100th Anniversary Video Script
Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Louisville, KY
May 10, 2008
Hurstbourne Convention Center Grand Ballroom
4/24/2008 2:07 AM
Compiled by Andy Rawls 429-0463
from Leo Crimson’s manuscript history & John Arnett’s detailed timelines.
For Recording by Rick Forest, Thursday 9:30 a.m.
In December 1907 forty-three members of Clifton Baptist Church met in the Shouse home on Frankfort Avenue with a dream. For a decade, there had been discussions about planting a Baptist church in Crescent Hill.
Meeting at the Methodist Church on Ewing, these forty-three were joined by 17 others and constituted Crescent Hill Baptist church on Sunday afternoon, January 12, 1908.
Worship soon began in rented space at the new Hartmetz Hardware store at Hite and Frankfort with 100 hymnals purchased for $18.00 and a borrowed parlor organ.
With strong lay leadership, the new church grew rapidly. In the fall of 1908, John F. Griffith was called as the first pastor.
By 1910, construction was underway on a building at Frankfort and Birchwood. The first service in the new 400 seat sanctuary was held on Christmas Day, 1910.
“Days of conflict” came early to the church when Pastor Griffith took a hard line on “dancing, card-playing, and kindred worldly amusements.” The deacons initially passed a resolution of support, but when charter members began leaving, Griffith resigned in the fall of 1912.
Oscar M. Huey, an experienced pastor and evangelist succeeded Griffith, serving from 1913 to 1918.
The repayment of a large share of the church’s indebtedness, and expanded mission concerns marked Huey’s tenure. By 1915, a vibrant Sunday School’s attendance reach a record 334.
Elizabeth Grawemeyer was a child at the time,
Elizabeth Grawemeyer: “He loved children ….. (more to be added when transcript is done)”
The next pastor, Dr. Charles L. Graham led Crescent Hill from 1918 to 1940, the years between the Great Wars.
The congregation grew rapidly and soon needed more space.
After taking down the 1910 building, the church broke ground in June 1926 for the current sanctuary.
The new church was dedicated the following May. Only a couple of blocks from the newly relocated Southern Seminary, the church became home and family for seminary faculty and students for more than six decades.
Roy Honeycutt: “During the seminary’s golden years, there existed a dynamic, interactive relationship between the seminary and the church. This was demonstrated most graphically in the fact that the congregation built an auditorium far beyond its own needs but did so in order to accommodate the seminary’s commencement programs and special lecture series.” RLH 1997
The church had borrowed $250,000 for the building. Unfortunately, within six years, church income fell to half of its 1929 level. Foreclosure on the church property was only prevented by the extraordinary commitment and sacrifice of members
Gaga Woodward: “Steve Jones came to SS classes and asked for money twice a year at debt payment time..” (I’ll correct this quote when the transcript is done, but this is essentially what she said)
Under the leadership of Dr. William C. Boone Crescent Hill continued to grow and expand its ministries during the turbulent years of World War II While 123 members served in the armed forces, at home Crescent Hill reached out to soldiers at Bowman Field. Red Cross classes were held in our buildings.
Wartime was also revival time. Over 100 joined by baptism in 1941.
After the war, Dr. Rollin S. Burhans became pastor, serving from 1946 to 1960.
While the Korean War and the McCarthy hearings held the attention of the nation, Crescent Hill developed dynamic church organizations and outreach ministries. The expanded programs called for a new educational and family life facility. One of the first in the region, the 1956 building included facilities for basketball, skating, crafts, drama and extensive weekday ministries.
Dr. Burhans “…I had a feeling that the church ought to minister to the whole person not only spiritually and intellectually but also physically and uh environmentally and socially. And this was one of my dreams and ambitions. They knew when I came that I'd be pushing for that.” (Dr. Burhans recalled the dream:) (RB 1997)
Even as the church was building at Frankfort and Birchwood, it was investing in an inner-city mission ministry in the Portland neighborhood beginning in 1953. Many served at the Portland Bridge Mission, especially in the 1950’s and 60’s.
In the east end, Crescent Hill formed Beechwood Baptist in 1953.
The decade of the sixties was marked by the exceptional pulpit ministry of Dr. John R. Claypool. In a period of violence and social upheaval, Dr. Claypool addressed the deepest concerns of the world and brought to them a Christian message of integrity and hope. The racial crisis was a major focus of concern.
New church staff positions included social ministry and pastoral care.
(Anne Davis 1966-70) (Howard Hovde 1969-73)
The church experienced tragedy in 1970 when Laura Lue Claypool, the pastor’s daughter, and Laura Sparkman, the minister of education’s daughter, both died of childhood leukemia.
John Claypool: It dawned on me that Laura Lue was in my life the way Isaac was in Abraham's life. I am infinitely sad that she only lived for ten years and nothing will take that away, but I can never be angry because I never deserved Laura Lue in the first place, so I give thanks that she lived. (from Chicago 30 Good Minutes Interview)
Dr. John E. Howell served as pastor from 1973 to 1978. These were years of re-evaluation and long-range planning. The church offered a word of comfort to a changing community as the school systems merged and court-ordered busing began.
Race continued to be a focus with pulpit exchanges, but the concern about gender equality grew. In this period, Crescent Hill elected the first women deacons.
Betty Cook: “They made this decision after some study that women would be allowed to be nominated and three of us were nominated, Jane Kent, Gaga Woodward and I and all three of us were elected and all of us all three of us felt such a responsibility so much was resting on our shoulders to do it as well as we could and it was it was a wonderful opportunity.”
