Community History - Covington - Immanuel Baptist Church (Third Baptist Church)
The organizational meeting of the Third Baptist Church of Covington was held on March 15, 1891 in the home of George W. Grizzle on Scott Blvd. The congregation consisted of 50 members. Services were held in the Welch Mission at the corner of Greenup and Linn Streets and the Reverend S.G. Mullins was called as the first pastor.
During the first year, a lot was purchased at the corner of Scott Blvd. and 20th Street and construction began on a permanent church building. This building was dedicated on September 18, 1892. By that time, membership had increased to 76.
In November 1892, the Reverend J.A. Lee became the second Pastor of Third Baptist Church. Reverend Lee held this position for nine years. During this time, a mission church was established in Latonia (Now the Latonia Baptist Church).
In August 1905, the debt held on the church property was completely paid. At that time, the church building was re-dedicated and the name of the congregation was officially changed to Immanuel Baptist Church.
On Sunday December 19, 1920, a fire broke out in the church building. The Reverend E.J. Weller, Pastor, calmly led the nearly 100 children attending Sunday School from the building. The Covington Fire Department quickly arrived on the scene, however, they could do little to stop the spread of the flames. The building was a complete loss. The members of the congregation immediately began making plans to build a new church on a site at the southeast corner of Greenup and 20th Streets. The new brick, two-story church was designed by area architect Charles L. Hildreth. The first floor of the building contained classrooms and the pastor’s study with the main auditorium on the second floor. The cornerstone of the building was set into place on May 29, 1921 and the building dedicated in March 1922. In 1925, Charles L. Hildreth was again commissioned by the congregation to design an addition to the church. The new addition housed the congregations Sunday school program. Total construction costs reached the sum of $63,000. Membership in 1925 had reached 500.
The Reverend Morris Coers was appointed Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in 1945. Reverend Coers was an excellent preacher and appeared many times on local radio programs. Coers was also responsible for the creation of the Garden of Hope on Edgecliff Road in Covington in the mid-1950s. The Garden of Hope contained a replica tomb of Jesus, a carpenters shop, chapel and a large garden featuring plants native to the Holy Land.
It was also during the tenure of Reverend Coers that dissention grew within the congregation. Coers was accused of baptizing a person without immersing them. He was also accused of providing communion to non-Baptists. In January 1955, the members of the congregation voted 403 to 20 in support of Reverend Coers ministry. By 1956, complaints about Reverend Coers ministry had reached the officials of the North Bend Baptist Association. In January 1957 a split occurred between Immanuel Baptist and the association. Newspaper accounts conflicted as to whether Immanuel withdrew from the association or if the association had ousted the congregation. The end result, however, was the same.
By 2005, the congregation had dwindled to 35 members. In January of that year, the church building at 20th and Greenup Streets was vacated by the congregation. At that time, regular Sunday services began to be held at the Garden of Hope facility.
Kentucky Post, August 17, 1905, p. 2, December 20, 1920, p. 1, March 22, 1921, p. 1, May 25, 1921, p. 1, March 22, 1922, p. 1, December 19, 1925, p. 1 and September 30, 1991, p. 4A, July 6, 2005; Kentucky Times-Star, January 4, 1955, p. 1A, January 6, 1955, p. 1A, September 6, 1956, p. 1A, September 7, 1956, p. 1A and January 4, 1957, p. 1A; Dedicatory Services, Sunday December 20, 1925, Immanuel Baptist Church, Covington, Kentucky (KCPL Local History Files).