A History of East Bend Baptist Church
Boone County, Kentucky
By Elizabeth M. Kirtley and Carlene Stephens
In 1950, the red brick was painted white and an addition of a
Sunday School Department was built on the back of the church building.
On September 25, 1994, East Bend Baptist Church will celebrate its 175th birthday. East Bend is in Boone County, Kentucky, and located approximately five miles south of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Rising Sun, Indiana, at 12246 Lower River Road, Union, Kentucky 41091.
Boone County was established in 1798 from Campbell County, so Boone County was just 21 years old when East Bend Baptist Church was constituted. East Bend got its name due to the fact that, at this location, the Ohio River bends and flows to the east.
In 1794, Bullittsburg Baptist Church was constituted as the first Baptist church in what is now known as Boone County. This church was constituted upon the doctrines of the gospel set forth in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Churches that adopted this doctrine were known as Regular Baptists. Bullittsburg is considered the Mother of most of the early Baptist churches in Northern Kentucky, because of their strong support to the new churches. In 1803, Bullittsburg helped to constitute the Middle Creek Baptist Church and most of Middle Creek's members went from the Bullittsburg congregation.
In 1819, a group of brethren in the East Bend neighborhood decided they would like to have a church in their own community.
When reading the church minutes of Middle Creek Baptist Church, dated Saturday, December 2, 1819, we learn that an application of brethren from East Bend, for liberty to constitute and helps for the purpose of carrying the same into effect: Bro. Robert Garnett, William Garnett, James Ryle, John Ryle, Elijah Hogan, William Brady, James Hawkins, Reuben Graves, and John Hawkins, are appointed as such to wait on these brethren on Christmas Eve Day at Bro. John Jones' home. On Saturday, January 2, 1820, pursuant to an arrangement at our church meeting,
the following loving members are dismissed from this church by constituting another: John Jones, John Neal, William Hodges, Washington Fuqua, John Hodges, Benjamin Hodges, William Smither, Agnes Neal, Nancy Neal, Rebecca Neal, Drucillah Fugua, Elizabeth Hodges, David Fuqua, and William Neal, amounting to 14. Robert Garnett was the pastor of Middle Creek Church at this time. We have not found any record that Bullittsburg was present at the constitution, but it could be called a Grandmother of East Bend.
The North Bend Association was organized in 1803. Messengers from Bullittsburg, Mouth of Licking, Forks of Licking, Flower Creek, Bank Lick, Dry Creek, Middle Creek, Twelve Mile and Brush Creek churches met in Dry Creek meeting house, in what was then Campbell County, now Kenton County, on July 29, 1803. The object of calling them together was duly considered, and it was decided to effect a permanent organization to be known as the North Bend Association.
The nine churches embraced 429 members. Prior to this time, the churches were members of Elkhorn Association, that met near Lexington in Fayette County. At the meeting in 1804, Mud Lick and Wilmington were received into the Union. This organization met once a year and each church sent messengers and an annual report of the church activities. The association wrote a circular letter and messengers carried this letter to various associations to maintain communication. Even though these churches belonged to the association, they were independent in their governing of their churches.
The first decade of the association was a great time of unity of faith and practice of brotherly love and fellowship. During this time, Point Pleasant Church was received in 1805 and Ten Mile in 1806. The first decade closed with the association meeting at Mud Lick, September 25, 1812. At this time, they received the Forks of Gunpowder, Bethel, Newport and Laughery, Indiana.
Approximately 277 members were received for baptism in the association during the year of 1811.
At the beginning of the second decade of the association, the meeting was held at Dry Creek on September 24, 1813. Our country was at war with Great Britain, the war of 1812. Many of our local citizens were serving under General William Harrison in preservation of the safety of our country and families. Because of the war, at the 1814 meeting, the association passed the following resolution: "This association, feeling for the cause of defending her rights, and also the languid state of Zion, do recommend a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, to be observed as such by all the churches of our body on the first Wednesday in November next." (1814) During this decade, the association began its first systematic contributions for foreign missions under leadership of Luther Rice. Twelve Mile Church was received in 1818, Crew's Creek, Sand Run, and Fredricksburg in 1819. On September 4, 1820, the association met at Middle Creek in Boone County. Bro. William Montague, pastor of Sand Run, preached the introductory sermon. East Bend attended the meeting of 1820, asked and was received in 1822, bringing the number of churches up to 24 with 1,227 members. Again, at this session in 1822, the association called for a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer in view of the languid state of Zion.
