Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church History
Mt. Pisgah To Observe 100th Anniversary Sunday
Contributed by Tamara Kincaide
By Vonnie France & Buel Richey. Central City Times-Argus Thurs., Sept. 4, 1969. Page 8
The Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary Sunday, Sept. 7 with an all-day meeting. It will also be a welcome to the new pastor, the Rev. Leslie Baker, who commenced his new duties Sept. 3. On the program will be Sunday School at 10; worship service with the message being brought by a former pastor, the Rev. Henry D. Johns at 11; fellowship meal at 12; message by a former pastor, the Rev. Charles Smith, at 1:30 p. m., followed by the church history presented by the Rev. S.A. Kittinger, also a former pastor. All living former pastors plan to attend and will have a part in the services. Former members and friends of the Mt. Pisgah congregation are encouraged to attend.
The complete history of the church as printed in W.L. Winebarger's “History of the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association” follows:
Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church
In the early 1800's this area of western Kentucky was the destination of many immigrants from the East, particularly Virginia. Into Muhlenberg County came a young man on horseback who was to have a profound influence on many lives. Charley Vincent came here about 1824, took up 2,000 acres of land in what is now the Midland-Crescent area, returned to Virginia, and by 1828 had brought a young wife, Elizabeth Highley, then 18, back to the homestead. Her brother and two of his came with them then or later.
Charley and Betty had 11 children from whom many of Mount Pisgah's present members are descended. Those 11 children had 84 children of whom 11 are still living at this writing. They are Mrs. Leona Jones of New Cypress, Mrs. Edina Bruce of Gishton, Mrs. Clara Vincent of Central City, Mrs. Alice Wilkins of Midland, Mrs. Chloe Wilkins of Bremen, Charley Vincent, Clarence Vincent and Palice Vincent of Central City, their brother Alvis of California, and John L. Jones of Midland. Most of these are still members of Mount Pisgah and attend regularly.
At least 50 families of the church are descendants of Charley and Betty. A portrait of them has been prepared and hung in the Education Building of the church. Members of his family helped organize the church, which was located on his land to which a deed was later secured for the church. Exactly how the church came into existence is not known. There was an organized group, which met in various homes during the Civil War. There is no record of their activities prior to 1869, when on Sept. 18, 40 members formed an organized body and that day added three by letter and three by experience and baptism. The manner in which they conducted the Lord's business that day is typical of the way the church has attended it ever since, which no doubt partly accounts for the fact that it has never suffered a decline, but has grown soundly, both spiritually and physically.
They met at what was called Charley's Chapel, a schoolhouse on the same site as the present church building for the purpose of “organizing a congregation of worshippers at that place into a church.” This indicates they had been holding services in the schoolhouse [for some time]. They organized a presbytery of Elders James Bennett, William Bennett, W.H. Woodburn and Charles Karnes. James Bennett was moderator and R.O.G. Walker was elected clerk.
The order of business was as follows: prayer, letters handed in and read, covenant read and adopted, rules of decorum read and adopted, the church named Mount Pisgah, the right hand of fellowship by the moderator and council, and the last commission of our Lord committed to the church by Elder William Bennett. The church then went into business session by electing Bro. Robert Reynolds moderator and Bro. T.D. Forehand clerk. Elder Charles Karnes was elected pastor for a year, and James H. Vincent and T.D. Forehand were elected deacons, after which a presbytery was called to ordain them. The same men served as in the organizing presbytery. Elder William Bennett examined the deacons as to their faith and “found them Orthodox.” After imposition of hands by the presbytery, Elder W.H. Woodburn gave them a charge. The deacons returned to the church, and after prayer Bro. R.O.G. Walker, the doors were opened to receive new members. Brothers James H. Vincent, T.D. Forehand, and Robert Reynolds were elected messengers to the association and a letter written. Never was so much done by so few in one day!
This order of business was followed and minutes recorded from then until now. Only a few meetings are missing from the record and two of those were when the weather was so extreme that no conference was held. Mount Pisgah continued in service, ordaining ministers and deacons, receiving members, caring for the needy, collecting for missions, looking after the moral and spiritual welfare of the membership, and participating regularly in the affairs of the association beginning with R.O.G. Walker and Robert Reynolds in 1870, H.D. Divine, 1915; S.A. Kittinger, 1915; J. Paul Shanks, 1924; Walter Gossett, 1946; Toletis Vincent, 1951; Carroll Bruce 1955; and Willard Brown in 1960. The Reverend Carroll Bruce and his wife Frances are missionaries in Japan.
