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General Baptists

General Baptists

Baptist General Conference

Colorado Reform Baptist Church

Convention of Original Free Will Baptists

General Association of General Baptists

General Association of Six-Principle Baptist Churches, Inc.

National Association of Free Will Baptists, Inc

United American Free Will Baptist Church

United Baptists

Baptist General Conference

2002 S Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005

Gustaf Palmquist was a Swedish Lutheran preacher and teacher who migrated to America in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1852, shortly after his conversion and baptism in an English-speaking Baptist church in Galesburg, Illinois, he baptized three immigrant Swedes in the Mississippi River and organized a Swedish Baptist church in Rock Island, Illinois. Other churches of immigrant Swedish Baptists were organized wherever immigrant Swedes settled—in rural areas as well as in large cities in the Midwest and Northeast. By 1864 there were 11 such churches.

Chuch doctrine is predominantly Arminian Baptist with some Reformed Baptist emphases. There are two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The polity is congregational. There is an annual delegated meeting of the churches. A 25-member board of overseers is drawn from representatives of the various denominational boards and the 13 districts. The boards implement the program of the conference. The Board of Foreign Missions (now International Ministries) was first appointed in 1944. Before that time, mission work had been carried on through various independent agencies and the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. Since 1944, work has been established in India, Japan, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Mexico, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, Uruguay, the Middle East, Central Asia, Bulgaria, France, Slovakia, and Vietnam. In 2008, work was conducted in 21 countries.

Affiliated organizations include the Baptist General Conference of Canada, the Baptist General Conference in Saskatchewan, the Central Canada Baptist Conference, the Baptist World Alliance, the Baptist General Conference in Alberta, the British Columbia Baptist Conference, the National Association of Evangelicals, the North American Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and the New England Theological Seminary, along with four child care and family service agencies.

Membership

In 2002 there were 145,148 members and 902 churches.

Educational Facilities

Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, and San Diego, California.

Hispanic Bible School, Chicago, Illinois.

Periodicals

BGC World. • Newsline. • For Your Prayer Time. • Trail Markers.

Sources

Converge Worldwide (BGC). 216.177.136.28/

Ericson, Carl G. Harvest on the Prairies: Centennial History of the Baptist Conference. Chicago, IL: Baptist Conference Press, 1956.

Guston, David, and Martin Erikson, eds. Fifteen Eventful Years: A Survey of the Baptist General Conference, 1945–1960. Chicago, IL: Harvest, 1961.

Johnson, Gordon H. My Church. Chicago, IL: Harvest, 1963.

Olson, Adolf. A Centenary History. Chicago, IL: Baptist Conference Press, 1952.

Colorado Reform Baptist Church

Box 12514, Denver, CO 80212

The Colorado Reform Baptist Church was formed in 1981 by a small group of Baptist congregations that agreed to share a mutual commitment to a loose and free association in order to further common aims, including cooperation in mission and educational work. The church finds its basis in the reformist tradition of Roger Williams (1603–1683) and Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643). Not to be confused with Reformed theology, the reformist tradition is Armenian and stresses the mission of Christ to correct and address the social condition of humanity. Tenets of civil rights and religious liberty are strongly affirmed.

The church is Trinitarian in its theology. It departs from many Baptists by its observance of seven ordinances: baptism, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, marriage, repentance, healing, communion (the Lord’s Table), and spiritual vocations (ordination). The church has a congregational polity. A conference, representing all the congregations, meets annually. It selects a board of directors and a bishop to lead the church and oversee the boards and agencies. A very active social action ministry to address the problems of racism, sexism, hunger, poverty, political prisoners, and other issues is supported. Ecumenical activities are carried out through the Association of Baptist Fellowships.

Membership

Not reported. Missions are supported in Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Grand Cayman, and West Germany.

Educational Facilities

Reform Baptist Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.

Periodicals

Baptist Voice. • Roger Williams Review.

Convention of Original Free Will Baptists

Box 39, Ayden, NC 28513

HISTORY

General Baptists, often known as Free Will Baptists after they arrived in the American colonies, came to North Carolina from England in the late seventeenth century. The first congregation in the Southern colonies was a house church at Cisco Crossroads near Edenton, North Carolina, organized by the Rev. Paul Palmer and some 30 others. Palmer went on to do evangelistic work throughout the colony and organized other churches. In 1852, an association was organized, though most of the churches became part of the Calvinistic Baptists, and a reorganization of the remaining five churches had to take place; churches began meeting as a general conference (of North Carolina). In 1886, this conference divided into a western and eastern conference. Other conferences were formed, in part drawing on work in South Carolina. In 1913, a state convention was organized. It developed a number of projects including the Free Will Baptist Press, an orphanage, an assembly grounds, a college, and a seminary.

