Community History - Covington - First Baptist Church - Eastside
The First Colored Baptist Church was established in 1864 with 22 charter members. The original structure was located on Bremen (later Pershing Street) in Covington’s west end. The first pastor was the Reverend George Dupree (1864-1868). He was succeeded by the Reverend Jacob Price (1868-1870 and 1880-1881). The congregation moved several times before building a permanent structure. Initially, the congregation was housed in a building on Bremen Street. In 1870, a move found the congregation in quarters on Third Street.
Dissention in the congregation led to a portion of the community breaking their ties with First Baptist. Eventually, this congregation purchased property on East Ninth Street and became known as Ninth Street Baptist Church.
In 1870, the Reverend W.W. Blackburn became the pastor of the church. At that time, membership totaled 40. In 1875, the congregation relocated to Robbins Street and built a small church edifice. By 1877, membership had increased to 351. During those first eight years, Reverend Blackburn baptized over 300 individuals. This growth in membership required a larger church facility. Funds were raised and a site was acquired on 13th Street near Spring Street in the city’s west end. The cornerstone for the new church was set in place on May 20, 1877. By the end of the year, the building was ready for occupancy.
Tragedy struck the congregation in July 1915. A fierce tornado swept through Northern Kentucky and did considerable damage in the region. The tornado destroyed the First Colored Baptist Church. It took many years for the congregation to recover from the loss. In August 1916, a lot was acquired at 118 E. 9th Street as a site for a new church. This location was more centrally located for the African American population of Covington. The first phase of the new church was not completed in 1917. The building was dedicated on Easter Sunday of that year. The cost for this initial construction reached $20,000. A number of beautiful stained-glass windows depicting the “twelve Tribes of Israel” were installed in the building. These windows were donated by individuals and by several church groups.
In 1941, the congregation celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the pastorate of Reverend F.C. Locust. Reverend Locust had done much to increase the membership of Covington First Baptist Church. During his first thirty years in Covington, Locust added over 3000 members to the congregation, married more than 800 individuals and presided over 1,400 funerals. Locust remained pastor until his death on January 21, 1948.
Early Pastors of First Baptist were: George W. Dupree (1864-1868), Jacob Price (1868-1870 and 1880-1881), William Blackburn (1870-1880), John Vinegar (1881-1886), Frank Hummins (1886-1899), Frank Scott (1899-1900), G.W. Ward (1900-1908), J.D. Bushnell (1908-1909), S.D. Norris (1910-1911), F.C. Locust (1911-1948), W.P. Walbert (1948-1971), A.B. Moore (1972-1974), W. Jenkins (1974-1975) and Willie R. Barbour
Souvenir of First Baptist Church, Covington, Kentucky 1864-1964; Back to Where We Started From 1864-1997; Ticket, May 19, 1877, p. 3, May 21, 1877, 3, December 29, 1877, p. 3; Kentucky Post