Early Leadership of the South Carolina Baptist Convention - Prologue
Biblical stories tell how God has worked in human lives and used those lives to share God’s plan of salvation for the world. From Old Testament to New, these stories inspire and challenge us to be faithful in the task. The history of South Carolina Baptist Convention is also a series of stories. God worked through men and women in South Carolina Baptist churches who told the Gospel story not only to South Carolina but also to the world.
When South Carolina Baptist Convention was created in 1821, it was the first state Baptist Convention. South Carolina Baptists were used to working through associations to meet local needs but this was a new creation and it took many years to shape the larger vision of South Carolinians working together to meet needs in South Carolina and beyond.
South Carolina Baptist Convention in its 1866 meeting took a bold step and created an Executive Board which combined work of several boards. To coordinate this work and to challenge the churches and associations to the value of state missions, the Convention employed a General Agent. Under the old structure several agents worked to promote work of specific boards but the General Agent would seek to unify the work and its promotion. The goal was to cultivate new work in areas not being reached. The early years of the General Agents were difficult and made even more so by the tremendous devastation in South Carolina following the Civil War.
This excerpt from the 1872 South Carolina Baptist Convention Annual Meeting Minutes was typical.
. . . The destitution of some sections of our country is truly deplorable. The ravages of war have left portions of our beloved State in a prostrate condition. Especially is this the case upon the sea coast. . . . the whole range of coast country, from Georgetown to the Savannah River, present a picture of destitution truly deplorable—churches burned or deserted, a population demoralized or broken-spirited, and everywhere poverty under circumstances the most trying and discouraging. (p. 18)
South Carolina was still an agricultural state in the late 1860s and work of the first four General Agents can be compared to a farmer plowing, planting, cultivating and harvesting. The General Agent was the farmer but the field was God’s and people were His as well. So was the harvest which brought souls into the Kingdom of God. The following stories are about God’s Kingdom and four men God used to further His Kingdom during a difficult time. They were men of courage and vision. Hear their stories.