committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

CHAPTER XI.

WORLD'S GREAT RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS ?NEGRO BAPTISTS' CONNECTION WITH THEM.

 

The World's Baptist Alliance
The World's Baptist Alliance, which convened for the first time in the great city of London, England, July 10-20, 1905, was of great significance to the Negro Baptists of the United States. This great gathering of Baptists from every part of the globe was in the interest of Baptist Home and Foreign Mission agencies in all countries. When this all-important meeting was planned the Old World did not know that the more than two million Negro Baptists in the United States composed a separate and distinct organization. Therefore, they were given no place on the program by the committee. But this mistake was readily rectified when the 35 or more representatives of the National Baptist Convention of America, headed by its distinguished President, Dr. E. C. Morris, appeared with their credentials. Several of these representatives were heard and made a splendid impression, if we are to judge by the comments of the foreign papers. Those who spoke were President Morris, Secretary L. G. Jordan, D. D., Secretary R. H. Boyd, D. D., LL. D., Secretary Nannie H. Burroughs, A. M., Rev. George W. Lee, D. D., LL. D., Rev. J. J. Blackshear, D. D., Rev. C. H. Parrish, A. M., D. D., Rev. C. T. Walker, D. D., LL. D., Dr. W. T. Thompson and Mrs. J. E. Gibbons. Prof. H. B. Britt sang on more than one occasion to the great delight of all.

With reference to these delegates and addresses, we quote the following from "The Baptist Times and Freeman, of London:"

The influence of Negro Baptists

"The presence of the representatives of the Negro Baptists of the United States has certainly added to the picturesqueness of the meetings of the week. But the importance of this delegation cannot be easily exaggerated. In meeting Dr. E. C. Morris, of Helena, Ark., the President of the National Baptist Convention of the colored Baptists of the United States, I was prepared for large figures, but I am free to confess his statement surprised me."

"There are ten millions of Negroes in the United States," he said, "and of these the Baptists number 2,110,000. We have 17,000 organized Baptist churches, and 16,000 ordained ministers. Our churches are grouped into 564 associations. Some of our individual churches number 4,000 or 5,000 members." "Here is one pastor," said Dr. Morris, pointing to the genial and rotund figure of Dr. Lee, who sat listening to the conversation, "who has charge of 3,500 members. In two states the colored Baptists have more members than the whole united kingdom."

What about the training of the colored ministers, Dr. Morris?" I said,

"About a thousand of them have received a really adequate college training, extending sometimes over a period as long as seven years. Many others have been trained in the various theological seminaries of the country. We have, I suspect, about eighty colleges, academies and high schools supported by the white Baptists of America.

"We are what you call close communionists; that we restrict communion to those who are obedient to our church ordinance. In church polity we are strictly congregational, no outside body has any authority whatever over the individual churches."

Of the speakers the same journal had the following to say: "A colored delegate, Rev. C. H. Parrish, who has worked for twenty years amongst the denominational schools of the South, confessed that he supposed that he was called to the platform to give 'color to the occasion.' (Laughter.) They had a saying in the South: 'The proof of the pudding is the taste thereof.' Forty years ago he was a slave, and since he had become a teacher of Greek."

"Dr. Boyd, who represented the largest publication department of any colored church in the world, bore his testimony to the value of missionary literature. This he illustrated by the value of a tract which reached him as a boy on the cotton farm. If it had not been for that little tract he would still have been on the cotton farm. (Applause.) They could not tell the value of a little tract, he remarked, as he eulogized the work in that connection of Morehouse, Rowland and Gray. As the result of the circulation of those tracts there was scarcely a member of their churches who did not appreciate the fact of a regenerated membership in the church, and now, he said, at least nine-tenths of their Christians believed in baptism by immersion." (Applause.)

"Mrs. J. E. Gibbons, a colored lady, spoke strongly in support of higher education among the native Christians. As an example of such teaching, she illustrated Mr. Britt, who had sung so sweetly to the Congress, on Tuesday evening. Through Dr. Morehouse's institution, Mr. Britt had been trained in the manner they had seen, and as a result he was acceptable wherever he went." (Applause.)

