The Continuing History of Crescent Hill Baptist Church

(1960 through 2011)

The decade of the sixties was marked by the outstanding pulpit ministry of John R. Claypool who served from 1960-1971. 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, and in 1961 the first persons of color, seminary students Mr. & Mrs. Sam Akande from Nigeria, joined the church. In 1968, Rev. F. G. Sampson of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church was a guest preacher. In the spirit of ecumenical concern for social issues, Claypool participated with other Louisville religious leaders in a weekly radio program, "The Moral Side of the News." For several years after 1963 the Sunday morning worship services were broadcast on WKYW.

New church staff positions included social ministry and counseling, and the committee structure was enlarged. Wayne Craig , Minister of Education from 1961-64, facilitated a small group retreat at Spring Mill and another silent retreat in 1965 at Earlham College. Among the retreatants were the Scotts, Tates, Betty Cook, Clara McCartt, Rodney Beck, et al. Subsequently many small cell groups began meeting for prayer, sharing and Bible Study. Bob Kilgore (1964-68) and Temp Sparkman (1968-72) served as Ministers of Education, and in 1967 a "School of Christian Living" started on Sunday evenings. Mahan Siler (1961-64) and Robert Lively (1964-66) served as Associate Pastors in the mid sixties.

In 1968 during a year of tragedy in which Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated and Thomas Merton died, the church experienced it's own sorrow when during the summer of that year the Claypool's six year-old daughter, Laura Lue, was diagnosed with childhood leukemia. She died in Jan 1970 and the Sparkman's daughter, Laura, died of the same disease in July of the same year. From this tragic experience John Claypool delivered four sermons which later formed the basis of his book, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler (1974) in which he reminded us that "Life is Gift." The congregation would need to reaffirm that truth many times over the next forty years.

In exercising the gift of the life of the congregation, the church initiated the first Belle of Louisville cruises in 1963 and annual Wigginton-Jones banquets. In 1967 members facilitated Bridge Mission’s move to a new home on Portland Ave. That year the church installed the first elevator (in back of the sanctuary) and started a fund for a new organ. Bob Myers, Minister of Recreation (1960-69), began the first summer youth camping program at the James Tate farm near Eastwood, and Monty Justice, and others coached many youth basketball and softball teams. Elgene Phillips (1959-61, Harold Martin (1961-63), Dwight Cobb (1963-69), David Graves (1969-71), Tony Mobley, French Ball, Wendell Brigance, and others worked with the youth and recreation programs. A weekly youth newspaper, The Narrator, appeared briefly in the early sixties, edited for two of four years by Alan Culpepper; Youth Weeks and Sweetheart Banquets continued as annual events. Many seminary professors, students, and their wives taught in the Sunday School and other educational programs of the church. Interrobang and "Youth Dialogues" began in this era as well. Sunday School attendance in 1966 was 1756. Forrest Heeren (1953-1964) and Arnold Epley (1965-1973) directed the church's music program in which many age level choirs participated.

During the decade of the 60's Crescent Hill began to embrace more fully its interaction with the larger world. Having been the "seminary church" since the 1930's many seminary trained missionaries had worshipped here, and Dr. Gaines Dobbins and the WMU had led a strong mission emphasis by the church. In her history of the WMU (written in 1988) Blanche Goetzman has chronicled the rich history of that organization since the church began. In 1950 Sue Pyles Oliver and her husband were commissioned as missionaries to Japan, and in 1963 two other youth of the church -- Charlotte Bruner Ragan and Martha Yocum Lytle -- were commissioned as foreign missionaries. In 1955 Miss Rose Marlowe had retired from a distinguished career as a missionary to China and Japan and settled into to the Crescent Hill congregation. By 1963 WMU Gold Star Fund money which had helped Miss Rose was being directed to assist the Olivers, Ragans, and Lytles. In the early sixties missionaries to Nigeria Rev. and Mrs. Neville Claxon operated a home for missionary kids on Crescent Ave, and the group was active in the life of the youth. Dr. Claypool and his wife traveled to Japan in 1964 where he was the featured speaker at the annual meeting of Southern Baptist missionaries in that country. During that same year youth of the church (Ron Meisburg, Grace Goodson, and Bill Buckalew) presented a drama "Conquest in Burma", a play based on the life of Adoniram Judson. During her term as WMU President (1967-68) Betty Cook recalled fondly the "Mission Possible Fair" they sponsored. By 1970 the Baptist Women were involved in five mission groups, two round table reading groups, one prayer group, and a group which planned activities with the International students at SBTS.

