First Baptists in Kentucky
1776 – On this date the Baptists arrived in Harrodsburg, Kentucky and the first recorded Baptist preaching was done by William Hickman and Thomas Tinsley. Two years later Hickman was ordained in Virginia and spent eight years of service there.
Though not imprisoned at that time he received a great deal of rude persecution. In the summer of 1784 the Hickman family moved permanently to Kentucky and for the next four years William ministered at every opportunity which resulted in the establishing of the Forks of Elkhorn Church, where he pastored until his death in 1834. That was a period of forty-five years except when he was out of fellowship with the church for two years over the issue of slavery, which he opposed.
During the great revival period of 1800-1803, Elder Hickman baptized over five hundred converts. William was born in Virginia on Feb. 4, 1747. His parents died while he was but a lad, and he became a ward of his grandmother. His educational opportunities were limited, but his grandmother gave him a Bible and insisted that he read it.
When he was fourteen he was apprenticed to learn a trade, and in nine years he was secure enough to marry his master’s daughter Sarah Sanderson. Soon after, he learned that the Baptists (then called New Lights) were in the area, and against his wife’s wishes, he went to hear the preaching.
The next day he went to a public “dipping” of converts and was deeply moved even to tears. The next fall they moved to Cumberland County, KY, and the Lord brought his wife to faith in Christ.
William was saved under the preaching of David Tinsley on Feb. 21, 1773 and baptized two months later, after rejecting Episcopal christening.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 133.
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First Baptists in Kentucky
Living Sacrifices for God’s Honour
Roger Holland had come from the affluent family of Sir Robert Holland, and in the first year of the reign of Bloody Mary, Roger married Elizabeth, a Christian maid of Master Kempton to which Roger was an apprentice. Apparently, Roger Holland became a member of the Hill Cliffe Baptist Church about this time. “Two of the signatories to the letter of 1654 from Hill Cliffe are of the same name, Holland. This points to, at any rate, a probability of his having been a Hill Cliffe Baptist, perhaps minister there.”
On one occasion as forty people gathered for a service of prayer and the expounding of the Word, twenty-seven of them were carried before Sir Roger Cholmly. Some of the women made their escape, twenty-two were committed to Newgate, who continued in prison seven weeks. Previous to their examination, they were informed by the keeper, Alexander, that nothing more was requisite to procure their discharge, than to hear Mass. Easy as this condition may seem, these martyrs valued their purity of conscience more than loss of life or property; hence, thirteen were burnt, seven at Smithfield, and six at Brentford; two died in prison, and the other seven were providentially preserved…They were sent to Newgate, June 16, 1558, and were executed on the twenty-seventh.
As was so often the case, Roger Holland’s death at Smithfield instead of destroying the faith of the Baptists only made it stronger. His relatives and friends were afterward more determined than ever to uphold the principles for which he died! May we with these heroes of the faith and with the hymn writer state and mean, “Thou (my Lord) art more than life to me,” for then our lives shall be in a true sense “living sacrifices” for God’s honor.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 261 – 262.