First Baptist Gracey West
Henderson Memorial 
First Baptist of Oak Grove
Fruit Hill

First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
    On June 6, 1818, a small group of Christian men and women met at the home of John Pursley, about one mile west of Hopkinsville, "to constitute a regular Baptist Church of our Lord Jesus Christ". Elder William Tandy and Elder Jesse Brooks, representatives of the Red River Association, helped in the organization.  E. R. Bradley, clerk pro tem, entered the following names on the church roll:  James Payne, Charles Thrift, Keziah Thrift, John Pursley, Henry Rowland, Robert Slaughter, Lucy Slaughter, Sallie Tally, Grace Pursley, and Winnie, a slave in the home of William Payne.
    They named the church New Providence and chose Brother James Payne as pastor.  Articles of Faith and the Church Covenant were read and adopted.
    On the following day, June 7, the second meeting of the church was held in the Pursley home.  At this time, the clerk, E. R. Bradley, his wife Elizabeth and Sister Sitha Payne were received by letter.  There were also twenty-two negroes received, five of them for baptism.
    At the fourth meeting of the church August 10, at the Pursley home, the members agreed to build a "meeting house".  A committee was appointed with instructions to "procure a lot of land adjoining the town of Hopkinsville on which to build a meeting house 45 feet long and 30 feet wide, to be built in a neat manner, of brick of a good kind, and in a workmanlike manner".
    On September 15, the building committee reported that they had purchased three acres of land and raised a considerable amount of money but had hired no workmen.  The site was at the foot of 13th Street where an academy was later built, and much later the Major Ferrell Schoolhouse.
    Before long the brick walls were up and the roof on.  The small congregation worshipped during the summer months on the bare earth, with no windows and doors.  During the winter they met for services at the court house, which was a rough log structure twenty feet square and temporarily used by other congregations also.
    The building fund was slowly accumulating; several individuals assumed the debts for material and labor, but the church still needed about $545.  On December 16, 1819, the members unanimously decided to "lay a  tax on each member's wealth" to pay the balance owed.  They appointed a committee to search the public records at the court house in order to find out the taxable property of each member.  After considerable research and figuring, the committee decided that "a tax of 51 and 3/4 cents should be levied on each $110 worth of property.  They listed the names and amounts due, and made their report to the church. . . Brother John Pursley's name headed the list.  The record shows that this same method was practiced several times in later years.
    In a meeting at the court house on November 7, 1820, the church passed a resolution that if white male members were absent from the meetings twice in succession, they would be cited to appear at the next meeting and answer for their delinquency to the church.  Later, committees were appointed to council with these absentees.
    The religious observance of "washing the saints' feet" was seriously considered.  A formal resolution was passed and carried over until the next meeting.  The matter was solved by "indefinite postponement".
    Also in 1820, a woman was cited for taking communion with "The Methodist Society".  She confessed and the church decided "to bear with her".  Later she asked for her letter.
    During the early years it was the custom to stand during the singing of hymns and to kneel at prayer.  At various times, such as before selecting a pastor, or ordaining a young preacher, a day was appointed for fasting and prayer.
    In 1821, Archibald and Cyrus, two negro members, were examined and licensed as the first two preachers sent out from the church.
    Zebra Howard was appointed the first sexton to take care of the meeting house and graveyard at a salary of ten dollars per quarter.
    Several members were tried by the church in 1823 for offenses such as slander and "back-biting".
