A drawing of the original building of the church prior to 1965
A drawing of the original building of the church prior to 1965

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SPRING HILL BAPTIST CHURCH
(1920-2016)

THE EARLY YEARS – (1920-1927)

On Thursday, August 5, 1920, a small group of people met to organize an American Baptist Church in Spring Hill, West Virginia. J.C. Woodrum was chosen as moderator. A Church Covenant and Rules of Order were read and adopted, followed by the election of a clerk, and three trustees. After the enrollment of seventeen charter members, the clerk was authorized to notify five surrounding churches to send their pastor and two deacons to sit in council later in the month to effect a permanent organization.

On Sunday, August 29, 1920 at 11:00 am the planned meeting was held and the clerk was authorized to write the officers of the Kanawha Valley Association stating the actions of the body, followed by a short sermon from Rev. W.A. Cadle. The First Baptist Church of Spring Hill was officially organized in August of 1920.

On Friday, January 21, 1921, Rev. J.C. Woodrum was unanimously chosen as pastor. On motion it was decided to purchase the “Maurin Lots 11 & 12 Block 4 B & B addition.” This original deed to the church property which would be dated February 2, 1921 covered 2 lots of land on the corner of what is now Ohio and Vine streets, where the church sits today.

Beginning on September 6, 1922, Rev. Elmer S. Gaylor would fill in for Pastor Woodrum 2 Sundays a month, finally being elected the second pastor on May 7, 1923. Pastor Gaylor would pastor for 23 months resigning on April 8, 1925.

October of 1925 would be a good month for the First Baptist Church of Spring Hill, with the original church dedicated on Sunday, October 4, 1925. Three days later the church elected their third pastor Ouay N. Geer, who would pastor the First Baptist Church for 6 months resigning on April 25, 1926. He was followed by Rev. Howard A. Jackson, who was elected the fourth pastor on October 1, 1926 and served the church for 6 months resigning in April of 1927. During this period of time plans were made for Sunday school rooms to be built as an addition to the church and was completed in March of 1927 for $1000.

THE YEAR OF WATCH CARE – (1927-1928)

After the first 7 years of their existence, complete with a building, Sunday school rooms, and four brief pastorates, the church would fall on some hard times. During this time they were thankful for Calvary Baptist Church of Charleston, WV who took the church under their watch care as a missionary church for a period of one year beginning on December 11, 1927. They took charge of the prayer meetings, Sunday evening service, a communion service once a month and supervised the work of the Sunday school.

GETTING BACK ON TRACK (1929-1936)

After the year of watch care and on better footing, the First Baptist Church of Spring Hill elected Hector D. Frame to be their fifth pastor on August 4, 1929. Pastor Frame would serve the church for 3 years and 8 months resigning in April of 1933. During his pastorate and according to the minutes taken at that time, the first budget of the church was given in 1931. Pastor Frame would be followed by Frank A. Robertson who became Spring Hill’s sixth pastor in December 1933 and served the church for 2 years, resigning in December of 1935.

STABILITY, CHANGE, AND GROWTH (1936-1961)

In May of 1936, L.R. Stump became the seventh pastor of the First Baptist Church of Spring Hill. Shortly afterward, an apartment was built on the second floor of the old church for the pastor and his wife. This apartment still exists today and is used for missionaries now dubbed the “missionary apartment.” In 1944 at the height of World War II Pastor Stump was granted a leave of absence from the church for 2 years in order to serve as a Lieutenant Chaplain in the United States Navy, returning in May of 1946 to resume his pastorate. On August 5, 1942 the church, which had been known since its founding as the First Baptist Church of Spring Hill officially changed its name to Spring Hill Baptist Church, due to the incorporation of Spring Hill with the city of South Charleston, WV. Pastor Stump would serve Spring Hill for 17 years and 7 months resigning on December 2, 1953 moving to Idaho. During his pastorate, Spring Hill Baptist Church would experience stability and establishment as a church as well as a change in their name, the design of the buildings, and a change in Baptist affiliation. The original building erected in 1921 and dedicated in 1925 underwent a number or remodeling and additions, as well as the acquisition of new properties.

In 1954 while the church was without a pastor, the congregation voted to pull out of the American Baptist Convention and the Kanawha Valley Association. Since that time the pastors and missionaries of Spring Hill Baptist Church have been Independent Baptist. In the same year, Robert S. Guelich, who also was the co-founder of Appalachian Bible College in Bradley, WV, was elected the eighth pastor of Spring Hill Baptist Church, and would pastor for 7 years. During this time the church would grow to the extent plans were being made to build a new building.

