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The first Mississippi Baptist associations and state convention

Copyright by Robert C. Rogers and the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

   In Mississippi, five of the six Baptist churches organized the Mississippi Baptist Association in 1807, with a total of 196 members. By 1819, the Mississippi Association had 41 churches and more than 1,125 members.  The association covered the entire 14-county area of Mississippi that was settled at that time. This prompted the formation of two new associations in 1820, the Union Association and the Pearl River Association.1

   Eight churches from Mississippi Association organized the Union Association in September, 1820 at Bayou Pierre church near Port Gibson, including the mother church, Salem, and the church in the largest town, Natchez. Prominent leaders of the Union Association included David Cooper, D. McCall, L. Scarborough, John Burch, Elisha Flowers and Nathaniel Perkins. One of its first actions was to create a fund for traveling preachers, and “Brother John Smith is requested to travel for one year, and preach the gospel, as our missionary, through the state.” For this mission work, they paid him $10.2

   The same year, the Pearl River Association organized at Fair River Church in November, 1820, with 23 churches, which included 14 churches from Mississippi Association, as well as other churches that had never been in an association. Located east of the Pearl River in southeast Mississippi, this was a rapidly growing section of the State. By 1836, there were 33 churches and 982 members in Pearl River Association. Among its new churches was an African church. The first moderator and prominent leader of this association was Norvell Robertson, Sr., pastor of Providence Church, founded in 1818 a few miles north of the location of the future city of Hattiesburg.3

   A national organization of Baptists, commonly called the Triennial Convention, was organized in 1814, as a society to support foreign missions. This sparked many States to also organize conventions, including Mississippi in 1823.4

   In 1823, the Pearl River Association invited the other two associations in the State to form a Baptist state convention. Both associations accepted the invitation. The Mississippi Baptist State Convention was organized at Bogue Chitto Church in Pike County in February, 1824. A constitution was written, and the second session was held the same year, in November, 1824 at East Fork Church, Amite County. Dr. David Cooper was elected president, and officers were elected representing each of the associations. However, it disbanded in 1829. I will share that story in a later post.5  

SOURCES:

1 T. M. Bond, A Republican of the Minutes of the Mississippi Baptist Association (New Orleans: Hinton & Co., 1849), 70; 264.

2 Leavell and Bailey, A Complete History of Mississippi Baptists from the Earliest Times, 2 vols., (Jackson, 1903), I, 72-74; Minutes, Union Baptist Association, 1842. The minutes of 1842 was citing from the original minutes of September 18, 1820, noting the 1820 minutes were “worth preserving” since the 1820 minutes were already “very scarce” in 1842.

3 Minutes, Pearl River Baptist Association, 1820, 1836.

4 Richard Furman, “Address at Formation of the Triennial Convention,” Proceedings of the Baptist Convention for Missionary Purposes (Philadelphia, n.p., 1814), 38-43; Jesse L. Boyd, A History of Baptists in America Prior to 1845, (New York, 1957), 186.

5 Leavell and Bailey, I, 134-135; Bond, 84; Minutes, Pearl River Association, 1824; The Second Annual Report of the Mississippi Baptist State Convention in Session at East Fork Church, Amite County, Nov. 12th and 13th, 1824 (Natchez, 1825).

Prayer for the new day

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, this is a new day, the day You have made. Please go before me and lead me. At some point today, I will meet people and circumstances that I did not expect, but You will not be caught by surprise. So keep my eyes and ears open to what You are doing around me, that I may join You in Your work. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen. 

Prayer Poem of Hope

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, may I not be dismayed, even when I feel betrayed.

May my heart be re-fired, even when I feel so tired.

May my praise be fresh and bold, when I feel timid and old.

When I struggle to cope, fill me again with Jesus’ hope.

Amen.

