From the Red to the Rio Grande

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From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:46 pm

Don't know if there are are Free Will Baptists (I'm not) or Texans (I am) at BaptistLife.com, but perhaps there are some history buffs, at least. Here is an interesting book I just purchased.
From the Red to the Rio Grande: a History of the Free Will Baptist Work in Texas, 1876-2014 by Thurmon Murphy.

The only customer review at Amazon says:
One of the most detailed accounts of the founding of the Free Will Baptist movement in Texas. Those interested in this movement or the study of denominations will find this strongly researched account beneficial. It is also filled with families and Ministers for the genealogist.
I'd dare say it is the only detailed account of the founding of the Free Will Baptist movement in Texas.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Sandy » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:06 pm

I spent a lot of time in Texas, and ran into a lot of different kind of Baptists, many of them with uniquely Texas origins. The distinctive differences between them were surprising, given their use of the term "Baptist," and the common elements. I can't say that I ever ran across a Free Will Baptist church in Texas, at least, not of the kind that are fairly abundant in Missouri, and even more so around here and down in West Virginia.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:09 am

Most, if not all, of the white Free Will Baptists in Texas are affiliated with the Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists and the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Most of the black Free Will Baptists in Texas are affiliated with one of the United American Freewill Baptist Associations. The book is by a retired pastor in the NAFWB, so is primarily about the white Free Will Baptists in Texas. I think there are only about 50 churches across the whole state.

The Free Will Baptists got a late start (1870s), so I suppose a lot of communities already had a Baptist church. They have also lost a lot of churches over the years. They once had probably a dozen churches in our county, and now I think have only three. One unique thing about Texas Free Will Baptists is that, though in the South, they had a strong connection to the Free or Freewill Baptists in the Northeast. When most of the Free Baptists merged with the Northern Baptist Convention in 1911, I think it was a hard blow to the FWBs here -- not that many of them joined the Northern Baptists, but more that it left them isolated.

This is an interesting read, though I've just started. In the closing chapters, the author offers his opinions on why the FWB's have struggled in Texas.

The oldest existing Free Will Baptist church in the state is St. Paul Freewill Baptist Church in Lancaster, organized in 1870. It is a predominantly black congregation.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:17 pm

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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Sandy » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:36 pm

I've always been fascinated with the Baptist history in Texas, particularly in East Texas. One of the things I noticed during the many years spent there was the distinctive differences even between Southern Baptists in East Texas, compared to elsewhere in the state. The churches in the rural areas of West Texas are different, too. So these Free Will Baptists are part of that mix, and were pretty intense, and very conscious of their identity. It seems very important, even today, for Baptists there to distinguish themselves by addint "Missionary" to their identity, i.e. "Missionary Baptist." It would be hard to mistake the theological posture of a church that identifies itself as a "Free Will Missionary Baptist" church.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Haruo » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:38 pm

Free Will Missionary Baptists are presumably the ones who missionaries go of their own free will and not under legal or other compulsion?
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:42 pm

Sandy wrote:I've always been fascinated with the Baptist history in Texas, particularly in East Texas. One of the things I noticed during the many years spent there was the distinctive differences even between Southern Baptists in East Texas, compared to elsewhere in the state. The churches in the rural areas of West Texas are different, too. So these Free Will Baptists are part of that mix, and were pretty intense, and very conscious of their identity.
What did you feel were the most distinctive differences between Southern Baptists in East Texas and elsewhere?

Sandy wrote:It seems very important, even today, for Baptists there to distinguish themselves by addint "Missionary" to their identity, i.e. "Missionary Baptist." It would be hard to mistake the theological posture of a church that identifies itself as a "Free Will Missionary Baptist" church.
The use of "Missionary Baptist" is interesting, as it varies who claims the title. If you see "Missionary Baptist" on a sign around here, you can be sure it is either white non-Southern Baptist or black Baptist (usually affiliated with one of the National Baptist Conventions. In the past visiting in north Georgia and north Alabama I found this often designated Southern Baptist (not that all Southern Baptists used it.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:51 pm

Haruo wrote:Free Will Missionary Baptists are presumably the ones who missionaries go of their own free will and not under legal or other compulsion?
I don't know about that, generally. I have seen that name used (though rarely) in modern times and I think the churches were African-American. I am not familiar with any churches of that name (other than just having seen the name on the internet).

