Baptists and the American Civil War: November 12, 1865

South Carolina Civil War MapIn Hopkins, South Carolina the white Beulah Baptist Church today ordains William Weston Adams to the ministry. Adams is a former slave, one of three who are ordained in the post-war months of 1865 by Beulah’s pastor, James Lawrence Reynolds.

Like many Baptist churches in South Carolina, the Beulah Baptist Church has far more black members than white, in this case some 600 or more black members compared to about a dozen white members. Forced to attend during generations of slavery, many freedmen opt, for now, to remain members of the church while they discern their own spiritual future. Nonetheless, they have no intention of remaining long in the very church where, until the conclusion of the war, black slavery was routinely preached from the pulpit as God’s will for the African race.

Following months of planning and preparation, on May 14, 1866 Adams and some forty black members of the Beulah congregation withdraw and form the Shiloh Baptist Church. Then in December of 1867, an additional 565 African Americans leave the Beulah congregation and form New Light Beulah Baptist Church.

With almost all of her members gone, the Beulah Baptist Church is but a shadow of its former self.

Source: John Middleton, “New Light Beulah Baptist Church: Historical Sketch,” 2002 (link)