Samuel Francis Smith
A Baptist who loved America
1832 – This was the year that the 23 year old Baptist seminarian, Samuel Francis Smith at Andover Theological Institute, penned those words to the patriotic hymn “America.” He was translating from an old German hymnbook and began to think of his own great land. “Our fathers’ God to Thee,/ Author of liberty,/ To Thee we sing; Long may our land be bright/ With Freedom’s holy light;/ Protect us by Thy might,/ Great God, our King.” Following his graduation he became editor of The Baptist Magazine, and though he pastored with success, his main interest was to advance the missions cause and wrote the great missions song at that time, “The Morning Light is Breaking.” He was the Editor of Christian Review and later the Missionary Union. He visited many mission fields. His son, Dr. D.A. W. Smith, served the Lord in Burma in 1863. Samuel married the granddaughter of the renowned Dr. Hezekiah Smith. Irving Berlin wrote that other great patriotic hymn “God Bless America” which is now being sung between 7th innings at major league ball parks, which is a great delight. However, when Berlin was asked if it had a religious connotation, he said, “No.” What a difference between the natural man who writes for funds only, and a young man who writes from a heart that is filled with love for God and country.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 44
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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.
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He Introduced Public Singing
First Baptist Church – Boston – 1700
John Comer was born in Boston, Massachusetts Aug 01, 1704. He pastored and co-pastored several churches in New England during a period when the people were somewhat remiss in church order and controversy prevailed concerning ordinances and practices. He brought order, introduced public singing, and increased membership.
[Isaac Backus, Your Baptist Heritage, 1620-1840 (1844 reprinted ed., Little Rock: Challenge Press, 1976), pp. 106-7.]
Reminiscences of a Long Life
James M. Pendleton was born is Spotsylvania County, Virginia, on November 20, 1811. The Pendleton family moved to Kentucky when James was a year old. Having trusted Christ as Saviour in the loving environment of his home, J. M. Pendleton was baptized on April 11, 1829. He began to preach immediately, and was trained at a seminary in Hopkinsville. He was ordained on November 1, 1833, and served two churches as pastor. On March 13, 1838, J. M. married Miss Catherine Garnettt, and they made their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. For the next twenty years the man of God served the Baptist church there. J. M. stood strong against Baptists opening their pulpits to non-baptized believers who had not obeyed the Lord’s command. He wrote his views in a booklet entitled “An Ancient Landmark Reset.” On January 1, 1857, J. M. left Bowling Green and moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to teach preacher boys at Union University. In 1862 in sympathy with the Northern cause, moved to Hamilton, Ohio, where he served as pastor for a short period. His Last pastorate was the Upland Baptist Church in Pennsylvania, and while there, he assisted in founding Crozer Theological Seminary. Pendleton was an excellent writer, and his “Baptist Church Manual” was used for years by many Baptist churches as their guide. On his seventy-ninth birthday, Pendleton began to write a volume entitled “Reminiscences of a Long Life,” and he completed the task within two months. The life of the man of God terminated on March 5, 1891, and his funeral was conducted by T. T. Eaton of Louisville, Kentucky. He was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Bowling Green.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins. pp. 133 – 134.
He was known as the “Patriot Pastor”
Samuel Stillman, known as the “Patriot Pastor” was born in Philadelphia on Feb, 27, 1737. At age eleven his family moved to Charleston, S.C. where he came under the ministry of Rev. Oliver Hart. He had been saved as a youth, but it was here that he was immersed, and felt the call to preach and entered into training under his pastor. Soon after his ordination he took charge of a church on James’ Island. He received an A.M. degree from both the College of Philadelphia and Harvard. He pastored the Baptist church at Bordentown, N.J. and then became the Asst. Pastor of the 2nd Baptist Church of Boston. From there the First Baptist Church of Boston called him to be their pastor on Jan. 9, 1765, where he spent the remainder of his life. Boston became the hot-bed of revolutionary activities and Pastor Stillman was right in the middle of it all. The historian, Dr. Magoon, called him “that distinguished patriot…the universally admired pastor of the First Baptist Church. He was small of stature, but great of soul…In the presence of armed foes, he preached with a power that commanded respect.” Men like John Adams, Gov. John Hancock, and Gen. Henry Knox attended his services regularly. The British desecrated his church sanctuary when they occupied Boston and mocked him in charcoal drawings…” His last words were, “God’s government is infinitely perfect.” He then entered into the Lord’s presence on March 12, 1807.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 116 – 118.
His brilliance was revealed early
William Staughton was born in Coventry, England, on Jan. 4, 1770. His brilliance was revealed early when at the age of twelve he published poems in Goldsmith’s Animated Nature. He was saved early in life, and baptized by Rev. Samuel Pearce of Birmingham. In 1792 he graduated from Bristol Baptist College, and while a student attended the organizational meeting of the first modern-day missionary agency in the world. Though still a youth, he sat in the company of men like William Carey and Andrew fuller. He pastored briefly in Northampton, and then sailed to America in 1793. Richard Furman requested that he serve as pastor of the Baptist church in Georgetown, S.C., where he remained briefly. Ordained on June 17, 1797, he served two churches in New Jersey. He assisted in founding a seminary and continued his studies. From 1805 to 1823, he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia and later the Sanson St. Baptist Church of that city. During that period he also served as the principle of a Baptist Theological institution. He also served as corresponding secretary of the American Baptist Board of foreign Missions. In 1823 he was appointed the first President as first president of Columbian College in Washington in Washington, D.C. He sent his library ahead in anticipation of the move but he never made it. He became ill and passed into the presence of the Lord on Dec. 12, 1829.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins /, pp. 7-8.