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The First Baptist Church of Newport

This article was written in 1872

     The materials for the brief historical sketch of the Newport Church, we have obtained mainly from the report of a committee appointed by that Church, at a meeting of business in June, 1851, to prepare a history of the Church. The committee consisted of the clerk of the Church, brethren Pedro, Clutter, Orr and Boyd. We propose to give portions of that report and other facts that may seem to us to be of interest.

The Newport Church Extinct

     There was a Baptist church constituted in Newport on the 8th of August, 1812, with seven members. Two of these were Joseph McPike and Charles Helm. This Church continued antil [until] about 1827, a period of about fifteen yeaars. About the year 1817 or '18, Henry Roach was ordained to the ministry. Although he was not a great preacher, in the ordinary acceptation of that term, yet he was a devotedly pious man, as we have been informed, and labored hard to build up the Redeemer's kingdom. The Church from some cause never prospered very greatly. The highest number reported was thirty-four. Joseph McPike, Henry Roach and Jospeh Todd were the principal active members. This Church dissolved about the time the Campbell County Association was organized, and was not in the constitution.
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     The present Baptist Church of Newport was constituted at the Mt. Pleasant school-house, about two miles south-east of Newport, on the 11th day of February, 1840. The members with which the Church was constituted were the following, to wit: Henry Walker, Joseph Todd, Rachel Gaddis, Caroline Walker, Margaret Walton and Elizabeth Cooper six in all. Of this number two have passed away. One is still a member of this Church (when this report was made).

     The ministers officiating in the constitution were T. W. Haynes, John Stevens, W. J. Morin and George Graden. After the Church was constituted, she made choice of Elder T. W. Haynes as pastor. This was done on the 15th of February, 1840. Joseph Todd, Henry Walker, James Taylor, jr., and J. W. Tibbats were elected trustees.

     The cause of Christ seemed to prosper for a while. The Church seemed alive, so that, on the following September, at the Association, she reported five additions by baptism and ten by letter whole number twenty. Elder Haynes was at that time in the vigor of man hood, zealous, energetic and popular. It is supposed that through his efforts mainly the Church was constituted. But his mind at that time seemed to lead him more to the evangelical than the pastoral work. He resigned the pastoral care of the Church May 10th, only havng served in that relation three months.

     The Church was then without a pastor until the 18th of October following, when Elder James Vickers was chosen, and served the Church two years, preaching twice a month. His labors were blessed. In the language of the committee: "He seemed to labor for the good of the Church and almost without pay, profit, favor or emolument." The same may be said of most of our ministers of that day. During the two years there were thirteen added by baptism and seven by letter, making the whole number forty. After Elder Vickers resigned as pastor he served the Church as a supply ofr several years and in the revival of 1850 rendered valuable servcie.

     The meetings of the Church were held from the 1st of February, 1843, to April, 1846, when the basement of the present house of worship was ready for use. The house was built under very discouraging circumstances. When it was commenced it seemed almost like feeding the multitudes with five loaves and a few small fishes. But the feeble band said, "we will arise and build for God, he will propser us." Henry Walker, Joseph Todd and J. M. Boyd were the three active members, and were untiring in their persevering efforts, to push forward the work. They collected funds, superintended the work, and even worked themselves. Brother Walker carried mortar.

     At length by almost incredible efforts the walls were up and the principal timbers of the roof, when a heavy storm prostrated the walls. All hopes of rearing it again seemed vain. But there were some who were not to be discouraged who had faith in God. Brother Walker said we must never give it up. He went to work with his characteristic zeal and determination. The work of rebuilding was promptly commenced, and energetically prosecuted, with many discouragements; but notwithstanding all, in the latter part of the year the basement was ready to be used for worship.

     William Stillwell was ordained to the ministry in September, 1845. He was chosen pastor in November following. While he labored for the Church the Sabbath School was much enlarged and thirteen were added by baptism and seventeen by letter, whole number eighty. In the spring of 1846 Rev. Mr. Burlison was chosen as assistant pastor. The object of this was to have preaching every Sabbath. Elder Burlinson had just finished his theological course at the WesternTheological Seminary at Covington was a fine scholar and earnest preacher. He was a good worker, very energenic, and his labors were blessed. He labored with the Church until the following September when he was called to preach the Gospel in Texas.

     In May, 1817, Elder Jermiah Mell was called to the pastoral care of the Church. He was a man of good mind, very industrious and persevering. He did a good work while pastor of the Church. It was while he was pastor that the principal story of the house was completed. While the plastering was going on, it is said he shouldered the hod and carried mortar, givng a noble example of an earnest Christian worker. He continued to be pastor of the church until January, 1849. There were a few additions during his ministry.