Until recent years, it was customary to call a pastor annually. Thirty-two have served. Following is a list of their names and the years of their service:
- Charles Karnes, 1869
- Robert Reynolds, 1872
- R.O.G. Walker, 1873
- Charles Karnes, 1875
- T.W. Pritchett, 1878
- R.O.G. Walker, 1879
- T.W. Pritchett, 1880
- W.W. Williams, 1881
- T.W. Pritchett, 1882
- R.O.G. Walker, 1883
- L.J. Stirsman, 1887
- R.F. Hocker, 1891
- J.W. Gill, 1892
- W.H. Bell, 1894
- Dallas Mercer, 1895
- W.H. Woodson, 1897
- W.W. Woodson, 1899
- Samuel Brown, 1906
- W.W. Woodson, 1908
- W.W. Schwerdifeger, 1909
- J.N. Jarnigan, 1910
- J.W. Gill, 1916
- H.D. Divine, 1918
- J.W. Gill, 1925
- Paul Shanks, 1926
- W.W. Schwerdifeger, 1929
- H.D. Divine, 1933
- S.A. Kittinger, 1934
- E.E. Spickard, 1950
- Charles Smith, 1957
- H.D. Johns, 1962
- Roy E. Gibson, 1965
The church clerks and their terms of service are:
- Thomas Forehand, 1869
- S.P. Jones, 1881
- A.R. Wilcox, 1886
- G.T. Gish, 1904
- P.K. Vincent, 1910
- S.A. Kittinger, 1915
- R.C. Jones, 1892
- 0.T. Kittinger, 1894
- L.A. Vincent, 1897
- C.M. Jones, 1901
- J.J. Groves, 1921
- C.H. Divine, 1948
- A.L. Hawes, 1959
- Wayne Divine, 1966
The family solidarity and sound instruction of pastors, parents and teachers may very well account for the stability and success of Mount Pisgah. A wonderful spirit of brotherhood and respect for each other is a notable characteristic of the church. Of the nine ministers sent out, five were descended from Charley Vincent, as were 24 of 30 deacons, 12 of 14 clerks, five of the pastors, and most of the choir directors, pianists and organists.
The five choir leaders from 1869 are Luke Vincent, Bob Jones, Andrew Vincent, Charlie Jones, who served from 1890 to 1940, and Herbert Bruce from 1940 to now. They have served well and long, training the choir and participating in singing conventions.
In our current missionary zeal, we tend to think the early church fathers were concerned only with the needs of their own and they're near neighbors. Not so. Before 1900, special collection was made regularly and designated for missions. At first the committees consisted of women. Later men were added to the committees. The ladies were asked to donate their Sunday eggs for missions and, in 1914, a foreign missionary was invited to speak. By 1926, the decision was made to contribute monthly to missions. As the people were made more aware of the need for increased support and knowledge about missions, an organized society was established. This was in 1952. The Women's Missionary Union and its auxiliary groups have grown tremendously, thereby increasing the gifts to the mission boards. The young people, through their study in their mission literature, are knowledgeable about all aspects of the mission program.
The present members owe much to the many faithful of the past, such as Uncle John Lewis Jones, who was the first member to title, the first Sunday School Superintendent, a deacon since 1921, assistant moderator in the past, has always been active and is now regular in attendance at 92 years of age. There have been a number of outstanding saints of his kind, men and women.
Jesse Groves will long be remembered for his faith and works over the years. He was a deacon from 1946 until his death in 1959, church clerk for 27 years during which he kept an excellent record of the business proceedings, was Sunday School Superintendent for many years and an inspiration to all who knew him.
It is difficult to separate the physical and spiritual growth of the church. After its inception in 1869 the founding members continued to meet in the schoolhouse until a log house was built adjacent to it. A frame structure was erected next to it in 1894, a year after the loss of 30 members who left to establish Cedar Grove Church. This building stood until 1948 when the present concrete block sanctuary was built. Soon it was inadequate to house the growing congregation and adequately provide for their educational needs, and it was expanded in 1958. By 1965 it had overcrowded these facilities and a four room structure was added to the front and many improvements were made for comfort and beauty. It is now a lovely inspirational edifice, which has already uplifted the congregation.
Another organization that has been of inestimable worth in improving all phases of the church's activities is the Training Union. Brother Mabra Vincent was its director from 1947-1960, when he resigned due to ill health. In those years his unlagging efforts resulted in a sound program of training of both old and young. Now the Training Union is about half the numerical strength of the Sunday School, but may be considered more than half as strong in other respects because it consists mainly of the members who support all the programs and activities of the church. The leaders have always been interested in public affairs, as they seemed to realize the affairs of the public became their own as individuals and as a church.
As early as 1926, they sent a petition to congress asking for an amendment to prohibit the use of the States' money for parochial or sectarian schools. Two years later a petition was sent to the congressman asking him to use his influence to “secure a Christian Amendment to the Preamble to the Constitution recognizing God as the only source of all law and order and the Christ as Savior and King in the supreme law our country.” And in 1949, the associational clerk was authorized to write to Congress requesting that federal funds not be used by religious schools. Today, while many Southern Baptists are torn by the question whether to accept federal loans for construction of colleges, most of the Mount Pisgah people remain adamantly opposed to it as a breakdown in the separation of church and state.
Mount Pisgah stands on the threshold of a glorious future in carrying out the Great Commission here in its own neighborhood and in support of local missionary effort, as well as that of the state, nation and foreign fields, if only she will look to her strength that has steadily been building. Surely it has been to a purpose.
Editor Winebarger's note
Some statistical data gleaned from the minutes of the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association, which is not, included in the main body of the history follows: The membership of Mt. Pisgah increased from 195 in 1907 to 432 in 1966; her Sunday School enrollment, from no Sunday School in some of the earlier year to 209 in 1963 and 265 in 1966; her total expenditures, from $50 in 1907 to $33,470 in 1959; her mission contributions, from none reported during some of the 1930's to $12,241 in 1965; her property valuation, from $800 in 1907 to $61,000 in 1965; her pastor's salary, from $120 in 1915 to $6,000 in 1965. Mt. Pisgah has baptized 603 people into her fellowship from 1907 to 1966.