people how to properly serve God through His churches. You and your fellow church members will be enriched by the sound teaching found in this publication.
The revised edition of The Church Member's Handbook is available from www.Lifeway.com for $1.50 with discounts offered for bulk purchases. Unfortunately the original unrevised edition is out of print. Thankfully it can readily be found at used book stores and flea markets.
Reviewed by Donald R. Houston, Paducah, Kentucky
A History of the Baptists
by John T. Christian
The famous "Trail of Blood" is sometimes rejected because "J. M. Carroll was not a historical scholar" and "the work contains errors and is not adequately documented."
Yet a scholarly 2-volume history covering the same ground, done by a native Kentuckian who was widely recognized as a scholar even beyond Southern Baptist circles, and deeply involved with the early days of what is now New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, goes largely ignored by those who are willing to go up against the "little red book" of Landmarkism.
John T. Christian's thorough (nearly 900 pages) overview of our Baptist ancestors, the crossing from England to America, and the early work in America resulting in a world mission outreach, was originally published by our Sunday School Board (Nashville) in 1926, later Broadman Press, and now by the Baptist Sunday School Committee of Texarkana TX.
Christian is of special interest to our society in that he was converted, at age 16, under the preaching of J. H. Spencer at Campbellsburg KY, which church set him apart for the ministry. He was a graduate of Bethel College, Russellville KY, holding their A. B., M. A., and a conferred D. D. from that school. In 1893 he became pastor of East Baptist Church in Louisville. He also served churches in Mississippi and Tennessee. Having been born in 1854 near Lexington, he always held Kentucky connections. Though he wrote histories of Baptists in Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, New York, and of course Kentucky, and several volumes on other subjects, his magnum opus was certainly A History of the Baptists.
Christian begins with the same premise as Carroll, but develops the line much more thoroughly and with much more documentation. If you are among those who have felt that, to be "scholarly," you must reject any form of Baptist succession, a good dose of Christian's work would help greatly. He wisely avoids "chain-link" succession, showing only the doctrinal and practical affinity of the various groups usually noted during the dark ages (Paulicians, Albigensians, etc.) and how their influence may be seen in the Anabaptist movements of Reformation times.
The set is eminently readable, even for a non-scholar, but no less scholarly for that. It is available at the amazingly low price of $9.95 per volume from Bogard Press, 4605 N. State Line, Texarkana TX 75503, or by e-mail from www.bogardpress.org.
Reviewed by Charles Blair, Pastor of the Poplar Grove Baptist Church, Hickman, Kentucky
Pillars of Orthodoxy, or Defenders of the Faith
By Ben M. Bogard
I well remember the day in the spring of 1998 when I walked in the library of Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College where I was a student to check out one of their surplus book sales. A green hardback book entitled Pillars of Orthodoxy soon caught my eye. Although I was a poor ministerial student, I quickly decided the book was worth the $1.00 price tag and purchased it. It was a decision I have never regretted. Years later, I have read the book through dozens of times and it remains one of my personal favorites. Indeed, if I could only keep five books from the hundreds in my personal library, this would be one of the five.
Pillars of Orthodoxy was first published in 1900 by the Baptist Book Concern in Louisville, Kentucky. Today, original copies are quite rare, often selling for over one hundred dollars. Thankfully, Josh Davenport of Spencer, Iowa has made it possible for anyone to purchase a copy of the book today. He has reprinted the 485 page book in a beautiful green hardback binding. You can order your copy for only $15, including shipping.
What makes Pillars of Orthodoxy so interesting to read is its unique format. The book contains seventeen chapters, each on a notable Baptist preacher of the nineteenth century, who was a "Pillar of Orthodoxy." Each section contains a picture of the individual, a biographical account written by Bogard, and one of his original sermons. Bogard himself was a native Kentuckian who knew many of the men personally. His writing style is easy to follow and his selection of personal stories is insightful.
Several of the seventeen names will be very familiar to Baptists today. These include James P. Boyce and John A. Broadus of Southern Seminary, J.B. Jeter of Virginia, J.R. Graves of Tennessee and Richard Fuller of Maryland. While some of the other names are not as recognizable today, they were well known in Kentucky during the nineteenth century. In fact, nine of the men pastored Baptist churches in the Bluegrass State. J.N. Hall and J.B. Moody served in west Kentucky, while J.S. Coleman and J.M. Pendleton pastored in the Pennyroyal region. W.P. Harvey and William Vaughn ministered in the central part of the state, while T.T. Eaton, John. T. Christian, and S.H. Ford all preached in Louisville.
Through Pillars of Orthodoxy a forgotten generation of Baptist giants can be rediscovered. Their lives and especially their writings speak to the theological issues that Baptists struggle with today. Bogard dedicated the book to his first pastorate, the Rocky Ridge Baptist Church in Trigg County, Kentucky. May Kentucky Baptists read this book once again and profit by its writings. To order a copy, contact Josh Davenport, c/o Victory Baptist Church, 510 East 8th St. Spencer, Iowa 51301.
Reviewed by Ben Stratton, Pastor of the Farmington Baptist Church, Farmington, Kentucky
How To Become a Member of the J.H. Spencer Historical Society
Membership in the J.H. Spencer Historical Society is open to anyone who has an interest in preserving and promoting our Kentucky Baptist heritage and historic Baptist distinctives.
The J.H. Spencer Historical Society operates solely on the dues of members as we receive no funding from the Cooperative Program of the Kentucky Baptist Convention for our operating costs. The officers are unpaid volunteers.
The membership dues are as follows:
1 year . . . $10 2 year . . . $17 3 year . . . $27
If you are interested in becoming a member, fill out the application, enclose your dues and mail to:
Ben Stratton P.O. Box 26
Farmington, KY 42040
J. H. Spencer Historical Society
State ________________________ Zip __________________________
Phone ( ) ____________________________________
Membership dues enclosed for:
1 year ________ 2 years ________ 3 years ________
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