Baptists and the American Civil War: September 27, 1863

African SlaveryAlabama’s Ten Islands Baptist Association meets at Post Oak Spring Baptist Church in Calhoun County, Alabama. Like many Baptist associations of the South during this fall season, the Ten Islands association passes (over the course of the three day gathering) resolutions and offers commentary on the war, the Confederacy, confederate soldiers and African slavery.

Three resolutions encapsulate the patriotic feelings of delegates:

Resolved, That we do recommend to our membership, daily prayer to Almighty God, for the preservation of our gallant army in the field of battle, and for the independence and prosperity of our beloved country, the Confederate States of America….

Resolved, That during this unholy war, our churches be requested to hold prayer meetings, specially to ask the interposition of Almighty God in behalf of our country and our institutions, and to crown us with independence and lasting peace.

Whereas, a collection was taken up on Sabbath morning, amounting to $–for the purpose of army missions, by order of this body, therefore Resolved, That Elders Silas Woodruff, T P Gwin, E T Read and John M Crook be and are hereby appointed a committee to give said funds a proper direction.

The war is also the focus of the “Report on Domestic Missions”:

We your committee beg leave to report, that we have had the subject of Home Missions under consideration; and do feel to lament that a subject of such vast importance is so much neglected. And as we believe that Home Missions are so well understood that they need no explanation, and that the field of labor has opened so large and wide in our midst, and the Macedonian cry is heard from so many directions, that we as an Association are called upon to come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The Savior’s admonition is appropriate to us; “Lift up your eyes and look upon the fields, for they are white already to harvest. Say not brethren, four months and we will attend to this; but let us come to the work at once. We would suggest and recommend, that as the Lord of the harvest has crowned our fields with plenty, and filled our pockets with money, that this Association employ and support at least two missionaries, one to preach to our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons in the army; the other to our mothers, wives, sisters and children at home; especially in the destitute bounds of our churches, unsupplied by a regular pastor. Dear brethren, to think of the poor soldier dying without hope in Jesus, who has sacrificed all the pleasures of association with father, mother brother; sisters, wives and children, all the loved ones at home and all that interests man on earth, and take his life in his hand as it were to stand, fight and defend; not only home and firesides, but our religious altars and principles, handed down to us by the great Head of the Churches, through our forefathers. The heart is enlisted in this great struggle for moral and religious liberty. All of which is submitted.

The Corresponding Letter issued by the delegates also dwells upon the great conflict:


The Ten Islands Association sendeth Christian Salutation:

Dear Brethren: At the close of one of the most pleasant and agreeable sessions that we recollect ever to have witnessed, we feel happy to again confer with you by letter and messengers. We are at all times rejoiced to receive your correspondence; and would respectfully enquire why this pleasant duty of communication between christian bodies is so often neglected. True the present surroundings are seriously felt in all our deliberations; therefore we feel that we should more earnestly supplicate a throne of grace for that great blessing which we all so much desire, the independence of our beloved South, with its accompanying blessings. With this we send you a token of our love, with assurances of our christian affection. Our minutes will show who we have appointed as Messengers to your body.




African slaves, over which the war is being fought, are not neglected by associational delegates. Those gathered, all white men, approve a “Report on Religious Instruction of Colored People”:

We your committee upon instruction to colored people, beg leave to report, that while we have had the subject to some extent under consideration, and from the best information that we have been able to arrive at, while some churches and some masters seem alive to the subject, too many seem to neglect to a great extent the religious instruction of this class of our population. We would suggest that our churches adopt some plan for the stated instruction of our blacks, either by stated preaching for their benefit, or by separate apartments, (as many of our churches have) for their occupation; which plan we prefer; at least for our country churches, where this class of our population is small, as calling for less labor at the hands of the ministry. And further, we would earnestly present the subject to our brethren who are masters (believing that while God sanctions the institution of slavery, he requires you to regard the spiritual welfare of your slaves,) and beg you to see that your servants are regular and orderly in their attendance at our churches on the Sabbath, instead of desecrating as is too often the case, God’s holy day by labor or, traffic, or idle roving about; which is demoralizing. These things are deemed worthy of our consideration, even in view of our present good, knowing that the religious servant is always the obedient. Respectfully submitted.

Anxiety over the educational instruction of slaves, including the teaching of the biblical mandate of obedience to masters, is increasingly evident among white Baptists of the South. Yet almost always ignored is the increasing numbers of slaves who are voicing their disagreement by running away and escaping behind Union army lines.

Source: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Ten Islands Baptist Association, Held with the Church at Post Oak Spring, Calhoun County, Alabama, on the 26th, 27th and 28th Days of September, 1863 (link)