Free Will Baptist History Book

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Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Rvaughn » Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:50 pm

Free Will Baptist History: Exploring Our Origins & Identity, Robert E. Picirilli, ISBN 9781614841081, Randall House Pubications (Nashville, TN), 11/01/2019 (Paperback).

According to Randall House, “This work provides a fresher and clearer picture of the rich history of Free Will Baptists. Stories are preserved in full detail from careful research to pass along to the next generation. Topics in the work include: the Free Will Baptist Covenant, the founding of the Free Will Baptist work in Texas, Free Will Baptist participation in the Unity Movements, the Free Will Baptist school in Unicio, the early history of the Christian Workers Institutes, along with several other valuable pieces of denominational history.” The author ably presents historical facts while maintaining the readers’ interest. Some individual Free Will Baptists mentioned in this work include D. J. Apperson, J. W. Lucas, and Redding Moore. I was privileged to contribute a chapter on Angus McAllister Stewart, the founder of the first continuing white Free Will Baptist work in Texas, which work began in Panola County (the county to the east of mine).

The author, Robert E. Picirilli, has previously written on Free Will Baptist history, including History of Free Will Baptist State Associations, History of Tennessee Free Will Baptists, and Little Known Chapters in Free Will Baptist History. He has degrees from Welch College (B.A.) and Bob Jones University (M.A., Ph.D.). He has taught and served in the administration at Welch College. He is a member of the Free Will Baptist Historical Commission.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Sandy » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:11 pm

Is there a geographic "center" or area where Free Will Baptists are clustered in Texas? I can't recall ever running into any while living there. There are plenty of them around where my parents are from in West Virginia and there were a scattering of churches around us in Western Pennsylvania. I know they have a college in Nashville, and a cluster of churches there.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:56 am

The only FWBC I can find any sign of in Washington State is New Hope FBC in Sumner. I've put it on my list of places to worship in 2021. Unfortunately the websitelisted is for an outfit in Philadelphia. Maybe I'll try calling them tomorrow to see if they exist and if they know about the website snafu.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:37 am

Sandy wrote:Is there a geographic "center" or area where Free Will Baptists are clustered in Texas? I can't recall ever running into any while living there. There are plenty of them around where my parents are from in West Virginia and there were a scattering of churches around us in Western Pennsylvania. I know they have a college in Nashville, and a cluster of churches there.
Sandy, I am not sure if there really is a geographic center of Free Will Baptists in Texas. I believe there are not more than 50 churches in the entire state. I am particularly familiar with two pockets that resulted from the work of Angus McAllister Stewart, who came to Texas from Georgia and settled in Panola County. His initial work was primarily in that area, and the pocket here is, I think, mostly Nacogdoches, Panola, and Rusk Counties -- probably about a dozen churches. Later he moved to Bryan and started several churches in that area. That pocket ranges, I think, from say Madisonville to Huntsville.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:40 am

Haruo wrote:The only FWBC I can find any sign of in Washington State is New Hope FBC in Sumner. I've put it on my list of places to worship in 2021. Unfortunately the websitelisted is for an outfit in Philadelphia. Maybe I'll try calling them tomorrow to see if they exist and if they know about the website snafu.
Leland, the National Association website does not list churches, so far as I could tell, but there is a Northwest District, as well as several associations in California. If there is still a church in Washington state, it would probably be connected to one of those. But I couldn't find anything.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:03 am

Sandy wrote:Is there a geographic "center" or area where Free Will Baptists are clustered in Texas? I can't recall ever running into any while living there. There are plenty of them around where my parents are from in West Virginia and there were a scattering of churches around us in Western Pennsylvania. I know they have a college in Nashville, and a cluster of churches there.


