Baptists and the American Civil War: July 18, 1862

This month the Siloam Baptist Church of Greene County, Georgia meets and does something unusual for Baptist churches of the South during the war: they formally discuss the death of a soldier member.

Baptists, long accustomed to not allowing the outside world to infiltrate worship services and business meetings, typically do not officially discuss in such settings the fate of their soldier sons. The Siloam church bucks this trend with the following statement:

We announce the death of Brother William T. Jackson who fell in battle about the first of July.

The simple statement, closing the books on the church’s business meeting this month, masks the agony experienced by the Jackson family and the sorrow of church members. Doubtlessly, tears flow as fellow church members comfort the Jackson family.

As the war progresses, the church twice collects money to assist the distribution of Bibles and Gospel tracts among Confederate soldiers, and–in another rare instance–accepts a soldier as a member in 1864.

Few churches in the middle Georgia region openly acknowledge the war to a greater degree than does the Siloam Baptist Church.

Source: Minutes, Siloam Baptist Church, Greene County, Georgia, July 5, 1862; see also Bruce T. Gourley, Diverging Loyalties: Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War, Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2011 (link); Georgia map (link)