The Mississippi Baptist story begins in South Carolina

The Pee Dee River Valley of the Carolinas, from which the Baptists first migrated to Mississippi

Copyright by Robert C. Rogers and the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

   The story of Mississippi Baptists begins in South Carolina. The Baptists of South Carolina furnished the first Baptist migrants to Mississippi and thus are of special importance in the history of Mississippi Baptists. Historians record that Rev. Richard Curtis, Jr. was 25 years old when he traveled with his parents and a group of fellow Baptists, who migrated from the Pee Dee River Valley of South Carolina in 1780 to settle on Cole’s Creek, about 20 miles north of Natchez, which at the time was controlled by Spain as part of West Florida. The precise location in South Carolina where these Baptists came from is unclear. One theory seeks to connect Richard Curtis and Mississippi Baptists to the historic Welsh Neck Baptist Church in Society Hill, in what is now in Darlington County, South Carolina. However, the church minutes of Welsh Neck Baptist Church from the time period are available for examination, and they never mention any of the Baptists who first settled in Mississippi. It seems more likely that they came from the region of Florence, South Carolina. There Richard Curtis, Sr., father of Richard Curtis, Jr., lived on Lake Swamp of Lynches Creek, near modern Florence, South Carolina, in 1766. In addition, Richard Curtis, Jr. was ordained by Benjamin Mosely when he fled back to South Carolina in the 1790s; Mosely was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Florence, South Carolina from 1784-1794.

   The Revolutionary War period was one of great disturbance throughout South Carolina. There was a large group of Tories who were fanatical in support of England, but there was an equally powerful and more numerous citizenry who were American patriots. The conflict of these two groups stifled the economic development of South Carolina and brought fear and frustration into many parts of the colony. Over a hundred battles between American patriots and the British were fought in South Carolina alone. In 1774, Richard Curtis, Sr., and two of his sons, Benjamin and William Curtis, and his step-son, John Jones, enlisted with the American forces of Francis Marion, nicknamed the “Swamp Fox.” The records reveal that they served in three campaigns against the British, and then they were mustered out in 1779. In 1779 conditions had become almost unbearable, especially when British forces occupied Charleston. From this center, the British began a campaign to bring all of the colony under their control. The British were eventually overcome by General Nathanael Greene and his forces, but the turmoil and distress created by the war were undoubtedly a factor in encouraging some South Carolinians to seek a more peaceful place to live.

   The Curtis family decided to establish their new homes along the Mississippi River near Natchez, in what was then called West Florida. After the French and Indian War in 1763, the British took Florida from Spain, and Englishmen from the colonies had begun to settle there. The stories of productive farmlands that were free to all settlers and the peace they would have from the turmoil of the fratricidal strife in South Carolina must have made the prospects of beginning again very enticing. In 1779, Spain took advantage of the British distraction with the American Revolution, and Spain conquered the Natchez district from the British and added it to West Florida. Despite this, the emigrants did not anticipate any difficulty from this source. As we shall see, they were wrong.

The Mississippi Baptist heritage of survival amidst persecution

Artist rendering of Obadiah Holmes, Baptist pastor in Massachusetts who was whipped publicly for his beliefs. He fled to Rhode Island for religious freedom, where he established the Baptist church at Newport, Rhode Island.

Copyright by Robert C. Rogers and the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

   Baptists have been the predominant faith in Mississippi so long, that nearly a century ago historian Jesse L. Boyd referred to Mississippi as a “Baptist empire.” Today, it is difficult for Baptists in the Magnolia State to imagine a time when their spiritual ancestors suffered hardships and persecution for their faith, but they did, even in Mississippi.

   John Smyth established the first Baptist church in Amsterdam, Holland in 1609, after he fled persecution in England for being a Separatist Puritan. Thomas Helwys founded the first Baptist Church in England at London in 1611, and he landed in jail shortly thereafter for speaking out for religious freedom [McBeth, 38]. Roger Williams fled persecution in Massachusetts when he opposed the Congregationalist state church, so he started a new colony in Rhode Island with complete religious liberty, where he established the first Baptist church in America at Providence, Rhode Island in 1639. William Screven was banished from Maine for his Baptist faith, and he established the first Baptist church in the South at Charleston, South Carolina in 1696. Richard Curtis, Jr., migrated from South Carolina to the Natchez area in 1780, where he established the first Mississippi Baptist church in 1791, but he was arrested by Spanish authorities who only tolerated Catholicism, and he had to flee the region for three years.

