History

Jesus said  “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Paul wrote “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  We believe that true churches of Jesus Christ have existed throughout every age. Our Lord is one that does not leave Himself without a witness (Acts 14:17, Rom 11:3).  Jude exhorted the church to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” We believe that the Church of Christ at Rocky Fork (sinners saved by grace), along with others of like faith and practice, are the descendants of the original, primitive churches, attempting to stand in the old paths founded by Christ and His apostles.

Called by a variety of names (not just “baptist”), the Church of Christ as always existed outside of Roman Catholicism and those of reformation that sprang from Romanism. Early churches spread from Jerusalem to Asia Minor, Europe, and into the British Isles. Though labels don’t always prove that a church has pure doctrine and practice, some labels may have included:

Time Period

Location

Label

100/200

Italy/England/Wales

Christians

300/400

Europe/Africa

Novations/Waldenses

500/1200
(Dark ages)

Wales/France

Donatists/Paulicians
Waldenses/Anabaptists

1300/1600

Germany/Europe

Waldenses /Albigenses/Anabaptists

1700/1800

England/Europe

Anabaptist/Baptist

Wikipedia records: “Prior to the 20th century, Baptist historians generally wrote from the perspective that Baptists had existed since the time of Christ. Proponents of the Baptist perpetuity view consider the Baptist movement to have always been historically separate from Catholicism and in existence prior to the Protestant Reformation.”

Some of the first baptists in America may have been those at assembling at Newport, Rhode Island in 1638, led by Dr. John Clark. One well known historical primitive baptist church was the old Welsh Tract Church near Newark, Delaware, having been constituted in 1701 in South Wales and emigrating as a body to America later that year.

Rocky Fork church was constituted as “Freedom” church in 1821, but changed their name in April 1822. Members have held meetings in in several different buildings and in various locations around the Columbia area through the years. The current building was constructed in 1913 and a kitchen was added in 1967.

The church has never been large in number, being founded by seventeen baptized believers coming  from churches that included Chariton church, in Howard CO, MO, Mt. Vernon church, Boone CO, MO;  Little Bonne Femme church, Boone CO, MO; Freedom church, Gararre CO, KY; Mays Lick church, Mason CO, KY;  White Oak Pond Church, Madison CO, KY; and Tates Creek church, Madison CO, KY. It’s a fascinating study to trace the the founding members from their former churches to some of the first baptist churches and pastors in America.

Rocky Fork church still holds to the same articles of faith it established in 1821. Our statements of faith are very similar to those affirmed by the first baptist churches in America as well as the1655 Midland Confession of Faith and the Waldensian Confessions of Faith from 1544 and 1120. Rocky Fork was first called a “baptist” church, but after many baptists changed their beliefs and practices in the early 1800’s (many added Sunday Schools and parachurch organizations), we became known as an old school, or primitive baptist congregation. Learn more about the the stance old school baptists made in the 1830’s by reading the Black Rock Address.

Today, “Baptist” churches come in all flavors, including many that descended from English Separatists (reformers), not from the same line of succession as historic baptists. Other Baptist churches, though once standing in the old paths, have since added modern ideas and changed doctrinal stances.  Saying “Primitive Baptist denomination” is somewhat misleading. Primitive baptist describes our worship style and beliefs, but there is no national organization, convention or headquarters for PB churches, just fellowship among those of like faith and practice. The head of each local, autonomous church body is Christ.

We believe churches came from churches that came from churches….back to when Christ set up His church at Jerusalem. But it is very important to note that our understanding of this church perpetuity is not grounded in the historical documents of man to prove church succession, but rather in the promises of Christ to have a witness and a church throughout all ages.

In holding to these beliefs, we do not desire to belittle or condemn other religious groups, but only to try to protect the integrity of the visible Church of Christ by standing in the old paths. We believe God has children out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. There are surely blessings found in the church, but being a member of a historic baptist church body is not a prerequisite for heaven. We are all saved by grace alone.

Here are some resources for studying baptist history. They are uninspired and fallible, yet very profitable for study. Many of these resources are hard to find in print, so have been made available online.

Baptist History Series
A Welsh Succession of Primitive Baptist Faith and Practice
The Trail of Blood