—Question. What is the National Baptist Convention?
—Answer. The National Baptist Convention is an organization composed of delegates from Baptist Churches, Associations, State Conventions, Missionary Societies, Baptist Young People's Unions, etc., etc., which meet annually for the purpose of hearing and considering the reports of Boards, Standing Committees and to receive the contributions sent up from local organizations or individuals, and to appropriate the same to the several causes represented by the Convention, or to such purpose as designated by the donors, and to plan for future work.
—Q. Are all the Baptists in America represented by this organization?
—A. No. The white Baptists have their own Church Societies. This Convention represents about one-third of all the Baptists in the world, and nearly all the colored Baptists. It claims a constituency of 1,687,000 communicants, 13,000 churches, and 12,000 ordained ministers.
—Q. Are all the colored Baptists of America connected with the National Baptist Convention?
—A. The New England Baptists have not united with the Convention, but they contribute to its objects and help support the African Mission Work. It is hoped that they will unite with the National Baptist Convention at its meeting in Boston this year.
—Q. What gave rise to the organization of the National Baptist Convention?
—A. The plan for such an organization was conceived in the brain of Rev. Wm. J. Simmons, D. D., LL. D., who gave as the object the "collection of statistics, and to consider the moral and intellectual growth of the denomination, and to bring them closer together for effectual work in the Master's kingdom."
—Q. When and where was the Convention organized?
—A. It was organized at St. Louis, Mo., in August, 1886, in the First Baptist Church. Dr. Simmons was elected President.
—Q. Has the Convention met each year since its organization?
—A. Yes. The meetings of the National Baptist Convention have been held at the same time and place of the Baptist Foreign Mission Convention from 1887 to 1895, when all the National organizations merged into one. The consolidation of the three great Conventions took place at Atlanta, Ga., in the Friendship Baptist Church.
—Q. Did the consolidation of the three Conventions destroy the identity of the other two Conventions?
—A. No. Each of the three Conventions as they formerly existed is now represented by Boards, which are chosen at the annual meetings by the respective State delegations, in the same manner that the officers of the Convention are chosen, and these hold their respective offices until their successors are elected and qualified. The officers of the Convention, and the vice presidents (one from each State) constitute one general Executive Board.
—Q. Are the orders of the Convention binding upon the Boards, or are they to act independently of the Convention?
—A. The Boards are created by the Convention, and cannot set aside any of its orders. Each of these Boards is required to make annual reports, hence all suggestions for changes would necessarily come before the Convention.
—Q. Has each of the Boards a specific work, and is their work defined by the Constitution of the Convention?
—A. Each Board has a specific work, but the work of the Home Mission and Educational Boards has not been as fully defined as that of the Foreign Mission Board. This is owing to the fact that the Constitution of the Convention is not complete, but it is understood that the Board is to prosecute the work of the Convention that it was created to represent.
—Q. What is the aim, object and work of the Foreign Mission Board?
—A. It is the object and aim of the Foreign Mission Board to create an interest among all the Baptists of America in Foreign Missions by continually urging upon them the "great commission," and to organize Missionary Societies in the churches, and to urge an observance of the special days set for missionary purposes, with a view to raising means to give the Gospel to the heathen in Africa, and elsewhere as Providence may direct.
—Q. Have the Baptists done any work in foreign lands through this Board?
—A. Yes. The Board began work on the West Coast of Africa, in 1881, and has kept missionaries continually on the field ever since. The work among the Vey tribe was interrupted by a war which broke out between the native tribes, and has not been permanently resumed among that people. The principle station now is at Cape Town, South Africa.
—Q. How many missionaries have been sent out by this Board, and what are their names and residences?
—A. There have been fourteen missionaries employed and sent to Africa by the Foreign Mission Board, others (natives) have been employed as interpreters and resident missionaries. The following named persons were sent from America: Rev. Samuel Cosby, N. C.; Rev. and Mrs. W. W. Colley, Rev. and Mrs. J. H. Presley, Rev. and Mrs. J. J. Coles, Va; Rev. H. McKinney, Rev. J. J. Diggs, Rev. E. B. Topp and wife, Miss.; Rev. J. O. Hays, N. C.; Rev. and Mrs. R. A. Jackson, Ark.
—Q. How many of these missionaries are now living, how many dead, and how many are now on the field?
—A. There are ten of the missionaries who were sent to Africa, living; Revs. Cosby and McKinney, and Sister J. H. Presley died in Africa, and Rev. J. J. Coles died in this country after he returned home from the field. Rev. R. A. Jackson and wife, and Rev. J. O. Hays are now on the field; besides these are Revs. R. T. Stewart, John Tule and John Thomas, recently employed. The two latter are native Africans.
—Q. Where is the headquarters of the Foreign Mission Board, and who are the officers?
—A. The headquarters of the Foreign Mission Board is at Louisville, Ky. Rev. J. H. Frank is chairman; S. E. Smith, D. D., Secretary; D. A. Gaddie, D. D., Treasurer; and Rev. L. G. Jordan, Corresponding or Field Secretary.
—Q. What day has been designated by the National Convention as "Foreign Mission Day?"
—A. The fifth Sunday occurring in each year has been designated "Foreign Mission Day," and it is the duty of the Foreign Mission Board to furnish a program for the use of all the Baptist churches on that day, the money raised to be sent to the Treasurer of the Board.
—Q. What is the work and aim of the Home Mission Board?
