The Richmond Register

March 25, 2013

First Baptist Church, a history and dedication

By Fred Engle
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — It was to the Regular Baptist Church that Green Clay’s daughter, Mrs. Matthew W. Johnson, gave the Richmond lot at the corner of West Main Street and Lancaster Avenue.

The Regular Baptist were often described as a non-missionary denomination. There are still a number of them scattered through the mountains of Kentucky.

Cassius Marcellus Clay, Mrs. Johnson’s brother, had joined a Baptist church while attending Yale University up east.

In 1830, a one-story wooden church was erected. During the Battle of Richmond in the summer of 1862 and for six months afterwards, it was used as a hospital by the Union army.

In 1874, the federal government, never the most speedy of institutions, paid the church $500 for use of the building and any damages.

In 1882, the Missionary Baptist Church of Richmond bought a one-half interest in the property.

A second building went up in 1883.

In 1888. the Baptists sold the back half of the lot to the Christ Episcopal Church for $1,000.

The big event of 1903 was the long-anticipated funeral for the long-living Cassius Marcellus Clay – the Lion of Whitehall.

Services were conducted in the First Baptist Church with burial in the Richmond Cemetery.

In 1908, the Missionary Baptists bought out the ownership interest of Regular Baptists for $6,250.

In the late 1920s, the church split, and a number of the members followed Pastor Tew down Main Street to form the Immanuel Baptist Church.

In 1924, the third church building was dedicated.

There were actually four dedication ceremonies conducted on May 11, 1924.

The dedication ceremony proper took place at 10:30 a.m. Charles Grey was the organizer of the ceremonies.

Visiting ministers included Dr. A.C. Johnson, Dr. W.A. Fite, Dr. R.L. Telford and Dr. John H. Sampey. Mrs. T.D. Chenault Jr. presented a musical solo.

At the same time, a young people’s service was conducted at the First Christian Church.

Prof. W.C. Jayne presided, Miss Nettie Kate Evans was the organist, Mrs. R. Dean Squires sang a solo and Dr. J.A. Tolman gave the address.

At 2:30 p.m., an organ recital was presented by Charles Gray, organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Cincinnati and organ professor at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Mrs. J.P. Van Winkle sang a solo, “Come Ye Blessed.”

The evening worship service was conducted at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Sampey preached again. A quartet made up of Mrs. T.D. Chenault, Miss Mary Bolton, Mr. J.C. Bowman and W.C. Arnold sang “God So Loves the World.” Then came the benediction and the day was over.

Information for this section of the column comes from a program in the Sarah Yancey Barger Collection.

As the church grew in the 1920s and 1930s, the members bought additional adjoining downtown property.

It moved from the downtown location to larger facilities on the Eastern Bypass with a dedication ceremony on June 6, 2004.

David Greene has written a history of the church, complete with many old photographs.

It is hoped he will succeed in getting it published and add to Madison’s heritage.

PUBLICATION NOTE:  Dr. Engle passed away March 8 at age 83. He had already written a number of Madison’s Heritage columns that his family is making available for publication.

Readers are reminded that a compilation of some 60 Richmond Register articles from over the last 40 years by Dr. Engle and Dr. Robert Grise is available in the paperback book, “Madison’s Heritage Rediscovered.”

Combined with relevant photographs selected from Eastern’s Archives by Dr. Engle’s granddaughter, Kathryn Engle, who edited the volume, the book is available for $19.99 plus tax.

Autographed copies may be found at the Richmond Tourism Office (Irvinton) on Lancaster Avenue, ClearSight Optometry and Baldwin CPAs on Main Street in Richmond.

Autographed copies  also are available by calling Kathryn Engle at 859-893-0947 or 623-1150.

These books make excellent birthday presents for family or friends. Keep in touch with out-of-town family and friends by sharing this gift of home.