Anneta United Baptist Church celebrates 100 years

By Barry W. Downs

Courtesy photo The new Anneta United Baptist Church building.

Courtesy photo The old Anneta United Baptist Church building.

The Anneta United Baptist Church turned 100 years old in 2015. The origins of the church actually go back a few more years when residents of the Anneta community in Grayson County held a brush arbor revival meeting in 1912 on the site where the old church building once stood and near the site where the present church building now stands. Several souls were saved at this revival. Afterwards, this group continued to hold services for several more years at the nearby VanMeter Schoolhouse located a few miles south.

On Oct. 10, 1914, a presbytery of ordained ministers and deacons from sister churches in the area met at the VanMeter Schoolhouse for the purpose of organizing a new church to be called “Anneta United Baptist Church.” The presbytery consisted of Elders J. W. Webb, C. M. Lindsey, John R. Davis, Archie Dennison, D. M. Booker, W. R. Slaughter, Charley Ray, and M. Hazelip, and the deacons were George Harrison and William Vincent. Elder J. W. Webb was elected as moderator of the presbytery, and Elder M. Hazelip was elected as clerk.

Original charter members of the Anneta United Baptist Church included Lutisha VanMeter, William N. VanMeter, Aden VanMeter, Eliza VanMeter, J. W. Meredith, Richard Stinnett, Victor Stinnett, John B. Decker, Mary Harkness, Lon Harkness, Sampson Meredith, Monie Stevenson, Abbie Haycraft, James H. VanMeter, and four other individuals identified only with the last names of Stinnett, Scott, Meredith, and Hayse. These 18 people presented themselves to the presbytery and were read the articles of faith and the church covenant and were accepted by the presbytery as suitable persons to join the new legally organized United Baptist Church at Anneta. The church soon joined the Green River Association of United Baptists on the third Saturday in August of 1915.

In 1916, the church began construction of a new church house. Before completion, it became necessary for the church to mortgage their partly-finished meeting house and church lot to raise enough money to finish the building. The new building was ready for services on the second Saturday in September of 1916. The building had weatherboard wood siding that was painted white. This original building stood close to the site of the present building where some of the cemetery is now located.

In 1919, the Anneta United Baptist Church hosted the annual meeting of the Green River Association of United Baptists which consisted of 21 member churches. The Anneta Church was represented by the following delegates: Brothers J.W. Meredith, H. L. Ford, and Aden VanMeter, with Bro. Victor Stinnett serving as an alternate delegate. The introductory sermon was preached by Rev. Cal Vincent and special singing was provided by the Poplar Springs choir. The church also hosted the association meeting for a second time in 1950 with delegates from 37 churches present. Representing the Anneta Church at this meeting were the following delegates: Brothers J. W. Meredith, Estill Hazelwood, and Russell Haycraft, with Bro. Elmer Ferguson serving as an alternate delegate. The introductory sermon for the session was preached by Rev. Gordon Campbell.

After a few short years, the church building was paid for and dedication services were held on the second Sunday in October of 1922, at which time Brother Charles Ray preached a sermon from John 2:10. This church building served the congregation well until strong winds of a severe storm badly damaged the meeting house in 1957. Pastor Enous Geary led the church in making plans to replace the old building with a new church house. On September 6, 1958, at a special called meeting, it was agreed to build a new house of worship between the old church house and the Anneta Schoolhouse which stood near the site of the present outdoor homecoming shelter. The first services in the new building were held on October 27, 1958 with Rev. Geary preaching a sermon from Romans 1 and St. Johns 14. This building was further expanded in 1969 to add Sunday School rooms and currently still serves the congregation. The Sunday School had been organized in 1934 through the efforts of Ki Cain and his wife, Francis.

The first ordained deacons of the Anneta United Baptist Church in 1915 were Aden VanMeter, J. W. Meredith, and William VanMeter. On the fourth Saturday of August in 1923, the church held an ordination service to ordain Brother J. W. Meredith and Brother William M. Decker to the ministry and Brother Jim Decker to be a deacon. A few years later on the first Saturday of October in 1930, Brother Adam Decker was ordained to be a minister. In later years, the church ordained more ministers, including Reverends Oscar Decker, Russell Haycraft, Elmer Ferguson, Jerome Duvall, Edward Day, Junior Lindsey, William Haycraft, Thomas Meredith, Chris Conder, Blake Newton, and Luke Wilson. In later years, the church ordained more deacons including Brothers Alford Meredith, Edward Day, Estill Hazelwood, Ed Harp, James Harrison, Earl T. Sanders, Eugene Haycraft, Ray Ferguson, Charles Vincent, Charles Wood, Charles Schultz, Charles Timothy Schultz, Freeman Jaggers, and Larry Downs.

The first pastor of the Anneta United Baptist Church was Rev. W. R. “Russ” Slaughter. Other pastors that followed him included Reverends George Harrison, Miles Harp, Courtland Sanders, Jeff Hester, Andrew Hester, Leonard Snyder, Ditt Webb, Ed Johnson, Rayburn Parker, Edward Dermitt, Enous Geary, Dio Jr. Parker, Paul Skaggs, Jr., Lonnie Childress, Willard Saltsman, Bobby Joe Meredith, Jackie Logsdon, George Mauldin, and Thomas Meredith. Of this dedicated and distinguished group of ministers, Rev. Willard Saltsman is fondly remembered for serving the longest period as pastor of the church for 32 years, beginning on Oct. 22, 1966. Rev. Saltsman preached the gospel to the Anneta church from 1966-1988 and from 1990-2000, concluding with his death in April of 2000, during which time he shepherded the flock and helped many lost souls find their way to Christ while the church grew and prospered.

The first moderator of the Anneta United Baptist Church was J. W. Meredith, and the first clerk of the church was Aden VanMeter. As of Oct. 3, 2015, the current moderator is Larry Downs, the treasurer is James Harrison, the clerk is Barry Downs, and the pastor is Thomas Meredith. The church presently has a membership of 422.

The Anneta United Baptist Church will be having a special centennial service to commemorate its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 18, at 11:00 a.m. central time. There will be a dinner after the service. The church is located on Highway 259 in the Anneta community of Grayson County, about 10 miles south of Leitchfield.

Courtesy photo The new Anneta United Baptist Church building. photo The new Anneta United Baptist Church building.

Courtesy photo The old Anneta United Baptist Church building. photo The old Anneta United Baptist Church building.

By Barry W. Downs

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