    During the fall of 1838 and spring of 1839, the Cherokee Indians camped overnight in Hopkinsville on their way west;  this removal is known as the "Trail of Tears".  The churches were open to them and citizens invited some to their homes.
    By 1840, Hopkinsville was a growing town, and the New Providence Church was growing too.  The town had over 2,000 citizens, a city government was functioning, and the streets were crudely improved, but sidewalks were still scarce.
    About 1842, the congregation began thinking about a new building.  After due consideration, the trustees bought a site, 60 X 80 feet, on the corner of Main and Hickory Street (now Main and 11th). Construction soon began and the church was in use by 1844.
    From the old minutes we find that the first Sunday School was held on July 6, 1851, with H. Ashford as Superintendent and J. S. Phelps as secretary.  He recorded: "Beautiful Sabbath morning, large school, 58 scholars and 13 teachers, several spectators present.  The pastor visited the school this morning."
    In 1868, the negro members withdrew from the church and Association to form their own.
    Oil lamps were installed downtown by the city in 1875. . . and one was in front of each church.  These lamps were replaced by gas lamps in 1887.
    Bethel female High School, later Bethel College, was erected during the pastorate of A. D. Sears.  From the beginning there were close ties between the school and this church.
    About 1890, plans were set in motion for a third building.  This new building would be located on the corner of Main and 14th Street;  and the fifty year old sanctuary at Main and 11th was to be sold.  A new Gothic Stone Church was dedicated on December 16, 1894.  Construction cost was $28,000 which included electric lights.
    About 1907-8, a Sunday School was started on the west side of town, probably, with Mr. Frank Boyd as the first superintendent.  From this nucleus the Second Baptist Church was organized on April 3, 1910.
    First Church organized a unit of the Baptist Young People's Union in 1909.
    A forerunner of the W.M.U. was the Spurlin Society formed by women in the church who supported Rev. J. U. Spurlin as he preached and organized churches in Christian County.  The first mention of a Women's Missionary Society in the First Church is found in the minutes of the 83rd session of the Bethel Baptist Association in 1907.  However, the 1919 minutes state that their W.M.U. was formed in 1903.
    In 1948 plans were started for a new three story educational building which was finally dedicated on January 4, 1953.  Other already existing educational space was remodeled and redecorated.
    In June 1954, the Ninth Street Baptist Chapel was begun in a rented concrete building.  On December 1, 1957, the chapel worshipped for the first time in the new sanctuary built for them on E. 9th Street.  By September, 1960, the chapel had become the Hillcrest Baptist Church.
    A new parsonage on Cox Mill Road was built in 1959.
    The church considered moving to the suburbs, but finally the decision was made to remain at the present site and buy the real estate adjoining the church.  A beautiful new sanctuary was dedicated on September 12, 1965, and the historic old stone church was razed.
    Under the leadership of Rev. S. M. Maddux the church has expanded its building program and its spiritual endeavors.  In 1972 a group of 16 members participated in the New Life Evangelistic Crusade with the Spanish Baptist Union.
    Again in June, 1973, a team of 11 members helped in a two week crusade in Eibeck, Germany.  Ronald Sholar was group leader for both crusades.
    An accredited kindergarten, sponsored by the church, began in 1971.  At present (1973) the church gives financial assistance to ta church at Napoleon, Ohio.  A bus ministry is being planned at the present time.
Pastors of First Baptist:
James Payne 1818-1819 T. G. Keen 1864-1883
William Tandy 1820-1823 J. N. Prestridge 1884-1889
William Warfield 1823-1826 Charles H. Nash 1890-1905
Robert Rutherford 1827-1833 Millard A. Jenkins 1906-1908
J. M. Pendleton 1833-1836 C. M. Thompson 1909-1918
R. T. Anderson 1839-1841 L. W. Doolan 1919-1924
T. G. Keen 1841-1846 P. C. Walker 1924-1947
Samuel Baker 1846-1849 W. Peyton Thurman 1947-1957
A. D. Sears 1850-1864 S. M. Maddux  1957-