     The Rev. Mr. Berry was chosen pastor in the spring of 1849. He served the Church about six months. Nothing of special importance occurred during his ministry. In the latter part of the year 1849, they attempted to call a young man by the name of Stanley; but, not being able to unite, they failed, which threw them into confusion. Some of the members were very dissatisfied because he was not called, and threatened to take letters; but, after some time, the discordant elements were reconciled, and the Church was once more in peace. But the Church always seemed to be feeble. It never grew vigorously like some. It appears that the Church had never had a general revival of religion. There were times frequently when there was some interest awakened, and some brought into her fellowship; but these were only feeble buddings. The little band seemed to struggle against a strong tide of opposition, and but for the faithfulness of a few, they would have been compelled to abandon the work, and give up to the enemy. There is not estimating the worth of a few faithful ones in a church. At the close of 1849 there were about eighty members.

     We now enter upon a new feature, and the most remarkable in some respects in the history of the Church. About the 1st of January, 1850, Elder R. D. Campbell, professor in the Western Theological Seminary at Covington, hearing of the condition of the Church, determined to visit them, and see what could be done.

     He came to the Church a stranger, and saw a handful of disheartened and dosconsolate believers, ready almost to give up. He commenced by givning them some sholesome advice on the duty of prayer and Christian activity. The following from brother Tichenor will serve to illustrate his introduction to the Church at Newport:

     "I heard Dr. Campbell say that he first entered Newport Church one cold, wintry Sabbath, an entire stranger to all present. There were only a few members present. He took his seat in the back part of the house. Having no one to preach for them, they were about to dismiss without singing, prayer, or any religious service. He arose and walked to the front, and gave them a lecture at some length, and when he had finished, dismissed them, and left the house as he entered, a stranger to all present. In a short time, he received a notice that he was called as pastor of the Church.

J. L. Tichenor."

     Thus he was called, and began his labors under the most discouragigng circumstances. He commenced preaching of nights, and continued tehn weeeks. His custom was to leave his home in Covington, and walk all kinds of weather, cross Licking river in a skiff, for there were bridges then, and the banks were muddy and slippy, go to the Newport Church, a distance of near two miles, preach and walk back home, and be ready for his duties in the Seminary next morning.

     In this way he continued the meeting for a period of ten weeks. The result was the Church was greatly revived and 160 added; and, remarkable to say, about two years have elapsed, and only four have been excluded. (Report of committee.)

     The Church at this time (1851) was in a prosperous condition, numbering about two hundred.

     About the 1st of April, 1850, some fifteen or twenty members took letters, and were constituted into a church at Jamestown (now Dayton). In September, 1851, Elder Campbell resigned the care of the Church, being called to another field of labor. Then Elder J. W. Brown was called as pastor. He accepted the care of the Church in June, 1852. Elder Brown was a good preacher, and devoted all his time to the Church at a salary of four hundred a year. He served the Church until April, 1853, when he tendered his resignation. Under his faithful labors the Church enjoyed a good degree of peace and prosperity, and some additions by letter and experience were made.

     In September, 1853, Elder A. Druty was called and preached three Sabbaths each month. During this year coldness prevailed. There were no additions, but a good deal of strife and confusion.

     In September, Elder D. H. Dobbs was called. He preached for the Church two years. During this time there ws a goodly number added. There was peace, and the Sabbath School propsered. Elder Dobbs was a very modest and unassuming man, highly esteemed by the flcok over whom the Holy Ghost had made him overseer. He moved to Mississippi.

     In October, 1856, Elder Wm. Stillwell was called to [his] second pastorate. He continued until sometime 1859.

     During the months of February and March, 1857, the Church enjoyed a revival season during which there were some thrity-six added by baptism, and some by letter. Also during the year 1858 there were some additions by baptism and letter.

     Unfortunately difficulties crept into the Church, the peace of Zion was disturbed; many members were excluded, and others absented themselves from the public service and defied the discipline of the Church. The difficulties were not reconciled until after the pastor resigned. A council of brethen was called, and met with the Chruch. A compromise or reconciliation was effected; some of the excluded members came back, and peace to some extent restored.

     In June, 1860, Elder Going was called to the pastoral care of the Church and continued to April, 1861. During this time some five or six members were received by letter, none by baptism. Elder T. N. Wise was called to the care of the Church in 1861 and continued to June, 1863.

     In May, 1863, Elder J. L. Tichenor was called and commenced his labors the first of July. He served the Church as pastor until the latter part of 1865.

     The first year of his pastorate there were 18 added by experience and baptism and 9 by letter. Nothing special of importance occurred during the remainder of his pastorate. Elder Tichenor was a good preacher and pastor.

     Thus we have briefly sketched the history of the Newport Church to the close of the year 1865, a period of 25 years; 260 persons have been baptized into her fellowship. Has had thirteen pastors.

     She is now (1866) without a pastor, with a church house, but not well situated, and in apeparance and capacity much behind other churches in the city. She one among the best Sabbath Schools in the city, which is an encouraging feature for the future prosperity of the Church.

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[From Campbell County Association Minutes, 1872, pp. 9-12. Jim Duvall]

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