In 1971 the Claypools left Crescent Hill, and he became pastor at Broadway Baptist Church in Ft. Worth. Howard Hovde (1969-1973) served as Dr. Claypool's associate and worked closely with Dr. Bill Hull during his subsequent interim. Laura Lue was ill when Hovde arrived in the summer of 1969, and Howard provided valuable service to the church and Dr. Claypool. Hovde later moved on to become the director of Laity Lodge in Texas. During this interim period the women of the church had a retreat at Cedarmore in 1972 which was the forerunner of the annual "Women's Retreat" which began in 1979, and in 1973, Crescent Hill ordained Betty Cook, Gaga Woodward, and Jane Kent as the church's first women deacons. The supplemental chancel organ (to left of the podium) was dedicated in 1972.

John E. Howell served as pastor from 1973 to 1978. These were years of introspection and re-evaluation as the church sought to define its role in a changing community and world. The by-laws were rewritten in an effort to move closer to the New Testament ideal of the church. Dr. Howell was much beloved for his deep compassion for people and his gifts for pastoral care.

Shortly after his arrival Dr. Howell addressed an awards ceremony at Ballard High School speaking on the topic, "This Is My Father's World," and he continued Crescent Hill's engagement with the wider world, as the church hosted a delegation of some 90 Baptist brethren from England for two weeks in 1973 and a smaller contingent in 1976. Many enduring friendships developed, and in 1977 Howell led a delegation from the church to visit these people in England. The devastating tornado of 1974 focused the church's attention on its local community, and Howell, Sue Gentry and others helped in the establishment of the United Crescent Hill Ministries. But, a year later the church was back on the world stage as Dr. Howell led a delegation from CHBC to the Baptist World Alliance in Stockholm, Sweden. The Lottie Moon mission offering averaged about $10,000, emblematic of the church's reaching out to the world.

Arnold and Linda Epley (1965-1976) continued to direct the church's music program and the gallery (balcony) organ was dedicated in June 1973. William C. Treadwell (1974-79) joined the staff as Minister of Education in 1974 and helped to develop the annual summer "Joy Shop" and arranged for the older youth to go to "In The Oaks" (Black Mt., NC) for a week of summer camp (replaced by Passport camps in 1999). The first annual Advent devotional booklet was issued in 1975. Many children, youth, and recreation ministers created vibrant programs and support for the young during this era. Michael Hawn served as Minister of Music from Sep 1976 until June 1980 and continued the vitality and diversity (even with accordion accompaniment) of the music program especially among the children. Dr. Howell preached his last sermon in September 1978, and was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumor which took his life a year later.

During a three year interim (1978-81) the church was treated to the erudite preaching of several seminary professors including Drs. Walter "Buddy" Shurden, Bill Leonard, Raymond Bailey, Timothy George, and Roy Lee Honeycutt. Ron King, John Edgar, Lucien Coleman, and others helped administer the church's education program; David Hull led the youth and Frank LaMaster the recreation programs; Paul Richardson directed the choirs; and Paula Snodderly Roberts who had come in April 1978 continued her service as organist until 1995. Wesley Edwards began serving as Preschool Coordinator in 1976 and continued working with that age group to the present time; Kay Byrd served as Elementary Coordinator from Jan 1978 until May 1985. During her time of service the Afterschool Program began in 1981.

