committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

CHAPTER IX.

THE CHARACTER AND GROWTH OF NEGRO BAPTISTS.

 

Development of Negro Baptist leaders

Character of Negro Baptists
The question that naturally arises in the mind of one not acquainted with racial conditions in America is, "What is the difference between the white and colored Baptists?" Yet, there really is no fundamental difference. Why should there be? The first colored Baptist preachers and laymen were either members of white churches or they were under the ministration of white Baptists. From them they received instructions in doctrine and polity, and they proved apt students. They were "well-grounded in the faith" as Baptists believe it. A large per cent of the leading preachers and teachers among them to-day are graduates from colleges and theological seminaries that are conducted by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. These schools are intensely denominational, the presidents and faculties having been chosen from strong white Baptist churches and colleges. It has been the purpose of the Society to prepare preachers, teachers and other Christian workers for our Baptist churches and schools. If it is still "like priest, like people," it would be almost miraculous if these schools produced other than Baptists after their own kind. The leaders of the coming generation of Baptists are now being trained in these same institutions and in Negro Baptist colleges and academies the faculties of which are largely the products of the Society's schools. Hence, they are being formed in the same old mold. Therefore the separation between white and colored Baptists and between their organizations is not at all based on differences of doctrine or polity, but upon race discrimination which is peculiar to American institutions.

National Baptist Convention statistics; government
As to the character of Negro Baptists, Dr. W. Bishop Johnson, who was for many years officially connected with the National Baptist Convention, has written as follows: "Colored Baptists are Calvinistic in doctrine, but they hold the Scriptures as the Supreme Authority on all questions of faith and polity." The supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions should be tried. They recognize no creed or confession of faith, but insist upon a personal faith in a personal Savior, followed by immersion in water of such believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a prerequisite to church membership. They insist that the minister of the Gospel shall be regenerated and called of God to his high and holy office: that he shall be qualified educationally to teach the people and that his piety as well as learning shall be of such a high type as to commend him to his special work. They hold Christian fellowship with those whose religious belief differs from them, but in the exercise of church fellowship they have no relation whatever. Their polity is democratic. The churches are independent bodies, answerable alone to Christ, who is the great Head of the Church."
"Where difficulties are to be adjusted, ecclesiastical councils are called, consisting of delegates from each church in the community, and the troubles are submitted to them for settlement, but their findings are only advisory, each church being a sovereign body, cannot be forced beyond its own judgment." To this we add that they recognize only two ordinances, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and two classes of Scriptural officers, Pastors and Deacons. In nearly all of the states trustees are elected to meet the requirements of the state laws in order that they may legally hold property, etc."

Religious and educational development
The progress of Negro Baptists and the development of their religious and educational organizations have been remarkable as the following statistics show: "Bulletin 103, United States Religious Census, 1906," published in 1909, gives the following statistics of the National Baptist Convention: total number of organizations, 18,534; total number of members, 2,261,607; number of church edifices, 17,832 with seating capacity of 5,610,301, and valued at $24,437,272; number of Sunday-schools, 17,478, with 100,069 officers and teachers and 924,665 scholars.

The National Baptist Year Book for 1909, published by Rev. Samuel W. Bacote, D. D., official statistician of the National Baptist Convention, gives the following: state conventions (several states have more than one convention), 94; associations, 659; number of churches, 18,485; ordained ministers, 17,297; total membership, 2,350,639; value of church property, $19,115,057; number of Sunday-schools, 17,395, with 829,461 scholars; amount expended for state and home missions, $28,745.58; for foreign missions, $4,253.35; Secretary Jordan, of the Foreign Mission Board, reports $10,915.27 paid to missions and missionaries; for education $47,073.92. The total, $582,231.33.

The Year Book also shows 91 religious universities, colleges and secondary schools operated for and by Negro Baptists in the United States with the following figures: instructors, 760; normal students, 12,664; college students, 703; theological students, 544; enrollment in all departments, 21,116; valuation of grounds and buildings, $2,386,413.34.

Home Mission Society schools
Negro Baptists have made remarkable progress in the development of educational institutions. In the matter of education they have splendid opportunities. Credit is here given the American Baptist Home Mission Society for the very excellent system of schools it has founded and operated for the Negro Baptists of the United States. The name, location and date of founding of these schools follow: Atlanta Baptist College, Atlanta, Ga., founded 1867 Benedict College, Columbia, S. C.; Bishop College, Marshall, Texas, founded 1881; Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina, founded 1865; Spelman Seminary (for girls only), Atlanta, Ga., founded 1881; Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va., founded 1864; Jackson College, Jackson, Miss.; Hartshorn Memorial College (for girls), Richmond, Va., founded 1883; Roger Williams University, Nashville, Tenn., founded 1864, burned Jan. 25, 1905, and reorganized under the control of the Negro Baptists of Tennessee; Leland University, New Orleans, La., founded in 1869 by the philanthropists, Deacon Chamberlain and wife (white).

Colleges founded and controlled by Negro Baptists
The following is a list of some of the most prominent Negro Baptist universities, colleges and seminaries (space not permitting all of them): Selma University, Selma, Ala., founded 1878; Arkansas Baptist College Little Rock, Ark., founded 1884; Cadiz Normal and Theological College, Cadiz, Kentucky, founded 1884; Central City College, Macon, Ga., founded 1889; State University. Louisville, Ky., founded 1879; Ekstein Norton University, Cane Springs, Ky., founded 1890; Guadalupe College, Seguin, Texas, founded 1885; Houston Baptist College, Houston, Tex., founded 1885; Virginia Theological Seminary and College, Lynchburg, Virginia, founded 1884; Western College, Macon, Mo., founded 1890; Friendship College, Rock Hill, S. C., founded 1891; Conroe College, Conroe, Texas, founded soon after Gaudalupe College; Central Texas College, Waco, Texas, founded 1901; Woman's National Training School, Washington, D. C., founded 1909.

In connection with these higher institutions, Negro Baptists own and operate about 40 normal schools and academies throughout the United States.

Negro Baptist Press
The Negro Baptist Press has done much toward the development of Baptist institutions and enterprises. While all the papers cannot be named we note the following with their editors: The National Baptist Union-Review (organ of National Baptist Convention), Nashville, Tennessee, J. D. Crenshaw; The Mission Herald, Louisville, Ky., L. G. Jordan, D. D., The American Baptist (the oldest), Louisville, Ky., Wm. H. Steward; Baptist Watchman, Mobile, Ala., A. N. McEwen, D. D.;* The Pilot, Winton, N. C., C. S. Brown, D. D.; Christian Banner, Philadelphia, Pa., C. L. Taliaferro, D. D., Georgia Baptist, Augusta, Ga., W. F. White, D. D.; Baptist Vanguard, Little Rock, Ark., Jos. A. Booker, A. M.; Western Sta, Houston, Texas, James Codwell; The Herald, Austin, Tex., L. L. Campbell, D. D.; Western Messenger, Jefferson City, Mo., J. Goins, D. D.; The Clarion, Nashville, Tenn., J. Thos Turner; The Signal-Index, Memphis, Tenn., T. O. Fuller, Ph. D.

* Deceased.

 
 
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