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First Black Baptists in Savannah, GA

1788 – Andrew Bryan was ordained into the gospel ministry. Bryan pastored the first Negro Baptist church in Georgia. The church was founded by Abraham Marshall whose father, Daniel, founded the first Baptist church in Georgia. Abraham baptized forty-five black believers and along with others who had been previously baptized he formed them into a church and called and ordained Andrew Bryan as pastor. Bryan had been a convert of George Leile who had been a slave of Deacon Henry Sharp of the First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia. When Deacon Sharp detected that his servant was called of God, he emancipated the stirring preacher so that he could give himself totally to the preaching of the gospel. Ordained in 1775, Leile labored in and around Savannah before leaving in 1775 for Jamaica in 1779. Thus Leile predated the service of William Carey, “the founder of modern Baptist missions.” Upon Bryan’s death a resolution was passed  by the Savannah Baptist Association in 1812. It read in part: “the Association is sensibly affected by the death of the Rev. Andrew Bryan, a man of color, and pastor of the First Colored Church in Savannah. This son of Africa, after suffering inexpressible persecutions in the cause of his divine Master, was at length permitted to discharge the duties of the ministry among his colored friends in peace and quiet, hundreds of whom through his instrumentality, were brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus…”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 26-28.
First Af B Ch

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111– April 21 – This Day in Baptist History


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



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