Posted by: Marty | November 20, 2011

Shubal Stearns–The Apostle of the Backcountry

November 20, 1771 – Shubal Stearns died. It had only been 20 years since he had embraced Baptist principles and moved South from Boston where he had been influenced by the preaching of  George Whitefield. He had labored among the “Separates” or “New Lights” as they were called then. So many of the Separates became Baptists that on occasion, Whitefield spoke against “rebaptism” of adults and argued for pedobaptism and in order to make it plain that the Baptists did not belong to his flock, he stated that many of his “chickens had become ducks.”  Stearns left New England and stopped off at Opeckon, Berckley County, Virginia on his way to Sandy Creek, North Carolina in Guilford County. It was there under the pastoral care of John Garrard and Daniel Marshall, who would become Stearns Brother-in-law that he would become a Baptist. Because of restlessness and Indian raids, Stearns and a party of sixteen settled at Sandy Creek where they built a little meetinghouse shortly after arriving, and organized a Separate Baptist church with Shubal Stearns as pastor and Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed as his assistants. The church soon expanded to 606 and began to expand into three other states. James Read, Samuel Harriss and Dutton Lane had great success in Virginia. Daniel Marshall traveled further south and planted churches in S.C., and Georgia and the Kiokee Baptist Church across the Savannah River, which was the first Baptist church of that state. Besides the home church, Stearns travelled a considerable distance in the country around, to assist in organizing and regulating the churches which he and his associates were instrumental in raising up. The spread of the gospel went forward in spite of the French and Indian War and the vast wilderness.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson , pp. 483-85.

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