Who are Missionary Baptists?
The aim is to determine the origin and meaning of the term “Missionary Baptist.”
As you already realize, there are many different types of Baptists and also several versions of so-called
Why can't a Baptist just be a Baptist?
What separates a Missionary Baptist from other types of Baptists?
Is there a distinction to be understood?
These are all questions which I have been asked to answer and indeed, they are difficult to answer well
without covering some history and a deeper explanation.
That is the purpose this seminar: to cover some history and provide a better definition of what makes us
I. The Bad News
a. All study of history is done via the use of documentation dated to past times.
We have use books, articles, biographies, etc as sources to supplement whatever oral history may be
available as well.
Unfortunately, the documentation in relation to Missionary Baptist history is very slim indeed.
While other denominations have excelled in publishing their history and beliefs, Missionary Baptists
have proven to be inept in this endeavor.
In the times of the Dark Ages, the history of our spiritual ancestors is virtually nonexistent from their
Thankfully, and somewhat ironically, much of our historical information and doctrinal beliefs was
recorded (and done well) by our adversaries and persecutors.
Those of the universal church which stood as inquisitors and tormentors of our martyred forefathers
often recorded, with great detail, the words and actions of God's people in those days.
The names were variant and often attributed to our ancestors by the very people who vexed them.
They were identified not by a name, per se, as much as the doctrines which they taught and preached.
Thus, there is no volume entitled, “History of Missionary Baptists: Christ to modern day”.
There most definitely is a history of God's people through the ages and a wonderful source of this
consolidated information may be found within “The Trail of Blood” by J.M.Carroll.
In more modern times, our spiritual forefathers did a much better job of recording our history in the 20th
Since that time, there has been very little qualitative documentation completed.
This is much to our determent.
b. Because of the above, the reality is that the actual name “Missionary Baptist” means very little.
If Christ would have wanted His church to have a proper name, He would have provided one.
He did not and does not.
He perfectly recognizes those that are His and is not a respecter of proper names of denominations.
A church may carry the name Missionary Baptist and yet be heretical in its teachings.
Christ, of course, does not recognize that body of people as a viable, Spirit-empowered church.
II. The Good News
a. The good news includes the fact that our churches had their genesis in Jesus Christ during His earthly
ministry and have been perpetual (as promised) ever since.
Their histories are recorded and available for our study.
b. Further, we may begin to study the term “Missionary Baptist” and come to some conclusions very
III. Missionary Baptists
a. In the early days of Baptists in America, a clear separation was made between those who believed in
the spreading of the gospel and the evangelization of the world and those who did not share such
Those mission-minded Baptists took the name “Missionary Baptists.”
The other group, commonly referred to as “hard shells,” was referred to many different names as they
eventually became several independent groups.
Of course, this was not a hard and fast delineation as many mission-minded churches did not choose to
add the term “missionary” to their names.
(Even back then, the name did not say it all, although it meant more then that now.)
Within the Polk County Missionary Baptist Association (PCMBA) history book, some churches are listed
originally without the term “missionary” with their name, yet all were mission-minded.
In fact, the constitution of the PCMBA states: “This association shall be called, “Polk County Baptist
Note that the term “missionary” is missing.
b. Southern Baptists are a group with whom we share some history.
Yet another split among Baptists yielded what became “Northern Baptists” and “Southern Baptists”.
The SBCs are much more prominent today, even in the northern territories in which they live.
One reason for this is the old mission-minded mindset vs. the hard-shellism.
Many people may incorrectly feel that we have had nothing to share with SBCs.
The fact is that we openly fellowshipped with SBCs until the 1950s.
More on this in just a moment.
Who are the Southern Baptists?
Very simply, the name meant a Baptist who lived in the South.
The denominational name has survived and is now made up almost entirely of those who went the
“modern” way on the doctrine of “easy-believe-ism” salvation in the 1950s.
Previously, the distinction between “northern” and southern” was made by development of
corresponding associations in the 1850s.
Remembering the societal and cultural differences within the nation at that time, we gain valuable
insight into the separation.
What about the “First Baptist church?”
I remember thinking, “Why do the Southern Baptist churches always get to the first church?
Why can't a Missionary Baptist Church be the first Baptist church?”
Well, very simply, the First Baptist Church was just that…the first Baptist church in that town or city!
IV. Polk County Missionary Baptist Association (PCMBA)
a. Has been known by several different names before “PCMBA”
1. Originally called “Liberty Association of United Baptists” (1840)
2. Union Association (union of placeCityLiberty and Sac River Associations) (1856)
3. placePlaceNamePolk PlaceTypeCounty Association (1890)
4. placePlaceNamePolk PlaceTypeCounty Missionary Baptist Association (1931)
b. The split with “modernism”
1. In 1950, the Association made and carried the following motion:
“That we exclude the Cooperative program and all organizations connected to it, from our associational
2. In 1951, the following motion was made and carried by the PCMBA:
“…that we exclude every church that has left the PCMBA and joined with the Bolivar Association for
3. In 1952, a motion was made and passed that all money that had been designated for the Southern
Baptist Convention be returned to the churches that sent it. In addition, the association would only
receive money that was designated for use by the PCMBA.
