The Beginnings of Ninth Street Baptist Church
By Emma Jeanne Oglesby and Katie Marshall
1869 – 1985:
Greetings and Salutations:
As past recorders of Ninth Street Baptist Church, I was asked to compile the history, which I have tried to do. Our records were lost in the 1937 flood, and we are unable to give you exact details of our beginnings. Nevertheless, let us look into our origin as told to me by Sister Katie Marshall, a member of First Baptist Church of Covington. She was one of our pioneer citizens who had the distinction of being a public-school teacher. Jones & Simpson Funeral Home Mr. C. E. Jones, founder of Jones and Simpson Funeral Home, honored her as being his first schoolteacher in the years during slavery.
This is what she said:
In the year 1865, there was only one Negro Baptist Church in the city of Covington and all who were of the Baptist faith worshipped there together. It was called the” Big Baptist.”
The only other church for Negroes was a Methodist Church and it was called “Big Ninth.” After a while the membership grew to where there were more members than space. It was then that some felt a larger place was needed to accommodate the people. They held services the homes of whoever would open their doors. The exact location is not known, but in November 1869, they met with the Reverend. H. Haggard and they were organized into a body, and it was named “Little Mission.”
With Rev. Haggard, they found a place on Main Street near Fourth Street. Rev. Haggard remained with them seven years and taught them principles of the Baptist Faith and then he was called to another Church. In 1876, Reverend Davis came on the scene and served them while they were at the Old Market House Hall on Seventh Street near Madison Avenue. Rev Davis left, and they were again without a pastor for a short time.
The Growing Years:
Then Reverend Jacob Price was called as pastor in 1886. He was a very well-informed minister and gave them much to help them to know more about our doctrine. Rev. Price was called to another church and left in 1890. Reverend J. F. Drane was called to the pastorate in 1890 while they were worshipping in the Murray Hotel on Harvey Street. Rev. Drane was not satisfied with that location, and it was under his leadership that they were able to acquire the property on East Ninth Street.
It was a small frame building, which formerly housed the Saint James African Methodist Church. By that time, they had been under the leadership of four pastors, had worshipped in many locations, and had grown from a poorly organized group to a well-organized church with a desire to do great things for the Master. Rev. Drane was called to another church, and they were again without a leader.
About that time, they were ready to improve the conditions of the building. Therefore, in a few months, they called as their pastor, the Reverend H. Miller about 1900, and he started the renovation of the old structure and made some progress doing so. It was a slow progress and he left to go elsewhere in 1908. They were without a pastor once more and during that time Brother Nelson, our lay member of the church who was strong in the faith held the church together by holding weekly prayer service and Sunday school. During that time, various ministers were called to preach on Sundays. In December 1911, the Reverend William Taylor of Lexington, Kentucky was called to the pastorate. Rev, Taylor was a preacher with a wide vision and soon set out to complete the work Rev. Miller had started. The cornerstone was laid in 1914 and the “Little Mission” was named “Ninth Street Baptist Church.” They worshipped in a basement church for seven years and it did not seem that they would ever be able to finish the building. It was during that period that the church learned that nothing is lost in talking to GOD – She prayed on, and that no time is lost in waiting on GOD – She waited on. GOD was in the plan.
Deacon Henry Washington and his wife Maggie who lived at 323 East 11th Street, (the exact spot where the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church stands) mortgaged their home so that the Ninth Street Baptist Church could be completed. In the month of April 1921, they marched upstairs into the newly completed Sanctuary. It was like a dream come true and the result of many sacrifices and the answer to many prayers. Under the leadership of Rev. Taylor, the membership increased by baptism and relationship, and all groups were organized. One of the first organizations was the Usher Board, with Sister Mary Jones as its first president. Sister Virginia Jackson organized the Missionary Society in November 1921, with Sister Maggie Washington as president.
The Official Staff: Ten Deacons were ordained, James Mallory, John Webb Sr, James Webb, Calvin Whatley Sr, George M. Lacey, Alex Armstrong, John Owens, William Hall, Taylor Johnson, and Henry Washington. Five Ministers were ordained. Elijah Kelly and sent to Calvary Baptist Church, Cincinnati, OH. George M. Lacey, and sent to First Baptist Churches, Flemingsburg, and Augusta, KY. G. W. Buckner, and sent to Mount Zion Baptist Church, Latonia, KY. Robert Hughes and Nelson Orr, who remained as associate ministers of Ninth Street. Music Department the Church Choir was organized, and the Kitchen Utensil Orchestra was organized with Sister Elizabeth as president of both. A church bus was brought for the Sunday school, and for transportation elderly members.