The group described in my link above was one of at least three groups that splintered out of the old Sabine Baptist Association in the late 1840s. There was an undercurrent over missions,mission boards, etc., so the two main divisions were divided about the utility and scripturality of mission boards and missionary societies. Both were on the Calvinistic end of the spectrum (but not as far towards that end as Daniel Parker, who wouldn't fellowship either of them). The "Free Will Missionary Baptist Association" was a short-lived body that adopted free will (regarding salvation), open communion, and the possibility of apostasy. The two main leaders recanted their positions on all three of these doctrines and wound up as what would be Southern Baptist. I think Peter Eldridge never recovered the confidence of the main body, but G. W. Slaughter went on to make quite a splash, even being one of the original trustees of Baylor when it moved to Waco in the 1880s and his son became an important financier of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

The "Free Will Missionary Baptist Association" died within no more than 5 years (as best is known) and the Free Will Baptists here today have no historical connection to them (other than possibly picking up a members who had been influenced by them). The current Free Will work in Texas was established in the 1870s.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Haruo » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:44 am

Sorry, Robert, I think I had an attack of drive-by facetiousness. In my experience, too, Missionary in a Baptist church name predisposes me to expect a predominantly African-American congregation.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Sandy » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:58 am

Rvaughn wrote:What did you feel were the most distinctive differences between Southern Baptists in East Texas and elsewhere?


In East Texas, the SBC churches tend to be less numerous, and as a result, larger than average. I also think that because of the presence of the ABA, they've developed some ways to distinguish themselves as SBC, since not everyone pays attention to the sign. They are a little more "progressive," for lack of a better term, socially and in practice. It's hard to characterize the context of the terms, but they are more "Southern" and less "Texan." I'm thinking of churches like Green Acres in Tyler, Central Baptist in Jacksonville, Denman Avenue in Lufkin, First Baptist and Fredonia Hill in Nacogdoches, Central Baptist in Carthage, Mobberly and First in Longview, Central in Livingston, and other churches along those lines.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:54 pm

Interesting. Thanks, Sandy. I'd think on average the country churches in East Texas tend to be more ABA and BMA than SBC, though there are plenty of country churches in the SBC as well (and when you get out of East Texas ABA & BMA thins out considerably). I think your observation probably applies more to the SBC churches in town than in the country -- which ones I am familiar with in rural settings seem pretty much as conservative as ABA and BMA churches. (Of course, ABA & BMA churches in town tend to be more progressive than rural ones, too, so part of what I am comparing is probably more rural/urban than East Texas/outside of East Texas.)

I am vaguely to somewhat familiar with most of the churches you name, but have never attended church services at any of them. Have been to some of them for other reasons -- for example, funerals, weddings. Dr. Allen Reed, longtime pastor at First Nac (but no longer there), preaches a very good funeral sermon. My grandfather's first cousin was (and I think is still) the youngest man to pastor First Baptist of Nacogdoches. It was quite the "scandal" in the church and community when he choose the "Southern" side after the BGCT-BMAT split.

Central in Carthage, Jacksonville and Livingston are interesting cases, in the sense that we usually expect "First Baptist" to be the SBC church. But in several East Texas towns that is reversed. Green Acres became well-known through Paul Powell (now at Truett Seminary), but is also the home of Judge/Representative Louie Gohmert.

I'll have to observe this/these churches more closely considering what you have said.

Only peripherally related, if you are familiar with Nacogdoches churches, this might interest you:
Australian pastor travels more than 8,000 miles to make East Texas new home
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:15 pm

By the way, since Sandy invoked Central Baptist in Livingston, here is a church history tidbit for Sacred Harp lovers:
"No pastor was reported for Ariel Church in 1856, but the church sent delegates H. F. Haynes, J. Galloway, A. Foster, and E. J. Smith with a report to the annual associational meeting. Ariel Church had a membership of 18. In 1857, Reuben E. Brown, who had been a missionary for the Bethlehem Association, became pastor. He represented Ariel Church at the State Baptist Convention in 1858. In 1861, Reuben Brown volunteered his services as Chaplain to the Confederate troops, and he died in Galveston during the war. In 1864, Thomas R. McCrorey, a then future pastor of the Livingston Baptist Church, was detailed to bring his body back to Polk County for burial."
From Central Baptist Church History

The Family Circle by Reuben E. Brown & B. F. White. White and Brown had in-laws in common, White's son having married Brown's daughter.

