Kentucky Church Service Reflects on Slavery Past - Word&Way

Kentucky Church Service Reflects on Slavery Past

FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP) — More than a century ago, a Baptist church in Kentucky’s state capital city was started by slave owners and had a slave owner as its pastor. But a church service on June 10 stands in stark contrast to the past as the pastor gathered several African American pastors and leaders to pray with them and for them — and to wash their feet — in a demonstration of gratitude and humility. In an online prayer and Scripture service, Buck Run Baptist Church Pastor Hershael York lamented the early history of the church.

“I feel such a special blessing to be the pastor of this church,” he said, “but we have a heritage that reminds us of our desperate need not just to know the Gospel, but to live the Gospel.”

Hershael York (left) talks with Curtis Woods. during a June 10,2020 service at Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Chip Hutcheson/Kentucky Today via BP)

Reflecting on the slavery that existed when Buck Run was founded in 1818, York said he feels “the burden and weight” of that period in this nation’s history.

“There are some who say we don’t need to concern ourselves with something so far back in the past,” he said. “But if trauma can mark a person, can it not mark a people?”

York prayed that God would “so fill us with your spirit and give us such a commitment to the Gospel that we would not be afraid to say we repent of the sins of our fathers. We are not worried that when we stand before you that you’re going to say we repented too much.”

Curtis Woods, associate executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, read Eph. 2:11-22. He prayed, thanking God that even in the midst of sorrow, “we can cry out that we are reconciled through your blood and because of your blood.” He added, “We have the ability to live in reconciliation and unity with one another.”

After reading Revelation 20 and praying, York washed the feet of four African-American men.

“It was an honor for me,” he said later. “I thank God for them and I wanted to honor them. God has raised them up for a great purpose, and we wanted to say to them that we love them, thank God for them and want to serve them.”