WEST END BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY
1941 – 2014
In the spring of 1941, in a home located at 430 South 19th Street, Mrs. Mollie Graves offered a simple prayer to our Father in heaven to send workers into vineyard. This humble prayer set into motion a series of events that brought forth the West EndBaptistChurch from its obscure beginnings in west Louisville, KY.West EndBaptistChurch was started by a group of faithful, committed Christians. In the hearts and prayers of a group of ten dedicated Christians concerned about the growth of their church with Sunday school, bible studies and prayer meetings, a Bible-Believing, Bible-Preaching church was born.
Their first priority was to find a pastor. Rev. James H. Chalmers, formerly of NewZionBaptistChurch, was chosen as the first pastor. When these meetings quickly outgrew her home, this group decided it was time to formally become a church with greater opportunity for service and fellowship as well as a commitment to upholding the fundamentals of the Christian faith. The building at 428 South 20th Street, which was just a few blocks away from their current meeting place, was considered a good choice for a place to worship. Their purpose was to honor and exalt God and be a service to the people of their community.
The church grew and thrived under Rev. Chalmers’ leadership. It had increased its membership from the original ten to forty members. West End boasted of several committed deacons; Brothers Dillard, Charlie Shoulders, Carl Turner, John Williamson, James Watson, Edison Davis and later George Buchanan. The committed members loved their church and worked unceasingly for it. They were able to raise enough revenue from “selling dinners” and homemade ice cream to last throughout the winter. But as he aged and in the intervening time of his resignation and the calling of the next pastor, the membership dwindled down to eleven members.
In 1961, it was evident that a pastor was needed who could devote his attention to the church. A call was prayerfully extended and after a relatively short search, Rev. Lincoln N. Bingham answered that call and became the pastor of West End Baptist Church. He was a great man of faith, strong convictions and indomitable courage. Upon his arrival, West End had the same number of members it had when it first started out with twenty years earlier and had only one deacon, George Buchanan, who was employed and had the only automobile. Deacon Buchanan continued the prayer of asking God to “send more workers” and that prayer is still being answered today. Rev. Bingham admonished the church to have faith as the church sought to do God’s will. There was a new movement of the Spirit among the congregation, a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. The church began to grow under his inspired leadership, which was evident in 1963, during the first revival where fifty souls were added to the church. Twenty-three of those were first time decisions. The Sunday school, the oldest auxiliary in the church continued to flourish.
It was apparent to the membership that a larger building was needed. So plans were made that would involve moving to another location to allow the ministry to continue to grow. On October 1, 1968, there was a grand motorcade that highlighted the occasion from the old location to the property that was secured at 2820 West Jefferson Street. Baptisms of the new souls that were continued to be added were done at the church-around-the-corner, BaptistTabernacleBaptistChurch. Members remained faithful even when things were difficult. God used these faithful members to maintain the work that He had assigned to them.
1976, because of the organization of our Christian Education program, West End purchased the property adjacent to it. We found that it too exceeded the ability to adequately serve our needs because of our growth. In 1979, the old educational building was demolished and the sanctuary was remodeled. With continued emphasis on Christian education and rapid growth, in 1980 the foundation for a comprehensive educational wing and a large fellowship hall with a kitchen and ample office and classroom space was laid.
In 1983, Rev. Dartanya G. Hill, Sr., joined West End Baptist Church. He quickly became involved in the work of the church and taught New Members class, Sunday school and was the Adult Sunday School Director. Pastor Bingham asked Rev. Hill to accept the position of assistant pastor in 1986. In the summer of 1988, on the recommendation of Pastor Emeritus Bingham, Rev. Hill was called as Interim Pastor of West End. Nine months later in 1988, Rev. Dartanya Hill became the church’s third pastor. Pastor Hill believes in a holistic approach to ministry. That is to say that the church must meet the total needs of the individual and not merely spiritual. In this view, many creative ministries have been established under his dynamic and energetic leadership.
In July 1989, the new educational facility was erected. However, in December 1989, tragedy struck when a fire was set and destroyed the fellowship hall, educational building and offices. It delivered a major blow. Yet, West EndBaptistChurch stood as a testimony of God and the commitment of its people. For it was the people, not the building, that made the church.
On December 22, 1991, the Sunday before Christmas, the membership moved from 2820 West Jefferson to a Historic Church building at 1400 S. 4th Street. Upon arrival at our new location we were met with new opportunities for ministry and bold challenges to our own faith. From observations of the fact that many persons found refuge in the nearby park and even on the Church porch, we were faced with the fact that we preach that God loves all people. Out of that need was born the “Homeless Breakfast”. Once a week, persons are given a hot meal, inside from the elements and challenged to get to know Christ by way of Conversation, Music, Biblical Tracks, Worship and The Word. Understanding our need to talk to God and He with us, was developed Wednesday Mid-Day Prayer Time. Christian Counseling for the Community (by appointment), Nursing Home, Jail / Prison Ministry, Boy Scouts, Young Adult Ministry, Porch Talk and Prayer Walks, Men and Women Prayer Breakfast, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Fun, Senior Fellowships, Harvest Fest, Rap the Spoken Word, Creative Ministries and more are all efforts in addition to our basic ministries that continue to build on the foundation laid in 1941.
In 2010, the church began an aggressive campaign of missions and evangelism and renovations of the building that will allow for future growth. And the Church did move to perform $150,000.00 in very significant renovations that prepare the building for years of Ministry in this location. We have witnessed the growth of several bible teachers that help to stabilize and ensure the growth of the ministry for the future. The active enrollment of the church is greater than it has ever been and the Church functions with an experienced and diversified staff. Souls continue to be saved and the saved continue to be edified.
For 73 years, West End continues in The Faith to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ that The Lost will be Saved, The Saved will be Taught and the Taught will be Trained to share the truth of the Gospel to all people.
As Mollie Graves, the founding mother of the church always said,
“West End is built on a rock, a strong foundation and that foundation is Jesus.”