Baptists and the American Civil War: June 16, 1863

bible02This week Basil Manly Jr., co-editor of the newly-formed Baptist Sunday School Board along with John A. Broadus, from South Carolina sends a letter under a flag of truce to Richard Fuller, pastor of the Seventh Baptist Church in Baltimore.

Manly is desperate to obtain New Testaments for use in Sundays Schools in Southern Baptist congregations, yet Bibles are hard to come by in the Confederacy, due to the Union occupation of Nashville. In Southern Baptist life, the spiritual education of children is primarily through Sunday Schools, and although many congregations have not yet started Sunday Schools, there is growing interest in the face of a mounting number of orphaned Southern children.

Thus, the appeal to Fuller, in the hopes that Union officials will allow Bibles to be purchased and transported South.

“We wish to push on vigorously the work of Sunday School for the sake of the children, and for the sake of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ,” Manly writes.

The letter eventually arrives, Fuller intercedes on behalf of Southern Baptists, and the Northern-based American Bible Society, within which Northern Baptists have a strong presence, donates the requested New Testaments. Federal authorities allow the books to pass through Union lines.

In the interest of spiritual education, at the least, Baptists North and South can yet work together on at some occasions.

Source: Letter from Basil Manly Jr., to Richard Fuller, June 15, 1863 Manly Manuscript Collection, Southern Baptist Library and Historical Archives (link)