For many years the North Carolina Convention was part of the larger Free Will Baptist work and joined in the formation of the National Association of Free Will Baptists Inc. in 1935. However, over the years several areas of tension emerged between the convention and the national association. For example, when the national association decided to establish a college, it was placed in Nashville, Tennessee, rather than in North Carolina. Soon, it was noted, activities began to shift toward Nashville. The North Carolina Baptists had owned and operated a press and published both Sunday school material and the periodical for the denomination. A struggle for control between the press and the national association (and its college graduates) developed and was never fully resolved. Finally, in 1958, the North Carolina Convention and the national association came into open conflict when they took opposite sides in a disturbance in the Edgemont Church at Durham, North Carolina. A lawsuit developed, and in 1961 the convention withdrew from the national association. It became an independent body and eventually assumed its present name.

BELIEFS

The Original Free Will Baptists are at one in doctrine with other Free Will Baptists. The articles of faith affirm human free will and that the status of the elect is conferred on all who have faith in Christ. Three ordinances are observed: baptism by immersion, the Lord’s Supper, and footwashing. The church covenant calls upon members to avoid all appearance of evil; to abstain from all sinful amusements; to not engage in the buying, selling, or using of intoxicating beverages; and to be honest in all matters.

The convention is congregational in polity. The convention, however, reserves the right to settle disputes within the local churches where such disputes cannot be settled locally. Churches are organized into conferences and the conferences make up the state convention. The convention oversees the Cragmont Assembly at Black Mountain, a children’s home in Middlesex, North Carolina, a retirement home ministry, and several boards and agencies. The Free Will Baptist Press, founded in 1873, is the oldest ministry program. Foreign missions are conducted in Bangladesh, Bulgaria, India, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, and the Philippines. Home mission programs have included work among Laotian refugees in six states and Canada, and Spanish-speaking work in Florida.

Membership

In 1987, the convention reported 40,000 members and 384 ministers. In 2008, the convention reported serving more than 250 churches in central and eastern North Carolina and Georgia, with extended ministries in California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Florida, and six foreign countries.

Educational Facilities

Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, North Carolina.

Palawan Bible Institute/College, Palawan, Philippines.

Periodicals

The Free Will Baptist, Ayden, North Carolina.

Sources

Convention of Original Free Will Baptist Churches. www.ofwb.org.

The Articles of Faith and Principles of Church Government for Original Free Will Baptists (of the English General Baptist Heritage). Ayden, NC: Free Will Baptist Press Foundation, 1976.

Barfield, J. M., and Thad Harrison. History of the Free Will Baptists of North Carolina. 2 vols. Ayden, NC: Free Will Baptist Press, 1959.

Cherry, Floyd B. An Introduction to Original Free Will Baptists. Ayden, NC: Free Will Baptist Press Foundation, 1974.

Picirilli, Robert E. History of the Free Will Baptist State Associations. Nashville, TN: Randall House Publications, 1976.

General Association of General Baptists

100 Stinson Dr., Poplar Bluff, MO 63901

The General Association of General Baptists dates to the work of Benoni Stinson (1798–1869). He was a member of a United Baptist group formed in Kentucky in 1801 by the union of Separate Baptists and Regular Baptists. These United Baptists adopted an article of faith that allowed Arminian preaching, which emphasized free will, not predestination. Stinson was baptized in 1820, joined a United Baptist Church in Wayne County, Kentucky, and was ordained in 1821. He then moved to Indiana. The Wabash United Baptist Association, however, would not tolerate his Arminian free-will views, so he organized the independent New Hope Church near Evansville, Indiana. He soon had a thriving congregation. Tension with Indiana’s predominantly Calvinistic Baptists led to the founding of other churches with an Arminian perspective.

The articles of the second church, Liberty Church, professed faith in the unlimited atonement that must be apprehended through faith and the final perseverance through grace to glory. The church practiced closed communion. In 1824, the churches that followed Stinson’s Arminian tenets organized the Liberty Association of General Baptists. The association’s growth was sporadic for a decade but became steady in the 1830s. The movement spread south and west.

Doctrinally, the General Baptists are similar to the Methodists. They believe in a general atonement and practice open communion. Some churches also practice footwashing. The polity is congregational, and churches are organized in local associations. A general association was organized in 1870. Ordinations are approved by local bodies of ministers and deacons.

The general association is the highest cooperative agency in the church. The association’s program is implemented by the Council of Associations elected by local associations. The Council publishes the General Baptist Messenger. The foreign mission board conducts work in Jamaica, India, the Philippines, Mexico, Honduras, and Saipan, and there is a Bible college at Davao City in the Philippine Islands. The association sponsors two nursing homes, one in Campbell, Missouri, and the other in Mt. Carmel, Illinois.

