Baptists and the American Civil War: August 19, 1865

Civil War Era Missouri Map

Civil War Era Missouri Map

Today the Missouri Baptist General Association convenes, two years following the last meeting, held in 1863.

Missouri, while not a part of the Southern Confederacy, was a divided state during the war. The big question at hand is whether or not the state organization will re-affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.

In an effort to ensure denominational loyalty the SBC sends the organization’s leading representatives to the General Association meeting. James B. Taylor, corresponding secretary (executive director) of the Foreign Mission Board and Russel Holman, corresponding secretary of the Domestic (Mission) Board are successful in retaining the loyalty of Missouri Baptists, who take the new step of appointing state committees on foreign and domestic missions.

The effects of the recent war, linger, however. Delegates, unhappy that Missouri state officials are requiring clergy to take an oath of loyalty to the United States by September 4, pass a resolution condemning the requirement.

While Missouri Baptists meet, local churches are founded elsewhere this day. In the South, the Damascus Baptist Church in Graceville, Florida is established, while in the North the First Baptist Church of Marion, Illinois comes into existence. The two congregations offer a glimpse into the vitality of white Baptists in America in the months following the war.

Sources: Robert Samuel Duncan, A History of the Baptists in Missouri, Saint Louis: Scammell, 1882, pp. 349-351 (link); “Missouri Test Oath,” New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (link); John W. Cooley, Damascus Baptist Church Cemetery (link); “First Baptist Church,” Marion Illinois History Preservation (link)