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Starting in the late winter of 1999 God demonstrated once again that His plans always succeed regardless of how impossible the action seems to be to us. Even though we are Christians we experience the lack of faith Peter encountered when he attempted to walk on the water to Jesus
On January 23, 2000, after many evening discussions over dinner, Marion Sue and Mike Bruestle and Marty and Gary Shaw decided to stop thinking about the need for new traditional church and actually start one. A week later, on February 1, 2000, they asked Paul Sisk to join them and serve as bi-vocational Pastor of this yet-to-be church. The two couples had worshiped with Paul many times as he had been pastoring local churches as an interim. Paul rose to the challenge, accepted the invitation, and quickly provided much expertise that the four lacked. Paul's commitment was vital to starting the new church because Paul Sisk was dedicated to a traditional Baptist worship fellowship.
The four met again and invited seven other couples, Jack and Marilyn Adcock, Rolla and Betty Jo Cavanaugh, Woody and Nell McLellan, Marvin and Liz Nicholson, AJ and Janie Powell, John and Carol Webb, and Bill and Charlotte Woodward to attend a meeting at the Bruestle home to join in starting a new church. All showed up, along with Paul and Nancy Sisk, and the Director of Ministries of Elkhorn Baptist Association.
At that meeting it was announced that we not only had a pastor, we had a place to worship. Marion Sue had asked Milwards Funeral Home if their chapel on Southland Drive could temporarily be used on Sunday mornings to start a new church. They agreed and were very supportive in the six months the church worshiped there. In fact, when other facilities were arranged at Lexington Community College, Robert Milward came to a Sunday morning service at LCC and presented the church with a nice monetary gift.
Before the meeting at the Bruestle's home ended, it was decided to invite about a hundred people to a meeting at the Springs Inn on February 24,2000 to consider starting a new traditional church. A Steering Committee was elected consisting of John Web, Rolla Cavanaugh, Bill Woodward, Marion Sue Bruestle, and Gary Shaw. Gary Shaw was elected Moderator. During the meeting the Elkhorn Baptist Association Director cautioned the group about the potential for success of a small group of dedicated people being able to start a church without the sponsorship of a mother. He described several instances where similar attempts had failed. These words did not seem to deter this group.
Prior to the February 24, 2000 meeting, the Steering Committee agreed on the name "Anchor Baptist Church." Before the name was finalized, the Committee sought the counsel of Dr. Ted Sisk regarding that name. Dr. Sisk gave his blessing on that name and directed the committee to Hebrews 6: 19: "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
Eighty-seven people attended the meeting at the Springs Inn and were surprised that the yet-to-be church has a name with "Anchor Baptist Church" on a large banner on the wall, Paul Sisk as its Pastor, Bill Woodward as Music Leader, and Danny Tilford as Organist and then as Choir Director.
Many members took on all kinds of task to fulfill the needs of an organized church. As an example Dr. James and Mathilda Stith kept the hymnals in the trunk of their car and brought them to the funeral home every Sunday. Danny and Shirley Tilford brought an electronic keyboard to this location as well as other locations later and played traditional hymns as though they were coming from a fine pipe organ. The church membership grew rapidly and new larger space had to be found. A few months after our first service at the funeral home the church moved the worship service to the auditorium of the Lexington Community College and started a Sunday School in nearby classrooms. Wednesday night prayer meetings began in Jon Sisk's manufacturing plant lounge of Audio Authority Corporation located in Northeast Lexington.
In the next two and a half years God's leadership and blessings flowed abundantly. The membership continued to grow and Paul felt the call to leave full time vocation and become a full time pastor for Anchor Baptist Church. The church started the process of looking for a permanent home. Many visits were made to vacant plots of land and to existing buildings in trying to find something that would both fulfill our needs and that we could afford financially.
God's guidance and blessing continued in a highly visible way when Anchor members Linda and Herky Rupp made contact with a developer who owned a large parcel of land where he was preparing to start building houses. The developer wanted a church as part of the development because he had found that residential areas almost always remained as desirable places to live when a church existed nearby. Consequently the developer sold the church 8.325 acres of land and assisted with the financing. This prime and highly visible land at Man-O-War and Winthrop Drive was dedicated to the Lord in April 2003.
The continued outpouring of God's blessing was evident in the sacrificial giving of the congregation permitting the church to develop a master plan for the use of the land and to break ground for the first building in November 2003. The congregation consisting of 180 people moved into its' first permanent home during Christmas of 2004. Again many members contributed needed items and services in addition to their money to make the church building functional and complete. As an example Dick Boyatt, a master furniture builder, constructed the pulpit and the communion table for the new building.
Under Paul Sisk leadership strong membership growth continued. In the fifth year the birth of our first mission occurred with an emphasis on to the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing persons. This was quickly followed by ordaining Brian Cross, our first pastor to the deaf, and the establishment of the Bluegrass Deaf Mission.
During these first formative years several people served in various capacities. Dr. Ted Sisk served as Assistant to the Pastor. Linda Matthews served as our Choir Director. Devin Didier joined the staff for a few years as Minister to Young People and Music. When Devin resigned, Mat Whitaker joined the staff as Minister to Youth. Rolla Cavanaugh served as volunteer Business Manager. Kim Lake worked as our first full time office manager. Patty Wilson currently provides this vital service to our church.
Dr. Carl Peters arrived in June 2006 to be the Associate Pastor for Music, Worship, and Discipleship. Soon after his arrival he started special Bible study programs. The size of the choir increased quickly and children's choirs were organized. He organized Hymn studies looking into the background of how and why some hymns were written and what they have meant to the church over time. He also assisted Paul with visitation.
Also Chris Keener arrived to be the Associate Pastor for Student and Family Ministry. Chris organized many activities for the youth including trips, Bible study retreats and service projects. He also assisted Paul in visitation and he and Carl worked in tandem arranging special programs and study seminars targeting the enrichment of the family unit.
Membership increased to 480 and the need for additional space became acute. In May 2007 ground was broken for a new addition, the Anchor Resource Center (ARC). The l8,600 square foot Anchor Resource Center (ARC) opened in May 2008. The building provides space for additional classrooms, a craft room, a kitchen, activity rooms for youth and children and a full size basketball court. A children's playground was added in July 2008.
After providing strong spiritual leadership and witnessing unimagined growth over twelve and and a half years, Paul Sisk resigned in the summer of 2012. In late July three hundred friends of Paul filled the "ARC" at a luncheon to honor him and wish him well. A slide show was presented depicting highlights of Paul's tenure from the groundbreaking of the sanctuary to special events of the church.
As the world becomes more chaotic the need for a stable traditional Bible based worship and study fellowship is becoming more and more acute. Anchor Baptist Church is poised to meet this need. With God's continued blessing Anchor Baptist Church has a bright and useful future.
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