On August 17, 1821, the association met at Licking Meeting House, Campbell County, Kentucky. The messengers attending from East Bend were William Neal and William Hodges. Their annual report noted: three received by letter, one excluded, for a total of 16 members. Moses Scott served as Moderator and Absolom Graves was Clerk. Bro. David lillard, pastor of Ten Mile Baptist Church, preached the introductory sermon from II Timothy 2:19: "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having the seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His, and, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
On August 15, 1823, the association met at Crews Creek in Campbell County. The messengers from East Bend were David Fuqua and William Hodges. The annual report noted: 11 members and one Saturday meeting. Appointments of the yearly meetings for the ensuing year, as follows:1. At Mount Nebo, to commence the third Saturday in October, next, and Bro. Lillard and Bro. Graves to attend it.When we read in Deed Book F, Page 169, of the Boone County, Kentucky Court Records, we find in April, 1824, that Robert Piatt sold to the Trustees of East Bend Baptist Church, a parcel of land, located at the back of East Bend Bottoms. William Neal, William Hodges, William Smithers and David Fuqua. "In consideration of the love and goodwill, which Robert Piatt has and cherishes toward the cause of religion and for the consideration of one dollar, paid by the trustees, sells this parcel of land including the ground whereon East Bend Meeting House now stands."
2. At Brush Creek, to be held at the same time and Bro. Montague and Bro. James Dicken to attend it.
3. At East Bend, to commence the first Saturday in May next, and Bro. Robert Kirtley, of Bullittsburg, Bro. William Gosney of Brush Creek and Bro. Christopher Wilson of Forks of Gunpowder to attend it.
The meeting house was built by bricks that were fired on the ground where the house was built. This original building is the meeting place for worship of the present congregation in 1994. In the deed, it is expressly understood and declared that, if at any time hereafter, this said church shall be dissolved or otherwise become extinct as a church, that the said Robert Piatt, or his heirs, may repossess said premises as though there had never been a deed made. In the deed, there is reference to a school house on this property and a spring of water, that was for the good of promontory education in the neighborhood.
Since the records for the first 125 years of the work of East Bend Baptist Church were burned in a house fire in 1953, many of the precious memories are known only to God. It is definitely known, that as with most New Testament churches, there was much struggle and sacrifice made to keep the work of the Lord going. The church records recorded in this article have been found in the annual reports of the North Bend Association.
In 1826, the North Bend Association met at Bullittsburg Meeting House in August. Twenty-three churches sent messengers and annual reports. The messengers attending from East Bend were William Neal and John C. Bush. Their annual report noted: one dismissed by letter, three were excluded, one deceased, for a total of 22 members. East Bend had held one Saturday meeting. "It appearing to us, that it is a time of great distress in our land, both in church and state, and as we have recently sustained a great loss in the death of three of our Brethren in the Ministry, whereby the laborers in harvest are reduced in this section, it is, therefore, recommended to the churches composing this association, to observe the first Thursday in October next, as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer before God to help us in this time of need, and to increase our numbers and give us more labourers in the harvest; for it is great and the labourers few."
It 1829, East Bend sent William Kirtley and William Hodges as messengers to the North Bend Association, as it met at Salem Meeting House in Boone County on the third Friday in August. Their annual report noted: one dismissed by letter, two were excluded, for a total of 18 members. East Bend had held four Saturday meetings. For yearly meetings, the association appointed a meeting at East Bend, the fourth Saturday and Sunday in September. Bro. W. Spencer and J. Vickers were to attend.
In 1831, East Bend sent William Hodges and David Ryle as messengers. Their annual report noted: one by baptism, one dismissed by letter, one excluded, one
deceased, for a total of 21 members. East Bend had held one Saturday meeting. We note that William Hodges had been licensed to preach. At this meeting of the association, four churches made known that they desired to form an association of their own, namely, Ten Mile. Brethren were appointed to help them in their organization.
