John F. MorrallJohn F. Morrall

Born: August 24, 1823 in Beaufort County
Died: October 15, 1909 in Walterboro
Family: Wife – Caroline Barbara Gignilliat, six children
Education: Graduate of Furman University and the Theological Institute
Churches served: Euhaw, Robertville, Pipe Creek, Lawtonville, Aiken, Timmonsville, Allendale, also churches in Georgia. Was pastor at Robertville when the Union army burned the church and town.
Other service: Moderator of Savannah River Association for many years, General Agent of South Carolina Baptist Convention April 1, 1870 – November 1871

Preaching the Great Commission

Survival, recovery and rebuilding were main themes in everyday life and even church life following the Civil War. Each day was a struggle, nonetheless, South Carolina Baptist Convention In 1866 moved boldly to hire a General Agent whose main task was to work with churches promoting unified ministry and missions in South Carolina and beyond.

The first two General Agents, J.O.B. Dargan and T. H. Pope, visited many churches talking about a greater vision of the kingdom of Christ. The vision went beyond the local church and association to needs of South Carolina and beyond as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission. It was a difficult task in 1870 for most people to think beyond their immediate needs and those of their neighbors. Finding an extra penny to give to missions was hard. State mission work was slow and funds remained scarce but progress was measurable as John Fripp Morrall built on the foundation of previous agents. Dargan and Pope had plowed the fields and planted seeds. Now it was Morrall’s task to “cultivate the crop.” Over an eighteen month period in 1870-1871, he preached or spoke about missions and Sunday School three hundred twenty-six times, traveling several thousand miles. He was tireless in promoting and cultivating work of the kingdom.

Morrall focused his work on three areas: Sunday School, education and missions. The first Sunday School Convention in South Carolina was held in Sumter in 1870 and more and more churches incorporated the program in their church ministry. Convinced that teaching young people Biblical principles would produce a harvest in years to come, Morrall encouraged interest in general education and Furman University in particular. The Convention supported Furman and worked tirelessly to see it succeed. But Morrall made missions his specialty. As he stated in his 1871 report, he wanted “to excite the missionary spirit so vital to the well being of individual Christians, and Churches everywhere, and trust that the seed sown may yet spring up and yield an abundant harvest.” (p. 8) He was cultivating for the future when he said, “If our Churches expect to prosper and grow in spiritually, they must catch more of this spirit of Jesus, the missionary spirit.” Individuals and churches were to give sacrificially to spread the Gospel as if they were the only ones giving. He wanted his ministry to educate people on giving. Morrall believed when the message was properly presented people would give and he thought as South Carolina’s financial situation became more stable people would give as they should.

The years Dargan, Pope and Morrall served as General Agents (1866-1871) were years of great stress socially, culturally and politically. It would have been easy to be overcome by these struggles and think another time was better to support missions. During the years of the Civil War, only fourteen new churches appeared but under the three agents, forty-three churches were started. These were often in places that either had no ministry or the ministry had become extremely weakened. South Carolina Baptist Convention under leadership of its Executive Board and General Agents moved forward “plowing the fields, planting the seeds and cultivating the crop,”believing Jesus’ command to “Go into all the world” with the Gospel meant ACTION NOW.