Baptists and the American Civil War: December 23, 1865

Thomas Nast's St. Nick, Christmas 1862

Thomas Nast’s St. Nick, Christmas 1862

Christmas is approaching, the first that many African Americans will experience in freedom. Yet Christmas, of pagan origins and still considered popish or pagan by most Baptists, is not yet celebrated in Baptist churches, North or South, black or white.

One church in Richmond, Virginia, however, will be celebrating an entirely different occasion on Christmas day.

As noted in today’s Richmond Daily Dispatch:

“The Sunday School of Leigh Street Baptist Church will celebrate their anniversary on Christmas day. A mass meeting at the church, addresses by eloquent speakers, and music by the school, will form some of the features of this interesting occasion. This is the banner Sunday school of Richmond — having a larger attendance of scholars than any other school in the city.”

Many Baptist churches have yet to organize Sunday Schools. By the end of the century, however, most embrace the practice for children. Adult Sunday School becomes common by the 1920s.

Source: “Sunday School Celebration,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, December 23, 1865 (link)