The 19th century was a very interesting time for this area. Boone County was learning to govern its people, survey and provide better roads, industry, churches, and communities. Most people in the county were farmers, which was also true of the East Bend vicinity. We needed trading posts, or stores, for items that could not be produced at home. We needed blacksmiths to shoe the horses and to maintain the wagons, as this was the means of land transportation. The Ohio River was another source of transportation for this area. As noted in the deed, there was a spring of water that was very important. The source of water supply came from springs and the bountiful streams. These helped to operate the saw mills and grist mills for the community. When it was time for newly professed Christians to be baptized, the churches held their baptismal services in the streams or river. Fresh fish from the streams provided food. The farmers raised cows, sheep, and hogs for food and to market, and horses for farm work, as well as for a means of transportation. They also raised tame fowl, such as, chicken, geese, ducks, and turkeys, as well as cultivating crops for food and market. In our churches, the preachers were often paid with portions of the farmer's produce. Our churches had hard struggles, but our ancestors were God fearing people and felt the need of church and God's love. The Baptist churches believed in strict discipline and we see, by our records, some were excluded from membership.
As the population grew, so did the iniquities. There eventually arose a difference in our churches about their beliefs. In 1840, the North Bend Association met at Sand Run Meeting House. Seeds of discord had been sown in the
association. At this meeting, six churches who decided against promoting missions, withdrew and declared themselves Predestinarian Baptists and joined the Salem Association. We have no records that this movement affected East Bend Baptist Church. East Bend has always been mission minded and their reports show that they made donations to the mission funds each year. Their first W.M.U. report was made in 1917 and Mrs. R.C. McNeely, wife of the pastor, was president, with 15 members and donations of $6.00.
In 1861, the country was involved in the Civil War. There were slaves in Boone County. From the very first, slaves were treated with great kindness by their masters in our area. Most of the churches were constructed with a gallery, which was for the slaves. These slaves were received into the membership of the churches the same as were the whites. Our early churches have slaves listed along with the whites, as charter members. In 1862, because of the Civil War, it was decided that when the North Bend Association met at Middle Creek, the session would be limited to one day. Slavery affected several big issues with the Baptists. There was a difference among the churches of the North and South, and as a result of this, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1844. At the meeting of Kentucky's General Association in 1845, the resolution was passed to become an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In 1869, because of the unrest caused by the war, the need to care for our orphans was recognized. A church in Louisville began our Baptist Orphan's Home in 1869. In 1915, we bought property and changed the name to Kentucky Children's Home. On September 4, 1994, they celebrated their 125th birthday with a day of praise and Thanksgiving. East Bend Baptist has always been faithful to support the Orphan's Home and their reports show annual gifts. Since Sunday Schools were layman's work, some of the churches felt it would violate the separation of church and state if Sunday School was held in
their churches. Our first Sunday Schools did not come into existence until the 1860's. The Civil War caused problems, both with the North and South, in obtaining paper and the printing of literature. Even though in East Bend's deed of 1819 they indicate their concern with public education, the first report given by East Bend on Sunday Schools was in 1917. W.J. Hodges was superintendent, with 33 members enrolled.
Another outgrowth of the Civil War was the Ku-Klux-Klan. It was a secret organization with membership open to native-born, white Protestant males, 16 years of age or older. Negroes, Catholics, and Jews were excluded and were often the targets of animosity and persecution by the Klan. Some of the disguised Klan members, in their long, white robes and pointed hats, entered our local churches during services. No special disturbance was reported, as they just wanted to make the people aware of their existence.
