Lord, do it again

Vision 1930 brought astonishing results for the kingdom

By Ben Stratton

Published: May 1, 2020

Ronnie Floyd has recently challenged Southern Baptists with Vision 2025. While these goals may seem implausible, Kentucky Baptists have accomplished remarkable things in the past by working together and trusting in the power of the Lord. One example comes from the Blood River Baptist Association in 1930.

Ben Stratton

At that time, H. Boyce Taylor was a key leader in western Kentucky. The long-time pastor of the First Baptist Church of Murray might well be the most influential Baptist in Kentucky's history. While widely known for promoting the "budget plan" of giving — which eventually became the Cooperative Program — one of his most productive ideas came later in his life.

At the 1929 annual meeting of the Blood River Baptist Association, Taylor proposed a plan that today might be called "Vision 1930." The association would employ men to contact every home in Calloway and Marshall counties. These young men, called "colporters," were mostly preacher boys from Taylor's West Kentucky Bible School. Knocking on every door in the two counties, they asked each individual where they attended church, which denomination they preferred and if they attended Sunday School.

The statistics are themselves fascinating. For instance, in 1930 there were only three self-professed "infidels" (atheists) in Calloway and Marshall counties!

Nevertheless, this was more than just a religious census. Each home was given several gospel tracts, including two by T.T. Martin, a notable Southern Baptist evangelist of the early 20th century.

"How to Be Saved" gave the gospel plan of salvation. "The Conversion of Ruth Wyatt" told the testimony of a lost church member. In addition, Bibles and Christian books were made available.

The results were astonishing.

• Eighteeen young men worked together to visit 18,969

• There were 59 professions reported; 30 people joined churches in the Blood River

• The Coldwater and Dexter Baptist churches, which were both struggling, were revived and again became strong congregations.

• When it was realized that there were people in the Briensburg community who were interested in being a part of a New Testament church, the Briensburg Baptist Church was soon started.

H.B. Taylor

H. Boyce Taylor had been pastor in the association since 1897 — yet this cooperative effort brought more of a revival spirit to the churches than anything he had seen in his past 34 years.

He stated, "We saw and heard more talk about a coming revival in Blood River Association by the speakers (the colporters) than any year."

With such limitations as Model-T automobiles, horse and buggies and gravel and dirt roads, these Baptists worked together to bring revival to their region.

Kentucky Baptists have abundant resources in the 21st century. There is one question to be answered: Will we labor together to see God move in the same way?

"For we are laborers together with God" (1 Corinthians 3:9).


Ben Stratton is pastor of Farmington Baptist Church in Graves County and a Baptist historian with the J.H. Spencer Historical Society.


1929 Annual Meeting of the Blood River Baptist Association

Employ men, called "colporters," to contact every home in Calloway and Marshall counties. Ask each individual where they attend church, which denomination they prefer and if they attend Sunday School.

Baptists who don't attend Sunday School................................................... 3,840

Baptist preference for Sunday School.......................................................... 1,075

Baptist preference who don't attend.............................................................. 3,740

Methodists

Methodists in bounds of Blood River Association..................................... 3,470

Methodist preference......................................................................................... 3,230

Cumberland Presbyterians

Presbyterians in bounds of Blood River Association.................................. 160

Presbyterian preference...................................................................................... 100

Campbellite

Campbellites in bounds of Blood River Association................................. 2,900

Presbyterian preference................................................................................... 2,480

Hardshell Baptists

Hardshells in bounds of Blood River Association........................................ 390

Hardshell preference.......................................................................................... 670

Holy Rollers

Holy Rollers in bounds of Blood River Association...................................... 865

Holy Roller preference........................................................................................... 145

Adventists

Adventists in bounds of Blood River Association........................................... 30

Adventist preference................................................................................................ 15

Mormons

Mormons in bounds of Blood River Association.............................................. 50

Mormon preference................................................................................................ 45

Catholic

Catholics in bounds of Blood River Association............................................... 17

Catholic preference................................................................................................... 8

Infidels........................................................................................................................... 3

Russellites.................................................................................................................... 1

Unitarians................................................................................................................... 1

Christian Union.......................................................................................................... 1

We recommend that each church elect a member, to which they are entitled, to attend each and every meeting of this board and assist in its work.

J.R. BRANDON, R. H. FALWELL.