In a work of this sort the distinction between white and colored Baptists must be preserved, since their organization, history, and operations are at present entirely distinct.
Previous to and during the war the colored Baptists were generally members of the white Baptist churches, although in many instances they had separate houses of worship, and sometimes their churches were independent. Their training, discipline, and religious worship were supervised by the white Baptists, who regarded them strictly as members of their churches. They assisted in their conferences, sustained their pastors in whole or in part, and aided by advice in troublesome cases of discipline. In many country churches a part of the building was assigned to the colored brethren, or else a time for their special services was given to them, when the pastor of the white church preached to them. No white pastor ever presumed to ignore or neglect the colored members. The Associations nearly always appointed missionaries to the colored people, and in the State Conventions their religious wants were sacredly regarded. The result was that at the conclusion of the war there was all over the South an immense number of colored Baptists, many of whom were organized into churches. These statements would hold good in regard to the Methodists of the South. There was no ecclesiastical separation of the races until after the close of the war. The colored Baptists were then "dismissed" from the white churches, generally in a formal and regular manner, at their own request, and they formed themselves into churches, being always advised and assisted when necessary by their white brethren. They were also aided by them largely in the formation of their Associations and Conventions, and in many cases the white ministers held Institutes for the instruction of colored ministers. The consequence in Georgia has been that the best feeling exists between the white and colored Baptists. The latter are organized very much after the manner of the white Baptists, and they have exhibited a zeal and intelligence in the highest degree commendable. All this, however, is largely to be attributed to the training received from the white Baptists, and to the good feeling and pleasant relations existing religiously between the two races. That the white Baptists have not done more for their colored brethren since the war has been solely because of inability on account of the generally impoverished condition of the country.
OrganizationThe colored Baptists of Georgia are formed into 28 Associations, which contain 875 churches, with a membership of more than 108,000. At least half of these churches maintain Sunday-schools. The Associations send delegates each year to a State Convention organized on missionary principles, called "The Missionary Baptist Convention of
Georgia," the main object of which is to organize and establish churches and Sunday-schools throughout the State and to promote theological education, as may be seen by the following:
"It shall be the object of this Convention -
"1. To employ missionaries to travel through the waste places of our State and gather the people and preach the gospel to them, and aid them in every way possible, and especially in organizing both churches and Sunday-schools.
"2. To establish a theological institute for the purpose of educating young men and those who are preaching the gospel and have the ministry in view, or any of our brothers' sons that sustain a good moral character, and to procure immediately some central place in Georgia for the establishment of the same."
Auxiliary to and a part of this State Convention is the "Missionary Baptist Sunday-School Convention," which is actually a separate body, though composed of the members of the State Convention, and governed by the same rules. It is well officered and is a very efficient body, and it is doing a good work in establishing Sunday-schools. Its last report embraces over 200 schools, containing nearly 1000 teachers and 14,000 scholars, which raised during the year $321.61.
The school at Atlanta for the education of colored ministers is doing a noble work for a large number of students, and through them for the numerous churches to which they shall minister.
[From William Cathcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881, reprint, 1988, p. 444-445. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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