Our Church was accepted as a member of Howard’s Creek District Association and remained until 1974. Reverend Taylor went to his eternal rest on January 25, 1931, after serving as pastor for twenty years.
Reverend G. W. Buckner, who was assistant pastor was appointed to serve until a pastor was called. The church entertained the State Women’s Missionary Convention in their Annual Session and all reports of a grand time – 1931. Bro Andrew Taylor, who was licensed to preach by his father
Rev. William Taylor was examined and ordained on February 23, 1931, by Howard’s Creek Association under the auspices of Ninth Street Baptist Church.
After a month prayer services, the church held a business meeting presided by Rev. G.W. Buckner. Reverend G. M. Lacey was elected as pastor on August 14, 1931. Rev. Lacey assumed his duties as pastor in the same month. He was a member of the church and knew the financial situation. He appointed the two captains, Sisters Virginia Jackson, and Maggie Washington to raise funds.
Soon, the strain was over. The membership grew to a greater capacity, financially and spiritually.
The Usher Board was revived with Sister Hattie Whitlock as president. She served until her death and Sister Matilda Stewart; vice president was elected president. The Senior Choir was organized in 1933.Six ministers were ordained, Wm P. McCullough, Fred Stockdale, Herschel Glenn, A. J. Lively, Wm Cruse, and Albert Lowe. Thirteen deacons were ordained, Wm King, Ernest McCoy, Wm Brown, Charlie Neal, Walter Arnold, Jess Hollie, Jordan Wright, James Stewart, Joseph Brothers, Fred Stockdale, James Stigall, Robert Martin, and Edgar Covington. The flood of 1937 severely damaged the Church, and we could not get back in until September. First Baptist Church let us hold service in the basement for several Sunday.
The Covington Board of Education let us hold service in the auditorium of Lincoln Grant School. The men of the church repaired our building from downstairs to upstairs and the women prepared and served at least two meals a day. No one received a penny for his or her work. It was during a lunch period that Sister Katie Marshall related to me the origin of our church. After one year, they were organized into a church, and named the Second Baptist Church of Newport Kentucky, with Rev. Albert Lowe as pastor. The Church bought four parcels of land and the foundation was laid for the expansion of the church. After 30 years of service as pastor, Rev Lacey went to his eternal October 29, 1961, Rev. Wm P. McCullough Sr. assistant pastor served as acting pastor until May 1962 at which time he was elected as our pastor. At the end of three-and one-half years, he was able to complete the expansion of the church. New lighting system, a public address system, and air conditioning was installed. With a new baptistery, new organ, new piano and new furniture for the pastor’s office. The sanctuary was redecorated, and the entire church was renovated with many necessary features added. An outside parking lot was built. As a means of celebrating our work, we held a “Family Affair,” and invited Moderator G. M. Smith as a special guest.
Evergreen Baptist Church Choir and members accompanied him when he rededicated the church and membership. We entertained the Howard’s Creek District in our newly decorated building, and all had a grand time. During the tenure of Rev. McCullough, Brother Eddie Jordan, who had been a member of Ninth Street Baptist Church for 27 years, reaffirmed his faith, and was baptized into the fellowship of the church. A short time later, he acknowledged his calling into the ministry. Rev. Jordan was examined and ordained into the Gospel Ministry in 1967. Five men were called to service and ordained as deacons, they were Wm Sechrest, Randolph Pope, Nathaniel Davis, Charles Harrison, and Andrew Knox. Rev. McCullough served as pastor for 10 years and resigned June 17, 1972.
Rev Eddie Jordan, an associate minister of the church was appointed to serve as interim pastor for six months or until we could call another pastor. Rev. Jordan served as over-seer with Christian dignity. During his tenure, Rev. Edward James came to us (letter pending) from First Baptist Church of Kennedy Heights. Rev. Jordan appointed him to assist him with Sunday School and he did a very fine work.