In Frank M. Masters' book, A History of Baptists in Kentucky, it was interesting to learn that in 1797, the Elkhorn Association gave an opinion of funerals as follows: "Funeral processions, attended with singing, conform too much to the anti-Christian customs and ought to be omitted in the Churches of Christ. But there can be no impropriety in a servant of Christ preaching at that time and place, for he is to be instant in season and out of season. Christian precedence ought to decide on the subject. But to suppose a sermon necessary to the decent burial of the dead, we wish discountenanced." When East Bend Baptist Church was constituted, we had no public cemeteries. People were buried on their personal property, or some churches provided burial space. East Bend Baptist Church had a burial space and some of the stones are still there in 1994. We found two of our charter members, W. M. Hodges died in 1834 and his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1832, and are buried there. Also, we found that Harvey, six year old son of G. W. and Ann Craig, died in 1868. G. W. Craig was messenger in 1875. John and Daniel
Piatt, as well as their wives, are also buried there. We learned that William Neal died in 1861 and his wife, Nancy, who died in 1863, are buried in the East Bend Methodist Church Cemetery. They were also charter members of East Bend Baptist Church. We further learned that William Kirtley, who was a messenger in 1829, and his wife, Ann, were buried on their farm in East Bend.
In 1875, the North Bend Association meeting was held at Big Bone Baptist Church. The messengers attending from East Bend were C. S. Carter, W. J. Ryle, F. Smith and G. W. Craig. The annual report noted: three dismissed by letter, one excluded, for a total of 29 members. They held four Saturday meetings. We learned that Charles S. Carter, Rising Sun, Indiana was listed as an ordained minister, so we assume he was pastor of East Bend Baptist Church at this time. To this date, we have not found any record stating who was preaching at East Bend. C. S. Carter was appointed to carry the circular letter to New Friendship in the Crittenden Association on the second Wednesday after the second Saturday, in August, 1876. C. S. Carter was appointed as a member of the Religious Exercises Committee. One of their duties was to appoint the preachers for the various sessions and the emphasis was to be on a Centennial Meeting to be held in Louisville in 1876. This was to commemorate the first Baptist sermon preached in Kentucky in 1776. They were reminded that from a mere handful, through the blessings of God, they had increased in number to about 130,000. Kentucky Baptists planned for a memorial fund for a monument, namely, to endow our colleges and place our educational interests on a sure and permanent basis. Some of the historical facts mentioned were as follows: Baptists were the advocates of religious liberty, for which they had suffered persecution, were whipped and imprisoned, and that to Baptists and Baptist principles, and to them alone, is due the religious liberty which we enjoy in this country today.
Rev. J. L. Presser
Rev. T. L Utz was called to preach at East Bend and was ordained as a minister of the gospel at Big Bone Baptist Church in 1888.
In 1894, the annual North Bend Association meeting was held at Bullittsburg Baptist Church, as this was their 100th birthday. The messengers attending from East Bend were J. J. Stephens, Caleb Ryle, J. H. Walton, and W. J. Hodges. The annual report noted: two baptisms, three by letter, eight excluded, for a total of 39 members. Pastor's salary and church expenses was reported as $I30.00. They gave $7.00 to foreign missions and $10.00 to the Orphan's Home. J. J. Stephens and Whitmill Ryle were selected to the Executive Board of the North Bend Association. Clerk for East Bend was W. J. Hodges, Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. John L. Presser, Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, was listed as an ordained minister and we assume he was preaching at East Bend.
Messengers to the North Bend Association meeting held at Madison Avenue Baptist Church, Covington, Kentucky, in 1898, were J. J. Stephens and Whit Ryle. Moderator of the meeting was B. F. Swindler, Covington, Kentucky and Clerk was D. E Castleman, Burlington, Kentucky. Joseph Walton and J. J. Stephens were selected to represent East Bend on the Executive Board of the North Bend Association. Special memorial was presented for Rev. Robert Kirtley, who had died in August, 1898. East Bend's annual report noted: six baptisms, two excluded, mic deceased, for a total of 40 members. Pastor's salary and church expenses were 5105.00. They gave $10.00 to missions and $5.00 to the Orphan's Home.
In 1903, the association met at Belleview (Middle Creek) Baptist Church with JO churches reporting 3,179 members. This was the 100th birthday of the issociation. The messengers from East Bend were J. J. Stephens, Whitmill Ryle and V. J. Hodges. The annual report noted: two by letter, two by restoration, one secluded, for a total of 43 members. Property value was listed as $600.00. Pastor's alary was $65.00, they gave $3.40 to missions and $8.35 to the Orphan's Home. J. J.
