Silas Baptist Church

Historical Marker #1596 in Bourbon County gives the history of Silas Baptist Church in Bourbon County.

Silas Baptist Church is located 12 miles from Paris at the junction of the Silas and Collins Pikes. The congregation was first organized August 30, 1800. Since that time Silas Baptist has maintained its worship services, making it the oldest continuously running church in Bourbon County.

In September of 1781, the Rev. Lewis Craig, with his Baptist congregation, and guided by Capt. William Ellis, left Spotsylvania, Virginia, for the wilderness of Kentucky. In an Anglican environment, they had been persecuted for expressing their Baptist beliefs.

These devout people took with them not only their personal belongings but also their official book of records, communion service, and Bible. Each night on the trek, they held a religious service. According to church records, the group was held up by high water on the Holston River for three weeks. They held services there and converted many other travelers who were also delayed. By the middle of December, the religious party reached their destination, now known as Craig's Station, on Gilbert's Creek near Lancaster, Kentucky. After traveling 600 miles, the group built the first Baptist Church west of the Appalachian Mountains there in 1781.

In 1796, twenty of the members of the Rev. Lewis Craig's church withdrew and moved to Bourbon County. With the help of George Eve, Augustine Eastin, and Ambrose Dudley, they organized a separate congregation.

In 1799, a member of the church, Charles Smith, deeded property for a regular Baptist Church. By 1801, the members erected a log church with a balcony for enslaved attendees. A window at the rear of the pulpit provided light and air circulation and a closet under the pulpit held important congregational papers. In August, 1802, the Elkhorn Baptist Association received this new church into membership and named it Silas Baptist Church.

Silas Baptist's present home is a brick structure which was built in 1850. In 1902, the church was enlarged with eight stained windows and a baptismal. In 1944, the members added space for Sunday School rooms, and in 1967, the congregation added a new wing for more Sunday School rooms and modern bathroom facilities. Later, the church constructed a separate building for recreation, meetings, and dinners.