1860 – 1861 Denominational Sanction

NORTH CAROLINA CHOWAN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION’S RESOLUTIONS ON THE COMING WAR, 16 MAY 1861 [the resolutions appeared four days prior to North Carolina Secession Convention met in House of Commons in Raleigh, NC]

From: JOURNAL OF THE CONGRESS OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, 1861-1865 [Volume I]: pages 283 – 284. SIXTH DAY (of meetings by the CSA Congress)–FRIDAY, July 26, 1861.


Congress met pursuant to adjournment, and was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Peterkin.

The Chair presented a communication from the moderator of the North Carolina Chowan Baptist Association, together with a series of resolutions passed by that body; which, upon motion of Mr. Wright of Georgia, were ordered to be spread upon the minutes of Congress, and are as follows:

St. Johns (eds, note: Bertie County, NC) Post-Office, N. C., May 16, 1861.

Hon. Howell Cobb
[President of the Confederate Congress]

Sir: In accordance with the instructions contained in the enclosed resolutions, adopted by the North Carolina Chowan Baptist Association, I respectfully transmit them to you as President of Confederate Congress. This association of Christians represents 52 churches, embodying a membership of more than 10,000 men and women. These resolutions passed the body unanimously and breathe forth the sentiments of an undivided constituency. In transmitting these resolutions to you, and through you to the Congress, of Confederate States, suffer me to express my hearty concurrence in the positions therein assumed, and if our would-be oppressors continue to deny to us the rights of a free people, and nothing but the arbitrament of the sword can settle pending difficulties, may the God of battles be in our midst and give success to our army.

With sentiments of respect and esteem, believe me ever, yours,

G. C. MOORE, Moderator.

Resolutions adopted by the Chowan Baptist Association, of the State of North Carolina, at its fifty-fifth annual session, on 16th day of May, 1861.

* (1) Resolved, That this body concurs in the suggestion of the Georgia Baptist State Convention to his excellency President Davis that he set apart and recommend to the people of the Confederate States, of which our own Commonwealth is soon to become a member, a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer that God in His mercy may avert from our land the evils of war, and in case our sinfulness demands chastisement that our armies may achieve a speedy, honorable, and lasting victory.
* (2) Resolved, That this body disavows all claim to binding authority whether in matters temporal or spiritual, and that we as the free citizens of a Commonwealth declare our confidence in the justice and moderation which have hitherto characterized the Southern States. Having failed to live in amity with the people of the North, we hold that they are right in their demand to be let alone in their efforts to establish a separate and independent government.
* (3) Resolved, Having an abiding confidence in the justice of our cause, we believe it to be our duty as Christians and freemen to contribute our utmost endeavors to uphold and defend our institutions and to resist to the direst extremity the criminal efforts of Abraham Lincoln and his supporters to subvert and destroy the same.
* (4) Resolved, That we admire and approve the heroism and devotion manifested by the patriots of our land, who are volunteering [eds. Note: North Carolinians are volunteering, in the state, to fight on both sides] by thousands to do battle in defense of our religion, our liberty, and our firesides. [eds. Note: during the Civil War, in Bertie County, 600 men fought for the Confederacy and 400 fought for the Union]
* (5) Resolved, That we look forward with pleasure to the early formal connection of North Carolina with her sisters of the Confederate States. [eds. Note: in happened four days later on 20 May 1861 in the House of Commons chamber in Raleigh, NC]
* (6) Resolved, That the presiding officer of this body be instructed to transmit copies of these resolutions to his excellency Jeff. Davis, President of the Confederate States; to the Hon. Howell Cobb, President of the Confederate Congress, and to his excellency John W. Ellis, governor of the State of North Carolina, and to the presiding officer of the convention of North Carolina.


James A. Delke, compiler, THE HISTORY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA CHOWAN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION, 1806-1881, Raleigh, NC: Edwards, Broughton & Co., Publishers. 1882]: 84 – 87.


“The Late Civil War.

