Joseph Addison Scarboro was born August 8, 1857 and departed this life February 25, 1932. His ministerial career began in 1876 when he was ordained by Poplar Springs Baptist Church, Summit, GA.
Bro. Scarboro was self-educated and became a mental giant. Unequaled as a Theologian, as a public speaker few equaled him and with vigor almost amounting to genius he used his abilities in championing righteous causes. He was unafraid to challenge anything he believed was wrong. Among non-ABA Baptists J. A. Scarboro is best known as author of The Bible, The Baptists and The Board System, which was published in 1904. At that time he was listed as Office Editor of The American Baptist Flag, the paper edited by Eld. J. N. Hall, Fulton, KY.
J. A. Scarboro was listed in the first meeting of the General Association in March, 1905 along with J. N. Hall, both as visitors from Fulton, Kentucky. At the November, 1905 meeting both were listed as messengers. Bro. Scarboro was a messenger from the Poplar Springs Church, Summit, GA.
J. A. Scarboro and W. M. Barker were members of the Committee on Statement of Principles, which was chaired by J. N. Hall. The minutes state they spent 18 hours in preparing the Statement of Principles.
It was from J. A. Scarboro's notes that the last sermon of J. N. Hall, preached at the November, 1905, was recorded in the Memoirs of Eld. J. N. Hall. Bro. Scarboro was also appointed to the Information and Finance Committee, and as a "home evangelist to labor wherever God in His Providence calls them."
At the 1906 meeting Bro. Scarboro was appointed to the important "Committee on Order of Business." He was continued on the Information and Finance Committee. Scarboro and Barker prepared and gave the "Report on Missions."
Bro. Scarboro was a messenger from Poplar Springs Church, Summit, GA. His mission report stated he was missionary for Poplar Springs, Glenville and Poplar Head Churches. He stated he had labored in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. He stated, "The work has consisted mainly in visiting churches and communities and associations, by request, and preaching the distinctive doctrines of Baptists, and speaking, lecturing and preaching on the history, doctrines and Bible methods in mission work (sic).
At the 1906 meeting he and W. M. Barker gave the "Report on Missions" and the Information and Finance Committee gave an extensive report.
At the 1907 meeting he preached on the subject of "Missions," and also brought a devotional. He was endorsed as a missionary. Bro. Scarboro and E.H.C. Kenner gave a 2.5 page report on Mission Methods, which expressed "Objection to the Convention Board System of Conducting Mission Work." In his missionary report he estimated he wrote 600 letters and 200 columns for the press.
He was continued as a missionary in 1909, again as a messenger of the Poplar Spring Church, Garfield, GA. He also reported offerings from Glenville Church, Glenville; Poplar Head Church, and Elan Church, Garfield.
By 1909 he was pastor in Magnolia, AR, and was Treasurer and Assistant Clerk of the Association, and also served on the Missionary Committee and read the Home Missions report. The General Association met with First Baptist Church, Magnolia in 1909.
In 1910 Bro. Scarboro was pastor of First Baptist in Magnolia. He was Clerk and Treasurer. He preached during the Wednesday Morning session from John 17:20-23, and he read the State Missions report.
In 1911 he was still pastor at Magnolia, which was one of the few full-time churches in the state. The pastor's salary was $900 per year. At the Associational meeting he was on the Executive Committee and the Committee on Home and Foreign Missions.
He was still pastor in 1912, and he also served on the Committee on Foreign Missions. In 1913 he preached at 11 AM at the Baptist Church, and gave a report on "Romanism."
In 1913-1914 he was still located in Magnolia, but was not listed as pastor of the Magnolia church. Bro. Scarboro was on the Missionary Committee, but had just resigned as Treasurer. He made a report on "Romanism."
Bro. Scarboro was not mentioned in 1917 and 1918. He was present in 1919, and was also listed as a missionary.
In 1920 he was listed as a "home missionary" from Summit, Georgia, again as a messenger from Poplar Springs church. He made a short talk expressing his appreciation for being in this session of the General Association. He served on the Romanism and Home Mission committees.
Bro. Scarboro led in organization of the Florida State Association in 1920, in 1924 was associate editor of the Bible Baptist, our paper in Florida. In 1924 he was also serving as State Missionary of the Florida State Association, and was in Georgia trying to lead in forming a State Association there.
In 1923 and 1924 Bro. Scarboro was listed as a "Home Missionary" from Plant City, Florida. He was also on the Sunday School Committee in 1923.
At the 1925 session Bro. Scarboro preached the annual sermon from the subject, "The Dynamic Gospel." He was elected as an Inter-State Missionary for Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
His funeral services were held at Popular Springs Church, Summit, GA, the place of his birth. ABaptist and Commoner article stated, "He was laid to rest in the exact spot where he stood 56 years ago as he delivered his first sermon."i[iv]
Dr. Ben M. Bogard wrote the following tribute under the title, "A Leader Who Refused to Be Called a Leader." "Eld. Joe A. Scarboro was a leader in thought--a teacher that was surpassed by very few if any. A great man. But he became so disgusted with so-called leadership that he wrote strong articles against all leadership. He seemed not to realize that he was himself a great leader. He led by teaching, by influence, by example.
"The Antioch Church, Little Rock, last Sunday night, had a short memorial service of this great man. He was supply pastor while I was on my first tour of the Pacific Coast. The church remembers him with admiration and love. Those of us who are left behind should redouble our diligence to make up for this great loss."ii[v]
In 1916 J. A. Scarboro set forth an editorial in the Baptist and Commoner entitled, "The Difference Betwixt the General Association and the Convention." Scarboro's editorial began, "In the General Association the messengers come directly from the churches, no messengers from societies, associations or state associations or conventions and no such thing as money basis."iii[vi]
i[iv] Mildred N. McMurry, "A Great and Good Man has Gone to His Reward," Baptist and Commoner, March 9, 1932, p. 1.
ii[v] Ben M. Bogard, "A Leader Who Refused to Be Called a Leader," Baptist and Commoner, March 9, 1932, p. 1.
iii[vi] The complete editorial was reproduced by Foreman-Payne in the Life and Works of Ben M. Bogard, Vol. II, pp. 346-350.
[From History and Archives of the American Baptist Association, "Biographical Sketches." Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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