The history of the Baptist movement in the state of Alabama predates Alabama statehood.
Baptists are Christians distinguished by baptizing professing believers only, and doing so by complete immersion. Baptist churches also generally subscribe to the doctrines of soul competency, sola fide, sola scriptura and congregationalist church government. Baptists generally recognize two ordinances: baptism and communion.
Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.
The first Baptist church in what was then the territory of Alabama was the Flint River Baptist church founded by twelve people on October 2, 1808, at the house of James Deaton a few miles to the north of Huntsville (now known as the Flint River Primitive Baptist Church). The pastor was John Nicholson. Prior to that there had been several Baptist preachers in the territory, including John Canterbery and Zadock Baker. Several more churches were founded over the next few years. The second Baptist church was founded on June 3, 1809, originally named West Fork of Flint River Church, although renamed to Enon Baptist Church shortly thereafter. (In 1861 the Enon church moved to Huntsville, and was renamed the First Baptist Church of Huntsville in 1895. ) John Canterbery was the church's first pastor, called on August 5, 1809.
Huntsville is a city primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. It is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County.
The Flint River Association, the first and oldest association of Alabama Baptists, was founded on September 26, 1814.Flint River Baptist Church and Enon Baptist Church were charter members. Initially, several of the FRA's members were churches from Tennessee. The Flint River Association is still in existence today, consisting of three Huntsville area Primitive Baptist Churches, Briar Fork Church, Hurricane Church, and Flint River Church. The first church in the southern part of the state was Bassett Creek church, founded by J. Courtney in 1810. By 1820 there were 50 Baptist churches in the state; in 1821, there were 70. Numbers continued to grow in subsequent years, with 6 Baptist Associations and 128 churches in 1825; 250 churches in 1833; 333 churches in 1836; and 500 churches and 30 associations in 1840.
The geography of the state in the 19th century, with highly different political and economic groups physically isolated from one another by poor transport and communication links, resulted in several Baptist conventions emerging. The most well known, and largest, was the Alabama Baptist Convention founded in 1823 near Greensboro. Members of Siloam Baptist Church in Marion and the Alabama Baptist Convention founded Judson College in 1838 and Howard College, later renamed Samford University, in 1841. But there were others. The General Association of Middle Tennessee and North Alabama was founded in 1841, the East Alabama Baptist Convention in 1856, and the General Association of South Eastern Alabama after the U.S. Civil War.
The Alabama Baptist Convention is an autonomous association of Baptist churches in the state of Alabama formed in 1823. It is one of the state conventions associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Greensboro is a city in Hale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 2,497, down from 2,731 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Hale County, Alabama, which was not organized until 1867. It is part of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Siloam Baptist Church congregation was established in 1822. The current brick Greek Revival building was completed in 1848.
Not allowed to be part of the Alabama Baptist Convention during that time, African American Baptists had their own conventions, separate from the white organizations. The Alabama Colored Baptist State Convention, which changed its name in 1974 to the Alabama Missionary Baptist State Convention, was founded in 1868 in Montgomery and by the turn of the 21st century comprised over 1000 churches. In 1898, the New Era Progressive Baptist State Convention split from the ACBSC, and another split in 1920 spawned the New Era Baptist State Convention. The Progressive National Baptist Convention, the fourth of the four major conventions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, was formed in 1961 after disputes over leadership at the National Convention and over civil rights.
Montgomery is the capital city of the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County. Named for Richard Montgomery, it stands beside the Alabama River, on the coastal Plain of the Gulf of Mexico. In the 2010 Census, Montgomery's population was 205,764. It is the second most populous city in Alabama, after Birmingham, and is the 118th most populous in the United States. The Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area's population in 2010 was estimated at 374,536; it is the fourth largest in the state and 136th among United States metropolitan areas.
Much of this history is recorded in the library of Samford University. Baptists are the largest denomination in Alabama, and the University records include full minutes of congregational meetings throughout the state, the personal papers of many Baptist churchmen, and all issues of the Baptist newspaper, The Alabama Baptist from 1835 onwards.
Samford University is a private Christian university in Homewood, Alabama. In 1841, the university was founded as Howard College. Samford University is the 87th oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The university enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states and 30 countries.
The Alabama Baptist is a weekly newspaper whose mission is to empower readers to live out Christian discipleship in their personal, professional and church lives. The aim of The Alabama Baptist is to equip readers with resources and information, and to do that with competence, compassion, fairness and dependability as a news source.