Membership

In 2006 the association reported 52,279 members, 860 congregations, and 849 ministers.

Educational Facilities

Oakland City University, Oakland City, Indiana.

General Baptist Bible College, Davao City, Philippines.

Matigsalug Bible Institute, Davao City, Philippines.

Periodicals

Messenger. • Capsule. • Voice.

Sources

General Association of General Baptists. www.generalbaptist.com.

Doctrines and Usages of General Baptists and Worker’s Handbook. Poplar Bluff, MO: General Baptist Press, 1970.

Latch, Ollie. History of the General Baptists. Poplar Bluff, MO: General Baptist Press, 1954.

General Association of Six-Principle Baptist Churches, Inc.

c/o Kenneth C. Allen, 88 Lee Rd. 419, Opelika, AL 36804

In 1652 the historic Providence Baptist Church, once associated with Roger Williams (1603–1683), split because of the development within the church of an Arminian majority who held to the six principles of Hebrews 6:1–2, that is, repentance, faith, baptism, the laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and a final judgment. Soon other churches were organized, and conferences were formed in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

The distinctive doctrine of the six principles is the laying on of hands. This act is performed when members are received into the church, as a sign of the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Church polity is congregational, but the conference composed of delegates of the various churches retains specific powers. A council of ordained ministers approves all ordinations. Decisions of the conference on questions submitted to it are final. Never a large denomination, the 1954 Rhode Island Conference lifted their ban on communing with other Christians. Churches assimilated into the broader Baptist community, and by 1969 there were only three Six-Principle Baptist congregations (all in Rhode Island) with 134 members. Eventually, only Stony Lane Six-Principle Baptist Church, in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, would remain. During the mid-1990s, the Six-Principle Baptist Church as a denomination virtually ceased to exist when Stony Lane became an independent Baptist congregation.

In 2001 some ordained evangelical Christian ministers began a reorganization of the movement. They incorporated and officially renamed the denomination on July 10, 2003, as the General Association of Six-Principle Baptist Churches, Inc. Since then, the denomination has steadily grown. In 2008, there are associations of Six-Principle Baptist Churches in Alabama, Indiana, New York, and Florida.

Membership

There are 19 clergy and three churches in the United States, four churches and five clergy in Kenya, and one clergyman in Korea.

Sources

Six-Principle Baptists. spbaptist.tripod.com/

Nelton, Robert Elliott. A History of the General Six Principle Baptists in America. PhD diss., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, 1958.

National Association of Free Will Baptists, Inc

PO Box 5002, Antioch, TN 37011-5002

The National Association of Free Will Baptists dates to 1727 when Paul Palmer organized a church at Chowan County, North Carolina. The church grew and spread. A yearly meeting was formed in 1752 and included 16 churches. A general conference was formed in 1827 and a doctrinal statement issued in 1834. For many years, these churches were in communion with the Free Will Baptists in the North. But most of the northern brethren were absorbed by the inclusive Northern Baptist Convention, now the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

In 1916 the general conference expanded by the addition of nonaligned churches in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, and North Carolina, and formed the General Association of Free Will Baptists. Controversy developed between the churches in Tennessee and North Carolina over foot washing as an ordinance, and in 1921, the churches in the South withdrew and formed the Eastern General Conference. Working out a settlement took 14 years, but in 1935, the National Association of Free Will Baptists was formed.

The Free Will Baptist movement developed in the Maritime Provinces of Canada in the early nineteenth century. In 1932 a number of groups came together to form the Christian Conference Church, which became the Free Christian Baptists in 1847. Among the more highly regarded ministers in the latter half of the century was George W. Orser of Carleton County, New Brunswick. Orser found himself in the middle of controversy as he began to call for an apostolic or primitive church order. He opposed salaries, and, in large part, education for ministers. In the 1870s, Orser withdrew from the church and formed the Primitive Baptist Conference of New Brunswick, Maine, and Nova Scotia. The headquarters was eventually established as the Saint John Valley Bible Camp at Hartland, New Brunswick. In 1981, after a century of independent existence, the conference voted to join the National Association of Free Will Baptists and became the Atlantic Canada Association of Free Will Baptists.

BELIEFS

In 1935 the association adopted a statement titled “The Faith of Free Will Baptists,” which, with minor amendments added over the years, remains its position. It affirms a belief in an infallible and inerrant Bible, God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a universal atonement in Christ, salvation by grace through faith, the possibility of a believer falling from a state of grace into unbelief, tithing, the resurrection, and final judgment. There are three ordinances: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and foot washing.

