By Shirley Nanney
As possibly the oldest church in Carroll County, the 200th year observance of Hollow Rock Primitive Baptist Church’s founding will be observed on Saturday, Oct. 15.
Located on Hwy. 70 in Hollow Rock, the church will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a song service. There will be lunch at noon. At 1 p.m. singing will begin followed by Elder Kevin Lofton, pastor of Buffalo Primitive Baptist Church, as the guest speaker.
Co-pastors Elder Tim Stepp and Garland Broadway will share church history from minutes, including news articles, and artifacts found in the church cemetery. Amazingly, the church still has the original ledger with the minutes from when the church was constituted.
“These minutes show the impact the church had in the community,” said Stepp. “It contains the names of the elders, deacons and members at the time.”
Elder Jerry McMinn typed the original minutes in1969 for their preservation and to allow for easier reading. Elder C.A. McMinn, McMinn’s father, served as pastor of the church for many years.
According to the minutes, the church was constituted July 1823 by adopting the Primitive Baptist Articles of Faith. There were approximately 45 members when the church was constituted. Today the church has seven members.
Prior to being constituted as a church, people began meeting in homes in October of 1822 around what was known as Green’s Settlement. A man known as Captain Green opened his doors to Elders Jacob Browen, Samuel McGowen, and Cornelious Cane in 1823 for the purpose of constituting a church. Those elders formed the presbytery and after examination they pronounced the members an independent church.
The church meets on first and fourth Sundays each month. Communion and foot washing services are held twice a year on Saturday evening before the first Sunday in May (this date has been observed since the church’s founding) and the first Sunday in October. The first Sunday in May observance brought people into town in train carloads.
The practice comes from John 13: Verses 14-17.
“If I then, your Lord and master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord, neither He that is sent greater than He that sent Him. If ye know these things; happy are ye if ye do them.”
Stepp said he has often thought, “If these walls could talk and tell the sermons that have been preached here and the many meetings that have taken place here and the show of love that has flowed among the members of the church body what a grand thing that would be. No doubt, they would tell of all those who have been called out of the world and into God’s Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Savior, not to mention all the ones who have passed through these doors and have gone on to be with the Lord.”
There was once a huge oak tree that stood shading “dinner on the ground” meals during special meeting times. It was estimated to have stood at least since the Civil War. When it had to be cut in 2017 there were at least 180 rings that could be seen.
Years ago the church was a part of the Big Sandy Association of Churches, but now meets as the Big Sandy Fellowship of Primitive Baptist Churches. The fellowship now consists of five Primitive Baptist churches in the area. They include besides the Hollow Rock church, Mud Creek near Huntingdon, New Antioch near Lexington, New Hope in Milan, and Buffalo Church.
The Hollow Rock Church will be hosting the Fellowship meeting in March 2023. There will be preaching brethren from around the region attending.
“Hollow Rock Primitive Baptist Church has been meeting as part of the body of Christ for 200 years,” said Stepp. “We felt it important to commemorate this time as a part of our heritage and to be an encouragement to the community along with the church body itself. It has been a time capsule of sorts as we have looked and researched through all of our records. There has been a search through old pictures, newspaper clippings, and city, state and county records.”
The current main structure was built in the early 1900’s and is still standing on sandstone rocks as support. The land was deeded around 1923 by the L & N Railroad to the church.
“The church has held fast to the same teachings and beliefs that were held by the church organizers 200 years ago and it will continue to do so in the future,” said Stepp.