RICHMOND, Ky. (KT) — The founding fathers of Hays Fork Baptist Church have long passed, but their legacy was celebrated Sunday as the small congregation observed 200 years of ministry in Madison County.
From its humble beginnings, the church was built on love and their long-standing compassion is a tradition that has stayed true during the past two centuries. Some in the congregation grew up in the church and still regularly attend services.
More than 100 attended the morning worship service, including Kentucky Baptist Convention co-interim director Curtis Woods, who presented pastor Sam Smith with a certificate marking the church’s milestone.
Danny Davis, mission strategist for the Tates Creek Baptist Association, also spoke, while former pastor J. Gordon Henry delivered the morning sermon. Woods, Davis and Henry celebrated the church milestone and placed a heavy emphasis on the foundation of the church — the Bible.
Hays Fork Church pianist Edna Carol Maupin’s has deep roots within the congregation and was raised in the church, nestled between Richmond and Berea on U.S. 421.
“My great grandparents were here, my grandparents and my parents (attended church) here,” Maupin said. “We have real precious memories. I love it here. I feel like I’m home.”
Lynn Reed, a member who grew up in the congregation, said the church “is a swell place.”
“I love the people and they are wonderful,” she said. “My parents attended here for years and years and we just have a nice, wonderful church. The main thing I always enjoyed was the choir. We just had a choir of young kids and we had such a wonderful time. I enjoy singing.”
Long-time member Dana Sparks currently serves as church clerk and is Sunday school secretary She also participated in the choir as a youngster and has been involved in the congregation all of her life.
“The way our congregation cares for each other and how we’ve cared for each other throughout the years in good times and bad times (is special),” she said. “We’re close-knit. I love to sing and I would have died if I wasn’t in the choir all of the time. I always loved choir and there were so many people (in the church). It’s a feeling of belonging to something, being a part of something and that is just really, really special. We always had big, big vacation Bible School and I loved Bible School. We witness to people and let people know they are welcome here, no matter what they bring with them, they are welcome here. That has stood the test of time, over and over again.”
Laura Todd Reams, placed in cradle row at the church prior to her birth in 1932, also made the trek from Fruitland Park, Florida to attend the special services. Reams said the call to teach Sunday school came from a lesson she taught at Hays Fork when she was 14-years-old. She has been teaching Sunday school and playing the piano ever since and remains active at Eagles Nest Baptist Church in Florida.
She said the organist at the time taught her to play the piano.
“She taught me two songs,” said Reams. “When she wasn’t (at church) we had to sing those two songs. Since I lived right across the fence (from the church) it was easy to get to and I had an excellent Sunday School teacher. If I was late for church, the music director stood in the steps and yelled for me.”
Smith said the church mission in the past will remain a driving force in the future.
“Indeed, there is much to be thankful for in looking back over the last 200 years plus of ministry,” Smith added. “But, if we are not at the same time looking to the future, we will not reach our community for Christ.”