In the north the majority of Free Will Baptists merged with the Northern Baptist Convention (Now American Baptist Churches, USA) in the early 1900s.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:29 am

Rvaughn wrote:
Haruo wrote:The only FWBC I can find any sign of in Washington State is New Hope FBC in Sumner. I've put it on my list of places to worship in 2021. Unfortunately the websitelisted is for an outfit in Philadelphia. Maybe I'll try calling them tomorrow to see if they exist and if they know about the website snafu.
Leland, the National Association website does not list churches, so far as I could tell, but there is a Northwest District, as well as several associations in California. If there is still a church in Washington state, it would probably be connected to one of those. But I couldn't find anything.

I sent an email to Mike Criswell. Thanks for the lead, Robert.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:04 pm

You're welcome, Leland.
Tim Bonney wrote:In the north the majority of Free Will Baptists merged with the Northern Baptist Convention (Now American Baptist Churches, USA) in the early 1900s.
Right. I believe this merger was finalized, or more or less finalized, in 1911. IIRC, those in the North lost most if not all of their organizations, educational institutions, etc. at this time. Of course, most of the churches went with them. Those who did not were left with no organization except possibly yearly meetings, if any of them had a majority that did not want to merge. (Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan was founded by the Northern Freewill Baptists. They are not now denominationally-affiliated, so I am not sure what happened in their story re the merger.)

The freewill Baptists North & South rose from different backgrounds. By the time they merged with the Northern Baptist Convention, those in the North called themselves Free Baptists. Those in the South usually preferred Free Will. The present-day National Association of Free Will Baptists is primarily a coming together of organizations in the Southern United States, but the remnant of the Free Baptists (generally) eventually found their way into the national association also.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:34 pm

Rvaughn wrote:The freewill Baptists North & South rose from different backgrounds. By the time they merged with the Northern Baptist Convention, those in the North called themselves Free Baptists. Those in the South usually preferred Free Will.

A bit reminiscent of the origins of the (northern) Free Methodists in the years leading up to the War of Southern Secession. I always assumed, and I think most people who ran into them did likewise, that "Free Methodists" meant "Free Will Methodists" (as if normal Methodists were Calvinists, when in fact outside Wales Calvinist Methodists are weirdos); but at the time it was generally assumed that "Free Methodists" meant "Abolitionist Methodists" because their most prominent leaders in the schism were largely also known for anti-slavery activism. But in fact the origin of "Free Methodists" was in the sense of "Free Pews Methodists"; the movement arose among those opposed to the then widespread Methodist custom of letting the wealthier members buy their own pews as a way of supporting the church (and also as a way of avoiding sitting with people they disliked or felt better than). The Free Methodists felt this ran afoul of James 2:3.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:08 pm

Comcast spat my email back at me, says Mike Criswell is not their customer or cannot receive emails. So I got on the phone and did some more Googling and Facebook searching and determined that Mike has retired as pastor of the FWB church in Eugene (and, perhaps, as contact person for the District). But the church in Sumner seems to be real, and appears to hold the most anti-abortion-centered pizza and movie night I've ever seen the like of. Image

I sent them this message on Facebook Messenger:
So did you used to be New Hope Baptist Church? I was searching Google for "Free Will Baptist Church near me" (I'm in Skyway) and it brought up New Hope Baptist Church at your address, but the website listed is for some church in Philadelphia, "New Hope Ministries". And the phone number listed for you on this page took me to a very hard-of-hearing elderly voice that (if they heard me at all) had never heard of you. Next time I'm down that way, I'll swing by and see if you have a church building there. I was hoping to visit you for worship sometime in 2021.


My impression is that most likely Riverside FWB used to be called New Hope FWB. But how that outfit in Philadelphia ended up with their web domain name (-fwb is pretty FWB-diagnostic) I do not know.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:27 pm

Leland, I stumbled across their website, which confirms that New Hope is now Riverside. Our History The site has an e-mail contact address, which might hopefully be one you haven't tried yet.

