Monday, March 28, 2022

Clear Fork's Beginning, 220 Years Ago

Preacher Isaac Denton was among the early settlers who arrived on the Kentucky-Tennessee border between 1798 and 1799, just as the second great awakening was getting underway. That event, which lasted into the early 1800's, brought comfort in the face of uncertainty after our founding fathers changed the way of life by establishing the separation of church and state in the first amendment to the Constitution.

While the first great awakening some sixty years earlier had focused on religious reform, the second one focused on moral reform. It also brought about an outpouring of religious fervor and revival. Extraordinary numbers of people converted from Congregationalists, Anglicans and Quakers to evangelical Baptists and Methodism. On the local scene, soon after his arrival, Bro. Denton held a camp meeting and began preaching to the other settlers. One of the results from that was the organizing of Clear Fork Baptist Church on April 1, 1802.

This week we are celebrating 220 years as the oldest continuing congregation in this region. Only by the grace of God has this "Lighthouse in the Wilderness" been allowed to exist all these years. She has faced many struggles and hardships, but thanks be to God for sending great men like Isaac Denton to lead us. Today, our pastor, Bob Sawyer, has been leading us now for 30 years. God has truly blessed us!

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Timothy 1:9)

Monday, March 21, 2022

A Bridge Not Made By Hands

Hanchrist Carlock came to America from Holland around 1725. Before the American Revolution, he was the road foreman in Augusta County, Virginia. About the same time, George Washington was working as a civil engineer in Augusta County. George was given the task of surveying a road from the mouth of the Potomac River to Natural Bridge. One of the wonders of the world, Natural Bridge approaches Niagara Falls in grandeur and exceeds it in height (215 feet) and natural mystery. Natural Bridge is 100 feet wide. Its span is 90 feet. Under its arch men look like small boys, and giant trees like small bushes. Thomas Jefferson was the first owner of the land surrounding Natural Bridge. He spoke of it as yet to be 'a famous place that will draw the attention of the world.' John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court 1801 to 1835, named it 'God's Greatest Miracle In Stone.' American statesman and orator Henry Clay wrote of 'the Bridge not made with hands.'

To assist him in the survey of this great scenic wonder, the future president hired Hanchrist to be his foreman. One day, George chiseled 'G. Washington' in capital letters 23 feet up the Southwest wall of the canyon. Hanchrist chiseled 'H. Carlock' about 12 feet below and 10 feet to the right of Washington's. Both signatures are still visible today.

Hanchrist's son, Job, migrated to Overton County, Tennessee sometime around 1805 and married Sarah McDonald. Their daughter, Nancy, married Presbyterian minister Clemens Means, son of irish immigrants, about 1820. Clemens' brother, Benjamin, was the great-great grandfather of my grandmother, Dimple.

In his own biographical sketch, Clemens Means wrote, "It is for me to remember that the Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble." I thought about how many times George Washington, John Marshal and even Henry Clay might have turned to God for help as they were helping form this great country of ours. I imagine Hanchrist Carlock needed a higher power as he left his homeland for America, and so did his son, Job, as he migrated west from Virginia to Tennessee.

It really is a small world, sometimes hard to live in. But, just like the characters in this story, it is a whole lot easier to live in when we realize that we are connected by a 'bridge not made by hands.'

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...