30 – January 30 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PASTThe first church in Tennessee
1806 – A BAPTIST CHURCH WAS THE FIRST CHURCH OF ANY KIND IN THE STATE OF TENNESSEE – Tidence Lane died on January 30, 1806. He was born near Baltimore, MD on August 31, 1724. His Anglican father Richard was an ardent opponent of the Baptists. The message of the Separate Baptists had a great effect on Tidence after the family moved to North Carolina. He married Esther Bibber in May 1743 and heard Shubal Stearns preach, fell under conviction and was gloriously saved. In 1758 his younger brother Dutton was saved and both boys were called to preach. His father was so irate that he pursued the youngest brother with the intent to kill him. Tidence and Esther had nine children, seven of them sons. Pressures, from the British Governor William Tryon against the Baptists, caused Tidence to turn toward Tennessee where the gospel had never been declared. His was the first church of any denomination organized in the State of Tenn. In 1779. he was the first Moderator of the First Association in the state, organized on October 21, 1786, 10 years before Tenn. was admitted into the Union. Lane’s success was so great that by 1790 Tenn. had 18 churches, 21 preachers and 889 members.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson/ pg. 40.
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He was the leader of the Separates
1745 – THE SEPARATE BAPTISTS WERE FOUNDED BY SHUBAL STEARNS WHO WAS A CONVERT OF GEORGE WHITEFIELD Shubal Stearns was born on January 28, 1706. In 1745 he joined the ‘New Lights’ and preached as a ‘New Light Congregationalist’. He was a convert of George Whitefield the English Anglican Evangelist. Many of his converts became Baptists as they began to study the scriptures and became convinced of believer’s baptism by water immersion. Stearns was one who became the leader of the Separate Baptists; Isaac Backus was another, he became known as “The Apostle of Liberty”, and Daniel Marshall was the other who became the founder of the Baptist effort in Georgia. Shubal was baptized in 1751 and ordained on May 20. In 1755 he moved to Sandy Creek, N.C. where he organized a Baptist church and saw a great out pouring of God’s Spirit and in a short time they had over six hundred members. His assistants were his brother-in-law Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed. Shubal traveled continually and they not only saw the lost saved but a host of young men called to preach. Some of them were John Dillahunty, Philip Mulkey, Joseph and William Murphy, James Read, Nathaniel Power, and James Turner. Churches flourished in Virginia and the Carolinas and the Sandy Creek Association was formed. Stearns was lovingly revered as the “Old Father.” He died on Nov. 20, 1771.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson/ pg. 37.
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42 churches formed in 17 years
1755 – Sixteen Baptists from New England, led by Shubal Stearns with his brother-in-law Daniel Marshall, settled at Sandy Creek, North Carolina. Though Stearns was the undoubted leader, the part that Marshall had in the venture has been underestimated. Morgan Edwards, who visited the Separate Baptists in N.C., said that Marshall was a “weak man, a stammerer, no schollar”, yet Daniel Marshall’s fingerprints are on the Baptist advance up into Virginia, down into S.C., and finally when he was sixty-five, into Georgia. The blessings of God on Sandy Creek Baptist are still astounding. In seventeen years, 42 churches formed, 145 ministers sent out, many ordained, fanned out across the entire region. Marshall was ordained in 1757. About 1760 he moved into S.C. and was responsible in establishing six Baptist churches in the northern section. He was the only preacher of any denomination to stay in the state of Georgia during the Revolutionary War. History declares that the Kiokee church prospered greatly until the “horrors of the Revolutionary War, but these troubles did not drive her faithful pastor from his post. He was once made a prisoner and put under strong guard; but was allowed to leave to conduct religious services; no fear of man could make him forsake his duty. He believed that every bullet had its commission, and every man could but accomplish His will. Before his death on Nov. 2, 1784 a large number of men had been sent out to preach. As a tribute to this great man of God, the city of Appling, Georgia has erected a memorial to his honor in the median as you enter the city, driving from Augusta. [Waldo P. Harris III, “Daniel Marshall: Lone Georgia Baptist Revolutionary Pastor,” Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History, vol. 5, 1976, pp. 51-64. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 639-40.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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The gospel invades the South
