200 Years and Counting

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

This is the little country church I attend – Goshen Baptist. On Sunday we are going to celebrate our 200th year. To give a little perspective on how long that is, when Goshen first began meeting, the members couldn’t sing the national anthem because the “Star-Spangled
Banner” had not yet been written. They couldn’t claim to live in
Anderson County because Anderson county had not been formed. Lawrenceburg was a tiny village called Lawrence with no churches. James Madison was president and Isaac Shelby was beginning his second term as Kentucky governor. 

In December of 1811, the Salt River Church (formed from the Dover Baptist Church in Manakin, Virginia) granted a constitution to 29 members to form a new church. Goshen Baptist Church was constituted on January 4, 1812 by John Penney, Sr. (an ancestor of the J.C. Penney who went on to establish the department stores) and William Hickman Jr. with those 28 members. Goshen first met in homes before a log building was erected in 1813. By the time an addition of 20 feet was added in 1829, the congregation had increased to 107. John Penney served as pastor from 1812 to 1822. His son, William White Penney was ordained by Goshen Church in 1822 and became the church’s second pastor from 1822 to 1833. Both men died in the cholera epidemic of 1833.

In 1838 an anti-mission faction split from Goshen and formed New Goshen. This group led by Jordan Walker held to the belief that God would convict, save and preserve His elect without any added human effort. In fact, they believed attempting to assist God in His purpose was sinful. This split brought hard times to Old Goshen as shown in a poem written by Martha Penney Bell in 1838.
            Now we are scattered and bereft
            And but a few of us are left.
            Oft without a pastor we
            And in sad decline you see.

By 1870 the church building was no longer fit for use and the church began meeting in the Lyceum Schoolhouse. That was still their meeting place in 1886 when William Dudley Moore began his long pastorate at Old Goshen. He served the church for 24 consecutive years until 1910, and then returned in 1927 when the church called him for life. He was killed in an auto accident in 1935.  

In 1887, Bro. Moore began promoting the idea of building a church, and land was donated by James & Nancy Hendricks and J.B. & Nancy Case. The present sanctuary was dedicated on September 29, 1889 by Bro B.F. Hungerford, who made this entry in his diary. “Took an early start for Old Goshen church 7 miles from Lawrenceburg to preach the dedicatory sermon of their new house of worship. Br. Burford is a slow driver. Road hilly and rocky. Was two and one half hours going 7 miles. Was worried at the pace but couldn’t complain. Reached there at 10 1/2 a.m. House full of women and babies. Woods full of men and horses. After some choir singing, preached the sermon. Text Psalm 127:1 and Ex. 19:4,5,6. An old time basket dinner.” 

In 1910, ten members were dismissed to assist in organizing Kirkwood Baptist Church. In 1946, the church voted to erect a new building at an estimated cost of $12,825, but later decided to remodel and add Sunday school rooms. The Sunday school addition was dedicated in 1949. The Fred L. Knickerbocker Fellowship Hall was dedicated in 2006.

And now we’re celebrating 200 years with another of those “old time basket dinners” this Sunday. And if you’ve ever been to an old fashioned church dinner, you’ll know everybody there will be in for a treat. We’ll also have the treat of some great Gospel music as the Patriot Quartet will be singing at 10:30 a.m. Come on out if you live nearby.
Through the years, Goshen has seen times of great blessings and times when the doors seemed to be ready to creep shut, but through God’s grace and because of many dedicated members through the years, here we are celebrating 200 years.