The church remained a vibrant place during this period. Ragan Courtney directed Celebrate Life in 1979, and during the same year the first annual Women's Retreat was held; the Solidarity Sunday School class was organized with an eclectic agenda and a name taken from the successful Polish trade union; "In the Oaks" continued and Chris Conver played a key role as counselor coordinator; the first Divorce Recovery Workshop was held in 1981 and guided over the years since by Jerry Smith and others.

It was during this interim that the fundamentalist movement in the SBC began to assert itself with the election of Adrian Rodgers as SBC president in 1979. This movement would have profound effects on the congregation of Crescent Hill over decades that followed. But that was years ahead, and the church was able to rejoice in singing songs from D.E. Adams' 1981 album, "God, What A World."

Crescent Hill welcomed H. Stephen Shoemaker (1981-1992) as pastor in May 1981. A mood of rejoicing, hope, and renewed commitment marked the church's embrace of the new pastor. The "Crescent Hill Hymn," written by Grady Nutt and Paul Duke, expressed the feelings of the entire congregation. During his eleven-year ministry, Shoemaker brought a prophetic, yet compassionate voice to the pulpit. He opposed fundamentalist forces seeking a hostile take-over of the Southern Baptist Convention and sought to bring healing and reconciliation to those alienated in the community including Vietnam vets and AIDS victims.

Daniel Aleshire, a seminary professor, who had joined the staff as associate pastor in Jan 1981 continued his service until Dec 1985. Bill Johnson arrived as Minister of Education in June 1982. Tragedy struck the church again in Nov 1982 with the death of Grady Nutt in an airplane crash, but the church rallied ("life is gift") and when parts of the church building began to crumble, launched a "Together We Build" campaign which resulted not only in restoring the existing concrete, but in adding the new Birchwood Lobby, a second elevator, and other renovations by the end of 1984. One tenth of the money raised ($93,000) was sent to help build a new chapel for the North Brazil Baptist Theological Seminary in Recife. The church also contributed funds and members to the newly formed Goshen Baptist Church in 1982.

In 1983, the church celebrated her 75th anniversary and welcomed back to the pulpit, Drs. Burhans, Claypool, and Betty Howell. Daniel Aleshire was emcee for the banquet program held in the gymnasium. D.E. Adams produced his second album in 1983, Songs and Hymns, including the favorite, "The Family of God." In 1988 Blanche Goetzman published a history of the WMU at Crescent Hill honoring that organization's centennial.

Women have always been active church participants, in WMU work, as Sunday School teachers, retreat and youth leaders, choir members, singers (Cynthia Clawson dedicated her 1986 song "Spirit Shine" to Crescent Hill), and as deacons (since 1973). In 1983 Reba Cobb and others facilitated the organization of "Women in Ministry," which provided a network of support for ordained women across the Southern Baptist Convention. The group whose offices were based at Crescent Hill for some ten years and who published the periodical, "Folio," drew fire from the emerging conservative SBC leadership who in 1984 passed a resolution against any type of ordination of women. Dr. Shoemaker opposed the looming fundamentalist takeover of the convention and participated in the emergence of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship which Crescent Hill joined in 1992 a year after it was organized. Bill Leonard published in 1990, God's Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the SBC.

Despite the denominational squabbles of this decade and the next, Crescent Hill maintained a positive outlook on the world, sponsoring youth to attend the Baptist World Alliance Youth Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1988. Seminary professor and Crescent Hill member, Dr. Glen Stassen led a Peace group at the church for many years, and they saw prayers answered as the Soviet Block began to crumble and the Berlin Wall was dismantled in 1989. Dr. Stassen visited Berlin and exhibited part of the wall during the Dwight Cobb coordinated Visual Art Advent Exhibit in that same year. In 1986 Crescent Hill partnered with Mt. Nebo Baptist Church in sponsoring a Garrison Keillor benefit, which also honored Keillor's friend Grady Nutt.

