Ordination of “Colored” Billy Harriss
The history of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, records the fact that “colored deacons were elected, whose duty it was to watch over slave and free Negro members. According to custom, the church licensed certain colored men who, by consecration and aptitude, seemed best fitted to ‘exercise their spiritual gifts in public.’ “ At least fifteen years prior to William Carey’s sailing for India, George Lisle, the “first ordained Baptist Negro in America,” went to Jamaica as a missionary. Lott Carey, member of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, purchased his and his children’s freedom for eight hundred and fifty dollars in 1813. Carey, along with Collin Teague, sailed in 1821 for Liberia and established the First Baptist Church in Monrovia. Prior to the Civil War, Abraham Marshall, pastor at Kiokee, ordained Andrew Bryan in Savannah. It was prior to the Civil War that John Jasper was saved and sent by his “master” to preach the gospel. However, the church minutes prior to the Civil war always alluded to blacks as “belonging to . . . “ and the name of the “master” followed. After the Civil War, the minutes named the black and then stated, “formerly the property of . . . .” Following the Civil War, as before, blacks were still ordained into the gospel ministry. On April 21, 1867, we read from the Kiokee minutes: “The Baptist Church of Christ at Kiokee met and proceeded to the ordination of Brother Billy Hariss, colored, to preach the Gospel.
Dr. Dale R. Hart Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, p. 162