LAUREL, Ky. — Flip through the pages of scripture and stories of sorrows, obstacles and celebrations are at every turn. Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, located in rural Greenup County, Ky. is also filled with tales of sorrows and celebrations.
On July 28, 1920, a church called Laurel Chapel Baptist Church was organized. Two years later, a disagreement about who should be allowed to preach in the church led to the original building being moved from the site.
Church members attempted to move the intact building with sleds and mules; but after the building began to break apart, the church was disassembled and moved to a new location about a quarter-mile up the road.
At the new location, the church was not given a warm welcome. Vandals broke into the building, and a large Bible on display on a front table was cut to pieces. Church member Eugene Meadows recalled a story about a person throwing a rock through the front door of the church during a service.
Sadly, on the night of Feb. 15, 1932, about an hour after a church service, the building caught fire and burned to the ground. Nothing was saved except the concrete steps from the building - which remain to this day.
Many would have walked away and quit, but the same persistence that led the children of Israel through the wilderness was leading this small congregation on Laurel Road. Another lot was purchased about a quarter-mile further down the road. A block building that would serve as the church for nearly 70 years was built.
It was there that the members renamed the church as Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church.
The church didn’t have indoor restrooms until the late 1980s. Before then, a trip to the restroom was a real trip. In the mid-1990s the block building had reached a point where it could no longer be repaired. At a business meeting, the congregation voted to acquire a loan and build a new church for the posterity of the community.
In the fall of 1997, the congregation was blessed with a new building where God has continued to bless the community.
All of the saints who established the church in Laurel have gone to be with the Lord. But Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church visitors get fed every Sunday with the same gospel message with a side of prayer and fellowship.
By Jarrod E. Stephens