A Lasting Legacy: Brushy Fork Baptist Church Approaches 175th Anniversary | Characteristics
When Brushy Fork Baptist Church was founded in 1846, William Owsley was the 16th Governor of Kentucky and James Polk, the 11th President of the United States, was in office.
In the 175 years since, the Panther Community Church at 4418 Kentucky Highway 554 has survived the American Civil War, surface mining and four changes of location.
And on December 5, the Daviess County Rural Church will celebrate its 175th anniversary at 5:30 p.m. with a special service, to be held on the exact date of its founding.
Reverend Jason Mayfield, who has been the pastor of Brushy Fork Baptist for 13 years, said he was grateful to be part of a church with such a legacy.
âI believe in the people of our church,â said Mayfield, who is from Lexington. âI am grateful to everyone who served over these 175 years to keep him alive. I’m just one small piece of this puzzle.
Steve Young, a fifth generation Brushy Fork Baptist, 65, has kept much of the church’s original records that date back to its original charter.
Young said the âpen and penâ files will be on display along with photographs and other artifacts from throughout the church’s history.
âIt started with two men who met at one place – it was an old log cabin – and they started to pray for a church; these two men were heard praying aloud for this to be formed by a young boy, âYoung said. âThe young boy finally came back and two became three. And from there, it moved on.
The church was named after Brushy Fork Creek, which was much closer to its second location. Its first pastor was IR Allen.
The congregation moved twice before settling on a site on Kentucky Highway 815 – first building a log cabin, then a larger church in 1875.
One of the highlights of the church is that which occurred on December 10, 1884. According to church records, 150 people were baptized in Panther Creek with over 1,000 people in attendance.
In 1902, a church bell, made in Owensboro for $ 36.75, was added to the belfry.
In 1971, Young said his father was one of the trustees who purchased the property at Kentucky 554, where Brushy Fork Baptist has since taken up residence. The church bell from 1875 now resides on the front lawn as a reminder of the past and of how far we have come as a continuing church body.
âThe old church had no running water, no toilets, and the oven had been installed there 50 years earlier; the building was built in 1875 and the infrastructure was in poor condition, âYoung said.
The 1875 church has since been razed, but a marker with the dates 1875-1973 has been placed in the original location near one of two cemeteries owned and still maintained by Brushy Fork Baptist.
Shortly after the COVID-19 hit, a youth activity center was completed at the back of the church. The congregation, which has remained intact, has since met there to allow more space and potential growth.
Young said he would like to see anyone with a connection to the church come forward for the special service.
During his time with the church, Young held positions such as trustee, deputy pastor, Sunday school teacher, cemetery superintendent, moderator, and treasurer.
ââ¦ I feel like I served my ancestors by doing what I could like they did when they were here,â Young said. “… I hope someone from the next generation steps up.”
For Mayfield, he looks forward to the anniversary service and realizes the responsibility he has as a pastor to move Brushy Fork Baptist forward.
âAt 175 years old, I have shoes to fill,â Mayfield said. “I feel like there’s a kind of weight on my shoulders to make sure the church continues and that I’m doing my part to be there for the next 175 years.”