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One Hundred Years of Worship

Imagine the town of Stearns, Kentucky in the early 1900s.  Having been established and named after its founder, Justus Stearns, the town under the auspices of the Stearns Company was the hub for many mining communities and railroads that sprang up in the hills and hollers around it.  Timber and coal spurred the growth of the Stearns Company and led to the establishment of 18 coal camps and employment for more than 2,200 people.  Businesses and social amenities such as the Stearns baseball team, swimming pool, clubhouse, golf course, movie theater, and marching band flourished within the community.

In 1915, just three years after McCreary County formed, fourteen individuals came together to take the first steps of developing a church in Stearns.  That church, Stearns First Baptist, continues to thrive today and will celebrate its 100th anniversary on September 6, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

The history of Stearns First Baptist began on June 25, 1915 when a few individuals gathered to form a place of worship.   Brother G. C. Sandusky was called as the first pastor of Stearns First Baptist and was instrumental in seeing that a building was erected for the Church.  RL Stearns, on behalf of the Stearns Coal and Lumber Co., provided a lot where the Church could be built, and the building was completed with the help of donations from the community and a $250.00 gift from the State Board.  The Church was dedicated on May 1, 1916.

Over the years, the Church grew.  Revivals were held by such notables as Moody and Loudy, Dr. W.C. Porter and others.  Music, directed by men such as Isaac Petree, A.L. “Pete” Gillespie and others, also helped make revivals successful.

Throughout the years, Stearns First Baptist grew. Tidbits of church history, as chronicled by Barbara Duncan in her book “Stearns First Baptist-The First Hundred Years,” provide an interesting glimpse into the past.  The book, researched and written with the help of extensive church records and verbal interviews, details such happenings as the purchase of a church piano, church donations to help Mississippi flood victims in 1927, and the appointment of deacons and other leaders within the church.

The book details the building of a new church house by explaining how, In July 1948, the church deacons were authorized to begin the process of erecting a new building.  The new church house, still used today, was dedicated December 11-16, 1949.  It also details Stearns First Baptist mission work at Hill Top and Tunnel Ridge and the use of the church basement to conduct kindergarten classes for the Stearns School.

Today, Stearns First Baptist, having recently undergone much needed remodeling, is pastored by Hilton Duncan.  Duncan and his wife, Barbara, describe the congregation as a great group of people-“some of the most loving, warm, and hard-working people you can find.”

The Duncans invite everyone to attend Stearns First Baptist.  Sunday services are at 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. with Wednesday Bible study at 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday youth from 6:00 p.m. until 6:45 p.m.  The Duncans are especially excited about the coming 100th anniversary celebration with a catered dinner on September 6 from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Guest singers, past members, and past ministers with their families are expected to attend.

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