Baptists and the American Civil War: July 30, 1862

Washington DC 1862

Washington DC 1862

The Middle District Baptist Association of Virginia convenes and delegates position themselves squarely on the side of the Confederacy. Speaking Christian nationalist language, the association declares, “if a people drew the sword in behalf of a just cause, we are that people.” Many other Southern Baptist associations have already, or will soon, openly align themselves with the Confederacy.

Meanwhile (and not too far distant northward), a newly-formed and abolitionist Northern Baptist church in the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C., Calvary Baptist, meets and makes some formative decisions regarding congregational identity.

The Committee on the Hymn Book recommends that the church use the Newark Baptist Edition of the Plymouth Collection (a final decision is postponed for two weeks, at which time the motion presumably passes). A Constitution and Bylaws, previously discussed, are passed and thus go into effect. In addition, members vote to take up a “Poor Fund” collection on the “first Sabbath of the [each] month.”

While the war is undoubtedly on the minds of many Calvary Baptist members present, and the church is openly pro-abolition and pro-Union, no mention is made of the conflict that has torn the nation asunder. Such silence regarding the war is not atypical of many Baptist congregations North and South, who tend to avoid, in any official capacity, bringing the subject (and other “outside” matters) into the walls of the church.

Sources: Minutes of theĀ  the Seventy-Ninth Annual Session of the Middle District Baptist Association, July 29 and 30th, 1862; document available from the Virginia Baptist Historical Society (link); Plymouth Collection hymn book (link); William Wilbur, Chronicles of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, Washington: Judd and Detweiler, 1914, p. 16 (link)