Mill Creek Baptist Church
Mill Creek Baptist Church, organized in 1782, is currently located in Radcliff, Kentucky, just one mile off the main (non-Interstate) artery between Louisville and Nashville. The church was started in a region where the majority of the white settlers were Baptist: the “Mill Creek area” of northern Hardin County, stretching from just south of West Point to just north of Elizabethtown. Bathsheba Lincoln, grandmother to our sixteenth President, was one of the founding members of the Mill Creek church.
The Mill Creek meeting house, one of the first edifices to be built by European settlers west of the Allegheny Mountains, was constructed in 1783. This meeting house was built of long lapped logs tied in the center and two attached logs tied together as a crossbeam. It rested on a stone foundation. It served not only as a gathering place for area religious congregations but also as a citizens’ meeting point for all common concerns.
The Mill Creek Baptist Church joined the Salem Association in 1793, roughly ten years after its founding. Because the Association tolerated slavery, Mill Creek withdrew its membership in 1796. It is recorded in G. E. McMurty’s “History of the First Regular Church on Mill Creek” (1930) that one James “Raccoon” Smith served the church as pastor in the year 1797. “Raccoon” Smith was a Baptist minister who later became involved in the Campbellite movement and helped to form the Churches of Christ in the Kentucky-Tennessee area.
In 1803, the Mill Creek church rejoined the Salem Association. Three years later, it was reorganized as a Baptist Church with a full-time minister, Reverend Shadrack Brown.
In that time, travel was difficult and dangerous; regular church attendance was next to impossible for those who lived at what is considered a short distance by today’s standards. Rev. Brown felt compelled to start other churches in the region so that more could be reached with the Gospel and members could be more actively involved in their congregation’s ministry. Otter Creek Baptist Church was begun by Mill Creek members in 1812. New Hope Baptist Church in Breckinridge County began in 1813, petitioning for membership in the Salem Association. In 1817, a Mount Zion Baptist Church was formed (not the present-day Mount Zion church). In 1827, 28 Mill Creek members and 10 Otter Creek members formed the Forks of Otter Creek Baptist Church.
The second Mount Zion Baptist Church was formed in 1838 with the Reverend Jacob Rogers as pastor, taking its founding membership from five area churches that had begun from Mill Creek originally. Thirty-seven Mill Creek members formed the congregation of the newly-formed Pitts Point Baptist Church in 1854 under the leadership of Randel P. Hays, petitioning the Salem Association for membership.
In May of 1882, after consideration of a number of options to improve the old building, a new location for the church building was approved. A new church house, to be constructed “like a white wooden schoolhouse,” was started. This building was finished in December 1883 - at a cost of $662.00 – and dedicated on the third Sunday in December.
As American church culture and methods changed, Mill Creek adopted new ministries and policies. The first Sunday School was started at Mill Creek on July 20, 1884; the first Wednesday night meeting was held in January of 1895. The church adopted an annual budget system in December 1916, ending the subscription system of covering expenses. In 1952, the first bus was purchased and a bus ministry was begun.
In December 1963, the church took action to allow persons to be accepted on Christian merit, “without regard to race or color.” (Churches in general had become very segregated since the Civil War.) The church continued to grow and change and use various opportunities to reach out to the community, including helping to form the First Korean Baptist Church in 1980, embarking on a number of building projects to house the expanding congregation, and running a daycare.
As Mill Creek continues to look for ways to reach and serve the people in its midst, we are thankful that the Lord has used us to see many souls saved over the years. Although the majority of our recent salvation decisions come from groups who are here only temporarily and cannot contribute to the further growth of Mill Creek, we see many blessings from being open to the Lord’s leadership in sharing the Gospel with these souls and adding to the body of Christ.
For many years, our “Bold Knight” ministry offered a meal, preaching, and a day of leisure to soldiers finishing up their Basic Training on Fort Knox. Soldiers who desired to participate were bused to the Mill Creek campus and welcomed warmly, then seated in our auditorium where they heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Young soldiers who have spent six weeks isolated from news, culture, and family, being taught to avoid impending death while wreaking necessary havoc on the enemy, and facing the possibility of not returning alive find the Gospel to be a very attractive message. Hundreds of young soldiers accepted the free gift of salvation here at Mill Creek before Congress voted to move the schools to Georgia in 2010. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, largely due to our ability to reach out to these soldiers, Mill Creek’s baptisms averaged 113 per year.
Mill Creek is currently busing cadets from the Bluegrass Challenge Academy, an alternative resident high school on Fort Knox, to its campus for Sunday School and worship on Sunday mornings. Bluegrass cadets participate in a rigorous, highly-disciplined five-month course designed to enable them to pass the G.E.D. and move into adult life. Some of these students have made poor choices in the past; some are enrolled at Bluegrass due to the decision of a judge. Others come from unfortunate home situations or haven’t adjusted well to public high school. While the Academy is shaping them into confident young members of society, Mill Creek has the privilege to teach those who choose to attend about the love of God. Between 2012 and 2018, Mill Creek has baptized an average of 22 souls a year, largely Bluegrass cadets.
Our morning worship services are broadcast on Facebook Live.
Pastor Faron Knopp, with his wife Ann and sons Aaron and Eric, came to Mill Creek as lead pastor at the end of 2013. As a Hodgenville native, he is well acquainted with the area and opportunities here. Mill Creek’s history, location, and situation make it a unique church that can reach out to a variety of people. We look forward to seeing how God will use us in the future as we await Christ’s return.