Williamsburg—Overalls and bonnets were once more in vogue as the churches of South Union/Mount Zion Baptist Association gathered Sept. 8 to celebrate 200 years of missions together and to hear the vision of their new director of missions, Steven Jett.
“We’ve come to celebrate, and celebrate we should,” announced Jerry Lowrie, interim director of missions. “By faith our generation is following in their footsteps,” he added, speaking of the 18 churches that comprised the early association. “And, by faith, God has raised up another generation in His church to carry forth its work.”
“Let’s exalt and praise God from whom all these blessing flow!” Lowrie urged the churches of the oldest association in the Cumberland Valley, north of Cumberland Falls.
South Union, which was constituted at Clear Fork meeting house in Whitley County in September 1815, merged with Mount Zion Association in 1997. The oldest churches in the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s 11th oldest association are Jellico Creek, Red Bird, Wolf Creek and Patterson Creek.
The estimated crowd of 300, many of whom donned attire of the period, filled the sanctuary of Main Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg, rejoicing through beloved tunes of bygone days, such as “How Firm a Foundation,” “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” and “Bread of Heaven” and through Bluegrass renditions of “I’ll Fly Away” and “Light at the River.”
The evening session included some old-time favorite hymns, “Victory in Jesus” and “Because He Lives,” an associational choir performing the contemporary anthems of “I Believe It All” and “The Anchor Holds,” and Main Street’s praise team singing “How Great is our God.”
Rick Fleenor, assistant to the president at the University of the Cumberlands, expressed gratitude for South Union/Mount Zion’s continued support of the nearby university, which the association’s churches helped found in 1887 as an institute to provide Appalachian children with a Christian education.
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, brought congratulatory remarks, giving a charge to the churches from Luke 18, “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?”
“The question is, will we be the church? Will we carry out His mission?” Chitwood said. “That question rings in my ears, and I hope it rings in your ears and rings in the ears of all Kentucky Baptists. I want to impress upon you our calling to see that good news of the gospel is preached, and that the church not only grows, but excels in her work.”
Jett, who has served the past 25 years as a missionary to Germany, shared his vision for the association’s 54 churches accomplishing more together in missions than they could alone, using Philippians 1 as his text, and Donne Patrick, pastor of Crestwood Baptist Church and a native son of the association, brought the annual message. (WR)