Annual Meeting Explored Reconciliation after the Civil War

In May 1865, the Virginia Baptists, like all Virginians, could look around them and see the total devastation left from four years of the Civil War.  Churches were destroyed, congregations scattered, the denomination in tatters.  Rather than live in the past, Virginia Baptists sought to embrace the future.  Through their General Association they issued the first act of religious reconstruction in the South, seeking reconciliation.  Through their leaders and their newspaper, they reached out to Northern Baptists to re-establish relationships.  "Towards a More Perfect Union" was the theme of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society's Annual Meeting held May 19 at Second Baptist Church on River Road in Richmond.

Speakers included Fred Anderson, executive director of the Society, who addressed Virginia Baptists' actions of reconciliation.  David Laubach, formerly associate executive director of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, spoke on Northern missionaries in the South.  Adam Bond, professor of church history at the School of Theology of Virginia Union University, delivered an address on "Reading Freedom in History," in observance of his school's 150th anniversary.  There also was a special feature on hymns in the Civil War period as presented by Paul Dakin, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lynchburg, VA.  Fred Anderson and David Laubach will have their addresses included in the 2015 Virginia Baptist Register to be published in December 2015. 

New Journal tells about Baptist beginnings in Virginia...

The new issue of the Virginia Baptist Register, the annual journal of the Society, explores the beginnings of a Baptist presence in Virginia.  Fred Anderson, executive director of the VBHS, has written an extensive article on "the Virginia Mission" which was undertaken by English Baptists beginning in 1714 and which resulted in the planting of the first Baptist church in Virginia in 1715 by Robert Norden.  Also included in the journal are studies by two Virginia Baptist college students about church planting today through the Baptist General Association of Virginia.  The students are Heritage Fellows appointed by the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies and are Katie Wilkins of Bluefield College and Abby Chapin of Virginia Tech.

The journal also includes a major article by Michael Whitt, special projects assistant at the VBHS, on the impact of the Civil War upon Virginia Baptist churches.  Whitt made an exhaustive study of the period by using  church and association records as well as issues of the Religious Herald for the war years.

The 2014 Register can be ordered for $18 including shipping and handling.  Orders can be sent to VBHS, Box 34, University of Richmond, VA 23173.  Copies will be mailed later this year to all annual members of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

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