Mickey Winter loves history—especially Baptist history. That much is obvious. A member of the J.H. Spencer Historical Society, Winter spent two years traveling our state gathering materials and writing an engaging book titled “The First Fifty Baptist Churches in Kentucky.”
The First Fifty is a fascinating read as some of these churches still exist today as Kentucky Baptist congregations, while others have disbanded and some became Disciples of Christ congregations through Alexander Campbell’s influence, according to Ben Stratton, the historical society’s president and pastor of Farmington Baptist Church. “It’s interesting to see how quickly new Baptist churches were being started in Kentucky and then to see what has happen to these churches 200 years later,” he says.
Stratton, who is not aware of any previous books being written on the subject, observes, “The content is solid.” In breathing new life into the stories of early Baptists, Winter’s prayer is “present and future generations will be moved by the faithful and sacrificial laborers of the first generation of Kentucky Baptists and be inspired to emulate their zeal, advance their principles and extol their memories.”
Winter says his love of history began 20 years ago after meeting Jeff Faggart, a pastor in Rockwell, N.C., who is founder of the Baptist History Preservation Society. “Every year he takes a number of preachers on history tours throughout the country, teaching Baptist history that is pertinent to a region. They visit graves, churches, homes and often erect memorials to individuals,” he explains.
Winter has been on a number of these tours and did some of the research. He soon realized that the western movement brought many to Kentucky, and yet many Baptists are not aware of their story. So, he decided to write a book about the churches in Kentucky prior to 1792 when it became a state. “Research led me to believe it was 50,” he said.
Among his surprising findings in writing the book was the fact that so many personalities which are linked to the east coast are also linked to Kentucky, Winter says. Names like Gano, Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and others surfaced in his research. “There are a number of personalities interwoven in the church histories,” he says, so he decided to include profiles of those associated with particular churches.
“History itself can be quite boring. It is the people involved that make it interesting,” Winter explains.
“I don’t think the average Baptist is concerned about the minutes from the monthly meetings or what association they belonged to,” he continues. “They are interested in the people and what happened to them.”
Among some of the questions answered in his book: Where is the oldest Baptist meeting house still standing in Kentucky? … What Baptist preacher baptized Isaac McCoy, the greatest Indian missionary who ever lived? … What Baptist preacher is given credit for baptizing George Washington? … What Baptist preacher became governor of Kentucky? … Who baptized Abraham Lincoln’s father?
Modern church members may find it exciting to trace their ancestry back to these Baptist pioneers and their congregations, Winter suggests. “A person will remember a name and tie it to a church,” he notes. “If they do that then they may want to ‘dig deeper’ into that particular person or church.”
Now a member of Saline Baptist Church in Somerset, Winter is a former pastor, having served Ferguson Baptist in Ferguson and Maranatha Baptist in Somerset, among other churches. When he and his wife Sharon moved back to the Bluegrass State in 2010, he saw a need to inform Kentucky Baptists of their rich history. The Baptist History Preservation Society, he notes, has placed a number of monuments for preachers in Kentucky, including John Taylor at Clear Creek Baptist Church in Versailles, Andrew Tribble at Tates Creek Baptist Church in Richmond, and John Gano and William Hickman at the Frankfort Cemetery.
In addition to doing revivals and supply work, Winter enjoys teaching Kentucky Baptist history to church groups. A copy of his book is definitely one that should be in every church library. The cost of the 223-page hardback is only $8, plus shipping, because it “was never meant to be a money maker, but a tool to inform others of their Baptist heritage.” To order, call (606) 386-1453 or email Winter at Kentuck195002@yahoo.com.