FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH
CONSTITUTED AT SAVANNAH, GEORGIA,
JANUARY 20, A.D. 1788.
WITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE PASTORS.
WRITTEN FOR THE CHURCH,
REV. JAMES M. SIMMS.
PRINTED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY,
|Copyright, 1888, by JAMES M. SIMMS.|
To the Memory
REVERED FOREFATHERS AND MOTHERS IN THE GOSPEL
REV. ANDREW BRYAN, DEACON SAMPSON BRYAN, HANNAH
BRYAN, KATE HOGG, HAGAR SIMPSON,
AND THEIR SUCCESSORS,
AND TO THE PASTOR, DEACONS, AND LOVING MEMBERS
AND FRIENDS WHOSE
ZEAL HAS ERECTED THIS MONUMENTAL EDIFICE TO
THE GLORY OF THE TRIUNE GOD,
MOST AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.
"I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book."--REV. i. 11.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
"My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
"I and my Father are one."--JOHN x. 27-30.
IT pleased God, a century ago, to plant a Baptist Church of the negro race in Georgia, and having nurtured its growth and spread its branches until now, there are of this distinctive people in the State over thirty associations, fourteen hundred churches, and one hundred and sixty thousand members. We shall proceed by divine grace to give a history as we shall be able to gather the facts of this first church.
We shall not hesitate in using contemporaneous notices from our more favored brethren, well knowing our dependence in that direction; remembering our bondage and the almost impossibility of keeping records of the church under the circumstances surrounding us in a state of slavery, and the watchfulness of those who oppressed; therefore, we shall also have to depend largely upon the traditions of the elders and fathers of the churches, and the early history of both white and colored Baptists of the State.
The Rev. David Benedict has given us in his "History of the Baptists" some account in detail, as received from Rippon's Register for 1791 and Holcombe's Repository for 1792, relative to this church, and two others of later date coming out of the same. Also, we find several important references in the "History of Georgia Baptists and Compendium,"* compiled for the "Christian Index," etc., from which we have taken the liberty to copy with grateful acknowledgments; also from later private papers of the compiler of that history, Rev. S. Boyken, D.D. We are also greatly indebted to Rev. Lewis C. Tebeau for statistics from the minutes of the Sunbury Baptist Association, from 1818 to 1864; to the kindness of T. H. Harden, Esq., of this city, all of which is thankfully acknowledged.
Dr. Benedict says he copied from Rippon's Register and Holcombe's Repository. They were contemporaneous with Mr. Bryan and a part of his church's history; as the "History of the Baptists in Georgia" uses almost verbatim the same account, they must have copied from the later I. E. Benedict's "History of the Baptists." Our remembrances and traditions of the elders and fathers have come even down to our day very clearly, as Brethren Samuel Cope, Adam Dolly, Andrew Neyle, Robert McNish, Kate Hague, Sarah Wallace, Mary Bryan, and others. Sisters Grace Hague and Sarah Wallace were old enough to well remember the circumstances of the organization, and soon after were among the early converts, and lived to very old ages; the first to 1884 and the two latter to 1885, and with whom we conversed upon these subjects and noted their statements; and, comparing them with the written history, find no essential difference.
Folios of the minutes of the Sunbury Baptist Association, which was organized in 1818, are in possession of Rev. L. A. Tebeau, to whom we are indebted for much information, and the references to the other periods of contemporaneous associations, and the Georgia Baptist State Convention meetings, referred to in the "History of Georgia Baptists," by the Christian Index of this State; also "Georgia Baptists, Historical and Biographical," by Rev. Jesse H. Campbell, of Twiggs County, Georgia, 1847, a frequent visitor at, our association meetings, who was connected with the old Sunbury Association, gives us some corroborative information; and we have gathered some dates also corroborative from "The Salsbergers and their Descendants," by Rev. P. A. Stroball, 1855. Much of the history of Rev. Andrew Marshall is taken from what he furnished in life to Rev. J. P. Tustin, D.D., and a description of him given by Rev. John M. Krebs, D.D., both of which are published in "Annals of the American Pulpit," by Rev. William Sprague, D.D., 1859, the correctness of which we can attest. With diffidence in our ability we submit our recollections of these times, hoping they may furnish a basis for some more able historian of the future.
* "History of the Baptists in Georgia," 1881, pp. 47, 48.
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