"Dr. J. J. Blackshear, of Texas, a colored brother, made a strong plea on behalf of his own countrymen in Africa. 'Owe no man anything,' he said, and his point was that the white man had benefited by the riches he had obtained from that country, so that it was their duty to send the Gospel to Africa. It was more important to pay a debt than to make new conquests. 'You owe a great debt to that nation,' he urged in a strong voice, 'Pay your debt.' " (Laughter and applause.)

"As a practical exemplication of the value of missionary work, we next had the glowing speech of Miss Nannie H. Burroughs, a colored lady of Louisville, Kentucky, who simply enthused her audience by her knowledge and zeal for the missionary cause. Her speech was refined, with just a soupcon of twang, and a delightful touch of humor. One especially eloquent passage concerning women's missionary work may here be quoted: "In the galaxy with Livingston, Crowther, Morrison, Hudson, Taylor, McAll, the two Careys, white and black, David George and Judson, I will place the names of Ann Hazeltine Judson, Harriett Attwood Howell, Eliza Agnew and Hannah Catherine Mullens, that matchless, ingenious little soul, who opened the zenanas of India at the point of an embroidery needle, and thus opened a gate to the millions of women who had never seen the faintest ray of the light of God's Gospel." (Much applause.)

"Dr. Morris followed, and said that in view of Christ's command to go and preach the Gospel among all nations, he believed an indifferent church might be keeping the Lord out of the world by refusing to fulfill those conditions that would permit Him to come back again. The church was weakest in that part which might be called the commissariat department, though Christ's commission had been entrusted to the richest nations in the world. To-day He was looking down upon His church, and realizing her wealth and her power. He was saying to her as Christ said to His disciples, 'Lovest thou me?' 'Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee,' was the answer of the disciples. And Christ was saying again now as He said at that time, 'Then the test is, feed my sheep.'"

"Another colored delegate, Dr. W. T. Thompson, of Virginia, of the Lott-Carey Convention, dealt with the difficulty of creating missionary interest in the home churches. He confessed that he had learned much of methods that morning, and intended to go back to put into practical use some of the good he had stored from that meeting. But the best of his speech was his story, but unfortunately space forbids its recital."

One of the most enjoyable addresses during the week was that of Dr. George W. Lee, delivered at a reception tendered Dr. Alexander McLauren, President of the Alliance, at Region Park. His flow of wit and wisdom won for him a high place among the leaders of thought in the Baptist world. The Times and Freeman said of him, "By common consent he is an orator, a man of soul and mind and humor. Upon this occasion he convulsed his audience by pleasantries which were as keen with serious meaning as they were bright with flashing humor?sword play in the sunshine."

A feature of the Alliance gathering that drew out a great deal of harsh and unchristian criticism from some of the white delegates from the southern part of the United States was the entertaining of the Negro delegates at luncheon by the Russian delegates led by Baron Wixkull. But this proved to be a very profitable as well as a very pleasant affair, as Secretary Jordan and his Board, in response to a touching appeal from the poor and persecuted Baptists there are now helping to sustain a mission station in Russia.

