Baptists and the American Civil War: October 30, 1864

Civil War States MapIn Minonk, Illinois, the Minonk Baptist Church, a mere six years old, today dedicates the congregation’s first meeting house.

Meanwhile, the First Baptist Church of Webster, Massachusetts celebrates this day the 50th anniversary of their congregation with a “historical discourse.”

Far southward in Union-controlled Knoxville, Tennessee, the First Baptist Church meeting house, established 1843, has during much of the war been controlled by the Union Army. The building having served earlier as a Union hospital, it is currently the site of a school for black children. The Home Mission Board earlier this year sent missionary Daniel William Phillips to restart the church. This month, Phillips assembles the few Baptists he can find in the city. Phillips reports:

There has been no Baptist preaching here for nearly a year. There is at present a colored school kept in the Baptist House by a colored Methodist man. Before the rebellion there were in this city two Presbyterian, two Methodist and one Episcopal and one Baptist churches. One of the Methodist churches has wholly disappeared. The other was made a government store and was so loaded that the floor broke down. I gathered together all the Baptists that I could find (Oct. 1864) only some nine or ten male members in all I have thus far preached in the New School Presbyterian Church.

Yet Phillips is unsuccessful in re-establishing Baptist worship services. After the war, the Baptist church building continues being used for freedmen’s activities, and more than two more years pass before regular worship services resume in the First Baptist Church meeting house.

Sources: Harrison M. Parks, “One Hundred Year History of the Minonk Baptist Church,” 1958 (link); Charles W. Reding, “A historical discourse, delivered on the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the Baptist Church, Webster, Mass., October 30, 1864” (link); First Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee, Wikipedia, information from National Register of Historic Places Database (link); History, First Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee, church website (link)