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"Statewide association of black Baptists organized, Oct. 18, 1867, at First African Baptist Church, then located 2/10 mi. W." After the Civil War African Americans withdrew from Baptist churches across the state and, two years later, established their own association, the black counterpart to the Baptist State Convention. The withdrawal stemmed, according to John L. Bell’s 1965 article on the topic, from “strong Baptist opposition to social equality” and the desire by both races for separate churches and associations.
In September 1867 a group of ministers led by Meredith Ligon called for an assembly of the minister and two delegates from each black Baptist church in the state. They planned the assembly to coincide with the annual meeting of the white convention from which they received advice and $500 in financial support. The group first took the name “General Association for Colored Baptists of North Carolina.” A schism in 1908 led to the creation of a second association but in 1915 the two recombined in a Union Convention. Known for a time as the Educational and Missionary Convention, the group since 1947 officially has been called the General Baptist State Convention.
The organizational meeting opened on October 18, 1867, at the First African Baptist Church in Goldsboro. As far as can be determined, no minutes or proceedings survive from that session. Reports of the meeting appeared in the Biblical Recorder and in histories published in 1901 and 1908. The creation of the organization came at a time marked by ignorance, poverty, discouragement, and bitter struggle. Many of the delegates were illiterate, according to prominent antebellum black pastor Harry Cowan, who took part. By 1882, however, the group represented 800 churches and 95,000 members. Today, the convention represents over a half-million members. First African Baptist Church of Goldsboro still owns the tract where the meeting took place (now a vacant lot) but moved to a new church in 1978.
J. A. Whitted, A History of the Negro Baptists of North Carolina (1908)
Charles B. Williams, A History of the Baptists in North Carolina (1901)
John L. Bell, Jr., “Baptists and the Negro in North Carolina During Reconstruction,” North Carolina Historical Review (Autumn 1965): 391-409
“A Brief History of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina” (unpublished typescript, copy in Research Branch, North Carolina Office of Archives and History)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.