The demon of war that swept as a besom of destruction over our fair and happy land, devastating our fields, burning our homes, profaning our churches, closing our schools, paralysing or cutting off our commerce, filling the nation with great weeping and lamentations for those who were not, as for those that were, materially impaired, though it did not utterly prevent the Home and Foreign work of the Association.

The annual sessions of the body were held as usual, save the session of 1864, which belonged on the east side of Chowan river, but was, in consequence of the proximity of the enemy, held with the church at Buckhorn. During the sessions of 1862-63-64, nearly half of the churches was not represented, and but few of our ministers present, many being in the army, either as chaplains or in some other capacity. Contributions to the various objects felt the pressure of the times in the scarcity of money and the restraints upon travel, and the inefficiency and unreliability of the postal service.

In 1864, the following resolution shows that though persecuted, we were not forsaken, troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, yet not in despair. Information of the recent victories with which our arms have been blessed having been received to them so portentous of evil, were big with mercy, and should break, in blessings on their head.

Resolved, That our thanks be recorded as due our Heavenly Father for such evidences of His protecting care, and that we bow now in solemn prayer and gratitude.

Elder A. McDowell led in prayer, in which every heart present seemed fervently to unite.

Queries of 1863, 1, 3, 4, bear upon this subject, as does / also a portion of the article on colored members.

The Board of Missions of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention did a noble work in Army Col portage, many souls, through their instrumentality, being converted, others comforted.

Soon after the close of the war, the various boards prosecuted their labors with renewed energies, though with diminished resources. Communication with our Foreign fields was re-opened, much to the relief of our Missionaries who had so long subsisted on diminished supplies, or having turned to secular labor for that subsistence which failed to reach them through the usual channel of communication.

In 1866, of the fifty-three churches only four were not represented, and in 1867, the contributions had reached $18,011.23, larger than for any other year save 1874— $21,595.25.

Yet, notwithstanding God has so signally blessed us since the war, our people have been slow to recognize the fact that the Almighty Ruler of nations was chastening his chosen ones for their good, and that the clouds, to them so portentous of evil, were big with mercy, and should break, in blessings on their head.

Colored Members.

Until recently, except in the cities and large towns, there were but few separate churches for colored members; these generally held their membership in the churches of the white, their names being enrolled and called by the clerk at the regular church conference. In the letters to the Association, the membership was Reported—white members—colored members.

The minutes contain no statement of the colored members till the year 1842, when their number is 781, more than 20 per cent, of the white .membership. In 1861, it was nearly 50 per cent., and at present is less than 1 per cent., the largest number reported at any time being 3,175; this year, 1880, it is 91.

In 1852, the church at Pleasant Plains, Hertford county, composed of colored members, was received into the Association, being represented by white delegates, and so continued, till, on motion, at her request, a letter of dismission was granted the church in 1870.

In 1863, the Association decided that a church should not hold in fellowship colored members who had run off from their owners for yankee freedom and protection.

In 1866, a committee was appointed to report on the relation of the colored members of churches to this body, who reported as follows:

We recommend that those who choose to retain their membership in our churches be permitted to do so, with the same status as heretofore, and that any who may wish to join us be received on the same terms.

To those who wish to withdraw in order to form churches of their own, we advise our churches to grant letters of dismission, and to give them assistance and sympathy, so far as practicable, in organizing regular churches for themselves.

A letter having been received from L. W. Boone, a colored minister representing colored Baptists on Roanoke Island, it was,

Resolved, That we approve the formation of churches of their own within our borders; and that we assure them of our cordial sympathy and hearty cooperation, so long as they adhere to Gospel order as understood and practiced among ourselves.

In 1867, a committee appointed to reply to a letter from Rev. L. W. Boone, requesting the Association to rescind a resolution passed at its session with the church at Mt. Tabor, advising the expulsion from our churches of servants who had left their masters and gone overto those in arms against us, give it as their opinion that there is no reason for rescinding the resolution which was, under the circumstances then existing, so clearly justified by the Scriptures.

A few of the colored members still retain their membership with some of our churches; the majority, however, have their own churches and Associations.”

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