The following are extracts from the Minutes of the earliest days of the Elkhorn Baptist Association. The spelling and grammar are unchanged. — jrd]
The ELKHORN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION,
Original Constitution of 1785,
Queries from 1785-1805 — From the Minutes.
Being assembled together, and taking into our serious consideration, what might be most advantageous for the glory of God, the advancament of the kingdom of the dear Redeemer, and the mutual comfort and happiness of the churches of Christ, having unanimously agreed to unite in the strongest bonds of Christian love and fellowship, and in order to support and keep that union do hereby adopt the Baptist confession of faith first put forth in the name of the seven congregations met together in London in the year 1643 containing a system of the Evangelical doctrines agreeable to the Gospel of Christ, which we do heartily believe in and receive, but something in the third & fifth chapters in said book we do not accept if construed in that light that makes God the cause and author of sin, but we do acknowledge and believe God to be an Almighty Sovereign wisely to govern and direct all things so as to promote his own glory. Also in Chapter 31st. concerning laying on of hands on persons baptised as essential in their reception into the Church it is agreed on by us that the using or not using of that practice shall not effect our fellowship to each other; and as there are a number of Christian professions in this country under the Baptist name in order to distinguish ourselves from them we are of opinion that no appelation is more suitable to our profession than that of "Regular Baptist" which name we profess.
Queries from the Churches
Query from Tates Creek Church -- What may be thought best to be done with members that hold conditional salvation?
Answer -- We would give it as our opinion to the churches to use all tenderness to reclaim such persons from the error, but if they persist to deal with them as all other incorrigible offenders.
A proposition to the association for their opinion on the following matter: Whether it is lawful for a Christian to bear office civil or military?
Answer -- It is our opinion that it is lawful for any Christian to bear office either civil or military, except ministers of the Gospel --
Query -- Whether or not persons in a state of slavery may be said to be proper gospel members?
Answer -- A slave may be considered a proper Gospel member.
Query -- Is it lawful for a slave being an orderly member and compelled to leave his wife and move with his master about five hundred miles, then to take another wife?
Answer -- As an opinion cant be had at this time agreed to refer the query to the next association and in the meantime advise the churches not to receive any more members under the above circumstance mentioned in said query.
Query -- In regard to the duty of supporting a minister whether it be considered as a debt or liberal contribution
Debated -- defered to the next association --
Query -- In regard to the duty of supporting a minister, whether it be considered as a debt or a liberal contribution?
Answer -- Debated & cast out.
Query -- Whether it is agreable to scripture for churches to suffer men to preach and have the care of them as their minister that are a trading and entagling themselves with the affairs of this life?
Answer -- that it is not agreable to scripture but that it is the duty of the churches to give their minister a reasonable support and restrict them in these respects.
Query -- What rule are we to receive Baptist members by from the old country or elsewhere not of our association?
Answer -- All members coming from churches of our faith and order bringing an orderly letter of dismission from said orderly church, we advise to be admitted, and all baptists coming from churches of other order by experience.
Query -- How are we to understand that part of the 13th chapter of Johns Gospel which relates to washing the saints feet?
Answer -- Referred to the next association and in the mean time it is requested that each church make up an opinion and report to the next association.
The query from the last Association in regard to that part of the 13th Chapter of Johns Gospel that relates to washing the Saints feet refered for further consideration.
Query from the Church at Limestone -- Whether Churches belonging to the association that do not comply withthat solemn duty of supporting their minister with a comfortable living so as to keep them from worldly incumbrance shall be held in the fellowshp of this association?
Debated, and referred for further consideration.
Query from Church at Limestone -- whether Churches belonging to the association that do not comply with that solemn duty of supporting their minister with a comfortable living so as to keep them from worldly imcumbrance shall be held in the fellowship of this association?
Debated and answered, That a Committee be appointed to visit the Church at Limestone in particular and all the other churches in general and to set in order ant matters that may be wanting & make report to the next association
The Query -- from the last association in regard to that part of the 13th Chap of John's gospel which relates to washing the saints feet which was referred for further consideration answered that the Churches which compose the association are not unanimous, but in the meantime the using or not using that practice shall not affect our fellowship each to other.
She Still referred for consideration.
Query -- What is to be done with members of a church who withdraw their membership?
Answered -- If they can't be reclaimed by Gospel steps they must be excommunicated.
Query -- In what light do the association view the conduct of a church in union with them admitting or receiving as a member or minister into their fellowship that stand excommunicated from a church of our denomination whether in or out of the association?
Answer -- It is disorderly for any of our Churches to receive an excommunicated member from any of the Churches of our denomination without firt having a written information of the charge from the Church which they come from.
Query from Washington. -- Is it most agreable to Gospel rules to excommunicate disorderly persons in the Church only, or in public Congregations before the Church & world?
Answer -- The association is of opinion that the Church hath power to proceed either way but advise to excommunicate privately but in particular cases.
Query from Bryans -- whether the laying on of hands on new baptised persons be a gospel ordinance or not?
A plan for receiving accusations against a Sister Church which stands referred, dismissed.
Query -- referred respecting washing of feet.
Resolved that it is the opinion of the association that it is a Christian duty to be practiced at discretion.
Query which stands deferred -- respecting laying of hands on new baptized persons withdrawn.
Query -- whether the office of Elder distinct from that of a minister be a gospel institution or not referred to the next Association.
Query from Marble creek. -- Whether a woman slave that left a husband in the old Country and marry again here to a man that has a wife twenty miles from him who also refuses to keep said man as a husband ought her marrying in such circumstances to be a bar to her membership?
