The original idea for a counseling ministry resulted from the vision of Betty Kilgore Gibbs who realized the value of the significant help she had received through pastoral counseling at Second Presbyterian Church. She felt led by God to establish the Kilgore Fund intended to endow a staff pastoral counselor at Second Presbyterian Church. With her mother, Violet Kilgore Tillery, she established the fund in memory of her father, Ben Kilgore.
In 1986, the concept shifted from a staff position at Second Presbyterian to a counseling center. The church gave the go-ahead to form a Board of Directors and agreed to provide $15,000 annually through 1990 toward its operating budget.
The Kilgore Center affiliated itself with the Samaritan Institute, a nationally recognized organization that develops and accredits pastoral counseling centers throughout the nation. The Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center is one of more than 100 Samaritan centers nationwide.
In 1987, Dr. John P. Reed was hired as the Executive Director after holding a similar position with the Samaritan Center of Central and Eastern Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. In its first year, The Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center provided 1,295 counseling sessions to 159 individuals.
In 1990, the Board established the Samaritan Counseling Scholarship Fund to allow donor gifts to be used to supplement the fees from clients who could not afford to fully pay for their therapy.
By 1992, the staff conducted a record 4,263 counseling sessions as the Center received full accreditation as an approved counseling center by the Samaritan Institute and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Kilgore also opened a satellite counseling center at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church.
In the fall of 2000, The Center moved from its offices at Second Presbyterian to larger leased space in “The Stone House” across Brownsboro Road.
Also in 2000, the Kilgore Garden Tour was established which introduced many people to the ministry of Kilgore while visiting beautiful spring gardens located throughout the Louisville community. Kilgore’s counseling is like maintaining a garden, it takes time to plant seeds, ensure proper soil and water are applied, tend to the plant as it grows by trimming and pruning its branches, and make sure it has good sunlight.
In 2008, St. Francis in the Fields agreed to double its level of support and Second Presbyterian affirmed ongoing annual support level.
In 2009, the staff moved into its present offices in a renovated home that it purchased at 918 Ormbsy Lane off of LaGrange Road and launched efforts to strengthen its programs of Church Outreach and education and expand its clinical department.
2013 the Center we provided more than 3300 hours clients, including 425 new clients ranging from children to those with geriatric concerns.
The Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center continues as an interfaith, non-profit agency, funded by the Kilgore Endowment Fund, the Samaritan Scholarship fund, Second Presbyterian Church, St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church, foundations and individuals.