(Photo courtesy Gospel Light)
A church in Kentucky that was founded in a bar will soon be celebrating its first anniversary of operation.
Gospel Light Baptist Church of Hazard, headed by Pastor Chris Fugate, will observe a "charter service" in honor of the milestone this coming Sunday. Formerly, Gospel Light's facility had been TJ's Hillbilly Palace Bar until a year ago, when the new church was planted by Clays Mill Road Baptist Church of Lexington.
Pastor Fugate, an active state trooper, has overseen the church since its inception and has been noted as an evangelist who oversaw a policemen's prayer group.
Jeff Fugate, pastor at Clays Mill Road and brother of Chris, told The Christian Post about how the bar site came to be selected by his brother and some of his like-minded compatriots in the force.
"One morning some of the state policemen were praying and a gentlemen drove up and asked what they were doing," said Fugate, who noted that an older non-Christian man would offer his bar as the site for the church.
"So he called me, asked me to come and look at the building. And to be honest with you, I had never been in a bar."
Fugate described the building interior as initially having black-painted walls and floors, as well as a dance floor, large stage, and "Budweiser signs everywhere."
Within a year of its founding, Gospel Light gained 400 members and saw over 100 people baptized. Fugate told CP that the growth of the Hazard church was "miraculous."
"Never seen anything like it," said Fugate, adding that "I've started churches that are ten years old that still won't have the numbers they have."
"And Hazard is not a large place. I don't think there's 30,000 people in the entire county."
Fugate credited the success of Gospel Light in part because of his brother, who "as a police officer has been very active in evangelism and has a tremendous testimony."
"Because of his work in the community and he has operated a one-week camp in the summer for young men that in the court system because of various problems," said Fugate.
"He has just won so many of those folk for Christ that when he opened the doors of the church 200 people came the first Sunday."
Gospel Light Baptist of Hazard is one of 23 churches that Clays Mill has planted in Kentucky and elsewhere in the country over the past 10 to 15 years.