Louie Bailey came to work as Minister of Music in 1985, and collaborated with Ragan Courtney, Nancy Niles Sexton, Vicki Ragsdale, and others to produce many youth dramas, including Celebrate Life, Godspell, Noyes Flood, Cotton Patch Gospel, Narnia, Amahl and The Night Visitors, etc. The choirs presented Mozart's Requiem, Vivaldi's Gloria, and other classics. Dr. Bailey also organized the "Singing Seniors" during this period of vibrant activity. Greg Smith, Larry Pittman, and others directed the church orchestra, and in 1992 June Bailey organized the handbell choir later to be known as the "Jubilation Ringers." Dwight Cobb sponsored a youth alumni weekend in the summer of 1991, and the Youth Alumni register began.

In 1992, Dr. Shoemaker announced his resignation and moved to pastor the Broadway Baptist Church in Ft. Worth where Dr. Claypool had been. Another long interim of some two years ensued during which the church was again blessed with the preaching of several seminary connected professors: Drs. Ken Chafin, David Garland, Chuck Bugg, and Craig Loscalzo. When Dr. Roy Lee Honeycutt stepped down as SBTS President in July 1993, Dr. Al Mohler took over the seminary reins, and what had been a slowly rising tide of proscriptive fundamentalism became a flood, and numerous seminary professors and staff moved elsewhere. [Of approximately 60 seminary faculty and staff who were members of CHBC during the 80s, 25 left by the end of Steve Shoemaker's pastorate in 1992, eight more left during the interim of 1992-94, and by Oct 2000, only five seminary employees were still members of Crescent Hill.]

Nevertheless, the education (Bill Johnson), music (Louie and June Bailey), youth (Lesa Armagost Chandler and Lyle Edwards), children (Kathryn Chapman) programs remained alive and well. Sexual boundary issues were discussed in 1993, and guidelines for conduct revised. Crescent Hill continued to embrace the world as several youth attended the Baptist World Alliance Youth Conference in Zimbabwe in 1993. The summer youth Passport experience began that same year. Combined youth and music programs produced Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1994.

From 1994 until June 2002, Ron Sisk, the ninth installed pastor, brought a focus on the needs of the Crescent Hill community, a commitment to upgrade church facilities and a search for social justice in the larger Louisville community. Crescent Hill sponsored a Bosnian family, adopted a people group in Thailand and helped build a Habitat for Humanity house while continuing its traditional missionary outreach.

During his tenure the church adopted a new inclusive identity statement in 1995, opened membership with a watchcare category, voted in 1996 to affiliate with the American Baptist Convention, and loosened its ties with the SBC (determining in Oct 2000 not to fund the SBC officially or send messengers to its conventions). Crescent Hill would have voted to sever her ties completely with the SBC (as did Broadway and Highland) but for several members whose seminary jobs required they belong to an SBC affiliated church and a scattering of others who still wished to support some of the SBC mission programs.

For years Crescent Hill had been the “seminary church,” but with the conservative takeover of the SBC and the SBTS hardly any seminary students attended because of her more moderate views toward scriptural interpretation, women, etc. Consequently, there were fewer seminary student volunteers and part-time staff to help with childcare, youth work, adult education, recreation programs, etc.

[The seminary's legacy, however, continues to influence the life of the church in that aprox 90 households or nearly 25% of the church members on the roll in 2008 attended Crescent Hill because one or more members of their family had attended the seminary. The percent of those playing an active role in the church from week to week who had ties to the seminary is even higher. --jwa, 4/2008]

Having started, however, as a neighborhood church in 1908, the congregation continued on with the local and global mission of the church. Jeff Cavalcante began service as Minister of Recreation and later building manager in 1996, and Anita Roper began work with the youth in 1997. Amelia Debusman, Andy Rawls, and John Arnett began the church's webpage in 1997, and in 1998 the CHBC youth again attended the Baptist World Alliance Youth Conference, this time in Houston. The church launched a "Love Finds A Way" campaign in 2000 to remodel the sanctuary and children's education areas, enhancing the Afterschool Program. In 2002 the Highland Latin School decided to rent space in the church for its program which has continued to grow over the ensuing years. In 2001 the church dedicated a new chapel organ and clarion bells donated by Louise Blythe Dohrman.