4. The churches that left the Association created a new body and called it the PCMBA.
5. The heresy that was mentioned was in regards to the practice of salvation.
The culmination of the strife came when there was a card in the Sunday school literature (printed by the
SBC) where a person could fill in their name over a statement which read:
“I hereby accept Christ as my personal savior.”
The debate was ultimately over how one gets saved which is obviously a paramount doctrine of true
So, here again, is illustrated the point that a name may mean very little at times.
In fact, the church in which I passed every day from the 5th grade through the 9th grade, on my way to
Catholic school and church, had the name “Ajalon Temple of Truth Baptist Church”.
(A sign that was placed before the hub-bub of the 1950s).
Now a new sign is in place which includes the name “missionary”, but the doctrines and practices of
that church (to my knowledge) has never changed.
The name was updated to best reflect the doctrines of the church within that locale.
So…a name can be very important, but the doctrines are the telling element.
During these years, as we passed by on Sunday Mornings - coming from St. Leo's Catholic Church, we
would look inside through the opened windows.
And watch the people inside, dancing, yelling, shouting and sometimes jumping around from pew to
Then after my conversion from Catholic to Missionary Baptist, I served as Assistant Pastor of this church
for 3 years. AND WE SAY GOD DOES NOT HAVE A SENCE OF HUMOR. . .
V. United States Missionary Baptists
We now have a generation or two who are California natives, but the older members of our churches in
California have roots (family and church) in primarily Tennessee, Lousiana and Kentucky.
These folk brought the Lord with them and began to establish Missionary Baptist churches in this area.
A Missionary Baptist Church in California does not mean the same thing as it does in Tennessee,
Lousiana and Kentucky.
I go through the mail each week for the Ray of Light Missionary Baptist Church and it is quite apparent
that most Missionary Baptist Churches here are likely not agreeing with our doctrine of salvation
through the Blood of Jesus Christ and the mourner's bench and women in the pulpit.
The two offices in the Missionary Baptist Church are - Pastors (Preachers, Overseers, Elders and
Bishops) and Deacons.
There are other positions within the Missionary Baptist Church - Evangelists (missionaries) and
We will go into these in the next session.
Clearly, A Missionary Baptist is NOT the same Missionary Baptist throughout the United States!
Thus, it is imperative that we understand that a set of doctrines and practices are much more important
than a name.
A name may point towards the right end, but until the doctrines are revealed, we simply do not know.
I will pledge to be ready to die for the defense of the doctrines of Christ!
As far as a certain name is concerned, I will defend the integrity of it as a symbol of the doctrines that it
represents, but defending a name just for a name's sake…well, that's not a bridge I'm willing to die on!!
For more reading on this subject, please refer to these volumes:
History of placePlaceNamePolk PlaceTypeCounty Missionary Baptist Association
Our Baptist History by Pope A. Duncan
Southern Baptist Convention 1845 to 1953 by W.W. Barnes
20th Century Baptists by H.C. Vanderpool
Old Time Missionary Baptist
Variously known as Old Time Missionary Baptist, Old Missionary Baptist, and Old-Fashioned Missionary
Baptist, these churches represent a sub-group within the landmark Baptists that have rejected most
progressive means and methods that were adopted by the majority of Baptists.
These are NOT the Missionary Baptist of present times.
The roots of the Missionary Baptists are found in the United Baptists, a turn of the 19th century merger
of Regular Baptists and Separate Baptists.
A number of the existing "Missionary Baptist" associations were at least nominally a part of the
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Some dropped out of the SBC in the latter part of the 19th century and some as late as the middle of the
Most of the existing churches were aware of, but had little participation in, the major landmark split from
the SBC in the 1900.
Some initially participated, then later withdrew from it, perhaps fearing another national organization.
Modern innovations brought into evangelism by the SBC, missionary Baptists, and fundamentalists were
Missionary Baptists feel these lead to conversions "from the head instead of the heart."
This belief has continued to be a major factor separating them from other landmark missionary Baptists.
Some Old Time Missionary Baptists are engaged in fellowship with certain United Baptist churches
which are similar in faith and practice.
Some Baptist researchers classify this group among the "primitivistic" sects of Baptists, because of
their rejection of the missionary, benevolent and educational institutions accepted by most Baptists.
