Boyds Creek Baptist Church – The Church Journey
23 April, 2020
I had the privilege to visit Boyds Creek Baptist Church. It is believed that Boyd’s Creek Baptist Church was organized in the late 1700s, but there is no exact record before 1802. The date on the cornerstone of the church building is 1810; the first recorded minutes are for July, 1814. It is known that the history goes farther back than that although the exact date of organization is not known.
A historical marker erected across the highway from Boyd’s Creek Baptist Church by the Tennessee Society, Sons of the Revolution, says: This shaft marks the site of the battle of Boyd’s Creek, December 16, 1780. Governor John Sevier and his command of East Tennessee pioneers defeated, with heavy loss to the enemy, a large force of Cherokee Indians who had attacked the settlers, while he and his soldiers were away engaged in the King’s Mountain campaign. This opened the way for further settlement of the region. 
Boyd’s Creek has always been Baptist, as witness its long affiliation with Baptist associations, but often the oldest minutes say, The Church of Christ met at Boyd’s Creek the fourth Saturday. Later they say, The Baptist Church of Christ met at Boyd’s Creek and Boyd’s Creek Baptist Church met. O. W. Taylor, in his book Early Tennessee Baptists, says that in December, 1892, Boyd’s Creek was one of sixteen churches that came out of the Holston Association, in a peaceable division, to form the Tennessee Baptist Association (the second Baptist association in the state), which met at Beaver Dam in Knox County. 
Elijah Rogers served Boyd’s Creek, Alder Branch, and Sevierville as pastor the greater part of his ministerial life. Of Boyd’s Creek he was pastor for over thirty years, beginning in 1810. The early 1800s were dark days with the shadows of war looming over the country. In October 1814 and January 1815, we find the people of Boyd’s Creek observing a day a fasting and prayer because of the calamity a war. 
O. R. Ownby, long a faithful member and deacon of Boyd’s Creek, said in the early history of the church that he gave at the dedication of the first parsonage in 1941. In July, 1825, Elijah Rogers baptized John Hillman in the Tennessee River at Knoxville, before a crowd of three thousand spectators. This was the first baptism in the city of Knoxville. He also stated, these old pioneer preachers all wore homespun clothes and got very little or no pay, and farmed for a living. On Saturday and Sunday, they rode the same horse they had plowed with through the week. They carried their trusty muskets to meetings with them. [1, 2]
James Langford was the pastor of Boyds Creek from 1841-1844. Mr. Ownby said; that he was known as a combination of a preacher, singer, and prayer. A member of the Dumplin church made the remark that he had heard him sing for one mile. William Billew was pastor from 1844-1847. It was during his pastorate at Boyd’s Creek that the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845, and in this time of great need for the denomination, we find this record in the minutes of November, 1846. It was during his pastorate, and that of Rev. John Russell, that the Civil War was fought. O. R. Ownby reported that he was told by good authority that during the Civil War, as in Indian times, the men took their guns to church with them.
The church has seen several buildings over the years. The first meeting house at Boyd’s Creek was a log building. According to records and papers of Clyde Huskey, this log church was burned by the Indians in 1803. The second building was made of brick. In 1848, this brick structure fell down, and until another was built, the church met in different places.
The first services held in a new building was in September 1849. This was the frame building that stood until 1947, a period of 98 years. Through the years as times changed, it was modernized. In December, 1921, a motion was made and carried to put in a carbon light plant and purchase a coal stove. Then in 1937 a committee was appointed to hire an electrician to wire the church and select fixtures for the lights. 
In 1943, the church began its building program for a new church building, voting to invest $518 in government bonds and to use each fifth Sunday offering for the building fund. Construction of the present building was started in 1947. The church bought the timber. The members went to the woods, but the timber, logged and sawed it. All of this was done mostly by the cooperative effort of the community giving their time and use of tractors. 
The long history of the church tells of many great revivals are recorded, some with as many a thirty conversions and baptisms. Nearly all the revivals in the 1800s lasted two weeks, with meetings in the mornings at ten o’clock, and in the evenings at candle-lighting. Brother Ownby said; that from 1810 to 1941 about 1000 people have been saved and baptized through the influence of this church. and of course, there have been more since then.