The global reach of the church expanded in August 2000 when Bill Johnson accompanied Paul Capps to the Chiang Mai area of Thailand and established a relationship with Rick and Ellen Burnette, CBF missionaries to the Rock People of Northern Thailand as well as Karen and other Myanmar (formerly Burma) refugees. In 2001, 2002, and 2005 members of Crescent Hill returned to Thailand for three more mission trips. Steve Clark and Annette Ellard participated in two of those trips and in the spring of 2006 would answer the call to be full-time CBF missionaries themselves. Back at home the church began offering space for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in 2002 and continued its support of Internationals at Walnut Street Baptist Church.

In the summer of 2002 Dr. Ron Sisk left Crescent Hill to take a teaching position at the North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the church faced another interim period. Instead of appointing a pulpit committee and employing a series of different temporary preachers, the church invited Winford Hendrix to come in January 2003 as a “transitional pastor” to help the church work through some thorny problems and develop a vision for the future before calling a new pastor. Even though the church had a long history of lay leadership, the numbers of staff and their salaries had continued to grow over the years, and by 2003, Crescent Hill was spending 75% of her offerings and income on paid staff compensation.

The church, thus, moved from an organization based around paid staff to one in which gift-based ministry teams commanded more of the attention of the church members. Through long and tedious discussions, the church reached an agreement whereby only 60% of the budget would be spent on staff. The position of youth minister [Anita Roper volunteered to resign in 2004] was eliminated and later replaced by a part-time minister. Other staff positions were consolidated and salaries cut. With the advent of the new ministry model, there were no more "deacon meetings" and discussions on the role of deacons have continued. By 2008 coordination of church programs involved a Ministry Coordinating Council and regularly scheduled Ministry Forums (aka business meetings.)

Despite these internal upheavals, the church adopted new mission and values statements* and continued its global mission focus, sponsoring in the summer of 2003 a youth mission trip to Kenya. John Birkimer began sending out the e-mail newsletter in 2003, and Bill Johnson led the church in beginning the "Companions in Christ" program. Louie Bailey continued to direct the choir and also served as organist. In January 2004, as part of the process of defining its identity, the church held a "Homecoming" celebration.

Joy turned to sorrow in the summer of 2004 when two Crescent Hill youth, Samuel Adams and Jennifer Goodhue, were killed in an auto accident. Again the church had to learn about "life as gift." Because each had been an artist, an annual memorial month of "Expressions" was initiated in August 2005 to celebrate the talents of artists, especially the young. Tom Scott, as part of the gift-based mission program, started an "Art Spirit" workshop. Dr. Hendrix served until Sept 2004 and helped to guide the church search team in the quest for Crescent Hill's tenth "installed" pastor. Until the new pastor was found Jim England preached on Sunday mornings.

W. Gregory Pope became Crescent Hill's tenth pastor in March 2005 and challenged the church to think outside the walls and find ways of interpreting the word of God to the Crescent Hill area community....and to the world as the church welcomed Karen refugees in 2007. In June 2005, Helen and Cannon Graves represented Kentucky Baptists at the 100th anniversary of the Baptist World Alliance held in Birmingham, England. Ryan Pope, born Sept 20, 2005, was the first baby born to an active pastor's family. Jeff Cavalcante resigned his position as buildings and recreation supervisor in February 2007, and there was further consolidation of staff duties.

In 2006 the church began raising money for gymnasium and Fellowship Hall renovations which were completed in time for Bill Johnson's 25th anniversary-at-the-church celebration in 2007. Josh Bailes who had served as part-time youth minister since Nov 2004 left at the end of 2007, and Jason Crosby filled his part-time position in March 2008. Jason, interestingly, was also working part-time with Kentucky Refugee Ministries. In Feb 2008, the church expressed its intention to join the Alliance of Baptists in 2009 pending the outcome of another ad hoc denominational affiliation study.

