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‘God is working’ at Main Street Baptist

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By Christopher Brooke

Main Street Baptist Church in New Castle serves as “a place where God is working,” an inspiring place for worshippers, according to the associate pastor.
The same spiritual desire that led to the creation of the church back in 1801 remains alive today, said Michael Rodgers, associate pastor. At the time, slaves and sharecroppers came together to provide a place to worship, both for themselves and for future generations.
Despite meager resources, the Drennon Meeting House arose west of New Castle. It would later become First Baptist Church and finally Main Street Baptist after the city expanded to surround the lot where the third structure still stands.
A ledger shows that donations to support the church came in the amount of pennies, nickels and dimes, Rodgers said. County records show that slave owners originally gave the land for the church, because God softened their hearts, he added. In this God knew what to do.
This idea underlies a theme still recurrent at Main Street — “little is much in the Master’s hands,” Rodgers said.
“We would hope and pray that in the same spirit that started the church almost 216 years ago that people are still committed to the worship of God,” he said. “I think that’s important for people to see to understand how little they did and how big a thing God took it and turned it into. We don’t have to do a lot — all we have to do is those few things that God told us to do, and he’ll take care of the rest.”
The congregation isn’t large, but Rev. Meredith Trabue and congregation members such as brothers James and Frank Goodloe have dedicated themselves to Main Street for many years.
James Goodloe can remember walking to the church as a boy from Sulphur Road with his mother, who taught Sunday school. This dated to when the church was in its second building, which replaced the first in 1906 under the term of Rev. William Brent, according to church history. The current cream colored brick church went up in 1958 under the term of Rev. J. Van Alfred Winsett.
“All debts for this rebuilding were liquidated under the pastorate of Rev. J.C. Pyles,” according to a history of Main Street. “Some extensive remodeling was done to the church under the pastorate of Rev. A.K. Bennett and Rev. William T. Lee.
“The new additions to the rear of the church and the handicapped ramp added in the front were all done under the pastorate of our present pastor, Rev. Meredith Trabue,” it continued. “A new baptistery pool was built, and in 1981, Rev. Trabue baptized seven converts.”
Larger crowds filled the church pews in his earlier days, James Goodloe recalled. Of course, back then, there were a lot fewer things to do.
With a typical Sunday now seeing about 25 in attendance for the worship service, Frank and James, both trustees, noted it’s important to continue to grow membership and attract youth and converts to Main Street.
“We welcome anyone who wants to come,” James said.
Trabue has preached in New Castle for almost 41 years, but he didn’t just confine himself to the pulpit, Rodgers said. The minister got out into the community to work with each other to address substance abuse and to provide a role model for youth through Love a Child mentoring.
For example, Trabue joined with Rev. W.H. Goatley, then pastor of First Baptist Church in Eminence, to grapple with the illegal drug problem.
“Pastor Goatley and Pastor Trabue got together and started the King Street Revival, because there was a drug problem on one of the corners of King Street,” Rodgers recalled. “God said, you need to get out and show people the love of God and let them hear the love of God out in the streets. And because of their actions, the drug dealers moved to somewhere else and got off of King Street.”
Trabue also ministered directly to those who suffer from drug addiction, Rodgers added.
“Tell them, ‘I’m going to love you more than you love yourself. I’m going to be there for you. I’m going to help you. I’m going to go to the meetings with you,’” Rodgers said. “If nothing else just to be there for others, it changes things — ‘Someone really does love me after all.’ That in itself is huge. If somebody thinks, ‘I’m so bad nobody loves me,’ and they can turn around and say, ‘Somebody loves me, oh, counting our joy!’”
Trabue loves his church family and the community, which Rodgers has witnessed time and again. He was recently moved again by this when visiting Trabue in the hospital after a stroke when the first thing the convalescing pastor asked about was the church before anything else.
“He’s more concerned about the needs of the church than his own needs,” Rodgers noted. “That echoes in my head every time I go there. Pastor Trabue loves this church and he loves his community with all his heart and all his soul.”
Like Trabue, Rodgers lives in Louisville, but the spirit of the New Castle church keeps him engaged and involved.
“Something Henry Blackaby said some years ago, you want to be where God is working,” Rodgers recalled. “That’s why I’m up in Main Street. We may not see everything God is doing, but God is working at Main Street. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
Main Street Baptist is a part of the heritage of New Castle and Henry County, he added.
“The outlook of our church for the future, we continue to trust God,” Rodgers said. “A lot of the young folks have moved away, but there’s still a lot of young people in the county who have roots in Main Street Baptist Church. Our future is very bright if we do our job. We just keep doing what we’re supposed to do, and in the future, it will be what God deemed it to be.”