MINUTES OF THE TWENTY-SIXTH ANNUAL SESSION OF THE WOOD RIVER COLORED BAPTIST ASSOCIATION WITH THE MOUNT EMORY BAPTIST CHURCH, MORGAN COUNTY, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 18, 19, 20 & 21, A. D. 1864.
This association began in 1839 and was composed of African American churches. Their records are very detailed – 20 pages. This portion includes the Constitution, Articles of Faith, Covenant and Appendix.
The Constitution of this association is:
Article 1st. This Association shall be called the Association of Colored Brethren of the Baptist Church of Christ, and Friends of Humanity, in Illinois.
Art. 2. The Association shall consist of ministers and delegates; ministers by virtue of their office, delegates by delegated authority from the churches to which they belong.
Art. 3. The Officers of the Association shall be a Moderator. Clerk, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer, all to be chosen annually by the Association.
Art. 4. The Annual Association in the district to be held at such time and place as may have been previously appointed.
Art. 5. The Annual Association shall possess authority to adopt all such measures as may be considered best calculated to promote the prosperity of the general union, and advance the Redeemer's Kingdom; to advise and consult on all methods which the churches may at any time present, to receive and drop from its union; but no legislative authority whatever, is by said Association, to be exercised over its Churches. .
Art. 6. The Constitution may be amended at any Regular Association, by a vote of two-thirds of the members present - notice having been given at a previous Association.
ARTICLES OF FAITH AND COVENANT.
ARTICLES OF FAITH.
OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
Article 1. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were written by men, under the influence of Divine Inspiration, and contain a perfect treasure of instruction from God, to guide unto knowledge and practice of the Divine will, and that they reveal the criterion by which all human creeds and actions shall be tried.
OF THE TRUE GOD.
Art. 2. That there is one and only true and living God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who is a spirit holy, just, merciful, unchangeable, almighty and omniscient, worthy of our supreme love, adoration and praise.
OF THE TRINITY.
Art. 3. That God is revealed in the Scriptures, as existing in
three personal distinctions, the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, equal in every divine perfection, constituting the one true and living God.
Art. 4. That God created man holy, and that by his own voluntary transgression, he became a sinner. That mankind are now destitute of holiness, possessed of a sinful nature, given to unholy gratification and the service of Satan, and are exposed to the eternal displeasure of their Maker.
Art. 5. That God, of his own free and sovereign grace, has opened a way of salvation from sin, through Jesus Christ, who, taking upon himself human nature, and laying down his life in our behalf, rendered to the divine law such satisfaction that God may now be just in justifying every one that believeth in Jesus. That Jesus Christ, having risen from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the majesty on high, as our Mediator, is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him; that through the atonement, salvation is freely offered to all men.
Art. 6. That in order to enjoy the benefits of Christ's death, in the gift of eternal life, we must be regenerated, or born again. That regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the heart, and is effected by the Holy Spirit, in such a way as to secure our voluntary obedience to the laws of Christ. The evidences of regeneration are the fruit of the Spirit evinced in the temper and conduct.
OF GOD'S PURPOSE OF GRACE.
Art. 7. That God, according to his own good pleasure, determined to save from the ruins of the fall, a seed who should be to the praise of the glory of His grace. That He effects his gracious purpose by regenerating and saving his people, whom he foreknew, the means being embraced in the purpose. that this doctrine produces humility, encourages to diligence to make our calling sure. That it does not interfere with the free agency of man, nor with the willingness of God to accept every true penitent.
OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.
Art. 8. That such only, are truly born of God, as continue to the end of life. That a persevering attachment to the gospel is the grand distinction between the truly regenerated and superficial religionist; the children of God being preserved by his favor through faith unto salvation.
OF THE END OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED.
Art. 9. That there will, at the last day, be a resurrection of the just and unjust. that all shall be assembled before the judgment
seat of Christ, and receive, from him a righteous sentence, according to what each has done; the wicked doomed to everlasting punishment, and the righteous received into eternal life.
OF A GOSPEL CHURCH.
Art. 10. That a gospel church is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant, for the purpose of maintaining the worship of God, the preaching of His word, and the administration of the ordinances appointed by Christ, and to observe all his laws. That, subject to the laws of Christ, each church has authority to receive and discipline its own members, and choose its officers. That its only officers are bishops and deacons, whose qualifications, duties and claims are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.
Art. 11. That christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is a solemn and expressive emblem of the believers, of faith in the Savior, crucified, buried and risen, and is It sacred engagement to walk henceforth in newness of life.
OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
Art. 12. That the Lord's Supper is an institution of Christ, given to the church, by which, such as have been baptized and continued steadfastly in the Apostle's doctrine and in fellowship, are to commemorate the dying love of Jesus Christ.
OF THE LORD'S DAY.
Art. 13. That the first day of the week, or the Lord's flay, is to be observed as the christian Sabbath abstaining from secular employment and recreations, and by a devout use of all the means of grace, in private and public, as preparatory to an everlasting rest in heaven.
Having been, as we humbly trust, by the grace of God, brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, and to give ourselves wholly to Him, we do now solemnly covenant with each other, to walk together in love, according to his new commandment. We, therefore, in his strength, engage that we will, as members of the body of Christ, exercise a mutual care of each other, to promote the growth of the whole body in christian knowledge, holiness benevolence, zeal and comfort. That to promote and secure this knowledge, we will maintain the public worship of God, and the ordinances of his house; and that we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together in the name of Jesus. That, according to our ability, we will cheerfully contribute of our property, to relieve the needy, to send the gospel to the destitute, and to maintain a faithful ministration of God's word among ourselves.
That we will faithfully and constantly observe closet and family religion, and endeavor to bring up those under our care, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That we will walk circumspectly and honestly in the world, abstaining- from sinful amusements, and vain conversation, and from the use of intoxicating drinks, and traffic in them as a beverage; and that we will not provide them as an article of entertainment, or for those in our employ; and that in all suitable ways we will discourage their use throughout the community. That we will discountenance all oppression of our fellow men, and the withholding of just wages among ourselves and others, as far as our influence may extend.
That we will frequently exhort, if occasion shall require, and admonish one another, in the spirit of meekness, according to Matthew, 18th chapter.
And may the God of Peace cause our peace to abound through faith in Christ, working in us that which is well pleasing in His sight, preserving ns from evil, that we may abound in every good word and work, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord; to whom be praise, forever and ever. Amen.
Appendix – List of Churches
Union B. C., Alton, Ill.[From Minutes of the Twenty-Sixth Annual Session of the Wood River Colored Baptist Association, 1864, pp. 14-20; via SBTS Archives digital documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Mt. Emory B. C., Jacksonville, Ill.
Springfield B. C., Springfield, Ill.
Bethel B. C., Belleville, Ill.
Salem B. C., Alton, Ill.
Piasa B. C., Piasa, Ill.
Antioch B. C., Brooklyn, Ill.
Olivet B. C., Chicago, Ill.
Antioch B. C., Decatur, Ill.
Mt. Olive B. C., Jerseyville, Ill.
Racine B. C., Racine, Wisconsin.
Total membership in the churches - 600
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