Baptists and the American Civil War: September 4, 1865

Civil War States MapPrior to this month, the only African American Baptist churches in the state of Missouri are located in St. Louis, Hannibal, St. Joseph, Jefferson City and (possibly) Lexington.

Now, a new church joins this short list: the First Colored Baptist Church of Warrensburg.

Many other black Baptist congregations are also birthed this month, including the Second Street Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia.

Shortly thereafter on October 14, James Angell is ordained to the Gospel ministry. The ceremony provides a glimpse into the nuances of race relations among Baptists of the South following the war. On Angell’s ordination council is Ebenezer W. Warren, the militantly pro-slavery pastor of Macon’s (white-led) First Baptist Church of Christ. While not recanting of his convictions that slavery is God’s will for the black race, Warren blesses freedman Angell to minister among his fellow freedpersons in Macon.

All present know that white dominance yet remains, a reality that Angell, and black Baptists throughout Georgia, Missouri and beyond, understand quite well. Many new black Baptist churches accept white help, often from their former white-led churches, as an initial step on the road to autonomy.

Sources: Robert Samuel Duncan, A History of the Baptists in Missouri, St. Louis: Schammell, 1882, pp. 756-757 (link); “James, Rev. John Angell,” in William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, Philadelphia: Everts, 1881. p. 593 (link)