A NEW BUILDING AND MORE GROWTH (1961-1984)

Pastor Wilson and the church breaking ground for the current sanctuary in 1965
Pastor Wilson and the church breaking ground for the current sanctuary in 1965

William J. Wilson became the ninth pastor of Spring Hill Baptist Church on January 1, 1962 and continued for 14 years and 2 months until March, 1976. During his pastorate, Spring Hill saw the result of growth, a building program. In January, 1962, a church parsonage was purchased at 5112 Indiana Street. In 1965, the old sanctuary was torn down to amen way for a new $110,000 building which would be used for both education and worship. The last church service

Tearing down the old sanctuary
Tearing down the old sanctuary

in the old auditorium was Sunday, March 14, 1965. The pulpit, organ, and piano were moved to the gymnasium. Chairs were set up and the first service was held in the gym on Wednesday, March 17, 1965 with a good attendance. The very next day, March 18, 1965, the H.B. Agsten Construction Company Began demolition of the old auditorium. Mr. Agsten became a member of the church a short time later. A ground breaking ceremony was held on April 5, 1965 which was attended by the Mayor of South Charleston who spoke at the ceremony. By July 1st the basement and first floors were poured. Stonework on the front and sides were nearly up and some wiring and plumbing done.

Building the current sanctuary in 1965
Building the current sanctuary in 1965

The first service in the completed new building was November 14, 1965. The original plan eventually intended this building to be the gym and Sunday school rooms, with the old gym, offices and back of the old sanctuary to be razed for a new sanctuary.

After having torn down the old sanctuary, the back was preserved for extra space and missionary apts.
After having torn down the old sanctuary, the back was preserved for extra space and missionary apts.

The second phase of the grand plan never materialized, and the new building would be used as the sanctuary until the present day. Even though plans don’t materialize God has a plan that is greater than ours and has used the existing buildings for His glory.

From September 1, 1976 – August 19 1984, Charles Hornick became the tenth pastor of Spring Hill, serving for 8 years. During his pastorate, the Lord would continue to grow and bless the church.

INTO A NEW CENTURY (1984-2016)

On December 19, 1984 Dennis L. Barnhart was called as the eleventh pastor of Spring Hill Baptist Church, and began his ministry the first of 1985. The house at 506 Ford Street, which is next to the church parking lot, was purchased in 1987. This became the parsonage and the house on Indiana Street was sold in 1988. Pastor Barnhart later bought his own home, and the Ford Street house was torn down and an additional parking lot was put in its place.

In 2002 Open Bible Church in St. Albans, WV merged with Spring Hill Baptist Church. Pastor Barnhart continued as pastor until 2004. Pastor Barnhart’s pastorate has been the longest thus far spanning 19 years.

Mark Patton served as the twelfth pastor of Spring Hill Baptist Church from February of 2005 – September 6, 2015. During his pastorate, a new addition was added to the front of the church complete with a new lobby and elevator.

On June 28, 2015 the churched called Dean C. Chambers to be their thirteenth pastor, beginning his ministry with the church on September 6, 2015.

CONCLUSION

The church has always had an outreach to the youth. The congregation started sponsoring the Boy Scouts in 1936 and continued to do so for several years. In the 1960s the Christian Service Brigade and Pioneer Girls were active in the church and lasted for a number of years. In the fall of 1983 the AWANA program became an outreach to the youth in the community.

From the beginning, the church contributed to missions, but in late 1950 the church started supporting John and Lucia Schone under The Evangelical Alliances Mission as missionaries to Japan. Shortly after, the Lucia Missionary Circle was named for Mrs. Schone. The missionary outreach has grown through the years, supporting various Christian Camps, Christian Schools, and families in the USA and on foreign fields.

The church has had several men ordained from the congregation, and many who are in full time service for the Lord were once members of this church.

Previous pastors who are still living are Charles Hornick in Wyoming, Dennis Barnhart in Ohio, and Mark Patton in Georgia.

We can praise the Lord for His constant watch care over the church. There have been trials and many blessings. God has always been faithful. May this church continue to bring glory to Jesus Christ through our lives and witness until He comes again.

THE PASTORS OF SPRING HILL BAPTIST CHURCH

J.C. Woodrum (1921-1923)
Elmer S. Gaylor (1923-1925)
Quay N. Geer (1925-1926)
Howard A. Jackson (1926-1927)
Hector D. Frame (1929-1933)
Frank A. Robertson (1933-1935)
L. R. Stump (1936-1953)
Robert S. Guelich (1954-1961)
William J. Wilson (1962-1976)
Charles Hornick (1976-1984)
Dennis Barnhart (1985-2004)
Mark Patton (2005-2014)
Dean C. Chambers (2015-present)