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John Clarke
Newport Baptists in Rhode Island
By William Warren Sweet

      The Newport Church, though founded later than the church at Providence, has a better claim to priority as the first Baptist Church in America. Here, as in Providence there was religious confusion. William Coddington, John Coggershall and Nicholas Easton entertained extreme antinomian views, very near those held by the Quakers. Later all three became Quakers. Opposing them was a group led by John Clarke, under whose leadership a Baptist church was established. Religious services were held probably as early as 1641, but it was not until 1644 that a Baptist Church was fully organized. The church seems to have prospered from the start, as Newport became more attractive to those holding antipedobaptist views than Providence. The records tell of the early building of a meeting house at common expense….

      John Clarke, “the most important American Baptist of the century in which he lived,” arrived in Boston in November 1637….

[From William Warren Sweet, Religion in Colonial America, 1942, (reprint, n.d.), p. 129. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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