One interesting thing about FWB's North & South is that they arose independently of one another. Unlike Regular Baptists North & South who split over slavery/abolition/etc., the Freewill Baptists North & South were unable to unite (in pre-Civil War times) because of their differences on the issues. The "Free" in their name relates to their views on salvation and communion. I remember one old periodical had a motto something like "free will, free salvation, and free communion." Another interesting name for Baptists of this stripe was "Liberal Baptists." By this they had in mind that their views on pulpit affiliation, communion, and so on, were "liberal" in comparison to the Regular Baptists who practiced restricted communion, were stricter in baptisms they would receive from others, and usually closed their pulpits fairly narrowly too. This name is not much in favor today, though, because the National Association of Free Will Baptists, while liberal & charitable in those areas, is quite theologically conservative. Therefore "liberal" as often used applying to churches does not well apply to them.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Jan 17, 2020 4:34 pm

Haruo wrote:t of the origins of the (northern) Free Methodists in the years leading up to the War of Southern Secession. I always assumed, and I think most people who ran into them did likewise, that "Free Methodists" meant "Free Will Methodists" (as if normal Methodists were Calvinists, when in fact outside Wales Calvinist Methodists are weirdos); but at the time it was generally assumed that "Free Methodists" meant "Abolitionist Methodists" because their most prominent leaders in the schism were largely also known for anti-slavery activism. But in fact the origin of "Free Methodists" was in the sense of "Free Pews Methodists"; the movement arose among those opposed to the then widespread Methodist custom of letting the wealthier members buy their own pews as a way of supporting the church (and also as a way of avoiding sitting with people they disliked or felt better than). The Free Methodists felt this ran afoul of James 2:3.


If you look at Free Methodist history “Free” also included free from membership in “secret societies.” They primarily were referring to Freemasonry. But to this day Free Methodists are not supposed to be Masons, Odd Fellows, or members of other fraternal orders.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:02 pm

Yeah, I left out the anti-Masonry part. But my impression was still that free seating was the first of the various freedoms advocated.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:37 pm

Haruo wrote:Yeah, I left out the anti-Masonry part. But my impression was still that free seating was the first of the various freedoms advocated.


That seems to be the case. Oddly for a denomination founded on freedom from or for something, they are now a much less “free” denomination than the UMC. They are quite conservative. I knew a pastor at a Free Methodist church who got in trouble from the congregation for wearing a short sleeved dress shirt to church. After they merged with the Pilgrim Holiness Church they took a much more moralistic view towards outward things like dress than was in their origins.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:48 pm

I think they vary a lot geographically, the ones here in Seattle being a lot less rigid than in some parts of the country. Seattle Pacific University is not a tremendously conservative school as far as I can tell, and the only FM church I've attended, Rainier Avenue Church, didn't seem strict or separate-minded.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Tim Bonney » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:07 pm

Haruo wrote:I think they vary a lot geographically, the ones here in Seattle being a lot less rigid than in some parts of the country. Seattle Pacific University is not a tremendously conservative school as far as I can tell, and the only FM church I've attended, Rainier Avenue Church, didn't seem strict or separate-minded.


Their seminary in Kentucky, Asbury Theological Seminary, has been a thorn in the side of the UMC for years. Many right wing United Methodists attend there and come out with theology that doesn’t really match the UMC. It is the favorite place for persons who have ended up in the Wesley Covenant Association (far right UMC folks) to attend seminary. I’ve never understood why the University Senate of the UMC allows Asbury to be be recognized for UMC seminary education. My best guess is either our commitment to broad theology or pressure from the right that keeps them on the list.
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:47 pm

Nazarenes are similarly different from region to region, those in the west being relatively liberal (e.g. allowing boys and girls to swim together)...
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Re: Free Will Baptist History Book

Postby Haruo » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:17 pm

Rvaughn wrote:Leland, I stumbled across their website, which confirms that New Hope is now Riverside. Our History The site has an e-mail contact address, which might hopefully be one you haven't tried yet.

Someone there has been in touch with me on FB Messenger, confirming most if not all of what we have been coming to imagine here. The website seems to be coming around some of the time. About half the time it's sending me to Philadelphia, the other half the time to Riverside in Sumner.
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