South Fork celebrates 230 years

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By Keith Knight

 South Fork Baptist Church celebrated their 230th anniversary this year.


South Fork Baptist has been a part of local history dating back to the pioneer days in the late 1700’s.

Past congregations have encountered Native American attacks, slavery and civil war disputes, building constructions and the prohibition of alcohol.

Past anniversary celebrations have seen the likes of attending church in pioneer costumes, Nolin River baptisms and arriving to worship in a horse and buggy.

This year’s event hosted a carnival fundraiser, benefitting the student ministry, along with as much of the 230-year history they could squeeze into a compact disc given to each member of the congregation.

The service itself included former South Fork Pastor Norm Brock delivering the message, Lynn Association Director of Missions Gordon McDowell praying over the Lord’s Supper, the oldest and youngest current pastors, Clyde Allen and Caleb Phelps, leading the Lord’s Supper and oldest member/deacon Madison Mather closing the service in prayer.

South Fork Baptist Church is involved in many local ministries but also tries to expand their fellowship through mission trips around the globe.

“Over 1.6 billion people have no chance to hear the name of Christ and we feel called to obediently and joyfully share his name,” current South Fork Pastor Jonathan Carl said.

Since 1996, South Fork members have departed on 11 mission trips to other countries and 29 within the United States.

The trips range in size from as small as a couple spending six weeks in Ghana to Mission Fuge with more than 30 students.

Thirty-nine pastors have led the church since its beginning.

 “I feel blessed to be able to serve and lead a church with the rich heritage and history of South Fork. It is incredible to see what the Lord has done through the faithfulness of his people over the past 230 years and exciting to think about what is ahead,” said Pastor Carl.

If you are interested in more detailed historical information, South Fork has compiled all its available history onto a compact disc available at the church.

South Fork is located at 4915 New Jackson Highway, two miles South of Hodgenville, on Highway 31-E.


1782 - South Fork Baptist Church was organized in present day LaRue County around an oak tree beside the Nolin River.

The 13 original members, led by Benjamin Lynn and James Skaggs, came together to form the South Fork Separate Baptist Church.

1804 - The church’s first building, a log cabin was built in what is now the cemetery and the first official records were recorded.

1808 - Part of South Fork Separate Baptist Church split off to form Little Mount Separate Baptist Church in favor of an abolitionist position on slavery.

1849 - Saw the church’s construction of a second building. The building, built on wooden frames, would be used for over 35 years.

1863 - The fighting caused by the civil war period shut down South Fork from 1862 to 1863.

1874 - South Fork’s first organized Sunday school classes took place.

1885 - Construction of South Fork’s brick building was completed in 1885.

1924 - Women’s Missionary Society was formed.

1933 - R.P. Merritt compiled a history of the church up until that point.

1951 - South Fork’s first Vacation Bible School took place and a new church building was constructed. The building is now used as the children’s sanctuary.

1962 - Parsonage dedication.

1977 - South Fork’s first mission trip got under way 35 years ago.

1991 - Fellowship hall dedication.

2000 - Current sanctuary constructed and then dedication took place in 2001.

2012 - South Fork Baptist Church’s 230th anniversary.