In addition to the pastors this church has also had some outstanding men in the field of educational outreach.

Gilmer Pursley-great grandson of John Pursley, who served for 31 years as Educational Secretary, Treasurer, and General Assistant to the pastor.
Hermon Cochran, first Minister of Education and Music
Malcolm Lunceford, Minister of Education and Music
Warner Baumgartner, Assistant Pastor
Robert Kersey, Minister of Education
John Ashley, Minister of Education
Ronald Sholar, Minister of Music since 1965.

First Baptist Church of Oak Grove

    The First Baptist Church of Oak Grove was conceived in the hearts and minds of the members of Olivet church at Hopewell, Kentucky during the early 1950’s. Prior to 1954, Olivet had been running a Sunday School bus for the children in the Oak Grove area—these children came from the housing areas and trailer courts around Fort Campbell (Fort Campbell had been established as an Army post in the early 1940’s.)
    As Olivet was eight miles from Oak Grove it became impossible for the bus driver to continue making the runs. Some of the members took it upon themselves to transport children back and forth to church. By 1954 Olivet was ready to establish a Sunday School at Oak Grove. A mobile home was purchased for $50.00 and another $50.00 was used for repairs. The trailer was located in J. B. Riggins Trailer Court just a few yards from the present church.
    Precisely at 2:30 P. M. November 7th, the Sunday School began with three departments of young people from ages four to twelve. The spiritual ripeness of the mission field was immediately evident. One of the children upon hearing the words “New Testament,” promptly asked: “What’s that?” If the kids decided to go home and get some water or a coke they got up and ambled off,” Monte Hancock said, adding: “They didn't know anything about Sunday School.” The workers for these early sessions were: Ed Hancock, Mrs. Bob Collins, Mrs. Boyd Hutchinson, and Monte Hancock.
    By spring the mission needed more space than the small forty pupil capacity trailer afforded. On August 7, 1955, the Sunday School moved into more spacious surroundings—a vacant concrete building in Riggins Trailer Court. Being a former Auto Repair Shop, the building didn't have much of a church atmosphere.
    Brother Bob Collins, who had felt the call to the ministry in 1954, became the first pastor of the mission and held a Vacation Bible School there in 1955.
    The G. I. Trailer was sold and the proceeds were used to purchase a piano. Until then Mrs. Clifton Land had provided music by use of her portable field organ.
    During 1956 there were so many children for V. B. S. that an old barn had to be used in addition to the garage. Due to the space problem, the decision was made to seek more land. An acre of land across from the Trailer Court was most desirable, but land being high they doubted it could be purchased at this time. Much to their surprise Mr. and Mrs. Jack Lyons of Nashville offered to give the church the land. After accepting this generous offer, plans were made to construct a new chapel, but the estimated cost for the proposed building was a sobering statistic.
    The building erected by the Trustees of Olivet was not new, but it was ample. An old Army mess haIl and a Troop Barracks building were purchased and moved to the newly acquired land. With the building firmly in place remodeling took place.
    By 1959 the mission surpassed the mother church in attendance for Sunday School. With the coming of Bro. Charles Chaney as pastor in 1950, things really began to happen. More materials were purchased from Fort Campbell and plans were made for construction of a brick building. It was dedicated in 1961. During this time the church also purchased a three bedroom trailer to serve as a parsonage. Ironically, as it may seem, only one year later a brick parsonage was dedicated.
Bro. Harold Skaggs became pastor in 1962 and gave the church the leadership it needed to organize itself properly.
    On November 1, 1964, Olivet acted on the proposed separation and allowed Oak Grove to become a separate organization and to assume all debts.
    Dr. Bob Dean of Nashville was called to serve as interim pastor until Rev. Harley Wilson assumed the pastorate in February of 1970.
    In September, 1972 William Thomas Taylor became the pastor coming from Ralph Avenue in Louisville where he served as Minister of Education and Associate Pastor.

Fruit Hill Baptist Church
    Fruit Hill Baptist Church had its beginnings in a tobacco barn owned by Morris Ray West during 1945.  For two years afterwards the members met at the home of Mrs. Dalton Young.
    The present building was begun in 1947 and there have been many changes since that time.  So anxious were the members to start worshipping in their new building that they moved in while there was still a dirt floor.  Soon a floor of wood and tar was added, then the present cement floor was added.  The ceilings have been lowered to conserve heat and the metal roof has been replaced by a shingled one.  The young people of the church have taken a real interest during the past year and it seems this struggling church is about to blossom.
    Pastors since 1951:
James A. Caudle 1951-1956, 1957 Billy Bunch 1964-1970, 1971
M. D. Austin 1958-1960 Steve Clark 1972-
W. R. Evans 1961-1963