Rev. R. C. McNeely and wife, Jenny Pearl Allen,
Pastor of East Bend Baptist, 1916-1919
Stephens was selected to represent East Bend on the Executive Board of the Association.
In 1919, East Bend was 100 years old. The North Bend Association met at Florence Baptist Church. The messengers representing East Bend were J. J. Stephens, W. M. Aylor, and Mosely Pope. The annual report noted: three deceased, for a total of 40 members. Property value was $1200.00 and pastor's salary was S34.19. The budget was listed as $25.07. Sunday School reported 56 members, with W. J. Hodges as superintendent. The W.M.U., who gave $37.50 to missions, had 24 members, with Mrs. R. C. McNeely as president. W. J. Hodges was Clerk. The $75 million campaign was introduced. It was suggested by the District Board that East Bend give $1150.00. The association paid R. C. McNeely the sum of $94.00 for his services at East Bend.
During the years of the Depression, the ladies of the W.M.U. furnished funds for paying supply pastors so the doors of the church would remain open. At one time, when the church was undergoing a great trial, being without a pastor, Bro. Joe Walton, a deacon, drove six miles with his wife, in a horse and buggy, to keep the congregation together and the doors of the church open.
Some of the former pastors at East Bend have been: Rev. Robert McNeely, Rev. Fred Hawkins, Rev. John Ashcraft, Rev. Raymond Smith, Rev. Carl J. Wainscott, Rev. Elmer Cunningham, Rev. Donald White, Rev. Eugene Milby, Rev. Charles Minch, Rev. James Taulman, Rev. Jerry Beil, Rev. Steve Alford, Rev. Allen Abbott, with Bro. Kerry Spencer as present pastor. Rev. Albert Weaver, Rev. Bob Maurer, Rev. Edwin Kirkpatrick and Rev. Roy Johnson served as interim pastors.
The year 1942 brought electricity to the church building. In 1950, the red brick meeting house was painted white and an addition of a Sunday School department was added to the rear of the building. Inside, the pot bellied stoves were replaced with a modern oil furnace.
In 1952, new pews were bought and the front of the building took on a new look with the addition of a vestibule and bell tower. The bell was a donation from a family in the community and it still rings today, as we prepare for services each week.
In 1955, Vernon and Faye Stephens, donated land for a parsonage to be built. The house was built by the congregation of the church and is still used today by the pastor and his family. Another Sunday School addition was completed in 1968, and land, consisting of 1.48 acres behind the building, was donated to the church by the Gouge family.
In 1973, there was a need for additional Sunday School rooms. As they were completed, a baptistery was also installed in the church.
A partial list of deacons who have served at East Bend Baptist in recent years are as follows: Earl Locke, Roy Ryle, Raymond Ashcraft, Jewell Scott, Jim Shell, Bill Walton, Robert Maurer, Jess Bagby, Russ Cloyd, Bill Ogden, Paul Acra, Ed Shinkle and Ange Hodges.
The present congregation of the church is a growing body of dedicated Christians, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. East Bend Baptist Church is a very mission oriented church, with mission programs for several different age groups. Recently, we have started a van ministry. God has blessed us with a nice van, and several dedicated people to work with this ministry. God has blessed East Bend Baptist Church throughout the many years of its existence in a mighty way.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. In 1819, a church was formed to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and proclaim the gospel. In 1994, the congregation, in the same building, is serving the same Lord Jesus Christ.
PASTOR: Bro. Kerry Dale Spencer
CHURCH COUNCIL: David Wilson, Ron Cornelius, Debbie Pope, Juanita Bunger and Carleen Stephens
SUNDAY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: George Stephens
Sunday School Enrollment: 65
MISSIONS: Cooperative Program, Oneida Baptist Institute, Kentucky Baptist Homes For Children, Ten Mile Bible School
SPECIAL OFFERINGS FOR: Eliza Broadus, Annie Armstrong, and Lottie Moon
W.M.U. DIRECTOR: Juanita Bunger
ACTEENS DIRECTOR: Carleen Stephens
GA's DIRECTOR: Debbie Pope
RA.'s DIRECTOR: Ron Cornelius
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL ENROLLMENT: 69
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: 220
MESSENGERS TO THE NORTHERN KENTUCKY BAPTIST ASSOCIATIONAL ANNUAL MEETING: Ron Cornelius, Betty Taylor, Wilma Jones, Pete Mitchell, Debbie Mitchell, Mary Lou Spencer, Bro. Kerry Spencer. Alternates: Harry Utley, Marcie Dastoor and Carleen Stephens.
