Baptists and the American Civil War: January 18, 1864

sunday_schoolSouthern Baptists’ concern from the children of the war leads to the introduction of a new Sunday School publication this month. “Kind Words” is a child’s “Sunday-school paper” that is published by the recently-formed Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The board’s three officials, Charles J. Elford (board director and printer), Basil Manly, Jr. (Old Testament Professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and John A. Broadus (New Testament Professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and corresponding secretary of the Sunday School Board), are all involved in the endeavor.

The story of the beginning and early decades of “Kind Words” is recounted fifteen years following the war in William Cathcart’s Baptist Encyclopedia:

“Kind Words is the Sunday-school paper of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is published at Macon, Ga., and edited by Rev. S. Boykin. This useful paper wields a strong, extended, and healthy influence. Its lesson expositions of the “International Series” are studied to advantage by perhaps 200,000 persons each week in all the editions, counting the Lesson Leaflets. Its tone is highly evangelical, and at the same time it is strikingly denominational and a decided advocate of the mission cause. It first appeared in January, 1864, in the very midst of the throes of war, and was originated by Mr. C. J. Elford, of Greenville, S. C., assisted by Rev. Basil Manly, D.D., president, and Rev. John A. Broadus, corresponding secretary, of the Sunday-School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and soon reached a circulation of 25,000. For years it was a small monthly sheet, and its price was ten cents. It was then published at Greenville, S. C. In 1868 the Sunday-School Board was removed to Memphis, Tenn., and Kind Words was transferred to that city, where, in 1870, it was consolidated with the Child’s Delight, a Sunday-school paper published by Rev. S. Boykin, at Macon, Ga., who was employed as editor. The Child’s Delight was a semi-monthly paper, and thus Kind Words became a semi-monthly. Two years later a weekly edition was also issued, and its circulation became very extensive throughout the South and Southwest. In 1873 the Sunday-School Board was merged into the Home Board of the Southern Baptist Convention at Marion, Ala., and Kind Words was transferred to the care of that board, by which it has been issued ever since. Its publication office was changed to Macon, Ga., where satisfactory printing arrangements were made with the firm of J. W. Burke & Co. by the secretary of the Home Board. It is beautifully illustrated and elegantly printed, and yields the Home Board of the Southern Baptist Convention an income of $1000 per annum above expenses. The different editions of the paper are a weekly, semi-monthly, and monthly. The monthly issue contains no lessons; the weekly and semi-monthly issues contain them. Four-page Lesson Leaflets are also published.

The Child’s Gem, a beautiful little four-page weekly illustrated Sunday-school paper for infant classes, is published by Rev. S. Boykin, Macon, Ga. It contains appropriate matter for the very young, with the lesson-story and questions adapted to the capacity of children unable to read. It has now been in existence two years, and has quite a wide circulation. It was first published under the title of The Baptist Gem.

Not until 1891 does the Southern Baptist Convention finally establish a permanent Sunday School Board that in the decades following expands beyond children’s literature to include adult lessons.

Source: “Kind Words” and “The Child’s Gem,” William Cathcart, Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Vol. 1, 1880, p. 658 (link)