Gracey West Union Baptist Church
    Gracey West Union Baptist Church was organized in November 1819.  The officiating Presbytery consisted of Elders John Mallory, Dudley Williams, and David Haggard.  Services were held in a log building located nine miles west of Hopkinsville on the Old Eddyville Road.  In 1830 a "commodius brick church, stately, and somewhat imposing for that day" was erected at the village of Bellview, a prosperous village with two stores, two doctors, a blacksmith shop and other enterprises.  Old records reveal that "the lot for the church at Bellview was deeded by S. S. Lander to Trustees Thomas Torian and J. H. Lander."  In 1925 Charles M. Meacham wrote: "My personal recollections begin with the period immediately following the war between the States.  I remember the old church with its two front doors and a low partition through its middle, separating the sexes.  The male members, and even the gallants of the day, would escort the ladies to the ladies door, bow them in and then go to the men's door to enter the church, and sit on their own side of the house. The southside--next to the dusty road--was assigned to the men and the ladies sat over-looking the green field just over the fence that enclosed the church lot."
    There was a door in the rear which led to a balcony over the pulpit; this door enabled the preacher to reach the pulpit without coming down the aisle.  On the side to the right of the high pulpit was the "Amen Corner" where the prominent brethren sat.  Across the front of the church was a long pew known as the "Mourners" bench; and it usually would be crowded when the invitation was given.
    For some time the building was also used as a schoolhouse.  As the years came and went the old house began to "suffer for repair"; and, rather than do these vital repairs, the congregation decided to "move the church and build a new one" on the present location.  The new building was erected in 1873 on land donated by Ben Short.  Originally the building was of frame construction, but later brick veneer was added.
    During these days the Good Templar' Lodge used the structure for their meeting place.  The record says: "On Sunday afternoon, July 12, 1874, the lodge was in session when a hard rain fell and broke the great drought of that year.  It had not rained since the 5th of May".
    In those days the pulpit was in the north end of the church and the door in the south.  It is recalled that they reversed the arrangement to keep the congregation from being disturbed when there was passing of trains along the railroad built later in front of the door.
    A great revival was held in 1878 by a young preacher by the name of J. W. Porter, and at the close of this meeting 62 converts were "baptized in H. H. Bryant's pond, including Mr. Bryant himself."
    In 1944, an addition including a basement was added to provide additional Sunday School rooms and a pastor's study.
    On the church property to the north of the church a parsonage was built in 1956.

Pastors down through the years are as follows:

Elder David Haggard  Rev. W. Bruner 1889-1892
Elder Dudley Williams 1819-1840 Rev. O. N. Compton 1892-1895
Elder John S. Wilson Rev. L. N. Strother 1896-1905
Elder Kelley 1840 Rev. C. H. Gregston ~1905
Elder Rondeau Rev. F. M. Wilson (Records lost from 
Elder John W. Kelly 1841 
(died after 6 months)
Rev. J. A. Bannon 1904-1916)
Elder Robert T. Anderson 1841-1854
(Died in 1854)
Rev. E. E. Spickard 1922-1925
Elder A. W. Meacham 1854-1861 Rev. J. H. Maddox 1925-1928
No pastor  1861-1862 Rev. Clarence Jones 1928-1930
Elder A. W. Meacham 1862-1866 Rev. George J. Davies 1930-1932
Elder T. G. Green, D. D.  1866-1867 Rev. J. J. Jenkins 1932-1950
Elder R. A. Massey 1869-1869 Rev. Garnett Moss 1950-1951
Elder S. F. Forgy Rev. Jack Downs 1951-1955
Elder R. W. Buckley Rev. J. H. Adams 1955-1956
Elder A. W. Meacham 1870-1884 Dr. Mark Lowry 1956-1965
Rev. J. T. Barrow 1884-1887 Rev. J. L. Page 1965-
Rev. O. N. Strother 1888-1889

