The 1770’s saw Baptists make their way from Virginia to Kentucky. Squire Boone, Daniel Boone’s brother, was one of the first Baptist preachers in Kentucky; and in many ways Kentucky history parallels Baptist history, for Baptists were some of the first pioneers. Their work and influence spread rapidly, and by the mid 1940’s only three Kentucky county-seats did not have a Baptist church. Those towns were Frenchburg, Stanton and Owingsville.
Confident in God’s call, seeing fields white unto harvest, and with a view toward starting a Baptist work, the Rev. F.C. Tuttle, a county missionary, came to Owingsville in 1946 and began canvassing the town to determine if any Baptists resided in Owingsville. Upon discovering sufficient interest, Tuttle, in August of that year, brought a large tent to town and held a series of tent meetings.
Those tent meetings generated an encouraging response, and so in September, with the help of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Tuttle acquired the Coyle Street lot upon which the present church building now sits. In June 1947, he held another tent meeting, at the close of which the Owingsville Baptist Church was constituted with 13 charter members. Those members were Mary Ella Davis, Robert M. Clarke, Sr., Anna Lee Clarke, Homer Manuel, Josephine Manuel, Elmer Stone, H.C. Burnette, Pauline Burnette, Virginia Gibson, Jim L. Davis, Vesta Sue Cottle, John W. Layne and Maxine Knott.
The church continued to worship under the shelter of the tent and in homes until August 1948 when they broke ground for the construction of the church building. The strategy was simple: build a basement, use it for temporary quarters, and then save the necessary capital for later construction of the complete building. For several years the Owingsville Baptist Church worshiped in this basement, which initially had an earthen floor. When it rained water would pool on the floor, and many times the preacher would deliver his sermon while standing in a puddle of water. During this time, the church became known locally as the “Underground Baptist.” Great crowds filled the basement, and for ten years the Baptists planned and saved for the day when they could complete their house of worship.
That house of worship became reality under the tireless leadership of the Rev. Garlon Sills, and in 1958 the church completed construction of a new sanctuary. On September 28, 1958 the church held much anticipated dedication services in the new sanctuary. The steeple was added in 1984. Outfitted with a wonderful carillon system, it was dedicated to the memory of the charter members.
The Rev. M. Keith Tingle, an Owingsville native, became pastor in 1989 and led the church to renovate the sanctuary interior, covering the bare concrete block walls with drywall and crown molding and adding lovely brass chandeliers. The Rev. Bruce Truman became pastor in 1996 and led the church to acquire more property and construct a new parking lot across the street from the church building. The Rev. Ronnie Beams became pastor in 2002 and led the church to build an extensive expansion, adding a beautiful fellowship hall, several classrooms and offices.
Most recently, the church acquired property at 19 Water Street in Owingsville, the site of a former grocery store. The property has been remodeled and is used for the E-Club, "Current" Worship, a Christian based exercise group, Fifth Quarter Ministries, Morehead State University's Adult Education, Bath County Senior Citizens, and is available for rent to the public for receptions, reunions, etc.
The Owingsville Baptist Church has been blessed to pitch its tent in Bath County for the past 67 years. The past is rich, the present is wonderful and the future is exciting.
Initial article by Bruce E. Truman, Former OBC Pastor (1996-2002)