Rev. Wendell H. Rone
"Mr. Kentucky Baptist"
by Ben Stratton, Pastor
East Hickman (KY) Baptist Church
Historian, Preacher, Professor, Author. Each of these words describes the unique life and ministry of Wendell H. Rone. Rone was born on August 17, 1913 in Butler County, the only child of Jacob and Isa Taylor Rone. His family soon moved to McLean County where Rone was converted at age 12 and was baptized into the fellowship of the Livermore Baptist Church. As a youth Rone was greatly influenced by two pastors of the church, Roy Mason and E.E. Spickard, both of which were strong Baptists. It was not a surprise when Wendell surrendered to preach in 1935, as his motherís family had produced such famous Kentucky preachers as Alfred Taylor and H. Boyce Taylor.
Rone graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1939 and again in 1951, as well as from Murray State University in 1950. During this time he remained active in the ministry pastoring eleven different Kentucky Baptist Churches including thirteen successful years as the first pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Owensboro. He later spent eight years teaching preacher boys at Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College in Mayfield, where he served as Dean of Graduate Studies and then as President.
Without a doubt, Rone's greatest influence was through his writings on Baptist history and doctrine. It was here that he authored 27 Kentucky Baptist church and association histories and as well as numerous books on Baptist doctrine. He felt that Baptists were forgetting their past and needed to be reminded of their great heritage. Rone was also not ashamed of the old Baptist theology known as Landmarkism and many of his works show this influence. His "Believer's Immersion and the Lord's Supper" (1961) was written to stem the growing tide of alien immersion and open communion in Southern Baptist churches. In "Southern Baptists and the Concept of a Catholic Universal Church" (1959) and "What Is The Church" (1963) Rone sought to show the primacy of the local nature of the church. In his most famous work "The Baptist Faith and Roman Catholicism" (1952) Rone declared his belief in the perpetuity of Baptist churches. He also republished old doctrinal works by famous Kentucky Baptist preachers of the nineteenth century such as J. S. Coleman, J. J. Porter, and J.M. Dawson that had been all but forgotten.
Though Wendell Rone died on July 29, 2003 his life is a shining testimony to us as 21st century Baptists. It shows us the importance of knowing our heritage as Kentucky Baptists. It shows us the necessarily of reaffirming the distinct doctrines that Baptists believe. But most of all it shows us the blessedness of a long life lived in faithfulness and service to Jesus.
[Used with permission of the author. ó Jim Duvall]
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