Baptist Hill marks 90 years of rich history
By Kayla Rinker
MT. VERNON – The year 1918 was a landmark year for spreading the Gospel around the world, the country and the state of Missouri. Not only was great Christian Evangelist Billy Graham born that year, but that was also the year Baptist Hill Assembly was established.
Baptist Hill, located outside Mt. Vernon and along Big Springs, celebrated its 90th anniversary on Oct. 7 with a commemorative program and reception. Those who attended heard and shared stories and fond memories of summers spent at Baptist Hill.
“I remember going to Baptist Hill as a camper when I was 11 years old,” said Hubert Conway, 76-year-old retired pastor and former 30-year director of missions for Lawrence County. “The year would have probably been about 1943. I was moved in my soul by the Bible study and the fellowship with the good Christian people there. I truly drew near to God.”
Camp Manager Ken Hawkins said Baptist Hill was established when Jim Curtis, then DOM for the Lawrence County Baptist Association, sold the land Baptist Hill sits on to the association for $1,000.
“He then donated the $1,000 back to the association to start building the camp,” he said.
A picture of Jim Curtis currently hangs in the camp’s dining hall – the Jim Curtis Dining Hall.
Baptist Hill is supported and used by eight different Missouri associations including Barry, Greene, Lawrence, Osage River, Ozark Prairie, Shoal Creek, Spring River and Tri-County Baptist Associations. It hosts many camps and retreats throughout the year for children, youth and adults.
“Just last week we hosted the Lawrence County Baptist Women’s Retreat here,” Hawkins said. “In 11 weeks we have about 15 different camps. We have had about 6,000 people use Baptist Hill so far in 2008.”
As camp manager for the last 10 years, Hawkins said that an average of 5,100 people attend Baptist Hill yearly, with approximately 61 salvations each year and 22 calls to full-time service. When he takes those averages and spreads them out over the 90 years Baptist Hill has been in existence, the numbers are astounding.
“In 90 years we have seen 459,000 come to Baptist Hill,” he said. “There have been at least 15,840 people accept Christ here and around 1,980 answer the call to ministry.”
Hawkins said with those numbers it’s easy to see how Baptist Hill has made an enormous impact in the state of Missouri and even around the world.
“The camp has provided a place for young people to come to God and they have felt the call of the Lord here,” he said. “There are even some missionaries out there today who maybe felt the call to spread the Gospel while they were right here at Baptist Hill or maybe somebody heard a sermon somewhere or an evangelist speak who happened to be saved at Baptist Hill. God has definitely used this camp to His glory.”
Conway said remembering the history and revival memories surrounding Baptist Hill is a great way to focus on the future of the camp.
“I am so very grateful for the men and women who have made Baptist Hill possible all these years,” he said. “I hope that it will continue to grow.”