Henderson Memorial Baptist Church
    An acre of ground in "Green Meadows" subdivision was given to the Second Baptist Church by Mr. Gilbert Henderson and his wife, Florence.  After an additional three acres were purchased for $10,000, a survey and building committee composed of: M. G. Williams, Lonnie Walker, P. G. Kemp, Gilbert Henderson and Archie Collins was elected to study the possibilities of building a mission. (Jan. 4, 1961)
    In April 1963 construction began on a two story brick building 50 by 85 feet arranged for a Worship Auditorium and a full department Sunday School at the approximate cost of $88,000.
    The first services were held in Henderson Memorial Baptist Chapel, named in honor of the late Mr. Henderson, on December 1, 1963.  Rev. J. H. Maddox, pastor of Second Baptist Church, spoke at the morning hour; and the associate pastor, Rev. Garlon C. Sills, preached at the evening service.  Later, Bro. Sills became chapel pastor and a home was purchased for him at 316 Blane Drive for $15,000.  Approximately 100 members from Second Baptist Church voluntarily changed their place of worship and began a full time program in the new location.
    The following previously ordained deacons served the Chapel:  W. J. Lawrence, Lawrence Calvin, David Rogers, Orbie Stone, Homer Shelton, Marion Sisk, and Albert Wyatt.
    Brother William B. McKenzie was ordained as a Minister of the Gospel by the church on November 1, 1964.
    During the first two years, 182 additions were received.
    On October 8, 1965, in the regular business meeting, the members of Second Baptist Church unanimously voted: "that Henderson Memorial Baptist Chapel be organized into a Church on the first Sunday in December 1965 and that they be allowed to assume $38,000 of the church indebtedness which included the Chapel building and the parsonage at 316 Blane Drive."
    Henderson Memorial Baptist Chapel was formally constituted as Henderson Memorial Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon December 5, 1965.  Rev. J. H. Maddox, retired from Second Baptist Church, preached the sermon and Rev. Marion Duncan, new pastor of Second Baptist Church, served as Moderator.  Brother Cliff Atwood, a member of the Second Baptist Church served as clerk.  Rev. Cecil Laster, Associational Missionary for Christian County Baptist, formed the Council of Constitution.  The church adopted the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, the Church Covenant as printed in the Baptist Hymnal, and called the Rev. Garlon C. Sills as first pastor at a salary of $6,500.  Two hundred sixty members of Second Baptist Church, who had been attending the Chapel, were granted letters of dismissal to become members of the new church.
    On January 7, 1966 the Trustees of Second Baptist Church made deeds to the Trustees of Henderson Memorial on the Church property located on Noel Drive and the parsonage. They also transferred $38,000 to the church debt to Henderson Memorial.  The trustees of Henderson Memorial were given authority by the church to mortgage the church property in order to borrow that amount.
    Henderson Memorial became a member of the Christian County Baptist Association on September 19, 1966.
    Realizing the potential of present facilities had been reached, a Building Survey Committee to make a complete and thorough study of future building needs was appointed.
    By July 1968 the trustees were instructed: "to negotiate a loan with Hopkinsville Federal up to $200,000 as needed and that a contract to erect a new building be awarded to Rader Construction Company.
    A ground breaking ceremony, signaling the start of construction on a new sanctuary and Sunday School Annex, was conducted at the close of the worship hour Sunday, August 18, 1968.  The completed brick building was dedicated in a special service Sunday afternoon, March 9, 1969, with Dr. Harold G. Sanders, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention bringing the dedicatory message.
    Rev. Sill submitted a letter of resignation at the business session May 7, 1969 to be effective as of June 1, of that year.
    The Chaplin of Western State Hospital, Rev. Philip Lee, was called on October 1, 1969, and began his preaching ministry November 9, 1969.  The parsonage was sold as Bro. Smith would provide his own home.
    Henderson Memorial has sponsored four mission Vacation Bible Schools at Cedar Grove Negro Baptist Church (1967-70).