Having focused much of its attention on foreign missions over the years and especially the work with the refugees in Thailand, it was, perhaps, not surprising that when some 10,000 refugees from Myanmar and Thailand began settling in the United States in 2006 and 2007, many found their way to Crescent Hill. In the spring of 2007, the church welcomed the first of over 200 Karen refugees for whom Crescent Hill provided transportation and a place for Bible Study and worship on Sunday mornings. Most of these were American Baptists and descendants of Adoniram Judson's first converts in the early 1800s. Greg Pope performed the first Karen wedding ceremony in Louisville when Moe Dai & Hay Moo Law Eh were married at CHBC in December 2007. In February 2008, Greg Pope traveled to view the refugee camps in Thailand for himself.

On January 12, 2008, the church held a gala 100th birthday for itself in the newly renovated Fellowship Hall. The church decided to celebrate its centennial for several months from Sept 2007 until May, 2008. In November 2007 on All Saints' Sunday, the church honored some sixty-four persons who had been members for 50 or more years.

In February the church voted to join the Alliance of Baptists organization beginning in 2009 after a period of further discernment regarding Crescent Hill's denominational affiliations

As the church looks forward to the next 100 years, Crescent Hill will continue sharing her vision of the gospel with the world, even as the world comes to Louisville.

Greg Pope compiled the following list (Nov 15) of happenings in 2009 after reeceiving input from the various team leaders. This is posted here as a continuing summary of the ongoing history of the church.

Children: Sunday School for 75-100 children birth through 5th grade; extended session; Wednesday evening science experiments for elementary students; preschool choir; worship bags for elementary students for use during worship; baby dedications; children’s service project at UCHM; spring and fall family fun night; Eggstravaganza; family day at the zoo; children’s camp; VBS at Americana; backpack buddies distribution; Bible presentations; lock-in; Halloween neighborhood party; Christmas party; Afterschool Program - presently 29 students; repairs to center; new sign; new staff; files updated; Summer Program - 50 children; weekly swimming trips; several field trips; structured camp program.

Youth: Bible study every Sunday morning; Connect - a time of fellowship and service every Sunday night; The Break - a youth led time of prayer, sharing and song every Wednesday night; 71 youth attending back to school lock-in; 56 youth and adults went to Passport; 38 youth and adults participated in Spring service retreat; 40-60 kids join us for Homework Help each Wednesday during the school year; two presentations for more than 200 people of ASsK ME!  Who is Aung San Suu Kyi? to raise awareness about human rights abuses in Burma; regularly go to Wayside Christian Mission on Sunday evening to work with homeless women and children; two bands shows; one amazing Super Bowl Party; one unforgettable trip to Kart Kountry; organized an inspiring Youth Sunday worship; Laser Blaze excursion; bowling; countless trips to Graeter’s; and much more.

Building and Grounds: replaced two air conditioning compressors; installed new air conditioning unit for 3rd floor of education building; reseeded and landscaped Birchwood Avenue lawn; completed the design and construction of Memorial Garden; replaced two water coolers; repairing $3000 + of damages from ice storm; Heritage Hall painted and new carpet installed; supervised electrical work and installation of chandeliers in the Chapel; major work on air conditioning of sanctuary, music suite, and youth area; significant repairs on blue van including new brakes, new tires, and starter; the continual providing and preparing of space for 375 students and 40 faculty and staff of the Highlands Latin School; offering church facilities for weddings, receptions, use of gym and special events.