Alabama became a state of the United States of America on December 14, 1819. The United States arranged for Indian Removal after 1830, relocating most Southeast tribes to west of the Mississippi River to what was then called Indian Territory. These actions affected the Cherokee, Creek (Muscogee), and Chickasaw, among others. After this, European-American arrived in large numbers, bringing or buying African Americans in the domestic slave trade.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a Christian denomination based in the United States. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, and the second-largest Christian denomination in the United States, smaller only than the Catholic Church according to self reported membership statistics.
James Wayne Flynt is University Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Auburn University. He has won numerous teaching awards and been a Distinguished University Professor for many years. His research focuses on Southern culture, Alabama politics, Southern religion, education reform, and poverty. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Online Encyclopedia of Alabama. Flynt received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard College in 1961 before taking his Master of Science (1962) and Ph.D. (1965) from Florida State University. After teaching at Samford for 12 years, he joined the faculty at Auburn University in 1977, where he remained until his retirement in 2005.
Hosea Lot Holcombe (1780–1841) was Alabama's first church historian, as noted on his marker in Bessemer, Alabama. He was a Baptist evangelist and missionary, who moved from the Carolinas to Alabama in 1818. He was President of the Alabama Baptist Convention from 1833 to 1838. Asked to write a history of the church, he traveled throughout the state collecting material for his History of Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Alabama, published in 1840 a year before his death.
Alexander Travis was a Baptist preacher and a prominent member of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. His nephew William Barret Travis was Texas commander at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.
James A. Ranaldson was a Baptist missionary who was active in the Mississippi Baptist Association and one of the founders of the Alabama Baptist Convention.
Sion Blythe was a Baptist pastor who assisted in creation of several churches in North Carolina and Alabama, United States in the early days of the Baptist movement.
Marie Bankhead Owen was Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History for over three decades, as well as a documentarian of Alabama history who authored numerous books on the subject. Owen served as an advisor for the Federal Writers' Project history of the state. In 1939, Owen helped select the Alabama state motto. She was actively opposed to a Federal mandate giving women the right to vote, and believed in the supremacy of the white race. Owen was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1975. Her niece was actress Tallulah Bankhead.
Eldred Burder "E. B." Teague was an Alabama Baptist minister and educational leader of the 19th Century.
The Alabama Baptist Association (ABA) was an association of Baptist churches founded on 15 December 1819 by four churches: the Antioch Baptist Church and the Baptist churches of Old Elam, Bethel, and Rehoboth.
Caesar Blackwell (1769–1845) was an enslaved African-American preacher in Alabama, one of a number of black preachers in the South who preached to a mixed congregation. He was either bought or freed by the Alabama Baptist Association, and preached in the Antioch Baptist Church in Montgomery County, Alabama.
James H. DeVotie (1814–1891) was an Baptist minister in the American South. Born in Oneida County, New York, he was a pastor in South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. He was a co-founder of Howard College in Marion, Alabama, later known as Samford University near Birmingham. He was a long-time trustee of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He served as a Confederate chaplain during the Civil War. After the war, he worked for the Southern Baptist Convention.
Julia Tarrant Barron (1805–1890) was a founder of Judson College in Marion, Alabama and Howard College in Homewood, Alabama. She also co-founded The Alabama Baptist newspaper with pastor Milo P. Jewett and donated the land for the construction of the Siloam Baptist Church. She was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame.
Carrie A. Tuggle was an African-American educator, philanthropist, and social activist. After emancipation, she sought for equality in education, and the right to exercise voting rights in Birmingham, Alabama. She established the Tuggle Institute, a local boarding school for black children who were destitute orphans and juvenile defendants, and were given free education. The Tuggle Institute functioned with support from the Order of Calanthe and the Knights and Ladies of Honour of Alabama.
Maud McLure Kelly was an American lawyer, suffragist and historian. She was the first woman to practice law in the state of Alabama and worked for the Alabama Department of Archives and History after her retirement from law.
Martha Foster Crawford was an American writer and missionary to China (1852–1909). She was the first foreign missionary from Alabama. Her parents were the deacon, John Lovelace Savidge Foster, and Susanna Hollifield Foster. In 1851, shortly before she became a missionary to China, she married Tarleton Perry Crawford, whom she had known for three weeks. They arrived in Shanghai in March 1852. During their marriage, they adopted two children.