Baptists and the American Civil War: December 17, 1865

Texas Civil War MapIn Falls County, Texas is a recently-formed congregation of freedmen who following emancipation withdrew from the white-led church they were forced to attend and formed their own autonomous church.

Sixteen charter members comprised the Cedar Grove Baptist Church. Today the church’s first baptisms take place in the nearby Brazos River. Cold, freezing weather does not deter the eager converts. Plunged beneath the waters and re-emerging spiritually reborn, the new believers white clothing freezes as they step out of the water.

God, on their side in defeating the Confederacy and liberating their race from slavery, offers new life. The way forward, though, will not be easy. White Southerners will devote themselves to keeping African Americans in servitude. Persecuted and held down, today’s converts and generations of their descendants will lean upon the graces of a racially-inclusive God to sustain them through darkness and despair.

Sources: Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church Facebook page (link)