ORGANIZATION

The association is organized by congregations that freely associate together in district, state, and national associations. The national association conducts foreign missions in Spain, Panama, Cuba, Brazil, Uruguay, France, the Ivory Coast, India, and Japan. North American missions are sponsored in Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

In 1992 the National Association of Free Will Baptists’ executive secretary, Melvin Worthington, approached Foreign Missions about an international consortium to consider an international organization of Free Will Baptists. The meeting resulted in the “Panama Declaration,” a doctrinal statement and a statement of intent to move forward with organization. In 1995 delegates officially organized the International Fellowship of Free Will Baptist Churches Inc. Members decided upon a triennial general assembly hosted by various member countries. John Poole (Brazil) was chosen as president and Daniel Dorati (Panama) as vice president. During 2004, representatives from Brazil, Canada, Cotê d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Russia, Spain, the United States, and Uruguay met in Panama City, Panama.

Membership

In 2003 the association reported 204,353 members, 2,461 churches, and 4,035 ministers in the United States. There are 12 congregations and 323 members in the Atlantic Canada Association.

Educational Facilities

Free Will Baptist Bible College, Nashville, Tennessee.

Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College, Moore, Oklahoma.

California Christian College, Fresno, California.

Southeastern Free Will Baptist College, Wendell, North Carolina.

Periodicals

ONE Magazine.

Sources

National Association of Free Will Baptists. www.nafwb.org/

Buzzell, John. The Life of Elder Benjamin Randall. Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada: Atlantic Press, 1970.

Cox, Violet. Missions on the Move. Nashville, TN: Woman’s National Auxiliary Convention, 1966.

Davidson, William F. The Free Will Baptists in America, 1727–1984. Nashville, TN: Randall House, 1985.

National Association of Free Will Baptists. A Treatise of the Faith and Practices of the Free Will Baptists. Nashville, TN: Author, 2001.

Picirilli, Robert E. History of Free Will Baptist Associations. Nashville, TN: Randall House, 1976.

United American Free Will Baptist Church

207 W Bella Vista St., Lakeland, FL 33805

During the early seventeenth century, a pastor and his congregation from Wales came and settled on the Delaware River. Later, members from this group preached the Arminian doctrine. Paul Palmer organized the first Free Will Baptist Church in 1727 in Chowan County, North Carolina. Benjamin Randall (1749–1808) organized the first Free Will Baptist church in New Durham, New Hampshire, in 1780. The General Conference of Free Will Baptists was organized in 1827. When African Americans were freed from slavery, they organized their own churches. In 1898, the first Negro General Conference grew into the United American Free Will Baptist Conference, incorporated in 1968. Its founding fathers are Rev. Elliott Titus Brown (1909–1972) and Rev. S. H. Edmondson (b. 1869).

Like its parent body, it is Arminian in theology and practices foot washing and anointing the sick with oil. The congregational polity was modified within a system of district, quarterly, annual, and general conferences. The local church is autonomous in regard to business, elections, and form of government, but the conferences have the power to decide the questions of doctrine.

Membership

In 2008 there were 74 clergy and 41 churches.

Periodicals

The Free Will Baptist. Available from 3928 Lee St., Ayden, NC 28513.

Sources

United Free Will Baptist Church General Conference. www.uafwbc.org/

United Baptists

No central headquarters.

The United Baptists were formed by a union of the Separate Baptists and the Regular Baptists in Virginia in 1787. The Separate Baptists were former Congregationalists who became Baptists. The Regular Baptists claimed to represent the Baptists before dissension over Calvinist and Arminian beliefs split many Baptist bodies. In 1769, the Ketocton Association of Regular Baptists made the first overtures toward union with the Separate Baptists. Because there was little practical difference between the groups, union was ultimately consummated. Most of the United Baptist groups dropped the term “United” after the Stone-Campbell Movement split the Baptists, and they exist within larger Baptist bodies, mainly the Southern Baptist Convention. However, several United Baptist associations in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri persist.

The churches follow a congregational polity and most belong to associations. They follow the early Baptists in doctrine; they lean toward Arminianism. They practice footwashing. Communion is closed in some associations but others are becoming less strict. The Cumberland River Association supports the Cumberland Baptist Institute in Somerset, Kentucky.

Membership

Not reported. In 1990 there were 436 congregations and 68,187 adherents. As of November 2007, United Baptist researcher Rev. David White reported 46 associations.

Educational Facilities

Cumberland Baptist Institute, Somerset, Kentucky.

Sources

United Baptist Associations. www.unitedbaptists.org.

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