Baptists and the American Civil War: March 5, 1863

union_blockadeToday the Senate of the Confederate States Congress convenes in Richmond, the nation’s capital. The session opens with a prayer by Rev. Secley, pastor of the Second Baptist Church. The proceedings that follow include debating a request for additional funds for the Ordnance Department, issues related to Confederate bonds, and consideration of a tax bill.

Richmond is not only the home of the Confederacy, it is also the headquarters of Southern Baptists’ foreign mission efforts. Those efforts, however, have been sidelined due to the blockade of the Virginia coast. Attempts to operate a provisional Foreign Mission Board out of Baltimore have proved to be of minimal help. Southern Baptists, in effect, are cut off from their missionaries in distant lands.

Against the backdrop of concern for Southern Baptist foreign missionaries, this month the Foreign Mission Board in desperation hires blockade runners to try and smuggle funds and communication across the ocean.

Costly and dangerous, the attempts to evade the blockade prove largely futile. Southern Baptists’ foreign missionaries remain largely detached and isolated from organizational structure and funding, necessitating great creativity in order to subsist and minister among their charges.

Sources: Confederate States Congress, March 5, 1863 (link); “Baptist Heritage Press Releases,” Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (link); image (link)