The Family Circle recording (not the best, seems like a lot of static or background noise, but the only one I found)
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Sandy » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:32 pm

Those are mostly "in town" churches, though if you look through the BGCT and SBTC annuals, there aren't as many SBC churches in the rural areas compared to Central, West and North Texas. I would say that's because of the many ABA and BMA congregations scattered in the rural areas of East Texas. But the "town" churches tend to be larger in attendance and membership than SBC churches in similar sized communities in other parts of the state. Most of the larger East Texas SBC congregations have stayed with the BGCT, but there are only two in the whole region that have affiliated with CBF--Austin Heights in Nacogdoches, which is the "college church" close to the Stephen F. Austin State Univ. campus, and FBC Lufkin. Many of the rural congregations have joined SBTC.

I wonder, these days, how many people making casual observations would even be able to tell the difference between a rural SBC congregation in East Texas, and an ABA or BMA congregation. The older members are probably much more well versed in the differences. A number of years ago, an older lady who was a member of an ABA congregation in Arkansas sternly lectured me and filled me in on why the ABA were the closest to the Bible, and Southern Baptists were lining up at the very gates of hell when I suggested that I couldn't really tell the difference. But I believe the ABA, at least in Texas, has now entered into some kind of relationship, perhaps even a merger of sorts, with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC).
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:56 pm

Sandy wrote:Those are mostly "in town" churches, though if you look through the BGCT and SBTC annuals, there aren't as many SBC churches in the rural areas compared to Central, West and North Texas. I would say that's because of the many ABA and BMA congregations scattered in the rural areas of East Texas.
A lot of this goes back to the history of the early 20th century division of the BGCT. A lot of the unhappiness with the BGCT was centered in East Texas,and the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas was originally formed as the East Texas Baptist Convention before leaders from other parts of the state convinced them to make it a state organization.

Sandy wrote:But the "town" churches tend to be larger in attendance and membership than SBC churches in similar sized communities in other parts of the state. Most of the larger East Texas SBC congregations have stayed with the BGCT, but there are only two in the whole region that have affiliated with CBF--Austin Heights in Nacogdoches, which is the "college church" close to the Stephen F. Austin State Univ. campus, and FBC Lufkin. Many of the rural congregations have joined SBTC.
One influence that may have also helped enlarge these town churches, originally, would be a scenario like in our county. The BMAT (and ABA which it joined in 1924) pretty much "owned" the county, church-wise -- except they did not have a church in the county seat! When a Missionary Baptist family moved to town, guess where they had to join? In our county it was nearly 50 years after the split before the ABA folks figured they had better get a church in Henderson. I'm not familiar with FBC, Lufkin, but am with Austin Heights. I have a friend who sings Sacred Harp who is a member there. They are quite a different church from the rest of the churches in the county, imo -- though, if I remember correctly, they still are part of the local Shelby-Doches Association.

Sandy wrote:I wonder, these days, how many people making casual observations would even be able to tell the difference between a rural SBC congregation in East Texas, and an ABA or BMA congregation. The older members are probably much more well versed in the differences. A number of years ago, an older lady who was a member of an ABA congregation in Arkansas sternly lectured me and filled me in on why the ABA were the closest to the Bible, and Southern Baptists were lining up at the very gates of hell when I suggested that I couldn't really tell the difference. But I believe the ABA, at least in Texas, has now entered into some kind of relationship, perhaps even a merger of sorts, with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC).
I don't think it is altogether just a matter of casual observations. A lot of the ABA and BMA churches have progressed to where there is little noticeable difference between them and SBC churches -- mainly in where their financial support goes, other than a few hard line holdouts (and I'd say Arkansas is a little different case than Texas). It is the BMAT, rather than the ABA, that has established a relationship with the SBTC. The Jacksonville College has a relationship with the SBTC now, and, IIRC, the BMAT and SBTC held a joint annual meeting a few years back.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Sandy » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:22 pm

There was a family in my former church in Houston who led the music for a while, her dad was a BMA pastor in East Texas, her son went to Jacksonville College for a couple of years, though I couldn't really remember which group had become involved with the SBTC. You're probably more familiar with how that relationship works within the associations and in the convention than I am. With the different missions programs requiring support, I can't imagine that its much more than a fraternal and fellowship relationship.

Austin Heights was formed to be a more progressive kind of church from the start, from what I know of it. It's one of those churches that characteristically can identify with CBF or even the AoB from the outset. The current CBF coordinator, Suzii Paynter, was pastor's wife there for a while. I know that a lot of its members come from the college community. I don't know if they're still in Shelby Doches Association or not. Since the convention split, a lot of those associations have dually affiliated, and have churches that are dually affiliated and uniquely aligned with both state conventions and I hadn't heard of any kind of effort to push churches out, though this one and FBC Lufkin are the only two in all of Deep East Texas that went with CBF. There's one in Beaumont, down closer to the coast. So three in that part of the state.