Hillcrest Baptist Church
    In the spring of 1954, the First Baptist Church, with Dr. William Peyton Thurman as pastor, was having an intensive study-training program endeavoring to train new workers to staff a just completed education building.  Stanley Cobb, a member of the mission committee, asked that the church consider starting a mission and offered the use of his commercial garage on East Ninth Street.  The group assembled was in favor of this proposal; and the following week the Missions Committee, composed of: Dr. and Mrs. Gabe Payne, Rita Harvey, Stanley Cobb, and Mrs. Elizabeth Trabue, discussed the possibility of a mission and presented their idea to the deacons.  At the following business meeting the deacons recommended that such a mission be established.  By the second week in July the garage at 1415 E. 9th Street was cleaned, furnished with equipment from the old educational building, and ready for occupancy.
    A dedication service was held on Sunday, July 18, 1954.  Among those present from First Baptist Church were: Dr. Gabe Payne, Stanley Cobb, Pollard White, Dr. William Peyton Thurman, Gilmer Pursley, P. S. Humphrey, and the four who were to start work at the mission;--Carl McGhee, Mrs. Stanley Cobb, Mrs. John Hanberry, and Loys Williams.
    Two weeks later on August 1, 1854, services were begun with various individuals from First Baptist Church and faculty members of Bethel College filling the pulpit.  Among them were: Dean Burton, Dr. Masden, Robert Bridges, Judson Ellis, Gilmer Pursley, and Terry Fuqua.  Four months after organization seventy four were enrolled in Sunday School with seven classes being conducted.
    By July, 1955, the garage was outgrown; and the property across the street which included two old houses was purchased.
    On June 10, 1965 Bro. Downs accepted a call from a church in Batberton, Ohio; and shortly afterwards Bro. Donald Long was called as pastor.
    Having completely outgrown the present building to the extent that nearby homes were used for Sunday School classes, the First Baptist Church in regular business meeting on May 8, 1957, voted to build a two unit building capable of taking care of approximately 260 in Sunday School and Worship Service.  Sunday, December 8, 1957, the new building was ready at a total cost of $39,650.12.
    During the spring of 1958, a revival was held with Rev. Sidney Maddox, new pastor of the mother church, doing the preaching.  Despite the extremely cold weather with temperatures around zero most of the week, there were twenty-six professions of faith and four rededications.
    Growth continued so steadily that in 1959 they "had to dig a room to be used for two Sunday School classrooms in the basement of the Church".
    In May 1960, the decision was made to petition First Baptist Church to become an independent church on the first Sunday of September.  Four names were suggested with the name "Hillcrest Baptist Church" being selected.
    The church voted July 12, 1961 to purchase five acres of land on the corner of Skyline Drive and the Nashville Road.  Due to lack of financial status within the church, a loan was refused, but on faith the members sold bonds; and on December 9, 1962, they moved into a new auditorium which would seat 500.  An old house on the property accommodated eleven classes; and there were also four additional classrooms in the new building.
    As growth continued bonds were again sold to build a new educational building which was completed in 1963.
    When the old First Church sanctuary was being torn down (1964) Hillcrest was given the baptistry draperies as a warm memento from the mother church.
    The Rev. Donald Long tenured his resignation effective August 29, 1965, to accept a position in Urbana, Illinois.  Dr. Charles Treadway from the Sunday School Board in Nashville served as interim pastor until January 1, 1966, at which time Dr. Robert Dean became pastor.
    The resignation of Dr. Dean was accepted with deep regret on May 26, 1968, as he had accepted the editorship of the new "Life and Work" series of Sunday School literature.  On August 4, 1968, the church called J. E. Maddux as pastor, and a new parsonage was purchased in October of that year.
    Bro. Maddux remained until May 9, 1971, when he accepted a call to the Crabtree Avenue Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky.  until the church called Rev. Wayne Newby on May 10, 1972, Dr. Robert Dean returned to serve as interim pastor.

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