The Ashland Beacon
One local church is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary. There are few churches still standing and that still have services that can claim such a feat. For the family of R.M. Wiley, the formation of this church had been a long-time dream, as a prayer that witnessed came to life before their very eyes. The first service was held within the confines of the Ewing School building, which was located on the Viney Branch. The Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church held its first revival, shortly after its founding, and the services were headed by F.B. Hyde. Eva Wiley was the church’s first convert. One Sunday evening when the congregation met for their regular worship service, they found that the doors of the Ewing School had been locked. However, this did not stop them from having their worship services. Instead of having their church services inside, they made quick haste to gather everyone under the largest walnut tree in the schoolyard, where they held their services for the night. This service was later referred to as the “Walnut Tree Service.”
Shortly after the walnut tree service, talk began of obtaining an official church building, to hold the services of Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church. A committee was formed to discuss the plans and the members of the said committee, were R.N. Wiley, Bascom Davis, and Walter Wilcox. Reverend May was elected as the first pastor of the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church. It was under his leadership that a one-room building was erected on the grounds, that was donated by the well-known Alley Sisters. Mrs. R.N. Wiley had the special privilege of driving the first nail in the new church building, that was so near and dear to her and her family. Members of the church were all so eager for services to start, that they did not even wait for the building to get finished. Several services were held by way of a kerosene lantern, as both a source of light and a source of heat.
In October of 1922, the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church had its dedication ceremony, and the Reverend W.K. Wood who was pastor at the time of the local Pollard Baptist Church. He preached at the dedication ceremony. Over the years, the church continued to grow, and many souls were saved and became part of the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church. It was long before the rural community went through many changes. Local farmlands were being sold to make way for industry-related jobs and this brought with it changes to the surrounding churches. Attendance began to decline, and then sadly the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church found itself without a pastor. The Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church had no other choice but to close its doors. The doors to the church remained closed for a period of three years before new life was breathed into it.
In 1935, Reverend Forrest Sparks opened the doors to the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church once again and with only 13 people present, the church began its journey to new growth. It wasn’t long after the reopening that under the youthful leadership of Reverend Sparks, the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church began to outgrow that one-room building. As attendance began to increase at a rapid rate and even Sunday School attendance was on the rise. Because of the increase in attendance during Sunday School services and the rate at which they were growing, the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church decided to add on to its one-room building. It was then that they decided to add a total of six Sunday School rooms to the building. The addition of these six extra rooms made it much easier for everyone to hear the lessons being taught while hearing the other classes’ lessons at the same time.
In the year 1937, horrific floods hit the Big Sandy area and during this time, the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church served as a shelter for one of the churches own the Harvey Bryan families, until the flooding had subsided. In 1948, under the leadership of Rev. Lester, a seven-room parsonage was built on land that was connected to the church, by the Crider family. Shortly after that, the church once again had new leadership. Charles Stewart saw to it that the original and uncomfortable handmade pews were replaced and that the church received a completely new heating and cooling system, which was much needed at the time. “Charles Stewart had a good spirit and helped to grow the church. He was devoted to God’s work and always found the time to visit despite him also working at Ky. West Virginia Gas Company. He even found the time to play baseball with the young boys of church.” Noted Deacon, Jim Taylor.
Once again, the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church found an urgent need for more space as they quickly outgrew the building, they were in. They say, “God moves in mysterious ways” and shortly after the need presented itself for a larger building, God provided a way. In 1953 the State Highway Department purchased the property that the Leach Station Missionary Baptist Church sat upon for the relocation of US 23. After much deliberation, a church membership-appointed committee recommended that the new church is in the Hyland Heights addition on England Hill. After many prayers, a lot of searching, and a lot of work the church committee purchased a total of seven lots on England Hill which were purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Victor Combs. Unfortunately, the members of the church were forced to vacate the old building long before the new one was erected, and the last hymnal was sung on August 17, 1958.
It was not until January of 1959, that the first service was held in the newly located church which is known by the name Hyland Heights Missionary Baptist Church. The church had its dedication ceremony on August 21, 1960, and after only 12 years the church was able to hold its note-burning ceremony on October 1, 1972. Throughout the years, the church continued to add to its new location. In 1972, a new four-bedroom parsonage was added to the building. A fellowship hall was erected in 1978 and shortly after that, a picnic shelter was built. Deacon, Taylor shared that his fondest memories throughout the years were, “Witnessing family and friends making professions of faith and having the opportunity to watch the new converts being baptized in nearby creeks and even the Big Sandy River. Bible school and church picnics were always a high light, especially during my younger days.”
Taylor pointed out, “Charlie Carraway is our oldest active member and was baptized in 1953 under Charles (Chuck) Stewart.” Taylor went on to add, “Hyland Heights has flourished under current Pastor Jeff Ferguson. Our Bible studies are awesome and the scripture that is being studied is very eye-opening in today’s world events. The Hyland Heights Missionary Baptist Church will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary on October 9, 2022, and invites you out to celebrate this momentous occasion with them. They plan to have special singing by the group “The Farmhands” as well as a fellowship dinner. The church is located at 7623 McComis Drive, Catlettsburg Ky, 41129. Services will begin at 10:45 am and dinner will be served sometime around 12:30 p.m.