Baptists see rise in baptisms, members, giving
Louisville—Southern Baptist churches in Kentucky baptized more than 14,000 people last year, a turning point for the state’s largest religious organization that had been in a gradual decline for the past decade.
The state’s 2,400 churches also reported an overall increase in membership, another sign that 2014 may have been a watershed year for the 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention.
“We praise God for what he’s doing in Kentucky,” said KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood. “And we’re thankful that our people are being obedient to the Great Commission by reaching out to a hurting world with the gopsel.”
Under Chitwood’s leadership, the KBC has been focusing on reaching more people with the gospel through evangelism, by starting more churches, by revitalizing existing churches and by encouraging ethnic diversity.
Actual growth in baptisms and membership could have been significantly higher than reported, considering that nearly 20 percent of Kentucky’s Southern Baptist churches didn’t submit Annual Church Profiles, which contain the information used to calculate growth.
Churches that did submit paperwork reported a total of 14,223 baptisms. That’s up from 13,975 the previous year.
“We can’t help but be humbled by these reports from our churches,” Chitwood said. “It truly is a blessing to see God at work all around us. In one year, we saw enough people saved to populate a mid-sized Kentucky city.”
Hillvue Heights Church in Bowling Green led the state again last year with 511 baptisms. Hawk Creek Baptist Church in London was second with 252. Valley View in Louisville reported 234 baptisms. Immanuel Baptist Church in Corbin reported 152.
First Baptist in Somerset, Crossland Community in Bowling Green, His House Ministries in Mayfield and the Bell County Forest Camp Mission all reported more than 100 baptisms, some significantly more.
Churches in the largest association, Long Run Association, which serves the Louisville area, had 1,035 baptisms, the highest number reported by any association in 2014. The Warren Baptist Association, based in Bowling Green, was a close second with 1,031 baptisms.
The annual reports also showed undesignated financial contributions to churches were up substantially from $309.8 million to $314.3 million last year.
The growth not only strengthens Kentucky Baptist churches spiritually and financially, but gives them more influence on moral and political issues important to Christians.
“While we celebrate this growth, we need to be mindful that our ministry is not about numbers,” Chitwood said. “It’s about sharing the gospel at a crucial time in history when so many people are without hope and have no understanding of how much God loves them and wants them to be saved.” (KBC)