No set salary for early Baptist ministers
The Baptist church at the earliest settlement of the county (Montgomery, Alabama) was the prevailing denomination. They had more churches and larger congregations. This was before the division, when there was only one Baptist denomination.
Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church Montgomery, Alabama uploaded to findagrave.com by Ruby Smith Hassell
Democratic in views and customs
They were quite democratic in their views and customs. They claimed that each church was sovereign and independent. They did not let any one dictate to them or influence them in their mode of worship. They called their own preachers and they did not fix a salary, in fact nothing was ever said about a salary. Each member paid what he could afford, or nothing, as he saw proper.
They took the Bible for the man of their council. They claimed that they did not advocate any doctrine or principle not laid down in the Bible. They claimed that they had Bible authority for believing in the doctrine of predestination and the final perseverance of the saints.
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First Baptist Church on the corner of Bibb Street and North Court Street in Montgomery, Alabama.
(Alabama Department of Archives and History)
They believed in the foreknowledge of God, and that God did, before the foundation of the world, ordain that a portion of the world should be saved and a portion be lost.
Believed in immersion
They believed in baptism by immersion and close communion. They contended that the baptism of Christ by John was their authority for baptism; that they went down in the water and John did baptize him; and they both came out of the water.
They practiced foot washing, and claimed Bible authority for the same; as Christ before his crucifixion called disciples together and took a basin of water and girded a towel around his loins, and got down and washed his disciples’ feet, and wiped them with the towel, and said; “As your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought, also, to wash one another’s feet.”
They were opposed to all secret societies and organizations, and contended that the Bible was a sufficient guide to control the actions of all mankind in whatever capacity.
Claimed they descended from John the Baptist
The Baptist church, at the time we write, claimed that they had descended from a direct live of succession from the day of John the Baptist. That it had been handed down from generation to generation, from father to son. Now this old Baptist family that had worshiped the same God had been baptized, as it were, at the same baptismal fount, and had partaken of the emblems of the broken body and shed blood of their Savior at the same sacramental board, was about to separate and dissolve.
Agitation over foreign and domestic missions
The question of foreign and domestic missions had been agitation the church for a number of years, part of the membership being in favor and part opposing.
At an association held with Bethel church in the southwestern portion of the county ( the old church building is still standing), on Monday after the first Sunday in October, 1837, the separation took place.
Families separated within the Baptist church
It was painful and distressing to see this old Baptist family part company. Sons leaving their fathers daughters leaving their mothers. (It is supposed that the writer is the only person now living that witnessed this separation.) The separation was final and forever.
From that day there were two separate and distinct Baptist churches, the original old Primitive and the Missionary churches. The Missionary church, from the day of the separation to the present day, have added member to member, church to church, mission to mission, and have spent millions of money in extending the cause of christianity. (sic) They have followed the Bible injunction: “Go ye into all the world and preach my gospel.”
The original old Primitive family are still in existence; they still hold to the old faith and practice. It is a good old family; they are honest, good citizens and neighbors; straightforward and correct in all their dealings with their fellowman; drink a dram whenever they want to, but never drink to excess. They were the original old soldiers of the cross, and served their day and generation, and have accomplished a good work.
(The above has been transcribed from a book titled RECOLLECTIONS OF THE EARLY SETTLERS OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY, ALABAMA -Original data: Robertson, W. G.. Recollections of the early settlers of Montgomery County, Alabama. Montgomery, Ala.: Society of Pioneers of Montgomery, 1961. *Transcriber note –At times the text has been broken into additional paragraphs to make it easier to read and names were capitalized -additional information about the family follows and is in italics.)
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