I arrived mid-morning on a Friday it was a warm sunny spring day. It was perfect weather to be outside giving thanks for the blessing we received. During my visit I wasn’t expecting any fellowship. The property next to the church had roosters and chickens grazing in the green grass. When I arrived, they were so happy to see me they trotted over and greeted me. Joining me in fellowship they followed me as I walked around the church taking pictures. Back at the front of the church I sat down on the concrete steps that led to the entrance. I pulled out my prayer list I received from my church, and spent time in prayer. Next, I opened my Bible and read Ecclesiastes 9:1-9 “Men Are in the Hand of God”. We had a wonderful time in prayer and worship. You never know what to expect on The Church Journey. I have been deeply blessed with God’s grace every step of this journey.
In the history of Boyds Creek Baptist Church it was reported in July, 1825, Elijah Rogers baptized John Hillman in the Tennessee River at Knoxville, before a crowd of three thousand spectators. This was the first baptism in the city of Knoxville.
The purpose of baptism is to give visual testimony of our profession of faith to Christ. Baptism is a washing with water, symbolizing a cleansing from sin, linked with repentance and admission into the community of faith, being filled with the Holy Spirit. When we enter the waters of baptism, we’re proclaiming the gospel message. “Jesus died for our sins, was buried in the tomb, and lives again.” Being raised out of the water expresses Jesus rising from the dead, our new life in Christ and our union with Him.
In 1850 the population of the city of Knoxville was estimated at 2,076, so we can assume back in 1825 the population was less than 2,000 . Wow, just picturing 3,000 people surrounding the banks of the flowing river, on a hot sunny day in July, to witness a baptism puts a smile on my face. This would had been considered a large crowd, and we can assume people traveled for miles to witness the baptism.
They would have traveled from the surrounding areas on horseback, or horse and buggy. Arriving at the winding river that slices through the downtown area. The experience had to be filled with exhilarating joy. The logistics of parking would have been simple, because of the many available fields filled with grass and flowers surrounding the river. The words echoing from the river may have sounded like this “Based upon your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I now baptize you in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Buried with Christ in baptism, raised to walk in newness of life.” What a glorious celebration that must have been.
With the National emergency for the COVID-19 virus many places are remaining closed to the public. During my visit I was met by roosters and chickens from the property next door. They trotted over and greeted me as I spent time in meditation and prayer. The lack of pictures from inside the church leaves a void in the stories I share. I pray we can get back to normal soon.
Date Visited: 2020 April 17th.
Location: 110 Boyds Creek Church Road, Sevierville, TN 37876. is located on the Old Sevierville – Knoxville Highway (Boyds Creek Highway), nine miles west of Sevierville.
The majestic red brick building was built in 1947. It has 14 class rooms with the church auditorium finished in natural oak. It features wooden double doors allowing a warm entrance into the sanctuary. The church has a stunning steeple with a white wooden tower supporting the belfry and lantern topped with a copper spire pointing up into the blue sky. The church has rounded top arched stained-glass windows going down the side of the building. The windows allow heavenly light to flow into the sanctuary.
If you would like to learn more about this church, upcoming events, I encourage you to visit the church website listed above.
May our Lord continue to bless this church in Jesus name.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teachings them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – (Matthew 28:19,20) NIV
Please Pray for all our churches as they continue to face challenges in the year 2020.
May this find you well and happy, God Bless
- Newspaper.com, “Boyd’s Creek Baptist to Dedicate New Church May 6” (1951 April 28) The Knoxville Journal, Knoxville Tn.
- Sevier County, Tennessee, Genealogy & History, “History of Boyd’s Creek Baptist Church” Retrieved April 20, 2020 http://sevier.tngenealogy.net/research-assistance/records-resources/25-religion/149-history-of-boyds-creek-baptist-church
- Wikipedia, (2020, April 23) Timeline of Knoxville, Tennessee. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Knoxville,_Tennessee