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Stephen Wright in his History of the Shaftsbury Baptist Association, written in 1853, says:
"The most important transaction of this session , however, respected the cause of Domestic or Home Missions. For the proposition submitted last year to the churches, had been very well received generally, and some of the churches among which were the Clifton Park, Chester, 1st Greenfield, 1st Pittstown, Sandisfield and 2nd Saratoga, had sent forward monies for missionary purposes. The importance they attached to this subject appears from the fact that they gave up the usual circular letter, for the publication in their minutes, of the following PLAN, prepared by Elders Blood, Hull, Warren, Barnes and Covell, for the regulation of their missionary efforts. This Board of Missions, with little change of plan, continued for near thirty years, the fiscal agent of the body, to employ and pay for services rendered in missionary labor. The circular, or plan, we give in full." - Jim Duvall
Shaftsbury Baptist Association
Circular Letter, 1802
by Elders Caleb Blood, Hull, Warren, Elisha Barnes and Lemuel Covell
The ELDERS and BRETHREN, met in Association at Pittstown, June 2d and 3d, 1802.
To the churches which they represent, send Greeting:
In our last years minutes, we recommended to you a proposition for raising money by annual contribution, for the support of the Gospel in destitute parts of the wilderness; and whereas, some of the churches have manifested their approbation, and sent forward their liberality, while others seem in suspense, and call for further information as to the design of such contribution, and the rules by which it is to be conducted; we therefore, think it our duty, at this time, to give you a particular statement of the design of said contribution, and the rules by which the application of it, is to be regulated. And,
1st. The design of the proposition is to place things in such a situation as to enable the Association to send able and faithful ministers to preach the gospel, and endeavor to build up the visible cause of the Redeemer in such parts of the United States, or the Canadas, as are destitute of gospel privileges; and, as far as they can have access, among the natives of the wilderness.
2d. The design is to prevent, as far as possible, the prevalence of imposture in those parts of the world; and for the better accomplishing of these purposes, the business is to be regulated by the following
I. A committee of Twelve Brethren, six ministers and six other Brethren, shall be annually chosen, so long as the Association, shall judge it expedient, to send out missionaries; which committee shall have a chairman, clerk and treasurer of their number, who shall be chosen at their first meeting after their election. A majority of said committee shall be a quorum to transact business.
II. The duty of the committee shall be as follows:
1. To take charge of the contributions made by the churches for the assistance of the missionaries.
2. They shall faithfully examine all candidates for the mission, and recommend such, and only such, as they judge to be pious, able, judicious and experienced ministers of the gospel.
3. When the committee recommend a missionary, they shall determine the time of his mission; and the places where the duties thereof shall be performed; which shall be in such new settlements of the United States, or the Canadas, where the inhabitants are destitute of a preached gospel, and cannot obtain it. And the missionaries shall keep a fair account of their expenses during their mission, and make due returns to the committee of the same, together with a journal of their travels. And if more money has been furnished to them, than they have found necessity for, they shall return the same to the Treasurer of the committee; but if the sum advanced, has not been sufficient to defray their necessary expenses, such deficiency shall be made up to them, if the state of the fund will admit of it.
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4. The committee shall furnish each missionary with such sum, out of the Treasury, as they shall judge sufficient to bear his expenses during his mission, and no more; unless the special circumstances of the missionary require some extra consideration; in which case they shall have a right to act discretionary.
5. The Treasurer shall keep a particular account of all the sums contributed, and of all monies disbursed; and the clerk shall keep fair records of the proceedings of the committee, both of which shall be annually exhibited to the association, and published in their minutes for the satisfaction of the churches.
6. The committee shall have no fee nor reward for their services.
7. This association shall have a right to alter any of these articles, or make such new ones, at any of their annual meetings, as time, and experience shall point out, to be for the better. And any church, disposed to contribute, shall have a right to discontinue their contributions at any time when they think proper, upon giving their reasons for so doing.
Thus, Dear Brethren, we have laid before you, our design, and the rules we mean to observe in prosecuting the same; and we must use the freedom to beseech you, with united hearts and hands, to step forward in support of the glorious kingdom of the blessed Immanuel. We beseech you, brethren, 'Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich.' Oh! let it never be said that those who have been made partakers of the infinite benevolence of the dear Redeemer, should have so little regard for him, as to grudge to part with a little of their property in the support of his cause. Oh, criminal covetousness! may the Lord deliver us from it!
Finally, let us all unite our efforts, both at home and abroad, with our gifts and property, to propogate the truth and build up the visible cause of religion in a sinning world. And may the great author of all true benevolence so instruct and influence our hearts, that we may be willing to spend and be spent in His cause. And may His Holy Spirit crown our feeble efforts with abundant success, to the praise and glory of his grace, through JESUS CHRIST our LORD."
In accordance with the first article of the above plan,
Elders Abijah Peck, Caleb Blood, Isaac Webb, Justus Hull, Joseph Craw, and Lemuel Covell; and Deacons Wm. Stillwell, John Rouse, Joshua Mattison, Isaac Brewster, Stephen Carpenter, and James Green, were chosen a committee for the purposes therein mentioned.
appointed a meeting at Brother Faring Wilson's, in West Stockbridge, Mass., the day before the next meeting of the association, at 1 o'clock P. M., for the
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purpose of receiving the returns of missionaries, the accounts of the clerk and treasurer, the contributions of the churches and individuals, and of making out their report to the association.
[Stephen Wright, History of the Shaftsbury Baptist Association, 1853, pp. 72-75. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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