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.
The many clouds that have been thrown around the history of the First African Baptist Church of Savannah by designing men to rob this time-hallowed church of her pristine honor and present glory, makes it necessary to set in order the facts connected with the history of the several negro Baptist churches in Savannah, that the unfairness of the First Bryan Baptist Church, formerly the "Third African Church," in contending that she is indeed the original First African Baptist Church may be seen. These facts will be set forth so plainly that it will not require a philosopher to understand the truth in the case. The fact that the First Bryan Baptist Church, organized some time in the last of 1832 or first of 1833, as "The Third African Church," has had on the 20th of January, of the present year, a so-called centennial celebration, and gave it to the world that they were the "First African Baptist Church" of Savannah, and that all other churches sprang forth from them, makes it proper that this work should go forth burdened with irrefutable proof in vindication of the truth of history. While the author shall state facts, and simply facts, which will show that their claim is false, and that they know it better than they appear to know their names, he shall do so in the most possible friendly spirit, with the hope of reclaiming his erring brethren.
The First African Baptist Church has had a most eventful and checkered career. She has endured indescribable suffering and has been wonderfully blessed and preserved by a hand divine. The first pastor, Rev. Andrew Bryan, was whipped until his blood dripped freely upon the ground, for no other crime than that he preached Jesus and him crucified to the poor negroes; but he continued to preach Jesus, and God continued to bless his humble preaching to Africa's sable sons and daughters. The more this church was persecuted the more she grew and thrived. From four converts (Rev. Andrew Bryan, Hannah Bryan, his wife, Kate and Hagar,) the First African Baptist Church begun its eventful career. This church was organized with 67 members by Rev. Abraham Marshall (white), on the 20th day of January, 1788, at Brampton's barn, three miles southwest of Savannah. This work contains the cuts of Rev. Andrew Bryan, Rev. Andrew C. Marshall, Rev. W. J. Campbell, Rev. George Gibbons, and Rev. E. K. Love, present pastor; also, some of the deacons of the church. The author acknowledges the incalculable service Benedict's History of the Baptists in America has rendered him; Holcombe's Repository, furnished by Dr. Tucker; The Minutes of the Sunsbury Baptist Association, furnished by Rev. L. C. Tebeau, and the Minute Books of the Savannah Baptist Church (white), furnished by Rev. J. E. L. Holmes, D. D. The author would acknowledge with unfeigned pleasure the priceless help that Rev. Alexander Harris has given him. The First African Baptist Church is placed under lasting obligation to Rev. Harris for guiding the author in his pursuit after the truth of history in the labyrinthal mazes of the long ago. But for him the author would not have known where to have searched for the facts pertaining to this church. In the Providence of God we have, as nearly as possible, a connected history of our church, with but two broken links, through Rev. Alexander Harris, from its organization. Rev. Marshall and Deacon Adam Johnson lived in the days of Rev. Andrew Bryan, from whom they gathered all the facts, and Rev. Harris lived in the days of Rev. Marshall and Deacon Johnson, from whom he gathered all of the facts, and your humble servant, the author, lives in the days of Rev. Harris, from whom he has gathered the facts, and now writes the truth of history as it has come down from the beginning, thus bringing to us the truth of history pretty much as we receive the truth of Divine Revelation. Rev. A. Harris is a wonderful man, with a memory simply astonishing. It seems that God has spared him for just this purpose. No living man is as well prepared to give the truth of the doings of the Baptists in these parts as Rev. Harris, and a more candid, conscientious, truthful man never lived. We are indebted to Rev. Harris for a copy of the deed and much documentary proof, which we herein present. It will hardly be questioned that Benedict's History nor Dr. Holcombe's Repository contains all the facts of the history of this church. Neither can we expect to learn all from the Minute Books of the Savannah Baptist Church (white), nor the minutes of the Sunsbury Association. We must learn some from those who lived in that day. This is just the way all other histories are gotten up. The verbal statements which we have gathered from the old members who lived in those days can no more be ruled out than our recollection of things which transpired under our observation long ago. There is no more reason to suppose their memory at fault than ours. Hence we have taken pains to draw from our old brethren and sisters such information as they had in their possession, and their knowledge of men and things about whom and which we have undertaken to write. We shall feel confident that our mistakes will be viewed with a charitable eye, and our imperfection graciously passed by. The public is asked to consider our laborious task before criticising us harshly. This work is sent forth to the public with the humble prayer of the author that it may do great good, and may set in order the facts for more skilled pens than ours to give to the Baptists of Georgia a more interesting and accurate history of themselves. The author takes pleasure in the fact that those who may subsequently undertake this task will not be put to it as he has been for information.
Praying the blessings of Almighty God upon this humble effort, I am,
Yours in Gospel bonds,
EMANUEL KING LOVE.
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