History of Baptists in Alabama

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The history of the Baptist movement in the state of Alabama predates Alabama statehood.

Baptists Denomination of Protestant Christianity

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 State of the United States of America

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.


First Baptist churches

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 [1] [2] ). [3] [4] [5] 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. [3] The second Baptist church was founded on June 3, 1809, [4] originally named West Fork of Flint River Church, although renamed to Enon Baptist Church shortly thereafter. [6] (In 1861 the Enon church moved to Huntsville, and was renamed the First Baptist Church of Huntsville in 1895. [6] ) John Canterbery was the church's first pastor, called on August 5, 1809. [6]

Huntsville, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

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.

Associations and conventions

The Flint River Association, the first and oldest association of Alabama Baptists, was founded on September 26, 1814. [3] Flint River Baptist Church [7] and Enon Baptist Church were charter members. [6] Initially, several of the FRA's members were churches from Tennessee. [3] 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. [8] 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. [3]

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. [9]

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, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

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.

Siloam Baptist Church United States national historic site

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. [10]

Montgomery, Alabama Capital of Alabama

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.

Historical record

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. [5]

Samford University Private Christian university in Homewood, Alabama

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.

See also

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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.


  1. https://decaturdaily.com/stories/Centennial-celebrations,3577?content_source=&category_id=&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=stories&town_id=
  2. http://flintriverpbc.org/history
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 William Cathcart (1881). "Alabama Baptists, History of". The Baptist Encyclopedia. Baptist History Series. 1 (reprinted by The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc. 2001 ed.). Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts. pp. 14–15. ISBN   978-1-57978-909-1.
  4. 1 2 Wayne Flynt (1998). Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the heart of Dixie. Religion and American culture. University of Alabama Press. pp. xix. ISBN   978-0-8173-0927-5.
  5. 1 2 Alice Eichholz (2004). Red book: American state, county & town sources (3rd ed.). Ancestry Publishing. p. 26. ISBN   978-1-59331-166-7.
  6. 1 2 3 4 C. Laura; C. Sara; M. Hugh; M. Jack (2006). Alabama Historical Association Markers (2nd ed.). Jack Hood. p. 163. ISBN   978-1-4259-2186-6.
  7. Hosea Holcombe (1840). A History Of The Rise And Progress Of Baptists In Alabama. Philadelphia: King and Baird Printers. pp. 108.
  8. Minutes of the Flint River Association, 2009
  9. Wayne Flynt (1998). Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the heart of Dixie. Religion and American culture. University of Alabama Press. p. 61. ISBN   978-0-8173-0927-5.
  10. Wayne Flynt (2004). Alabama in the twentieth century. University of Alabama Press. p. 459. ISBN   978-0-8173-1430-9.

Further reading