National Baptist delegates
The next meeting of the Alliance will be held in Philadelphia in 1911, and the National Convention has a committee of one hundred who will help to extend the proper courtesies to the foreign delegates. The following is the list of the National Convention representatives in the London meeting: Dr. E. C. Morris, President of the Convention, Helena, Ark.; Rev. C. H. Parrish, A. M., D. D., and Rev. L. G. Jordan, D. D., Chairman and Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board, Louisville, Ky.; Rev. R. H. Boyd, D. D., LL. D., Corresponding Secretary of the Home Mission and Publishing Boards, Nashville, Tenn.; Miss Nannie H. Burroughs, A. M., Corresponding Secretary of the Woman's Auxiliary, Louisville, Ky.; Rev. C. B. Brown, Chairman National Benefit Board, Marianna, Ark.; Rev. C. S. Brown, D. D., President of Lott-Carey Convention, Winton, N. C.; Rev. E. R. Carter, D. D., Atlanta, Georgia; Rev. A. N. McEwen, D. D., Mobile, Alabama; Prof. Gregory W. Hayes, A. M., Lynchburg, Va.; Rev. W. F. Graham, D. D., Richmond, Va.; Rev. George W. Lee, D. D., LL. D., Washington, D. C.; Rev. John H. Frank, D. D., Louisville, Ky.; Rev. W. H. Hunt, D. D., New York; Rev. A. R. Griggs, D. D., Dallas, Texas; Rev. Jas. A. Booker, A. B., D. D., Little Rock, Ark.; Mrs. E. E. Whitfield, Cuero, Texas; Rev. C. S. Morris, D. D., New York; Rev. C. T. Walker, D. D., LL. D., Augusta, Georgia; Rev. E. C. Cole, D. D., St. Louis, Mo.; Prof. Wm. H. Steward, Louisville, Ky.; Rev. M. W. Gilbert, A. M., D. D. New York; Rev. A. W. Moss, Tyler, Tex.; Rev. J. Francis Robinson, S. T. D., Norwich, Conn.; Prof. H. B. Britt, Louisville, Ky.; Rev. W. Bishop Johnson, D. D., LL. D., Washington, D. C.; Mrs. J. E. Gibbons, Rev. Isaac Toliver, D. D., Washington, D. C.; Rev. F. L. Lights, D. D., Houston, Texas; Rev. Alexander Wilbanks, D. D., Washington, D. C.; Rev. E. H. McDonald, Providence, R. I.; Rev. A. C. Chandler, A. B., Detroit, Mich.; Rev. A. H. Miller, Helena, Ark.; Rev. E. W. Johnson, D. D., Philadelphia, Pa.; Rev. J. Anderson Taylor, D. D., Washington, D. C.; Rev. W. L. Taylor, D. D., Richmond, Va., and others whose names we have not been able to get.

General Baptist Convention of North America
The General Baptist Convention of North America, organized in St. Louis, Mo., in May, 1905, is another meeting of great importance. Bringing together as it does the Baptists of all races from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, it is the first great step toward uniting the efforts of the great Baptist family on this side of the ocean, factions of which were separated by the slavery question more than sixty years ago. The objects of this convention are given as follows: "The objects of this convention shall be to promote closer fellowship among American Baptists, their increased efficiency and spirituality and the evangelistic spirit in our churches; to consider subjects having a bearing upon the missionary, educational and philanthropic enterprises of the denomination and upon the moral and spiritual welfare of society."

Disposing of the race question
With reference to this organization, knowing as they did how the race question has projected itself into all the institutions of this character in the United States, it was but natural that the colored Baptists should have had questions and doubts to arise. But these doubts were soon dispelled, as they have been received with full and equal privileges, Dr. E. C. Morris being made a member of the Executive Committee. Speaking as the representative of the National Baptist Convention, in the second meeting of the General Convention, at Jamestown, Va., May 22 and 23, 1907, he said, "I beg to say also by way of explanation (and which will doubtless be a relief to those who may not fully have understood the Negro people, and especially the Negro Baptists, upon the questions which have so greatly disturbed some of our great and good men) that our presence here does not mean to us that social lines have been broken down and that there is to be a general intermingling of the races in a social way, but that we are here only to take part in this great convention as brethren of a common faith. There has been a great change wrought in the minds of the Negro Baptist people since the organization of the General Convention. Their spirit of fraternity has been broadened and they see their white brethren in a different light from that in which many had hitherto viewed them; they have seen that the great and good men among their white brethren bear in their breasts a warm brotherly spirit toward them, and that in their efforts to help themselves they will have the sympathy and co-operation of their stronger brother."

Representatives at the International S. S. Convention
The International Sunday-School Association (United States and Canada), as the name implies, has for its purpose the development of the Sunday-schools and Sunday-school workers in all denominations in these countries. It meets triannually, bringing together the Sunday-school specialists from various denominations. It appoints from this class a Lesson Committee of 15, who prepare a six-year course of uniform lessons. These lessons are furnished to each denominational publishing house to be prepared for their Sunday-schools by their expert writers. Negro Baptists were represented in this Association in its meeting held at Denver, Col., in 1902, by Dr. R. H. Boyd, Secretary of the National Baptist Publishing Board, and thus began a new epoch in Negro Baptist Sunday-school history. Drs. C. H. Clark and W. S. Ellington, Chairman and Editorial Secretary, respectively, of the Publishing Board, were the Negro Baptist representatives at the Eleventh Triennial meeting of the Association held in Toronto, Canada, June 23, 1905.