1755 – A small group of Baptists, including Shubal Stearns, his brother-in-law Daniel Marshall, and Joseph Breed invaded the South with the gospel. Until that time little progress had been made by the Regular Baptists but God used these men to change the spiritual climate in that entire territory. The little group totaled sixteen when they arrived at Sandy Creek, North Carolina, but in one year’s time they had 606 members. Almost beyond belief, the Sandy Creek Baptist Church in seventeen years spawned forty-two churches and produced 125 preachers. Stearns was born in Boston, Mass., on Jan. 28, 1706. He had been a Presbyterian but in 1745, through the preaching of George Whitefield, Stearns joined with that group called the “New Lights” or “Separatists.” Though his education was limited he gave himself to reading extensively and became convinced of believer’s baptism and left the pedobaptists, and on May 20, 1751 was baptized by Rev. Wait Palmer, a Baptist pastor in Tolland, Conn. Several months later he was ordained and began to travel and preach. He moved to Berkeley County, Virginia, in 1754 but was not satisfied with the results when he was invited to come to N.C. In 1758 Rev. Stearns visited the nine Baptist churches that had already been founded, and he invited each church to send messengers to form an association of churches which resulted in the Sandy Creek Association coming into existence for the purpose of preaching, singing and reporting as to what God was doing throughout the area. Revival often fell. After 12 years there were 3 associations in N.C., S.C. and VA. [George W. Purefoy, A History of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association (New York: Sheldon and Co., 18590, pp. 292-93. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 622-24.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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They planted small groups for Bible study
1850 – Elder Devin, the Pastor of the Grassy Creek Baptist Church of Granville County, N.C. baptized fifty ‘happy’ converts in that noble stream, by the same name, that flows by the church. The church historian claimed that the pastor had, perhaps, plunged a thousand in the creek in the same manner. Grassy Creek church had spawned many other churches and itself had existed in its purity for more than a century since its inception by Shubael Stearns and Daniel Marshall in 1757 shortly after they arrived from New England. Grassy Creek planted small groups for Bible study throughout a forty-mile area that ultimately grew into churches. They also believed in “protracted” or lengthy meetings. Onesuch meeting in 1775 garnered eighteen souls by membership through baptism. Large crowds would gather to see these baptismal services which were great testimonies to the grace of God in themselves. Grassy Creek church also maintained a great interest in missions at home and abroad. And the congregation was never lured away by entertainment more than involvement, having “itching ears.” [Robert I. Devin, A History of Grassy Creek Baptist Church (Raleigh, N. C.: Edwards, Broughton & Co., 1880), p, 70. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 519-21]
A Pioneer Church Planter
Jonathan Mulkey was one of the early pioneer Baptist preachers in Tennessee. You will find his burial site in the old Buffalo Ridge Cemetery near Gray, Tenn. You can still read on the gravestone these words, “…BORN OCT 16, 1752 – DEPARTED THIS LIFE SEP. 5, 1826, AFTER HAVING BEEN A PREACHER OF THE BAPTIST ORDER MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS.” His father Philip had been a very successful preacher among the Separate Baptists in the Carolinas. Shubal Stearns had baptized him on Christmas day 1756. However Philip had fallen into sin and had done great harm to his testimony. His son Jonathan married Nancy Howard and they made their way westward into Tennessee having escaped Indians on the way. Jonathan served the Buffalo Ridge Baptist church as pastor for forty-two years and at the same time was pastor of the Sinking Creek Baptist Church for thirty-one years. On March 25, 1786, along with Isaac Barton, they constituted the French Broad River Baptist Church which is now the First Baptist Church of Dandridge, Tennessee. He also assisted in founding the Big Pigeon Baptist Church in Cocke County. The churches where Pastor Mulkey served grew in spirituality, doctrinal stability and practical service. He also possessed a missionary spirit, and he constantly kept the cause of missions before his congregations and the Holston Association, of which he served for eight terms as moderator. When he was old he trained his horse to kneel like a camel so he could mount him to take him to the church house. They would put an armchair behind a table for him to preach. On Sept. 5, 1826, the tired old servant of the Lord closed his eyes in death.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 174 – 175.
