JAMES NELSON JARNAGIN, the eleventh pastor of the Green River Church, served from April, 1888 through June, 1892, a period of four years and two months. He was a very remarkable man and eminent Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who was born of humble and godly parents, John M. and Sarah Caroline (Miller) Jarnagin, in Ohio County, Kentucky. His mother was a sister of those outstanding Baptist preachers, Drs. Andrew Jackson Miller and Allen Burr Miller. His parents were not blessed to a great extent with this world's goods, but they gave the best to their son which could be afforded. While a youth he worked on his father's farm, and hired out at fifty cents a day to others.
Brother Jarnagin attended the schools at hand of his day and later attended Hartford College and studied under Professor Wayland Alexander. For some years he attended Bethel Baptist Men's College, Russellville, Kentucky. For a number of years before he entered the Ministry, he taught school in Ohio County.
He was converted at the age of thirteen, in 1875, and was baptized into the fellowship of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in his native county by Pastor B. F. Jenkins. By this Church he was licensed to preach the Gospel on February 4, 1882. His ordination to the Baptist Ministry took place at the same Church on May 20, 1885. Pastor B. F. Jenkins and others formed the Presbytery. He was at age twenty-three when ordained. Thus began a ministry which was to last for thirty-eight years, in which time he served Churches in Ohio, Henderson, Daviess, McLean, Muhlenberg and Butler Counties, in Kentucky.
Brother Jarnagin kept a record faithfully during his ministry which showed that he preached 3,290 sermons and baptized 1,000 persons into the fellowship of Baptist Churches. His last sermon was preached at Macedonia Church, in Daviess County, in June, 1922. His health at that time had failed, and he never recovered. After being invalid for four years and six months, he died at his home in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, on March 21, 1927. His funeral was conducted from the historic Beaver Dam Church by that lovable preacher, C. C. Daves; and his body was interred in the Sunnyside Cemetery at Beaver Dam.
On August 11, 1889, he had married Miss Lillian Flener. One daughter blessed this union. She and her mother survived him, in 1927, and furnished the material for this sketch, all of which appeared in the "History of the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association in Kentucky - 1844-1943" written by the writer in 1939-1943 and published in 1943. They were still living at that time.
Brother Jarnagin served the following Churches during his useful Ministry: Mt. Zion, Green River, Slaty Creek, Cool Springs, Zion, Mt. Carmel, Bell's Run, in Ohio County, as well as Dundee and Deanfield in the same County; Cedar Grove (1909-1916), Bethlehem (1910-1911), Paradise, Mt. Pisgah (1910) and Cherry Hill (1911), in Muhlenberg County; Macedonia and Bethabara, in Daviess County; Old Buck Creek, in McLean County; Salem, Morgantown and New Harmony, in Butler County; and Pellville, in Hancock County. His salary at each of these Churches ranged from $14.00 to as much as $250.00 per year. All of them were quarter-time Churches, meeting only one Sunday per month. Brother Jarnagin was an able Minister of the Gospel and a strong defender of the faith and hope of the Christians. He was careful, in the presentation of his message. The world was made richer by his noble and useful life. In his last illness he longed often to "depart and be with Christ"; and he welcomed the summons to come up higher. For the last thirty years of his life he held membership in the historic Beaver Dam Church. At his death "A good man had gone and a prince in God's Israel had fallen."
A Sesquicentennial History of the Green River Missionary Baptist Church 1836 - 1986, Written and Compiled by Wendell Holmes Rone, Sr., For the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of the Church, 1987.