During one of the great awakenings sweeping the young nation from 1800-1801, revival swept the local Elkhorn Association of Baptists, which the Marble Creek Church had joined in 1787. Marble Creek was among those churches blessed by record baptisms and additions. Seeking a larger building, the church then moved to the East Hickman section of Fayette County in 1802 and changed its name to East Hickman Baptist Church.
As it continued to grow, East Hickman found itself once again in need of a new building in the late 1820's. Three acres of land were purchased nearby and in 1830 the brick sanctuary still used for worship was built for about $3,000. The property was bordered by Tates Creek Road, although Tates Creek then ran on the north side of the property. The road itself was later re-routed to the south, where it divides Fayette from Jessamine County. East Hickman is blessed to have nearly equal membership from both counties.
A member of one of Kentucky's first families became a member of East Hickman Baptist church by baptism in 1840. Isaac P. Shelby, grandson of Kentucky's first governor Isaac Shelby, quickly proved himself a faithful and devoted servant of Christ at East Hickman. He never married, but it was said that the love of his life was his church. He held the office of church clerk for 28 years, beginning in 1864. He was also a trustee, and served the church in many important positions. At his death he left a bequest of $1,500 which was used to build a parsonage for the pastor and his family.
Continuing to grow, and continuing to touch Kentucky history as it did so, the church voted to build an educational building in 1946. The educational building, also still in use today, was built using bricks from the demolished home of Mary Todd Lincoln's grandfather, General Levi Todd. General Todd, one of the original settlers of Lexington, had built his house in 1787, the year of the church's founding. At the time of its demolition, his home, which he had named Ellerslie, was thought to be the second oldest house still standing in Kentucky and the oldest brick house in Fayette County. While the addition was expensive to build, the church saved about $10,000 by having its members do much of the work, a tradition still very much practiced at East Hickman today. One member, Mr. Harold Ward, took an entire year from his own work to supervise the construction. The Sunday School building was added in 1960 to provide for the 200+ attendees.
One final addition was made to the property in 1974. West Hall, named in part for one of the dear families in the church, serves as fellowship hall for church functions, including dinners, homecomings, and wedding receptions. Recently the West Hall and kitchen areas were remodeled, again using almost all church member labor. The kitchen was expanded into what had served as the church office, which was moved upstairs. A tile floor was put down in the fellowship hall and in the kitchen. Those improvements, along with new cabinets and appliances, have turned what had been a small, cramped space into a thoroughly modem and useable area for many important church functions.
While the dates and buildings are significant, the most important part of the history of East Hickman Baptist Church is found in the lives that have been changed, and are still being changed, by East Hickman's faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that it still stands to do that work after more than 200 years is in itself a testimony to the faithfulness of generations of humble believers determined to obey and serve God. And the best part of its history is still being written; in fact, the full story will not be known until the Lord Jesus reveals it in eternity. But what an exciting privilege it is to be a part of that story as it unfolds!
Adapted by Pastor Robbie Stollger from Pastor L.H. Tipton's "History of the East Hickman Baptist Church"
We would love to meet you and get to know you and share our faith with you, so feel free to visit during normal business hours.
6418 Tates Creek Rd, Lexington, KY 40515, US