Baptists and the American Civil War: September 3, 1865

North Carolina MapToday yet another African American congregation in the South is established.

In North Carolina the white Baptist Church of Chapel Hill grants the wishes of black members to start their own congregation.

Church minutes record that, “On motion it was unanimously voted that the colored patrons of this church be allowed to withdraw from the church and organize a church to themselves.”

The white church’s annual report reveals more information: “Four members have been dismissed by letter besides sixty-one colored members dismissed in September for the purpose of forming a separate church. This separate church, known as the Colored Baptist Church of Chapel Hill, is now in an acceptable operation and hopes are entertained of its doing well.”

The Colored Baptist Church, later renamed First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill, initially meets in an old school house known as the Quaker Building, utilizing donated pulpit furniture from the Baptist Church of Chapel Hill. Rev. Eddie H. Cole is the congregation’s first pastor. The church remains a vibrant congregation to the present day.

First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill, NC founded. African American

Sources: Church History, First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill (link); Biff Hollingsworth, “Founded in 1865: African American Churches at the End of the Civil War,” Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina (link)