Community History - Covington - Latonia Baptist Church
Latonia Baptist is a Protestant Church located at 38th and Church Sts. in Latonia, KY. Its origins trace back to its days as a mission of the Immanuel Baptist in Covington. As a mission, it was founded in 1892 by Rev. J.A. Lee (also pastor of Immanuel Baptist) and several of his followers (this date is, however, debatable, but it was certainly founded c. 1892). After several years of meeting in small houses, a permanent church was finally built in 1896. This building was located at 38th and Decoursey Streets. Latonia Baptist, however, initially met much resistance upon its attempt to join the local Association of Baptist Churches due to its conflicts with Immanuel Baptist over becoming independent from its mother church’s Mission. W.R. Hutton was in charge of the dissident Latonia Baptists from 1898-99 and helped fight Immanuel Baptist’s attempts to rectify the independent faction.
After issues of property ownership were settled, Latonia Baptist was allowed to become independent from Immanuel Baptist. C.A. Earl became the first official pastor of the new church and Latonia Baptist was admitted to the Association in 1900 as the First Baptist Church of Latonia. Rev. Earl soon left the new congregation in 1904 for ministerial positions in Texas and was replaced by Jesse Warren Beagle later that same year. Not long after, in 1907, Beagle too resigned for other positions, but not before he had overseen the church enlarged in 1905 to provide for more space.
The next very influential minister in the history of Latonia Baptist, Thomas Clinton Crume (T.C.) became pastor on August 1st, 1913. The church history was apt to note that Crume was a very active and vigorous minister, and much occurred during his tenure. A new sanctuary was built in 1917 to accommodate the increasing size of the church’s membership. The new building was designed by local architect Howard McClory and was located at the corner of Church and 38<sup>th</sup> Streets. The church included an auditorium seating 300 and was built at the cost of $33,000. By 1920, Latonia Baptist was the largest Baptist Church in the Association and by then it had already begun missionary efforts within the city.
An interesting episode in the church’s history occurred in the early 1920’s when several of its members began to dissent against Rev. Crume. The church history cited several possible reasons, from the pastor’s preoccupation with the new construction to his excessive visiting of other churches at the expense of his own. Regardless, the result was that several of the deacons at Latonia Baptist (along with other high officials) attempted to oust Crume from his position, only to be themselves expelled by the general congregation for attacking the pastor they respected. The splinter group then attempted to found their own church, Calvary Baptist, and conflict continued for quite some time despite conciliatory efforts.
In 1923, Rev. Crume resigned from Latonia Baptist and soon afterward became a missionary. He was replaced later that year by O.J. Steger, a minister that the church has since dubbed the “Son of Thunder.” During his tenure, the church expanded its missionary activity to other parts of Latonia and constructed several mission houses.
During the Depression, however, the church fell on very hard financial times while under the leadership of Rev. Black, who had become pastor in 1926. Several of the church’s peripheral functions were suspended or attenuated by such circumstances.
Rev. Black was eventually replaced by Lewis C. Ray in 1939, who himself was quickly succeeded by Rev. Huss. Huss himself oversaw construction of the new Sunday School, completed in 1941, designed by Rev. Ray.
More missions were established in Latonia through the next several years. Before the end of the 40’s, however, Rev. Huss resigned and was replaced by Thomas Shelton who became pastor in December of 1950. Throughout Shelton’s stay as minister, Latonia Baptist continued to fund and expand its various missions throughout the city, including a couple constructed in the interim after Huss resigned. Several of these missions would go on to become members of the Baptist Association later in the 50’s. As for Latonia Baptist itself, another large educational building was also added onto the main church in 1954. A kindergarten and library opened up soon afterwards.
In 1965, Rev. Shelton resigned to pursue other positions within the Baptist Association. Latonia Baptist, however, celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 1975 with many of the former pastors, including Shelton, in attendance. As of 1972, the pastor was Harold Wainscott.
Latonia Baptist, as a result of its extensive missionary activity, has become known as “The Mother of Baptist Churches in Latonia.” Churches formed from Latonia Baptist included: Decoursey Baptist, Calvary Baptist, Ashland Avenue Baptist and Rosedale Baptist.
The Spirit of Antioch (Main Source) Church Publication; The Kentucky Post 8-16-75 p 12, 9-26-16 p3.