History of the American Baptist Association
To Commemorate the 75th
Meeting of the Association in June, 2000

• examines our roots, then explains how the Regular and Separate Baptists became United Baptists, and eventually Missionary Baptists

• helps us understand the desire of our fathers in the faith for a national association that recognizes the authority of each local congregation in fulfilling the Great Commission

• through carefully selected excerpts from the President's Messages and the resolutions, helps us understand the nature of associated work that recognizes church equality in missions, publications, etc.

• gives insight to how our publications work and mission programs were established and developed

• objectively documents the issues leading up to the split of 1950 and the results

• through the biographical sketches of former presidents and other leaders, helps us understand who they were and their contributions to our associated work

• 698 pages, hardbound, with eleven chapters, appendix, and index, priced at $29.95

order online

      The History and Archives Committee produced the History of the American Baptist Association to commemorate the 75th meeting of the Association in June, 2000. The following statements were in response to a request made by Bro. Steve Reeves, Director of Publicity for the A. B. A.

      Perhaps the most compelling desire was that all pastors and churches, as well as prospective pastors, would be able to understand the reasons the founders had in mind for first organizing a national association of Missionary Baptist churches. I felt this could best be done by delineating the situations that existed when the call was made for a meeting to discuss the organization.

      Another strong desire was that the actual inter-workings of the association of churches would be demonstrated. Therefore, the sections on missions and publications received considerable attention. In addition, the carefully selected resolutions presented to the messengers were intended to indicate responses to situations that were of importance.

      A further objective was biographical information on some of the early leaders. Previously, little was known about J. A. Scarboro, H. B. Pender, and J. T. Moore. The biographical sketches show the tremendous influence those men exercised.

      Finally, many have asked just what was the importance of Ben M. Bogard? Why was he honored by the adoption of the name Bogard Press as the official name of our publications? Hopefully, the section on the influence of Ben M. Bogard will answer those questions.

      It is my personal conviction that every A. B. A. pastor, and ministerial student, should be familiar with the contents of the history to understand the nature and purpose of the association. Every church library should have a copy as a reference to those interested in the associated work.

This History is unique in several ways:

      1. It is the history of the largest and oldest national association based on the Landmark principles espoused by J. R. Graves, J. M. Pendleton, J. N. Hall and Ben M. Bogard.
      When applied to Baptists, the term “Landmark” denotes a set of beliefs that place a strong emphasis upon the local church as the central unit for all religious activity. Characteristic beliefs of Landmark Baptists are:

      a. An insistence upon a historic succession of Baptist-like churches from New Testament times until the present,
      b. A rejection of the practices of pulpit affili-ation, union meetings and the receiving of alien immersion.
      c. Also rejected by Landmark Baptists is the concept of “conventionism,” that is, a centralized denominational organization that sets policy and initiates programs.
      d. Landmark Baptists also practice restricted or “closed” communion, limiting participation in the Lord’s Supper to the membership of each local church.
      Although the tenets of Landmarkism may be found in earlier Baptist groups, they were first for-malized in June of 1851 in the famous “Cotton Grove Resolutions” authored by Dr. J. R. Graves, editor of the Tennessee Baptist.
      The first national association orga-nized in accordance with Landmark teachings and practices was the General Association, organized in 1905. In 1924 many Texas and Oklahoma churches were added and the name was changed to the American Baptist Association.

      2. The History gives an alternative view to the generally accepted position that Roger Williams led in organizing the first Baptist Church in America.
      It is amazing how factual inaccuracies are repeated until they are generally accepted. The History deals with this issue in a rather decisive manner. Two paragraphs will be quoted from pages 12-13:
      “The reliable records state that the present First Baptist Church [Providence] was regularly constituted and jointly or successively served by Charles Brown, Wickenden, and Dexter in 1652, thirteen years after Roger Williams “had left the Baptists and had publicly declared there was no church in the Bay that had any authority to administer the ordinances.”
      Dr. J. R. Graves concluded the matter: “If then, the last remains of the only thing called a Baptist Church, with which Williams had any connection or anything to do, vanished from the earth so soon, having in the days of Mather no successor, the reader must conclude that Williams’ society was not a prolific mother of the Baptist Churches of New England, much less of America, for it never had a church child, it was itself an abortion.”[J. R. Graves, The First Baptist Church in America, pp. 330, 35]

      3. The History details the origin of the Regular and Separate Baptists, who eventually became United Baptists, and finally Missionary Baptists.
      Our brethren usually trace our beginnings through New England, and through the Regular Baptists via the Philadelphia Association. However, we are more like the Separate Baptists in doctrine and practice. The History gives the beginning of both Baptist groups, then relates how they eventually combined, first in Virginia, then in Kentucky to become United Baptists and then Missionary Baptists.

      4. The History explains the desire and foundation for a national association of churches that recognizes the authority and responsibility of local congregations in fulfilling the Great Commission. Also, details the factors leading up to the “split” of 1950 that had church authority as one of the basic issues.

      5. The History relates the spread of these concepts into the various states and foreign mission fields. Most of these articles were written by people from each respective area, including foreign missionaries on the field.

      6. The appendix gives biographical information on Presidents and other associational leaders, history of schools sponsored by churches fellowshiping in the association, and Texarkana Baptist Orphanage.

      698 pages with eleven chapters, appendix and index, $29.95 (to order online from the Baptist Book Store click here).

--Robert Ashcraft, General Editor



I. Our Heritage as A. B. A. Missionary Baptists

A. Links to Wales and England
B. Baptist Beginnings in America
C. Sandy Creek Association of Separate Baptists

II. Our Landmark Legacy

A. The Triennial Baptist Convention
B. Southern Baptist Convention
C. Old Landmarkism and the Convention
D. Direct Gospel Movement

III. Baptist Expansion and Settlement

A. Baptist Migration to Kentucky
B. Churches and Associations in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama
C. Churches and Associations in Missouri and Arkansas

IV. Early Landmark Churches and Associations

A. Churches and Associations in Arkansas
B. State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches
C. Churches and Associations in Texas
D. Churches and Associations in Oklahoma

V. Organization of a National Work

A. Factors leading up to the General Association
B. Organization of the General Association
C. Work of the General Association
D. Influence of Ben. M. Bogard

VI. Organization of the A. B. A.

A. Annual Meetings, Significant Changes, Resolutions
B. Mission Work
C. Literature and Publications

VII. Internal Conflicts

A. The Audit and Management of Publications Business
B. The Battle of Lakeland--Messenger qualifications
C. Residual Effects

VIII. Regrouping and Expansion: 1951-1974

A. General Information and Resolutions
B. Missions
C. Literature and Publications
D. Chaplaincy Commission
E. Youth Camps
F. History and Archives

IX. Recent History: 1976-1998

A. General Information and Resolutions
B. Missions
C. Literature and Publications
D. Chaplaincy Commission
E. Youth Camps
F. History and Archives

X. Other State and Regional Associations

XI. Foreign Churches and Mission Fields Appendix

A. Presidents of the American Baptist Association
B. Texarkana Baptist Orphanage
C. Missionary Baptist College
D. Schools sponsored by Churches within the A. B. A.
E. Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship
F. National Womens Auxiliary
G. Other Youth Encampments Index