Baptists and the American Civil War: October 10, 1863

Civil War States MapMeeting at Mount Zion Baptist church, Copiah County, the Mississippi Baptist Association addresses the ongoing war:

“Resolved, That this Association do most earnestly recommend the churches to meet on the first Lord’s day in every month at ten o’clock to offer up special prayer for the success of our cause and the spiritual welfare of our armies.”

The association also takes up a collection for army missions and notes the death of a minister, H. H. Thompson, who died while serving in the army.

The Shelby Baptist Association of Alabama also meets this day. Offering up a “special prayer to God,” the Baptists present petition God “for his blessing upon us, as a people engaged in a struggle for liberty.” Afterwards delegates make clear their commitment to the Confederacy:

Resolved by the Shelby Association, That we believe in the justness of the cause for which our brave soldiers are fighting, and earnestly invite our brethren to pray unceasingly for our cause, independence and final separation from the Universal Yankee Nation.

The association also takes up a collection for army missions and issues a report on “intemperance” that concludes

… running a distillery, visiting dram shops or habitually using ardent spirits … is wholly inconsistent with Christian character, and in violation of Bible teaching; and they recommend the churches of the Association to prohibit the manufacture, traffic and use of as a beverage, all intoxicating drinks, by their members.

The report is unanimously adopted, the Shelby Baptist Association thus moving to the cutting edge of Baptist life in prohibiting the use of or association with alcohol.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Calvary Baptist Church of Oceanview, New Jersey adopts a Church Covenant ”as the expression of our distinctive belief in the teachings of God’s Word, and our bond and pledge of Christian Union and Fellowship.” The covenant reads:

Having been brought, as we trust, by divine grace, to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and to give ourselves wholly to him, we do now solemnly and joyfully covenant with each other, to walk together in Him, with brotherly love, to His glory, as our common Lord; We do therefore, in His strength, engage:

THAT, We will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other, and faithfully warn, exhort, and admonish each other, as occasion may require;

THAT, We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but will uphold the public worship of God, and the ordinances of His house;

THAT, We will not omit closet and family religion at home, nor neglect the great duty of religiously training our children, and those under our care, for the service of Christ, and the enjoyment of Heaven;

THAT, As we are the light of the world, and the salt of the earth, we will seek divine aid, to enable us to deny ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and to walk circumspectly in the world, that we may win the souls of men;

THAT, We will cheerfully contribute of our property, according as God has prospered us, for the maintenance of a faithful and evangelical ministry among us, for the support of the poor, and to spread the Gospel over the earth;

THAT, We will in all conditions, even till death, strive to live to the glory of Him, who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light;

“And the God of Peace, who brought again
from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great
Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood
of the everlasting covenant, make us
perfect in every good work to do His will,
working in us that which is well pleasing
in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to
Whom be glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

Thus visible within these three gatherings is a glimpse of the diversity of the people of faith called Baptists, albeit without any representation of black Baptists.

Sources: Minutes, Mississippi Baptist Association 1863 (link); Minutes, Shelby Association of Baptist Churches, October 10, 1863 (link); Covenant, Calvary Baptist Church, Oceanview, New Jersey (link)