JANUARY 20TH, 1788, TO JULY 1ST, 1888.
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, ADDRESSES, SERMONS, ETC.
REV. E. K. LOVE, D. D.
[Copyright, 1888, by Rev. E. K. Love, Author.]
THE MORNING NEWS PRINT.
TO THE OFFICERS AND MEMBERS
FIRST AFRICAN BAPTIST CHURCH,
FRANKLIN SQUARE, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA,
This work is affectionately dedicated by your affectionate Pastor, as a slight token of his appreciation of the uniform kindness, tender sympathy and profound consideration he has received at their hands during a delightful pastorate of three years.
The author requested Revs. C. T. Walker, S. A. McNeal, and Prof. R. R. Wright to write the introduction of his work. He thinks best to put each of their signatures after their production. He is placed under lasting obligations to them.
I have been asked to introduce this work to the public. In Georgia and Alabama, where the author is known both as a speaker and writer, nothing from his versatile pen needs introduction. An hundred years have passed--most of these years, were spent in hardships and sore tribulations to our poor, ignorant, down-trodden race. Our race has acted nobly and done many things that were highly commendable of the race, but no record was kept of them and hence it went without saying that the race had done something worthy of praise. This is still true. We have many grand men, eloquent and learned men, in our pulpits that nothing is known of them except in their immediate communities. This will always be so until we have a well conducted press of our own and bring out our own men, or do as Dr. Love has done--write their history.
The white press was never intended to praise and elevate the negro. They do not spend their money for that purpose. The white press, if it means no ill will to the negro, it means elevation to the white, and to support the long believed theory that the negro is inferior to the white man. A press that believes this can not elevate both races. With such prejudice the negro has been contending and struggling to rise, under adverse circumstances through the vicissitudinous cycles of an hundred years. Our race fought with unseen weapons, but multipotent. They were guided by an unseen hand, but that hand was the hand of the mighty God of Jacob. There is no other cogent reason that can be given for success or even our existence under so unfavorable circumstances. We have come thus far guided by nothing we knew of the past, with no adequate conception of the present, and no training which would enable us to compare the past and present to form anything like an intelligent idea of what the future would reveal. Our race during the hundred years that have passed was profited very little by the history of their noble men, for it was not written. If it had been written, however meagre, it would have inspired others to like and even nobler deeds. Hence, we should welcome this work into our homes and give it a careful perusal. It is well calculated to edify and delight every careful reader. The men who are referred to in this work, many of them, lie in unknown graves. To the world many of their great deeds are unknown. Their eventful and eminently useful lives are not written by the historian, but, blessed consolation, they are known of Him who hath said: "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and not fainted." Rev. ii, 2-3.
He keeps the record of His saints. Although no marble shaft nor towering monument mark the place where many negro heroes lie, yet--
"God, their Redeemer, lives,
And often from the skies,
Looks down and watches all their dust
Till He shall bid it rise."
They have scattered seeds of kindness in tears, and sweat, and blood, and God has taken cognizance of all. Our blessed Jesus has said: "I know thy work: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word and hast not denied my name."--Rev., iii, 8. There is an open door of usefulness of abundant entrance into the inviting fields of christian activity, intelligent christian work and devout consecration to the service of God in lifting up fallen mankind to heaven and God. What our fathers accomplished under adverse circumstances is but thunder-peals to us to do infinitely more under so favored opportunities. Though Dr. Love complains that this work does not satisfy his own ambition of what he feels ought to be written of the Baptist church which is the mother church of all the churches in this country, this work will be very highly appreciated and will be read with profit and interest. It will be admitted that he has performed his task well, and we will not despise the day of small things. This book justly claims to be the history of the oldest church in the country. That the First African Baptist Church is the original first church organized at Brampton's barn, January 20th, 1788, the reader will decide irrefutably true when he has read the book.
S. A. McNEAL,
Corresponding Secretary of the State S. S. Convention, and S. S. Missionary of the State of Georgia.
It is evident that the First African Baptist Church in Savannah is the oldest colored Baptist church in America, and certainly the oldest in Georgia. We live in an age when such erroneous doctrines are sapping the foundation of revealed truth are being propagated, and many are being proselyted from the true way for want of light. It is highly expedient that a history of this grand old church (the mother of the colored Baptist churches of America) be written. Planted a century ago, on the fertile seaboard, in tears and blood, under adverse circumstances, tribulations and sore afflictions, yet she has been led to a glorious success. This laudable undertaking of the author to chronicle the deeds of the noble pioneers, and the successes, attained by the church, should meet with the most hearty approbation from every lover of truth as it is in Jesus.
The sufferings of Revs. Bryan, Marshall and Campbell alone would fill a volume much larger than this one, in which the author has condensed a few facts bearing upon the general history of the church, but for the hurried manner in which he was obliged to write this work and the limited means at his command. Many of the deacons deserve much more said about them than was, but which was abridged for the same reason as that of the pastors.
