Rhode Island to Independence
|Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House, Newport, RI|
The First American Church. The first Seventh Day Baptists in North America, Stephen and Anne Mumford, came to Newport, Rhode Island in 1664. They worshiped with a Baptist church. In 1671 several members of that church who had become convinced of the Sabbath separated from it and joined with them to form the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America. From that Newport church came others in New England. Pennsylvania was a center of activity in the 1690s. In the early 1700s groups in New Jersey identified themselves with Seventh Day Baptists. All of these churches were soon in contact and cooperation with one another.
German Seventh Day Baptists. Also in Pennsylvania, some German Pietists became convinced of the seventh-day Sabbath and adopted it. From that developed, at Ephrata, a separate German Seventh Day Baptist group.
|Gov. Samuel Ward, RI|
Samuel Ward of Rhode Island was the most prominent Seventh Day Baptist on the Patriot side. He was a member of the Westerly church [First Hopkinton SDB Church], a former governor of the state, a close friend and correspondent of General Nathaniel Greene, and a Rhode Island delegate to the Continental Congress. There he strongly supported military preparedness and, but for his death from smallpox, would have been a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The war had an especially strong impact on some of the churches. An Ephrata building was used as a hospital for the Continental Army. The Shrewsbury church in New Jersey was near the Monmouth battlefield. Newport was occupied and Piscataway, New Jersey, was pillaged by the British.
After the war, and as a result of the peace, territory opened for settlement in western New York and over the Appalachians. Seventh Day Baptists would soon be among those migrating west.
Source: Don Sanford, A Choosing People: The History of Seventh Day Baptists, 1992
The first picture is of the high pulpit in the Newport, R.I., Seventh Day Baptist Church, the first Seventh Day Baptist Church in North America. The person pictured is Samuel Ward, governor of Rhode Island and delegate to the Continental Congress
The next in the series: "Seventh Day Baptist History III - A Denomination Takes Form"
This series begins with: "Seventh Day Baptist History I - Seventh Day Baptist Origins"
Links to all of the posts about Seventh Day Baptist History can be found here.
This series of short summaries of Seventh Day Baptist history is part of a project undertaken for the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society, which maintains its archives and a museum in Janesville, Wisconsin.