—A. The work and aim of the Home Mission Board is at present confined to the publication of Sunday school literature, but as its name indicates, its aim is to look after the mission work at home, and to co-operate with other agencies in building up the denomination in America.
—Q. Is there not a society which has for years been engaged in the publication of Sunday school literature?
—A. Yes, there are several such societies among the white Baptists, the principal one being the American Baptist Publication Society.
—Q. Are not these societies among the white Baptists better prepared to publish Sunday school literature, and at lower prices than the Home Mission Board?
—A. Certainly, some of them are very wealthy, and can employ the very best scholars to write for their periodicals, and can put their work out at such low prices as to make competition almost impossible. But while the Home Mission Board cannot compete in prices and may not for the present be able to compete in other respects with the older and wealthier societies, it will give employment to colored Baptists, thereby giving encouragement to capital and scholarship, which will eventually enable them to compete with other societies along all lines.
—Q. Do the publication societies among the white Baptists give employment to colored Baptists?
—A. Only as missionaries and colporteurs. The only place of prominence ever held was that of District Secretary. No colored men are employed as contributors, associate editors, clerks in book houses, etc., hence there is no incentive to aspire to, or prepare for such places.
—Q. Are all the leading ministers among the colored Baptists in sympathy with the Publishing Board.
—A. No. There are some who claim to honestly oppose the movement, but they are greatly in the minority. Nearly all the great men in the denomination are in sympathy with the Board, as they can see that this is the only way by which the acts and writings of the race can be preserved and transmitted to their posterity.
—Q. What is the cost of the literature used in the colored Baptist Sunday schools?
—A. The estimated cost of the literature used in colored Baptist Sunday school is $100,000 a year. This includes all kinds of periodicals.
—Q. Does all of this vast sum go to any one of the older societies?
—A. No. It is divided among all the publishing societies, some even use what is called non-sectarian literature. The largest amount goes to the American Baptist Publication Society, and the next largest to the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
—Q. Will the Home Mission Board get the patronage of the entire colored Baptist denomination?
—A. Not at present, and perhaps never will be able to control the entire patronage, but they hope to secure at least half of all the patronage in the next two years. The fact that the success of the enterprise means employment, and the giving to the colored Baptists a place in religious history, which without it would be lost to them, will cause all the most thoughtful ones to support the movement.
—Q. Where is the headquarters of the Home Mission Board and who are the officers?
—A. The headquarters of the Home Mission Board is temporarily at Little Rock, Ark., the permanent location will be determined at the Convention which meets at Boston, in September, 1897. The officers of the Board are Rev. G. W. D. Gaines, Chairman; Prof. J. A. Booker, A. M., Secretary; Rev. J. P. Robinson, Treasurer; Rev. R. H. Boyd, D. D., Corresponding and Field Secretary.
—Q. Why is the literature published at Nashville and the Board headquarters at Little Rock?
—A. The Board appointed a Publishing Committee whose duty it is to publish the literature, and this Committee, after careful examination, found that the work could not be satisfactorily done at Little Rock, hence by consent of the Board the contract for the work was let to a Nashville firm.
—Q. Where is the headquarters of the Educational Board and what are its duties?
—A. The headquarters of the Educational Board is at Washington, D. C. The duties of the Board are many, but at present they are devoting their efforts to the publication of the Baptist Magazine, and the organization of the forces for effectual work along other lines. There are forty-four (44) schools run exclusively by colored Baptists, and the Board may at some day be able to so organize them and the Baptists in support of them, as to make each and all beneficiaries of the National Convention.
—Q. Will the Educational Board attempt to interfere with the management of the Home Mission Society's Schools?
—A. By no means; but rather encourage and support their efforts, for the simple reason, that the Home Mission Society has always recognized the colored Baptists as men, and has appointed and supported in positions of honor and trust many of our ablest men, not as missionaries only, but as college presidents, treasurers and secretaries.
—Q. What can the Educational Board do to help the schools now owned and operated by the colored Baptists and the Society?
—A. When these schools have become a part of the National Convention, and a system has been adopted to receive and disburse the gifts and bequests of philanthropists, it will encourage men in our own race, as well as others, to give, when they know that their gifts will be handled by a competent Board.
—Q. Are the Baptist newspapers in sympathy with the National Convention in its work along these lines?
—A. They are practically a unit in support of the objects and plans of the National Convention. They differ somewhat as to methods of procedure, etc. The fact that a Baptist Press Association was organized at the last Convention, and will meet in connection with the Convention in future, will make them practically a unit on the methods, etc., in future, as the editors of these papers are members of and help to shape the policies of the Convention.
—Q. Is there a national organization of the Baptist women in the United States?
—A. Yes, prior to the meeting of the St. Louis Convention there were two of these, but the consolidation of the National Convention, and the General Association of the Western States and Territories left only one organization. They meet at the same time and place of the National Convention.
—Q. Are women received as delegates, messengers, etc., in the National Convention on equality with the men?
—A. Yes. There is no discrimination; they are given the same privileges as the men, and are put on the programmes, committees, etc.
—Q. What about the Baptist Young People's Union? Is it a part of the National Convention?
—A. The organization of the Baptist Young People's Union as an auxiliary of the National Convention was effected at St. Louis. The work of this organization has not as yet been defined by the Constitution, but a beginning having been made it is hoped that it will soon develop into a strong society.
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