The World's Sunday-School Convention is triennial and includes all the Protestant world. Dr. C. H. Parrish, of Louisville, Ky., was a most eminent representative of the Negro Baptist family at the Jerusalem meeting of this great world's gathering in 1904. There were three distinguished representatives in the meeting at Rome, Italy, in 1907. viz.: Dr. John E. Ford, of Denver, Colorado; Mrs. Virginia Broughton, of Nashville, Tenn., Secretary of the Woman's National Baptist Auxiliary, and Miss V. B. Miller, Galveston, Texas. Thus the development and progress of Negro Baptists are marked.

Negro Baptists in the Holy Land
Another historic fact that should be of great interest to young Negro Baptists is that a few of their leaders have made special trips to and through the Holy Lands, and have therefore become authority on "Bible Lands and Customs." Drs. C. T. Walker, of Augusta, Ga., and E. R. Carter, of Atlanta, Ga., were the first of our American Negro Baptist preachers to enjoy this distinction. This journey was made in the spring of 1891 and lasted three months. Since that time Dr. C. H. Parrish and Dr. A. J. Stokes, of Montgomery, Ala.; W. G. Parks, D. D., Philadelphia, Pa.; P. James Bryant, D. D., Atlanta, Ga.; A. S. Jackson. D. D., Dallas, Tex.; R. D. Phillips, D. D., and Rev. G. W. Wyatt, Cincinnati, O., have had the same inspiring and profitable experience.

National Baptist administration 1909
Each successive year since the organization of the National Baptist Convention, Rev. E. C. Morris, D. D., has been unanimously elected its president. To no one more than to him is credit due for the great progress that has been made for the high position the Convention holds among the great religious bodies of the world. The following splendid tribute is an extract from an official address of Dr. R. H. Boyd: "It would be impossible to give here just and due credit to the wise leadership and profound statesmanship of our President, Rev. E. C. Morris, D. D. While his acts have been severely criticised, his motives questioned, and his leadership attacked, he has proven to be among the most able counsellors, statesmen and leaders." His corps of official helpers for the current year (1909) are as follows: Prof. R. B. Hudson, A. M., Selma, Ala. Secretary; Revs. T. O. Fuller, A. M., Ph. D., Memphis, Tenn.; E. H. McDonald, D. D., St. Paul, Minn.; E. Arlington Wilson, Ph. B., D. D., Kansas City, Kansas, and J. H. A. Cyrus, D. D., Port Royal, Va., Assistant Secretaries; Rev. A. J. Stokes, D. D., Montgomery, Ala., Treasurer; Rev. S. W. Bacote, A. M., D. D., Kansas City, Mo., Statistician; Rev. Robert Mitchell, D. D., Bowling Green, Ky., Auditor. The Chairmen and Corresponding Secretaries of the respective Boards are: Foreign Mission Board, Rev. C. H. Parrish, D. D., Louisville, Ky., and Dr. L. G. Jordan, Louisville; Home Mission Board, Dr. J. P. Robinson, Little Rock, Ark., and Dr. R. H. Boyd, Nashville, Tenn.; Publishing Board, Dr. C. H. Clark and Dr. R. H. Boyd, Nashville, Tenn.; Educational Board Dr. T. J. Searcy, Memphis, Tenn., and Dr. A. N. McEwen,* Mobile, Ala., succeeded by Rev. S. E. Griggs, B. D., Nashville, Tenn.; B. Y. P. U. Board, Dr. P. J. Bryant, Atlanta, Ga., and Dr. E. W. D. Isaac, Nashville, Tenn.; National Benefit Association Board, Rev. C. B. Brown, Marianna, Ark., and Rev. A. A. Cosey, D. D., Mound Bayou, Miss.

* Deceased.

 
 
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