The centennial sermons and papers delivered and read in Savannah by the brethren celebrating the grandest event in the history of the colored Baptists of this country will doubtless be read with interest and profit. The sermons delivered by Rev. Dr. Love, which appear in this work, are printed because they created such a wide-spread interest among the people, touched on such important subjects, and were delivered immediately after his great work as pastor begun.
The report of the committee appointed by the Baptist Convention of Georgia, at its session in 1888, to investigate the claim of the First African Baptist Church and the First Bryan Baptist Church, in Yamacraw, as to priority, will impress the readers of this book as being a very interesting document. The declaration of the Baptist Convention of Georgia that the First African Baptist Church is the banner church of the State, and the awarding of the banner to the church, is but justice, and should meet the fullest approbation of every fair-minded, intelligent reader.
This work is an important factor in the history of the negroes, and especially the Baptist. Dr. Love has done a praiseworthy act in getting the history of the negro Baptists in this State, and it is believed that this is but the beginning of a more careful, elaborate and accurate account of the negroes' doings in church and state in Georgia. The author has dealt with his subject with fidelity and ability. The photographs are arranged in admirable style.
The reader will be impressed with the wise division of this sage church into societies, mission stations, as well as dividing the city of Savannah into wards, and appointing a deacon over each ward to look after the members in said wards. By this means the church manages to keep up with its large membership.
Searchers after truth will be impressed with the fairness and impartiality of the author. He has not shunned to tell the truth, and endeavored to put the blame (where there was any) where it belonged. This book deserves a high place among the histories of the world and the author a prominent place in the front ranks of honest historians. A history that does not tell the truth will mislead for countless ages countless numbers. It seems to be the order of Divine Providence that men and nations should carve their own destiny and by their own energy and efforts rise in the scale of usefulness and prominence. The time has come when the negro must make his own history, shape his own destiny, solve his own problem, act well his part in church and state and occupy a prominent place on the stage of progress.
This volume is submitted to the candid perusal of an intelligent public. As the author has striven with meekness, gravity and impartiality to give his people a true history, it will doubtless be deservedly esteemed by all who peruse it, and serve to stimulate and inspire unborn generations to greater usefulness and purer lives of self-denial.
The author of this work has been appointed to write the history of the negro Baptists of Georgia. While this work is not intended to be that book, it may very well be taken as the antitype, and will serve as an earnest of that book. The brethren have no fears of a biased history from Rev. Dr. Love. They know him too well for that. May God bless this work to all who may read it.
C. T. WALKER,
Pastor Tabernacle Baptist Church,
Chairman Executive Board State Baptist Sunday School Convention
and Secretary State Sunday School Convention, Augusta, Ga.
The negro occupies a peculiar place in the drama of historical life. For the past three centuries his story has been a record of trials, tribulations and disappointments, only flecked here and there by a few deeds of individual daring and heroism. Whether in the domain of story or song; whether in the arena of battle or on the forum of eloquence, the writers of the past have not accorded to their black brother the dignity of an historical character. All the literature of the past has been constructed upon the basis and assumption that the negro was not only inferior to the white man but the white man's convenience and tool. Hence, almost every reference to the negro race found in text or reference book bears the ear-marks and unmistakable stamp of race prejudice.
The histories of churches are not exempt from the influence and bias of this hydra-headed monster, race prejudice. There is, however, a growing desire not only among the colored people themselves but among the general public for any accurate, unbiased historical information with reference to the colored people. The world wants the truth.
The history of the past makes it reasonable to conclude that whether in general or special history an impartial record of the life and achievement of the negro will not be written until it is written by men of his own race.
It must be gratifying to all lovers of the race to know that there are springing up in various sections of the Union some very capable colored historians. Indeed, their works are not only respectable in number but highly creditable in the ability displayed and in the facts presented. While it would be hardly safe to say that the history of the negroes' deeds and doings has been fully written, yet it is extremely pleasant to feel that each year adds to the many worthy and valuable attempts that will before long make up a complete history of our race.
When that history is complete there will be in black and white ample vindication of the dignity and usefulness of a race which has done more and suffered more for mankind than has yet been accredited to them in the histories of the past.
No doubt the author of this book had in mind some such thoughts as are written above in presenting to the public this history of the First African Baptist Church. The author has certainly yielded to and satisfied a long-felt necessity for a full and accurate history of what is now very generally acknowledged to be the oldest colored Baptist church in this country.
The marked ability and wide and accurate learning of Dr. Love are an earnest of the fact that the book is a valuable addition to the literature of the race.
R. R. WRIGHT,
Principal Ware High School and
Editor Weekly Sentinel, Augusta Ga.
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