And upon this rock I will build my church ....
Matthew 16:18 And that Rock was Christ.... I Corinthians 10:4
MEETINGS OF THE NORTH BEND ASSOCIATION
HELD AT EAST BEND BAPTIST CHURCH
In 1841, after the six churches left the North Bend Association at the 1840 meeting, a special meeting was called on April 2, 1841 at Bullittsburg Baptist Church and it was determine the 1841 associational meeting be held at East Bend Baptist Church. This was done because the meeting had been scheduled to meet at the Forks of Gunpowder Baptist Church, and it was one of the churches that had left. In 1841, six churches reported for a total of 611 in membership. A total of 26 had been baptized during the year. Because of charges made against the North Bend Association by the churches that left, a resolution was made, stating, "Resolved and made known to the Regular Baptists of Kentucky, that this Association adheres to its original constitution and that her principles of faith and practice are in acceptance with her earliest action and the doctrine and views of the Regular Baptists throughout the United States."
The North Bend Association met at East Bend in 1849 - 1859, and again in 1870.
In 1890, the North Bend Association met at East Bend Baptist Church. Records indicate that 17 churches sent messengers and reports. East Bend messengers were J. J. Stephens, Whit Ryle, George Craig, Willie Kirtley, and Joseph Walton, Jr. In the obituaries, the following members were listed: Bro. John L A. Stephens and Bro. John Craig, Jr.
In 1912, the Association met at East Bend with 20 of the 22 churches sending messengers and reports. East Bend messengers were J. J. Stephens, D. T. Riggs, J. H. Walton, W. M. Aylor, and W. J. Hodges. W. J. Hodges was clerk of East Bend Baptist. The annual report noted: one baptized, two excluded, one death, for a total
of 54 members. The value of church property was reported as $1200.00, pastor's salan. was S140.00, missions received $6.35, the orphan's home received $5.50 and minister's aid received $3.90.
East Bend Baptist Pastors
Sources of Information
Middle Creek Baptist Church Minutes
North Bend Baptist Association - Annual Minutes
East Bend Baptist Church Minutes
Frank M. Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky
Researched & Written by Elizabeth McMullen Kirtley and Carlene Stephens
Bullitttsburg Churchbook April 1825
Brother Wm. Hodges of East Bend Church applied for helps to afsist, in the council & ordination of Brother Blackstone L. Abernathy to the work of the Ministry on the first Saturday of May next, the matter taken up, & agreed to send & thereupon brethren Rob't Kirtley, Absalom Graves Jun'r Wm. B. Haydon & George Gaines, are appointed to attend & report accordingly.
"Brother Rob't Kirtley reported that the helps appointed to East bend attended; and that bro. Abernathy was ordained."
Bullittsburgh Baptist Churchbook, April 1829
"Request was Rec'd from the church at East Bend by Bro. Wm. Kirtley for this church to send helps to afsist said church on the 4th Saturday in the present month in a matter of difficulty in said church. It is agreed that we answer said Request & Brethren Whitfield Early Edw'd Graves Reuben Graves & Rowland Botts are helps to attend said church"
"Bro. Edw'd Graves reported that himself & Brethren R. Botts & R. Graves attended at East Bend as a committee agreably to an order of this Church, and that the matter of dfficulty for which they attended was attended to, and was as he hoped amicably adjusted"
Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1877, p. 3.
In the early 1870s the association began the practice of having histories written of the various churches in the association. In 1876, S. P. Brady was assigned the task of writing the history of East Bend Baptist Church to be read at the 1877 associational meeting. The writer stated that, "owing to the irregular manner in which their records had been kept, it would be almost impossible to write a history that would do justice to the church. . . ."
[Supplied by Jim Duvall.]
Boone County (KY) Baptists
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