Answer -- Debarred from membership.
Query from Boones Creek. -- Is it agreable to Gospel for a member in Society who stands justly indebted and doth not pay according to contract to continue said member in society.
Query from Cowpers run -- (which stand referred) whether the office of Elder distinct from that of a minister be a gospel institution.
Answer -- that it is the opinion of the association it is a gospel institution.
Query from Boones creek withdrawn.
Quere from the Church at Bryans -- Is Baptism valed when administered by a Pedo Baptist Minister upon profession of Faith --
refered till the next Association
Our motion agreed to defer the Queres in the different letters untill next Association.
1st Quere from Bryans -- Is Baptism valid when administered by a Pedobaptist Minister on profession of Faith --
Agreed to advise the Churches to act with discretion in all cases of this nature that have happened pror to this date and that they act with care and caution in similar cases in future.
2 Quere from Town Fork. -- What is the origin and divine authority of an Association the use and extent of its power the principals on which admission into or rejection from it are justifiable
3 Quere from the Forks of Elkhorn -- What is the work of an Elder when considered distinct from a minister or Deacon
A refference from the Town fork letter of 1792 -- what is the origin and devine Authority of an Association the use and extent of its power the principals on which admission into the rejection from are justifiable.
Agreed that our Brethren John Gano Joseph Reding and Francis Dunlavy are hereby appointed a committee to prepare an answer to sd quere for the inspection of our next Association.
that Brethren John Smith and Francis Dunlavy prepare, an answer to the Quere from Town fork.
Agreed to consider the quere from Town fork -- What is the origin and divine authority of an association the use and extent of its power -- The principals on which permission into or rejection from it are justifiable.
Answer; That the divine authority of an association are the commands in God's word for Christians to assemble together in his name for worship and counsel and union to Christ and one another and that its use if for mutual edification and assistance to cultivate unniformity of sentiments in principals and practice and that its power is to regulate and governe itself as a body and give such advice to the Churches as may be for their peace. And that any Church who agrees to the principals om which we ourselves are united ought to be admitted and any Church who openly opposes those praincipals ought to be rejected.
Quere from Marble Creek: -- Was not the Association of 1794 guilty of covenant breaking in desolving the union of the united Baptists upon the principals the[y] did?
Quere from Marble Creek -- withdrawn by their Messenger.
Quere from McConnels run. -- Is the ancient and general custom of preaching funeral Sermons founded on the Scriptures or not.
Quere from Licking -- Whether the Church is Justifiable in shuting the door against a member of a Sister Church (that offers his membership) for the cause of retailing of Liquors agreeable to Law;
Quere from McConnels run, -- Is the ancient and general practice of preaching funeral sermons founded on the scripture or not?
Answered That funeral procession attended with singing, conforms to much to the anti-Christian customs and ought to be omitted in the Churches of Christ; but there can be no impropriety in a servant of Christ preaching at any time and place for he is to be instant in season or out of season Christian prudence ought to decide on the subject but to suppose a sermon necessary to the decent burial of the Dead we wish discountenanced.
Quere from McConnells run -- are the Churches bound by scripture to contribute to the support of pastoral ministers?
Answered that God hath ordained that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.
Agreed to consider the Quere from Marble Creek, -- Whether it is consistent with our duty to God and our Children to have them taught while at School to read Books of human institution until they are well acquainted with read the scriptures and whether they reading such books has not a tendency to lead their tender minds into a disestum of the Bible.
Answered That the design of sending our Children to School is to have them taught to read and such Books. Tho' of human institution if moral in their nature as will answer that end are the best and after our Children are tought to read we ought to give them every encouragement to read the scriptures.
We find the Churches composeing our Body divided respecting a catechism and the act of catechiseing their Children agreed to let the matter rest at present.
We advise the Churches of our union to be aware of encourageing any stranger to preach among them without proper Credentals and a fair character --
Agreed to appoint a committee to draw a plan to restore excluded members emigrating to this Country and present it to the next Association Brother Dudley Easton and Price are appointed.
Quere from south Elkhorn -- What constitutes Baptism valid
Answer the administrator ought to have been Baptised himself by immersion colled to preach the gospel ordained as the scriptures dictates & that the candidate for Baptism make a profession of his faith in Jesus Christ and that he be Baptised in the name of the father of the Son & of the Holy Ghost by dipping the whole body in water.
proceed to business Queres -- from several churches Nearly the same
Viz Is it not a cause of distress for the churches to be constituted so near each other as they frequently are with us and is it not the duty of the association to endeavour to remedy this evil. is it not necessary for the Association to form some plan for the constitution of Churches and ordination of Ministers --
Debated and ordered to ly on the Table.
Quere from Mount Gillard. -- Is it the Constitutional right of a member that is in good standing in the Church to which he belongs and living nearer a Sister chruch of the same faith and order to have a letter of Dismission as an application.
Quere from South Elkhorn. -- Who is the Church of Christ to be governed by agreeably to the Scriptures
Quere from Boons Creek -- What is a member to do who is in good standing and applies for a letter of dismission and is denied?
Quere from Glens Creek -- Is it right for Baptists to join in & assemble at barbacues on the 4th of July
This Association Judges it improper for ministers Churches or Associations to meddle with emacipation from Slavery or any other political Subject and as such we advise ministers & Churches to have nothing to do therewith in their religious Capacities.
[Taken from Religion on the American Frontier: The Baptists by William W. Sweet, 1931, pp. 417-508. He has recorded the Minutes from 1785-1805.]
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