The issue was a regenerated church membership
One of the main results of the Great Awakening was the fact that it produced approximately 100 separate Congregational churches that left the Congregational Denomination, known as “New Lights” over a period of twenty years. The issue was a regenerated church membership, in that the Congregationalists had fallen into the apostasy of infant baptism. Estimates were that as many as fifty thousand were saved, either directly under Whitefield’s preaching or revivals spawned by others that were influenced by him. Out of this group of churches fourteen went further, were publicly immersed and became Separate Baptist Pastors. Two of these were Isaac Backus at Bridgewater, MA on April 13, 1748, who became the great Baptist historian and Shubal Stearns at, Tolland, MA, on March 20, 1751, who became the pastor of the famed Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Sandy Creek, N.C., that launched the Baptist churches of the south. There were two primary reasons why these Separates became Baptists. First, Separates had become Biblicists. The Bible had become their only rule of faith and practice. Therefore infant baptism could not be defended scripturally. The second was for economic reasons, Baptists could claim the Toleration Act, and be excused from supporting the State Congregational Church. However Quakers were excused too but few became Quakers. It was the Baptists that became the stimulus for the ongoing of the Great Awakening as it moved southward.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 110 – 112.
A Name of Honour
John Dillahunty, descended from a noble French family. His grandfather, David de la Hunte, was expelled from France, and fled to Holland and then later made his way to Ireland. John’s father, Daniel Dillahunty, came to America in 1715 and settled in Kent County, Maryland. It was there that John Dillahunty was born and later married Hannah Neal, a Quakeress. John and Hanna later settled in New Bern North Carolina.
John and Hanna were soundly converted under the preaching of the Separate Baptists Shubal Stearns, Daniel Marshall, and others preaching the gospel in 1755. Adopting Baptist principles, and growing in maturity, John was granted a license to preach. John preached frequently but like most Baptist preachers of the time engaged in the activities of the Revolutionary War. After the war in 1794 he led six families to relocate in Middle Tennessee west of Nashville, where they established the Richland Creek Baptist Church. John Dillahunty continued to serve the pastorate of the Richland Creek Baptist Church until his death in Nashville on February 4, 1816.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 71,72.
“They “were sprung from the seed which he (Whitefield) first planted”
December 21, 1764 – Rev. James Reed, a clergyman from the Church of England, living in Virginia, reveals how George Whitefield’s preaching helped the Baptists and what his views were about believer’s baptism. Rev. Reed said that Whitefield had affirmed that they “were sprung from the seed which he first planted in New England and the difference of soil may have perhaps have caused such an alteration in the fruit that he may be ashamed of it. He particularly condemned the re-baptizing of adults and the doctrine of the irresistible influence of the Spirit, for both which the late Methodists in these parts had strongly contended, and likewise recommended infant baptism, and declared himself a minister of the Church of England. Whitefield was clearly a pedobaptist and a state-church preacher, even though he insisted on the new-birth. The great revivals that sprang up from the preaching of Whitefield produced the Separate Congregationalists from which God raised up some of our most effective and powerful leaders. Among those were Shubal Stearns and his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshall. They migrated through Virginia and N.C. and along with many other Separates became persuaded of Baptist principles including believers baptism. This was the origin of the name “Separate Baptists” and their zeal and success in evangelizing and their uncompromising stand on believers baptism was to the consternation of the Episcopalians and Methodists. When men receive the “new Light” of the Holy Spirit they are far more likely to receive believers baptism and to gather with the ducks rather than the chickens.” For “birds of a feather flock together.”
They filled the jails, but their churches just kept growing.
December 10, 1769 – Dutton Lane founded the Nottoway Baptist Church in Virginia. This church ultimately founded many others. Lane was born Nov. 7 near Baltimore, MD, the same year that George Washington was born – 1732. It is not known when Dutton’s father moved the family to Virginia near the N.C. line. Soon after Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall established the Sandy Creek church in N.C. they entered Virginia where they preached the gospel and baptized believers among whom was Dutton Lane. A revival followed, and elder Marshall baptized forty-two persons at one time. It was nothing until Lane was preaching, and Samuel Harriss, a man of distinction in that area, was converted. People far and wide began requesting someone to come preach to them, even as far as Culpeper and Spotsylvania Counties. In August of 1760 the first Separate Baptist church in Virginia was organized at Dan River. Lane became its pastor, and by 1772 he had established five different preaching stations with five assistants. The success of the Baptists brought the wrath of Satan down upon them. The hand of the Lord was revealed as James Roberts was going for a warrant in 1769 against Richard Elkins (one of Lanes Assistants). They said that a bright light shone about them so much that their horses squatted on the ground succeeded by such thick darkness that they could not see. Roberts concluded that it was a warning to him to stop being “an opposer.” Dutton’s own father threatened to murder him until his wife persuaded him to listen to him preach which he did, got saved, and his own son baptized his father that was going to kill him. Nothing would nor could stop these preaching men in Virginia. They filled the jails, but their churches just kept growing.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 515-17.