The Howell years saw the start of a 16 year tradition of youth camp “In the Oaks” at Black Mountain, North Carolina and the beginning of the regular Women’s Retreats.
Dr. Howell led a church delegation to the Baptist World Alliance in Stockholm and later a visit with English Baptists.
(1975, June 1977)
Crescent Hill welcomed Dr. H. Stephen Shoemaker as pastor in May 1981. During his eleven-year ministry, he brought a prophetic, yet compassionate voice to the pulpit.
He opposed forces seeking to redirect the Southern Baptist Convention and sought to bring healing to the bereaved and reconciliation to those alienated by Viet Nam and AIDS.
A year after Dr. Shoemaker arrived, the church called Bill Johnson as Minister of Education.
When parts of the church building literally began to crumble, the "Together We Build" campaign restored church facade, and added the Birchwood Lobby, an elevator, and a new church library.
A tithe of the money raised helped to build a new chapel for the North Brazil Baptist Theological Seminary.
Shoemaker encouraged contributions to the church’s endowment fund to provide a long-term solution for ageing facilities.
In 1985, the church welcomed Louie and June Bailey who nurtured and continued a tradition of excellence in music and worship. Productions such as “Amahl and the Night Visitors” have helped us reach out to the community.
Many still remember “The Cotton Patch Gospel” when the sanctuary became a giant tobacco barn.
In “Narnia,” our children crawled through a wardrobe in the baptistry.
As controversy intensified in the SBC, Crescent Hill sent its youth to the Baptist World Alliance in Glasgow, Scotland to provide them a larger vision of what it means to be Baptist.
In 1991, Crescent Hill joined the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the new home for those cherishing historic Baptist principles.
In spite of denominational turmoil, Crescent Hill continued its long tradition of meaningful Bible study for children and adults.
Mildred Moody: It has really given me a place of service but more than that it has given me a family. These women are just like sisters to me and as I study each week, I find that I learn more about the bible than I’m ever able to tell them….
In 1994, Dr. Ron Sisk was called as the ninth pastor and served eight years. He brought a focus on the needs of Crescent Hill, and a search for social justice in the larger Louisville community. In this period, the church sponsored a Bosnian family and some lost Boys from Sudan, adopted a people group and built a Habitat for Humanity house -- all while continuing the traditional missions outreach.
In a continuing response to denominational upheaval, Crescent Hill loosened it ties with the Southern Baptist Convention and added an affiliation with the American Baptist Churches.
(photos of meeting October 1 2000 moderated by Leila)
At the same time, the physical church plant was updated through the “Love Finds a Way” campaign in 1997. The children’s areas of the 1956 building received a face-lift and air conditioning. The gym was enhanced. A new platform and carpet improved the sanctuary, which had been largely unchanged since 1926.
In 2000, the church began what has become a major missions emphasis with the journey of Bill Johnson and Paul Capps to Chaing Mai, Thailand. Many others have represented our church in Thailand since then including Greg Pope in 2008.
Dr. Winford Hendrix came in January 2003 as an 18-month transitional pastor. In preparation for calling a pastor, Hendrix helped the church examine its organization and develop a vision for the future. The 1960’s committee structure was replaced by a more fluid “gift-based teams” approach emphasizing lay leadership and shorter-terms of service. It was also a difficult time as the church sought to balance budget realities with staff assignments and ministry needs.
W. Gregory Pope became Crescent Hill's tenth pastor in March 2005 and challenged the church to walk in the way of Jesus and find ways of interpreting the word of God to the Crescent Hill community and the world.
In the spring of 2007, the church welcomed the first of almost 200 Karen refugees that have added diversity and new life to corporate worship.
By the end of the summer, renovations on the 1956 fellowship hall were completed in time for Bill Johnson's 25th anniversary celebration.
Over our first one hundred years, we have used our facilities as a base for a strong outreach in our community and around the world.
In the 1920’s we raised $45,000 for SBC missions and institutions.
In the 1920’s and ‘30’s, Crescent Hill joined with other congregations to support the Billy Sunday revival and provide relief for the victims of the1937 flood.
Crescent Hill Baptists participated in the Billy Graham Crusades of 1956 and 2001
In the wake of the 1974 tornado, Crescent Hill helped organize United Crescent Hill Ministries, which provides a continuing support network Crescent Hill, Clifton, and Clifton Heights.
Through the years our church has made strong appeals for justice and peacemaking. (Coffin Stassen Adams)
Since 1981 the church has sponsored an annual Divorce Recovery Workshop and provided year-round support groups for divorced persons and their children.
Recognizing the rise in latch key children in our neighborhood, Crescent Hill started the after school program 27 years ago, which today continues to serve community families.
Our Woman’s Missionary Union has provided missions education for children and channels of learning and giving for women to extend Christ’s love around the world. The church membership has provided leadership to numerous ministries of our association and to our state convention.
(McCall Green Street,Huff & Claypool KBC Presidentst)
During this time, we have given significantly to foreign missions and sent daughters and sons to the mission fields at home and around the world.
Our first one hundred years have been splendid years of ministry. We’ve had our “days of calm and days of conflict.” May we pray that God will “bind our hearts and hands as one” for a second century of abundant service.
CRESCENT HILL BAPTIST CHURCH
2800 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, Kentucky 40206