Baptists and the American Civil War: April 27, 1863

Georgia MapToday is the final day of this year’s meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention. The gathering of white Southern Baptists has thus far focused heavily on task of attending to the spiritual needs of Confederate soldiers, whether through providing Christian literature or supporting (or serving as) army chaplains or missionaries. In addition, delegates have discussed the need to provide for the orphans of dead soldiers.

The Confederate Army, in short, is the new mission field of Southern Baptists now that they are cut off from their few remaining foreign missionaries. The future of the Confederacy, viewed by many of the gathered ministers as God’s chosen nation, rests with the brave defenders on the front lines of battle. Victory in battle will be made possibly by converting the many spiritually lost soldiers in the army and fortifying the faith of churched soldiers.

This final, shortened daily session again focuses on the effects that the war has imposed upon Baptist life in the state.

The “Report on the Committee of Education” laments that the “blight of war is wide-spread over the educational operations of the country–inflicting damage, perhaps, second to none, sustained by any other interest of equal moment.”

Following the education report, delegates set aside $500 for “army missions … to the support of bro. [Jesse] Campbell, Evangelist in the Confederate Army.”

Both disappointment and hope characterize the feelings of the departing men whose clear loyalty is to the Confederate cause, a loyalty and a cause that is intertwined with their religious faith.

Source: Minutes, Georgia Baptist State Convention, April 24, 25 and 27, 1863 (link)