Walnut Street Baptist Church

Walnut Street Baptist Church

Walnut Street Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist, Christian formermegachurch in Louisville, Kentucky. It is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Kentucky Baptist Convention, and the Long Run Baptist Association.


Walnut Street Baptist Church was founded in 1815 as the First Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. In the beginning the congregation had 18 members who met in the homes of members. The congregation faithfully served the Louisville community for 30 years.

In 1845 the First and Second Baptist churches called the same Pastor and the town congregations merged and moved to the corner of Fourth and Walnut Street in Louisville. The newly merged congregation stayed in this 600 seat capacity location until 1902. It was decided to move as the congregation had outgrown its facility with Sunday school attendance topping 1000.

In 1902 Walnut Street Baptist Church moved to its present location on the corner of third and Saint Catherine Streets in what is now Old Louisville. By this time it was considered by some to be the largest church in the South. As the 20th century progressed the church grew to encompass over two city blocks. By the 1960s the congregation was responsible for starting directly or indirectly 78 churches in the Long Run Association encompassing the Louisville area.

In the 1970s and 1980s this racially diverse downtown congregation stayed in its location despite over two thirds of the congregation living outside the downtown corridor. Expanded inner-city and activities ministries were added at this time to adapt to urban ministry in the latter part of the century.

The 1970s also saw the beginning of the Living Christmas Tree which continued until 2006. This Annual "gift to the city" of choral and instrumental performance was free and drew on average 35,000 to its 16 performances at its peak.

In the 1990s the congregation recommitted itself to its downtown philosophy by undertaking a multi million dollar campus update. Today the congregation has active ministries including a retirement home, subsidized apartments, a counseling center, weekly worship, Christian education, Christian social ministry, global mission partnerships and recreational activities and sustains a membership of over 5,000. Current weekly attendance is about 700.

Other history and statistics

* One of the first churches to build a recreation center including amenities such as a bowling alley, racquetball court, skating ring, billiard hall, dinning room with a capacity of 1200 and gymnasium, as well as meeting space.
* Purchased and at one time owned Norton Healthcare in Louisville.
* Over the course of its existence the congregation is responsible for either directly or indirectly founding 65% of the Southern Baptist churches in The Greater Louisville Area.
* Congregation and its pastors were key in the relocation of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to Louisville from South Carolina.
* Three former pastors have been the President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
* The TV ministry has 40,000 viewing households weekly.
* Congregation responsible for the foundation of the Kentucky Baptist Homes for children.


= References =
* [http://www.walnutstreet.org Official Web Site]
* [http://www2.kybaptist.org/kbc/welcome.nsf/pages/mackey20030605 Ky Baptist Convention Listing]
* [http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=19586 Info from Baptist Press]
* [http://www.oldlouisville.com/postcards/OldLouisville/Walnut-Street-Baptist1.htm Some historical Notes]
* http://www.oldlouisville.com/postcards/OldLouisville/Walnut-Street-Baptist1.htm
* http://www.kbhc.org/our_history.php
* http://www.lrba.org/templates/System/details.asp?id=20083&PID=377023
* [http://www.elmertowns.com/books/online/cmplete_ch_gr/The_Complete_Book_Church_Growth%5BETowns%5D.pdf Reference in Text Book]
* Baker, Robert. ed. "A Baptist Source Book". Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1966.
* Leonard, Bill J. "COMMUNITY IN DIVERSITY : A HISTORY OF THE WALNUT BAPTIST CHURCH 1815 - 1990" Louisville, Ky. Simons - Neely Publishing Co 1990 096277880X

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