Recreation: general maintenance of gym; volleyball community outreach ministry on Tuesday nights; gym rental on Thursday and Friday nights; supporting youth lock-ins, family fun nights, and Wednesday night activities in the gym; providing space for the Highlands Latin School basketball program; providing space for birthday parties; supported the Karen New Year Celebration; supervised a table tennis tournament for a cancer fund raising event

Social Justice: sponsoring two concerts and a soup supper for Choices; also church members have led group meetings for residents at Choices; a movie night was held; an eight week Sunday School studying Jim Wallis’ Living God’s Politics; a presentation on behalf of fair trade was made by Sandra Crismon of Just Creations, the store on Frankfort Avenue [The Social Justice team sponsored a benefit concert by Carrie Newcomer in Nov, 2009, which raised over $1,200 for Choices.]

Global Missions: Internationals Day with Rob Nash and other special guests; English as Second Language; providing budget support to Steve and Annette, our CBF Field Personnel to refugees and immigrants; offer budget support to Baptist World Alliance and denominational partners; offered support to FBC Shepherdsville as they hosted a new Karen family; gave to the Habitat for Humanity Baptist House; provided prayer calendars; assisted refugees from Ler Per Her fleeing Burma to Thailand with $5000 from our budget and an additional $1000 from the congregation.

Imago Dei/Karen Council: monthly meeting of 12 Karen, 15 Americans, 1 Chin, and one Nepalese, including 4 youth; facilitated purchase of drum set and bass guitar to be used by Karen youth and for Karen performances; sponsored celebration of Karen New Year for the entire local Karen community; led Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations; support for Karen and Chin including area of health, school, employment, mail, taxes, driving lessons, GED, social services, housing, maintenance, medical, spiritual, food, clothing, transportation; sharing with other congregations who are becoming international; summer reading program for elementary and middle school children; encourage maintenance of Karen culture and traditions while learning to become Americans; provide a network to build relationships between cultures, promote understanding of various cultures, dispel myths and fears about persons from different cultures, learn how to live, pray, study, work together, and to reflect the image of God.

Technology: With the help of two Johns - Arnett and Birkimer, along with Jason Crosby, Tim Baker, Amelia Debusman and Glen Skaggs, improvements are being made to our technology: wordpress options on the website which allows easier access to blogging and uploading of notices from the office; several blogsites such as mychurch, Face Book, and wordpress were begun; wireless microphones to enable easier access here in Fellowship Hall; the pastor’s sermons and Crescent Hill This Week uploaded weekly; there are 300 subscribers to the weekly online newsletter; online photo albums; anti-virus software; the church website averages 2000 hits per day from an average of 250 visitors each day.

Music: many guest musicians; presented Rutter Requiem and Gospel Mass; service of Global Music with Dr. Michael Hawn; elementary choir of 35-40 children; youth ensemble; International Music Festival; Hanging of the Green; Service of Lessons and Carols; Prime Time Ringers and Singers concert

Spiritual Formation: Robert Benson Retreat; Sunday School Literature and Books

Worship: Weekly worship services

Outreach: Transport 100-150 people to church each week through bus rental and the use of our vans.

. . . and more!


2010 - 2011

In the late summer the church in a series of "town meetings"  decided to select a "Guiding Team" of nine individuals who would advise the congregation about the directions the church should take.  The group met some twenty times during the course of the year among themselves and with other church groups.  By 2011 the Guiding Team suggested and the church adopted a plan to elect a Church Council of eleven members selected by the congregation (each church member writing down seven names, and the top eleven chosen) who would serve for three years at a time.  The group would eventually replace the "Guiding Team" and the Ministry Coordinating Council.

In the late fall of 2010 the church contracted with The FaithLab out of Macon, GA to assist in the redesign of the church website.  This brought a fresh look to the site and opened up the opportunity for many more members to participate in blogs and other online exchanges.  In addition to posting the weekly sermons, the new site allowed an audio version as well -- thanks to the efforts of Steve Cole and the Sanctuary Technology team.

In the spring of 2011 Crescent Hill hosted the Alliance of Baptists yearly gathering and received kudos for the congregation's hospitality.

