Religion

The Founding of the Black Church in America

When was the first black church established?

The independent black churches founded in Colonial America were Baptist. The first black Baptist church known to have begun during this period was the African Baptist or “Bluestone” Church. It was organized in 1758 on William Byrd’s plantation located near Bluestone River in Mecklenburg, Virginia. (A claim for priority is also advanced for a congregation known to exist at Lunenburg in 1756. The evidence is not clear-cut, but all substantiated claims so far refer to Virginia and the decade of the 1750s.) Later, other black Baptist churches were established in South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia. The first black Baptist church under black leadership seems to have been formed in Silver Bluff, South Carolina. David George, a slave, became its first black pastor. George Liele (c. 1750–1820) and, less probably, Andrew Bryan (1737–1812) have also been associated with the church. The congregation seems to have been founded between 1773 and 1775. The present church was remodeled in 1920, and a cornerstone with the founding date of 1750 was put in place. This date appears too early for most historians to accept. In 1793 the congregation of some sixty persons, led by Jesse Galpin, moved to Augusta, Georgia, about twenty miles away.



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