Some of our member went with Rev. McCullough and the church was not at its best. In trying to hold our church with the remaining members, a Loyalty Service was planned for August 6, 1972. It was an all-day service with dinner and a program in the afternoon, and registration of all who would remain with the church. About 80 members pledged their loyalty to remain at Ninth Street Baptist Church. Rev. J. R. Garr and Macedonia Baptist closed out the service that evening. Rev. Garr gave us some helpful advice and commended us for holding on.
The members gave three hundred forty-five dollars in that Loyalty Service, and the spirit of cooperation was rekindled. Under the guidance of Rev. Jordan, we held a Mortgage service August 20, 1972, and paid off all of our indebtedness of one thousand three hundred dollars. Brother Richard Fowler was elected as executive secretary of the trustee board to assist Deacon James Webb, Treasurer who had begun to fail in health. Rev Jordan did not serve out the time. He had been elected as well, because some of the members felt we should get a pastor as soon as possible.
Rev. Poyntz was elected October 21, 1972, and came to us October 29, 1972. We met with Rev. Poyntz November 6, 1972, and he outlined his plan for 1973. During his leadership, we were able to buy two more parcels of land, which enabled us to enlarge the parking lot and blacktop it. New furniture was purchased for the pastor’s study and tile was laid on the lower level, and new red carpet was laid over the entire sanctuary. New seats were purchased for the choir and the entire church was redecorated.
Brother Richard Fowler, who had been put on trial as a deacon, acknowledged his calling into the ministry. After preaching his trial sermon, he was licensed as a Gospel Minster. Later, he was examined, and ordained to the Gospel Ministry in September 1979. Five men were called into service, and ordained as deacons of the church, Frank Gillespie, John Sheffey, Walter Comer, Leroy Jackson, and Joseph Miller. Brother Ralph Huley was accepted as a member and as a deacon from the First Baptist Church of Dry Ridge Kentucky. Which we knew had gone out of existence.
The Brotherhood was organized, a church bus and a van were purchased during that time. After being with us for eleven years, Rev. Poyntz resigned and left us May 23, 1983. Reverend Richard Fowler the assistant pastor was elected as acting pastor. A weeklong prayer service was held by the membership.
At the regular business meeting chaired by Rev, J. B. Porterfield, (a member of the General Association) Rev. Richard Fowler was elected as pastor of Ninth Street Baptist Church. He was installed into office on Sunday October 3, 1983. His father the Rev. H. E. Fowler prayed the installation prayer. Rev. Fowler had served as associate minister of the church and had taken time to prepare himself to fill the office. He knew the strength and weaknesses of our church and with dedication; he set out to do what was needed.
He has made a few noteworthy accomplishments. The Brotherhood has been restored and the Young Women’s Guild has been revived. Our Sunday school attendance has increased, and the membership has increased by letter, baptism, and restoration. In June 1984 a “Mortgage Burning” ceremony was held, it was the cancellation of all our debts. A scholarship fund was initialized and grants of two hundred dollars each were given to two high school graduates in September 1984. The membership voted to name it “The Rev. Richard B. Fowler Scholarship Fund.” As has been the tradition of the church throughout the years, a fine spirit of cooperation exists between the pastor and the membership, which makes for a harmonious working condition.
Where are we Going:
As we close this year’s activity and stand on the threshold of a brand-new year, let us accept the instructions given to us by Rev. Fowler in his message January 6, 1985. “A prescription for 1985 and beyond.” 1 Corinthians 15: 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth is the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are thankful to God, for our pastor Rev. Fowler and his Wife and Children.
We are thankful to God, for all of our associate minister and their families.
We are thankful to God, for all of our deacons and the wives and families.
We are thankful to God, for all our members both young and old.
We thank God, for all whom have labored here, and who now sleep in silent repose. Especially Deacon Henry W. Saunders who served as secretary of the church for almost 50 years and passed on his records to me which has enabled me to give you this account dating from 1915. We pay tribute to Deacon Joseph Miller, Deacon Randolph Pope, Brother Charles (Buddy) Clay, Sisters Lucille Clark, Elizabeth Watson, Ruth Ann Taylor, and Willa Belle Jackson who answer the Roll Call this year. May their souls rest in peace.
Let us remember the charge entrusted to us, that of holding high the principles and spirit on which the Ninth Street Baptist Church was founded. “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.”
Sis. Emma Jeanne Oglesby, Recorder
Rev. Richard B. L. Fowler, Pastor