Yet, they share as much in common with their more progressive Baptist brethren as they do with
primitivistic groups such as Primitive Baptists, Old Regular Baptists and Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit
The Missionary Baptist churches share in common with the larger Landmark movement views on local
church, Baptist church perpetuity, baptism by emersion, communion; place a strong emphasis on a
definte salvation experience and usually have a mourner's bench in front of the pulpit.
Sinners are expected to pass through a time of "mourning" (conviction of sin bringing genuine sorrow)
leading to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
"Decisional regeneration" is rejected. Singing is accompanied by musical instruments, and most of the
churches have Sunday Schools.
Some churches practice feet washing, but most do not.
A seminary-trained ministry is not required, feeling that this may take away from the work of the Holy
After a sermon, the minister yields the floor for anyone seeking to join the church as a new convert, by
Christian experience or a letter from a previous church or by baptism.
The person typically speaks of either his or her personal salvation (often referred to as a testimony), a
desire to seek repentance for his or her sins, or ask for prayers for a specific individual.
Typically when a child enters the beginning of his or her teens, church members put focus on him or her
because this is the age when a child usually begins to feel a draw by the Holy Spirit and recognizes that
he or she must seek salvation from worldly sin.
However, a person can feel this draw at a much younger or older age.
There are Missionary Baptist Churches with preachers in their teens.
The teen or person is never pressured into seeking salvation.
This is only done if the child has confessed interest to his or her parent or guardian.
At least once a year, churches undergo a revival service in which members meet nightly for a week.
The revivals usually last a week in length - the length is extended to the weekend if church members
believe that a person seeking salvation is close to obtaining it.
Once a person has confessed belief in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior salvation, he or
she may then express a desire if they are led by the Lord to become a member of the church.
Upon acceptance, and after baptism current members extend the "Right hand of Christian fellowship", in
which the new convert is greeted and congratulated by the congregration.
Missionary Baptist Churches in the 19th Century held in combination general atonement, total depravity,
and eternal security.
Eschatology is mostly amillennial, though the premillennial and postmillennial positions are also
Churches engage in home and even foreign mission work through direct church effort (outreach
ministries), rejecting the authority of national missionary boards and conventions.
No organization is developed beyond the local association, but even if it is only an advisory council.
In the NEW MOVEMENT of the Missionary Baptist Church (where pastors with other denominational
backgrounds lead), women are allowed to preach and in some cases encouraged. This movement has
began to spread like wild fire.
This is only one of the non-doctrinal areas in which the Missionary Baptist DO NOT except.
Due to the fact that this belief is non Biblical.
Many associations are within the Baptist Church. Which Missionary Baptist Church are welcome, but DO
NOT belong. Among these associations are:
"Middle Tennessee" Correspondence - 199 churches, ca. 22,000 members
* Baptist Old Path (MO)
* Bethel (IN)
* Big Bear Creek (AL)
* Cane Creek (MO)
* Cedar County (MO)
* County Line (MO)
* Dallas County (MO)
* Enon (TN)
* Old Time Camden County (MO)
* Polk County (MO)
* Siloam (KY)
* Southwestern District (TN)
* St. Clair County (MO)
* Wiseman (TN)
Other Associations - 102 churches, CA. 15,650 members
* Barren River (KY)
* Edmonson (KY)
* Mount Carmel (AL)
* Mulberry Gap (TN)
* Original Smyrna (GA)
* Pine Mountain (KY)
* Pleasant Grove (GA)
* Second North Concord (KY)
* Wayne Trail (OH)
National Baptist Association
National Baptist Association USA - a break-of from the NBP, because of their stand on permitting women
in the pulpits)
Progressive Baptist Association
California Baptist Association
The "Middle Tennessee" correspondence includes 14 local Missionary Baptist associations involved in a
chain of correspondence which "revolves" around a core of 3 associations located in middle Tennessee
and middle south Kentucky - Enon, Siloam, and Wiseman.
In 1995, Baptists Around the World reported 73 churches with 13,093 members in these three
8 other associations are similar in belief and practice, but are not in correspondence with the "Middle
Tennessee" associations, though Barren River, Edmonson and Second North Concord have minor
The Edmonson Association only corresponds directly with one United Baptist Association in Kentucky.
Pine Mountain and Wayne Trail are in fellowship with one another, and there is some visitation between
Original Smyrna and Pleasant Grove.
Mount Carmel only corresponds with a United Baptist association in Alabama.
The Religious Congregations Membership Study, 2000 found 40,200 "Old Missionary Baptists" in 302
Sub-groups Within the Baptist Denomination (in the United States) estimated a membership of 37,650 in
the 301 churches of the 22 "old time missionary Baptist" associations.
Additional independent churches not affiliated with any of these 22 associations exist with about 18,000
members in 171 churches, bringing the total known strength of this type of Baptist to almost 60,000
members in some 473 churches.
|“The Church, Jesus Built, With His Blood“ ™
|Dr. S. Thomas Boyd