Crescent Hill closed down the After School program after the 2010-11 year, and Andrea Woolley redirected her energies with the assistance of some summer interns toward the first Academic Academy.  Through a partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools the church provided a two week intense learning experience for struggling ESL students (mostly Karen) in the church and noted measureable success.

In the spring of 2011 the church spent a lively Sunday afternoon over lunch determining how it would best spend money left by the late Betty Potter to the church's general fund.


2010 - Haiti earthquake and EDGE response to supply water purification units<br>

2010 - Facebook became a popular social network outlet<br>

2010 - first "non-Idol" Talent show with Karen and American performers<br>

2010 - Guiding Team formed in late summer<br>

2011 - Betty Potter fund distribution decided<br>

2011 - CHBC hosted the Alliance of Baptists convocation in April<br>

2011 - Church Council formed (replaced Guiding team in fall)<br>

2011 - CHBC's Afterschool program ended<br>

2011 - Steve and Annette began the HOPE Academy<br>

2011 - Sept 4 Bill Johnson announced his retirement effective Sept 30, 2012<br>

2011 - prayer retreat at Heib Farm, Oct 3<br>

2011 - Greg Pope resigned in October; last sermon Oct 16.<br>


2011 - <b>Bill Johnson, Andrea Woolley, Jason Crosby</b> began serving as co-pastors<br>

2011 - Sec. State Hillary Clinton visited Burma; CBS News item featured CHBC and Karen; HOPE Academy students sent letters to Sec. Clinton<br>

2011 - Sen. McConnell visit to Burma and visit with Karen-Chin at CHBC on Jan 21<br>

2011 - Myra Dahgaypaw (US Campaign for Burma) addressed CHBC<br>

2011 - Highlands Latin School continued their strong presence at 2800 Frankfort, expecting 100 students in the fall<br>

2012 - President Obama voices support for principle of same sex marriage<br>

2012 - Hope Academy Prom held in May<br>

2012 - Bill Johnson completed his official pastoral ministry and became building manager in October<br>

2012 - Drs. Rick Axtell & Gary Dorrien inaugurated the Wm M. Johnson Lecture Series<br>

2012 - Jason Crosby and Andrea Woolley continued their positions as co-pastors/ministers<br>

2012 - John McCutcheon conducted a benefit concert for Choices<br>

2012 - Aung San Suu Kyi visited Louisville, and hundreds held a vigil welcoming her in October<br>

2012 - Family-friendly stop offered during FAT Friday Trolley Hop in September<br>

2012 - District 2 School Board Forum hosted on Wed night<br>

2012 - Barack Obama elected for second term as President<br>

2012 - Second Church Council selection in November; Chris Conver completed service as spokesperson for the Council as well as the Guiding Team; Margaret Graves became leader of the Council.<br>

2013 - After weeks of discernment CHBC voted in June to be a congregation that "welcomes and fully affirms" lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals.<br>

2013 - 2nd Academic Academy held in summer<br>

2013 - July 13, 200th anniversary of Adoniram and Ann Judson's arrival in Burma.<br>

2013 - July 13, Mildred Louise "Milly Lou" Crosby born (2nd baby born to a serving CHBC pastor)<br>

2013 - Aug:  9th Annual "Expressions" art exhibit<br>

2013 - building enhancement project(Birchwood Lobby and hallways) undertaken<br>

John Arnett, April 2008, January 1, 2010, August 2011, July 2013)
(with notes from Andy Rawls and Timothy George)

Our Mission:
A Baptist community of faith in Crescent Hill:
….welcoming God's calling and each other's gifts
....growing as a spiritual family
....engaging our world and inviting all to walk in the way of Jesus

Core Values:
....Caring for each other
....Engaged in the community
....Meaningful worship
....Social justice
....Spiritual formation
....Thinking people

If you have corrections to make to the above history contact John Arnett.
If you wish to contribute addional stories or feel led to flesh out the above sketchy history, contact me at with your stories and I'll add them to a page of additional stories I'll be uploading. The "Continuing History" will then take on a "Wikipedia-like look."