Preaching the Gospel since 1830
Building the Foundation
In 1825, pioneer John Cooprider moved his family to the area which would later be founded as Middlebury (now known as Martz). As others began to settle in the area, the need for a church close by became apparent. On August 28, 1830, Good Hope Baptist Church was founded, making it the oldest church in Clay County.
The following is an excerpt from an article written by Elias Cooprider, John’s son, which appeared in a news publication in 1883:
This first church house was a 25' X 30' hand hewn log church home with a fireplace in one end. Land was cleared in 1837 and the first meetings were held on September 7-9, 1838. They worshipped here for ten years before abandoning it to use the Martz school house instead.
The following is another excerpt from the article written by Elias Cooprider:
This structure still stands and is our present church building, over one hundred and thirty-four years later!
Expanding for the Glory of God
Evangelizing and Revival Meetings brought many people into the church. In 1848, seventeen souls joined the church, including future Elder, Elias Cooprider. Forty-nine people became members in August, 1849. March of 1867 saw thirty-six new members, thirty-two by confession of salvation and followed with baptism. One year later, forty people joined, all of whom were baptized.
Some of these early meetings would last two weeks or more. In 1915, a sixteen day meeting saw twenty-eight souls join by salvation and baptism. After a two-and-a-half week meeting in December of 1923, eighteen more members were saved and baptized.
An account from the summer of 1925 states:
With all of these new souls, the church was in need of Sunday School rooms and a fellowship area. The building was actually lifted up by jacks so men could dig out a basement by hand! Fortunately for these men, a man named Henry Trout hooked a skipscraper to a mule to finish digging out the basement. It was at this time that five classrooms were added, a furnace installed, and the stained glass window put in which bears the name of Elias Cooprider.
During the year 1929, a new kitchen and dining room was built in order for the church to host the Baptist Association meeting. During the 1960s and 1970s, two wings were added and a brick exterior completed. Further updates to beautify the sanctuary were completed in 1995, and the basement received new carpet and a kitchen renovation in 2000. With a new bus ministry and a growing congregation, new classrooms were added in the basement in 2007.
Preaching the Good News since 1830
According to church records, it appears that Elias Cooprider held the position of pastor the longest in church history. He was ordained as a deacon in August of 1852, and by July of 1853, he was authorized to preach by the church. He was also preaching at other churches in the area, including Friendly Grove Baptist Church, which is west of the Eel River. Elias had to undress, holding his clothes and Bible over his head, as he crossed to the other side of the river to reach the church! Ordained to the ministry at Good Hope in 1858, he remained pastor until 1876. While it was common to have a preacher for only a year at a time, Elias returned to fill the pulpit several more times, including 1877-78, 1887, and 1889. He also made his living through other business ventures, allowing him to pastor without the church providing his salary. While he was the pastor, the church became more structured and a strict code of discipline was followed.
Between 1961 and 1969, Good Hope’s pulpit was filled by one of their most successful pastors, Pastor Jolly Moody, and the church saw an increase in membership. He believed the church growth was due more from the evangelical work of the people. During his time there, he had a broadcast on the Christian radio station, WWVR in Terre Haute. It was also during his ministry that the church unanimously voted to come out of the American Baptist Convention and become an independent church. This was one of his goals as pastor to lead the church to take this action.
Good Hope was led by Dr. John L. Thompson from 1992 until 2003. He was called to the ministry one year after receiving Christ as his Savior while in the United States Navy during the Viet Nam War. He and his family came to Good Hope following missions work in Germany. While ministering to the congregation and community, he also oversaw the auditorium and fellowship hall remodeling projects. In 2000, the church celebrated its 170th anniversary. To coincide with this celebration, Brother John wrote ‘The History of Good Hope Baptist Church,’ which was the resource for the above information. He began ministering to juveniles in correctional facilities on a part-time basis. In 2003, Brother John and his wife, Carol, left the church to serve the Lord as a full-time Field Representative. Beginning in January 2006, Brother John began his own juvenile ministry, Juvenile Evangelism. Many troubled youths have been saved and lives changed through Brother John and Carol’s ministry and service to the Lord.
Pastor Bob Dickey has been the pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church since 2004. He and his wife trusted Christ as their personal savior September 25, 1988. Bob and Kim were married in 1983 and have three children and six grandchildren all members of Good Hope. Bob served as a layman at Bethel Baptist Church in Linton until God called him into the ministry in 1996. He served as assistant pastor at Bethel from 1997 - 2004. On June 5, 2000, Bob left the coal mine to become the full time assistant pastor under Pastor Eddie Egbert at Bethel. He graduated from Heritage Baptist University in 2005. In April of 2004, he answered the call to serve as Pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church in Clay City.
“The first church organization in Harrison Township was as early as 1830. On the 28th of August of that year a meeting was held at the residence of David White, father of Ed White, a mile and half north of Clay City, which was attended by Elder William Stansel, Benjamin Kerchival, Elijah Casen and Asa Frakes, of Prairie Creek, Zachariah McClure and John Hodges of Union, brethren who came for the purpose of aiding in the organization of the new class. Elder Stansel was chosen moderator and John Hodges clerk. David White and Polly White, Joel Owen and Patsy Owen, and Sophia Denny constituted the original membership of the newly organized church, which they christened Good Hope. The meetings of this church were held for a time at Grandfather Denny’s, one mile west of Middlebury. About the year 1832, perhaps in 1833, [church records indicate 1838], the log church, a fourth of a mile south of Middlebury, was built, the first church building in Clay County.”
“About the year 1869 the work of building the present church edifice, in the town of Middlebury was begun. Very slow progress was made in its construction, and it was not until the close of the year 1873 that it was completed and ready for dedication. On the 21st of December of that year the dedication took place, services conducted by Elder Sm M. Stimson. At the time of the design and erection of this house, it was the largest church building in the county.”
“On Sunday, June 14, we had an all day’s meeting. Basket dinners at the church and our baptismal services in the afternoon at the river. The morning service was blessed with three additions to the church making thirty-one candidates all of which were present at the afternoon service at the river and received baptism. One unusual feature of the services was one entire family going down in the water together to follow their Lord in baptism. The evening service was a fellowship meeting and administering the sacrament with all new members present thirty one by baptism and five by letter.”
“Up to 1839 this church had no regularly installed pastor, but was visited and assisted at times by William Stansel, Abraham Spark, Asa Frakes, and Samuel Sparks. In 1839, the church called Elder D.B.C. Herren as their first pastor, who served six years, when at his request, in June, 1845, Elder W.J. Sparks was called, who served until 1849, when he was succeeded by Elder James Beaman , who labored with the church until some time the following year. Elder Herren was again called in 1850, succeeded by Elder George Christ in 1854, who served until 1857, when Elder Elias Cooprider was called, who by the assistance of Elders Christ, Slavens, and Huntsbury, at times, continued until 1876, when Elder Samuel Huntsbury succeeded him for one year then Elder Cooprider was again called in 1877, serving two years, assisted by Elder Arnett for the first year. In 1880 Elder J.J. Arnett was called for one year since which time there has been no regular pastor. Elders Cooprider and Arnett preach occasionally, as do visiting brethren, at times.”
-Written by Elias Cooprider, 1883. Taken from “Clay City and Harrison Township History.”