What I hear from a few seminary friends still hanging around in East Texas is that the Baptist landscape is changing, that many churches are disbanding as membership gets older, and that while Baptists are still the largest denomination in the area, the numbers are dwindling along with the Methodists, Presbyterians and others.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Haruo » Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:02 am

Rvaughn wrote:By the way, since Sandy invoked Central Baptist in Livingston, here is a church history tidbit for Sacred Harp lovers:
"No pastor was reported for Ariel Church in 1856, but the church sent delegates H. F. Haynes, J. Galloway, A. Foster, and E. J. Smith with a report to the annual associational meeting. Ariel Church had a membership of 18. In 1857, Reuben E. Brown, who had been a missionary for the Bethlehem Association, became pastor. He represented Ariel Church at the State Baptist Convention in 1858. In 1861, Reuben Brown volunteered his services as Chaplain to the Confederate troops, and he died in Galveston during the war. In 1864, Thomas R. McCrorey, a then future pastor of the Livingston Baptist Church, was detailed to bring his body back to Polk County for burial."
From Central Baptist Church History

The Family Circle by Reuben E. Brown & B. F. White. White and Brown had in-laws in common, White's son having married Brown's daughter.

The Family Circle recording (not the best, seems like a lot of static or background noise, but the only one I found)

Thanks, Robert! I have bookmarked the scans of the 1860 SH. Here's a scan of the song as it appears in the 1991 Denson edition, by way of Germany Image and here is another video, which also has its failings.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Haruo » Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:07 pm

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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Haruo » Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:34 pm

BTW, who's the alto by? Is it in Cooper, and if so does it have the same or a different alto?
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Sandy » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:17 pm

Seems to be some borrowed words there, or was this written before "Come Thou Fount."
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Haruo » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:30 pm

Sandy wrote:Seems to be some borrowed words there, or was this written before "Come Thou Fount."

Not sure what you mean by "borrowed words", Sandy. There's a "Chorus" (i.e. Refrain) tacked on to the verses, which consist of half a stanza each of Robinson's hymn. It's like the difference between "Alas! and did my Savior bleed" and "At the Cross". The latter consists of Watts' original verses with Hudson's chorus tacked on.
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:34 pm

Sandy, on the words, what Leland said. This is pretty much a campmeeting type song that uses old texts with a repetitive chorus added.

Leland, the alto is by Anna Cooper Blackshear -- W. M. Cooper's daughter. It was written by her circa 1902, and borrowed by J. S. James in 1911. So the Denson alto is hers (there is one note difference, whether James changed it in error or deliberately).
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Re: From the Red to the Rio Grande

Postby Rvaughn » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:43 pm

Sandy wrote:There was a family in my former church in Houston who led the music for a while, her dad was a BMA pastor in East Texas, her son went to Jacksonville College for a couple of years, though I couldn't really remember which group had become involved with the SBTC. You're probably more familiar with how that relationship works within the associations and in the convention than I am. With the different missions programs requiring support, I can't imagine that its much more than a fraternal and fellowship relationship.
I have some BMA background/connections, but haven't been in a church in the association since about 1980, so I know peripheral things, but not details. I suspect that you are right that the relationship is mainly fraternal and fellowship. They may have tried to solidify what had been occurring naturally -- feeding JBC (a junior college) students into ETBU (4-yr).

Sandy wrote:What I hear from a few seminary friends still hanging around in East Texas is that the Baptist landscape is changing, that many churches are disbanding as membership gets older, and that while Baptists are still the largest denomination in the area, the numbers are dwindling along with the Methodists, Presbyterians and others.
Churches are definitely dying in rural areas, which may help consolidate the size of the larger town churches with larger "offerings" to keep the people happy. If I'm not mistaken, one of the fastest growing churches in our county is Southern Baptist -- but has neither Southern nor Baptist in the name. It is a cowboy church, quite conservative theologically. The pastor seems like a good guy (I'm not into the cowboy church concept, myself).

Re town churches and the opening post -- Free Will Baptists -- they have had a hard time getting churches started and/or keeping them going in the towns in East Texas. They had a go north to south -- Texarkana, Longview, Nacogdoches, Huntsville, Houston, for examples -- and lost their churches in all these places.
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