The Copper Creek Church
Scott County, Nickelsville, VA
Regular Baptist Minutes
Feb. 1807 to Aug. 1896
The first entry is dated February 21st, 1807. The entry says, “Choose brother Robert Kilgore Moderator; Red. by letter Br. James Ramey; Rec. by letter brother Thomas Easterling; Names of the members of the arm on Copper Creek Robert Kilgore, James Ramey, Thomas Easterling, Thomas Burton, Israel Davis, John Buster, Elizabeth Sallards, Martha Gray, Jane Kilgore, Jane Buster, Nancy Burton.” Over a year later, the minute for the church meeting of April 16th, 1808 states, “David Jesse, William Wells, Edward Kelly, Choose as a Presbytery to Constitute a Church and to Look in to the ordination of Br. Robert Kilgore. Br. Kilgore given up to said brethren to come under a Regular Examination adjourned until next day met according to adjournment.” This “regular examination” constituted a period of questions by certain brethren of the church directed toward and to be answered by the individual seeking ordination. Addington notes, “Anyone who said he had a calling to preach the Gospel in the Primitive Baptist Church was not asked what college he was graduated from, or what seminary he attended. He was allowed by the church to exhort and expound on the scripture for months, and sometimes years. Before he could be ordained, he was examined by the brethren and ministers of his faith and order.” There are various reasons that come to mind for utilizing this method, two of which I will mention. First, to determine the orthodoxy of the one being examined thus safeguarding the church from false teachers. If one held to erroneous views they would most certainly reveal themselves during this examination period. Second, to make sure the one being examined was knowledgeable of the core doctrines of Scripture thus demonstrating his ability (or lack thereof) to teach these same truths to the church. These reasons are important, perhaps vital, for the health of a church.
The examination of Robert Kilgore is, thankfully, recorded for us in the minute book. However, the minutes document only the “chief” questions of the examination. So it is possible that what we have is but a portion of what was actually covered during the procedure. The questions recorded range from “Who is God?” to “What views have you of the intermediate state?” Below is the account given in the church minutes of Robert’s time of examination.
Q. What view have you of God?
A. I view him a Spirit, Almighty, Eternal, immortal, invisible without body parts.
Q. What view have you of the Trinity?
A. I believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost equal in glory.
Q. What think you of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament?
A. I believe the Scriptures to be the history of God's revealed will and the only rule for faith and practice.
Q. What views have you of man in his first rectitude?
A. I believe they were created in God's image in innocence and happiness.
Q. What think you of man in his present state?
A. I believe man fallen and depraved through every power of body and soul.
Q. How can a God of infinite power or purity be just and yet the justifier of the ungodly?
A. Through the atonement made by Christ and no other way.
Q. How is the sinner justified before God from the guilt of sin?
A. By faith in Jesus Christ.
Q. Is the act of faith what justifies from the guilt of sin?
A. It is the righteousness of Christ received by faith as the instrument that justifies from the guilt of sin and man is planted in the grace that sanctifies.
Q. What views have you of the intermediate state of the soul and the body?
A. I believe immediately death passes. It passes at once into happiness or misery there to remain during the separate state. These mortal bodies of saints and sinners will be raised spiritual ones and capable of utmost happiness or misery.
 I purchased a copy of the minutes from the Wise County Historical Society in Wise, Virginia. They have an office located in the same building as the Wise County Courthouse. Other local historical resources are available for purchase at this location. The foreword to the minutes mentions that the State Library in Richmond and Clinch Valley College (now UVA-Wise) possess copies. If I’m not mistaken, the main libraries of Cincinnati and Knoxville own copies as well.
Omer C. Addington, “Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia Publication No. 23 – 1989: Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Association” http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~vaschs2/stoney_creek_baptist.htm.