Baptists and the American Civil War: May 28, 1864

confederatesoldiersToday the Atlanta campaign continues with the Battle of Dallas, so named after the nearby community of Dallas.

Union and Confederate forces entrench and probe one another’s lines. The rebels attack, twice, but are repulsed both times, suffering high casualties. The two sides then settle behind their fortifications.

In the days ahead, Union General William T. Sherman continues seeking a way around the Confederate lines.

Meanwhile, the American Baptist anniversary meetings and celebrations of this week have come to a close. Today a New York Times correspondent summarizes the highlights of the final three days of the meetings, a “Jubilee” celebration of American Baptist missionary work. The reporter’s summary encapsulates the robustness of Baptist life in the North despite the debilitating effects of war.

The Baptist Anniversaries of which I have already twice written you, have concluded. The three concluding days were the “Jubilee,” part of the annual meeting of the Baptist Missionary Union being held then. The first services of Tuesday morning were the necessary arrangements of business. D.C. EDDY, D.D., of Philadelphia, welcomed the society in a warm speech. The Treasurer then read his report, which was followed by the report of the board, read by the Secretary. The Union has been greatly favored in one respect — no one of its officers having died during the year. Seven missionaries in the foreign field have resigned, and four new missionaries and one printer have been appointed and will quickly sail.

Financially the Union has had a very prosperous year, having received $135,525, an excess over last year of nearly $12,000. Legacies have fallen off, but regular donations have much increased. The expenditures have been great, on account of the high rates of exchange. Balance on hand, $510. Of the receipts $35,612 have been gathered in the Eastern District, J.N. MURDOCK, D.D., agent; $20,725 in the Southern District, Rev. J.S. FRENCH, agent; $36,534 by Rev. Mr. DODGE, agent; $16,093 in the Western District, Rev. Mr. OSGOOD, agent. After the reading of the report, a report on the Jubilee Fund was read. The object of this fund is to enable the Union to reestablish some stations in the foreign field, which they have been compelled to abandon on account of the excessive tax upon their means, caused by the high value of exchange. The report showed the great need of these stations, as links in the great missionary clains, and urged the establishment of a fund amounting to $50,000. This paper was followed up by the Assistant Secretary in a forcible speech in behalf of the missionary work, showing its great importance, &c. A committee was then appointed, consisting of one member from each loyal State to consider the question.

The feature of the afternoon was a paper by BARON STOW, D.D., of Boston, on The Early History of our Missionary Organization, with biographical sketches of the founders. The paper showed marks not merely of the Doctors usual faithfulness and laborious care, but also great ability and power. His review of the History of the Union from the foundation was extremely interesting. The short time allowed him permitted him only to skim over the surface or things, touching only at the most prominent events. His allusions to the character of the founders, were made in a spirit of profound veneration and admiration. As an illustration of their foresight and wisdom, he said that for thirty years the constitution of the society remained unaltered in spite of yearly efforts to amend it. The activity of H.F. JONES, Esq., a prominent lawyer of Philadelphia, had secured the loan of portraits of ten or twelve of the founders, which hung around on the facade of the galleries, lent additional interest to the glowing pen portraits of Dr. STOWE. The Doctor’s paper was further indorsed by an address from Rev. SAMUEL CORNELIUS, of Michigan, who was present at the foundation of the society. Rev. THOMAS ROBERTS, of New-Jersey, and Rev. E. ANDERSON, of New-York, father of T.D. ANDERSON, Pastor of the First Baptist Church, New-York City, all of whom were present at the organization of the society, fifty years ago, followed. In the evening the annual sermon was preached by S.L. CALDWELL, D.D., of Massachusetts. It was a finished and able effort.

Wednesday morning Rev. KENDALL BROOKS, of Massachusetts, read a paper on the growth of the Baptist denomination in the United States during the last half century. Mr. BROOKS is the statistician of the Baptist denomination. His paper was admirable in condensation, keenness and ability. His demonstrations completely upset the theories of deterioration which have been urged against the Baptists, and proved them to be in a most prosperous and progressive state. Had the Christian Church, beginning with the Day of Penticost, increased as rapidly as have the Baptists of this country within the last fifty years, the whole world would have been christianized by the time of the birth of AUGUSTIN, more than fifteen hundred years ago. Their increase has been greater than many other denominations, and if the Disciples and Anti-Missionists be reckoned in, the Baptist growth is greater than any other denomination. It is also greater, proportionally, than the growth of the country, in spite of the fact that the Baptist converts must be drawn from the natives of the country.

Mr. BROOKS was followed by Dr. BABCOOK, of New-York, in a paper on “The Development of the Benevolent Principle in the Denomination;” by Dr. RIPLEY, in a paper on “The Educational Institutions of the Denomination,” and by Dr. CROMWELL, of Illinois, on “The Literature of the Denomination.” In the evening, W.R. WILLIAMS, D.D., of New-York, preached the “Memorial Sermon,” which was like all of his works rare and finished.

Thursday morning, Dr. BAILY, of Indiana, delivered a paper on “The Influence of Foreign Missions on the Churches at Home.” The afternoon was taken up with business and the evening was devoted to raising the Jubilee Fund. Twenty-two thousand dollars had been subscribed the day before, and it was now enthusiastically increased to nearly $31,000. The Union adjourned to meet at St. Louis, Mo., next year.

Sources: Battle of Dallas (link) and (link); “Baptist Anniversaries.; The Missionary Union,” New York Times, May 28, 1864 (link)