Read this blog, as I will continue to unfold the story.

Personal prayer for healing

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Oh, Lord God in heaven, please see my tears and hear my cry 1. Be gracious to me, for I are weak. Heal me on the bed where I lie2.  Lord Jesus, I know divine power is in You to heal me 3. Please have compassion on me, Jesus! 4. Just say the word, Lord, and I will be healed 5.

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, Lord, and I will be saved, for You are my praise 6.

Scriptural basis for the prayer:

  1. 2 Kings 20:5
  2. Psalm 6:2; 41:3
  3. Luke  5:17
  4. Matthew 14:14
  5. Matthew 8:8
  6. Jeremiah 17:14

A prayer for my family

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

O God, teach me to love my family as fully and faithfully as the Heavenly Father loves Christ the Son, and as the Son loves the Father. May I honor my parents (Exodus 20:12), and may I delight in my children and grandchildren (Proverbs 23:24). Heavenly Father, please build a hedge of protection around my family, and bless the work of our hands. (Job 1:10). May we be united in love, blameless in character and wise in our decisions. May we learn to depend on You in prayer, and pass on the faith of Jesus Christ to our children, generation after generation, to the glory of God.  

The parable of the bear and the rabbits

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Once there was a colony of rabbits who lived by a forest. Although there were some dangers, such as a bear named Covey in the woods and a snake in the Vax River, most of the time they lived peaceful, happy lives. The forest was overflowing with fresh grass, weeds and wildflowers to eat.

One day, just as the herd was grazing together along the Vax River, Covey, the big bear appeared from behind the trees, snatched up some rabbits in his paw, and ate them. The terrified rabbits ran, but they were trapped by the river behind them, and a fence to the sides, made by the Man. As they darted back and forth, the bear continued to grab rabbits and eat them. One rabbit shouted, “Jump into Vax River!” Others shouted back, “We can’t! The snake may be in the river! God will rescue us!” Many jumped into the river, and swam away, but many others stayed in the nest. Soon, a large part of the colony had escaped to the other side of the river, but the bear continued to gobble up those left behind. The rabbits on the other side of the river called to the others, pleading with tears, “Please jump in the river and swim over!” But the rabbits who remained in the nest shouted back, “Don’t tell us what to do! The snake may be in the river!” The rabbits on the other side called back, “The snake didn’t bite us! We tested the river, and it’s safe!” But the rabbits in the nest said, “The Vax River hasn’t been tested long enough! Maybe you were bitten and just don’t realize it yet. The venom may yet kill you.” The rabbits on the other side said, “No, we were not bitten. We trust the river.” The rabbits in the nest said, “We trust in God. God will protect us.” The rabbits on the other side said, “God protected us when we crossed the river.” But it was no use. Despite the pleading of the rabbits on the other side of the Vax, the rabbits who remained in the nest were more afraid of the Vax than Covey.

The rabbits on the other side of the River Vax ran to another field, far, far away. The rest of the colony continued to flee Covey, and the bear grabbed them and ate them, one by one. Then Covey went off in search of other rabbits.

Eight post-pandemic uses for the face mask

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

As Americans approach “herd immunity” against COVID-19 and are rarely wearing face masks anymore, I’ve been thinking what to do with all the extra ones lying around. I came up with a few ideas:

Eye cover for sleep. When I’m sleeping late or taking an afternoon nap, I can put it over my eyes instead of over my mouth, and presto! I have a sleep mask.

Protection from the cold. This past winter, I wore my face mask while riding the bicycle on cold days, not to protect from the virus, but to protect my face from the cold. It helps!

Protection against bad breath. A good surgical mask can really block out smells, so if I’m dealing with somebody with bad breath (theirs or my own), I might still come up with an excuse to wear it.

Clipping your fingernails. Why make a mess clipping your fingernails? Set that mask in your lap, and clip them over the mask, to catch them from falling. (See below)

Mowing the grass. If I have grass allergies, I might still wear a face mask while mowing the lawn.

Clean your glasses. Need a small cloth to clean your glasses? Just grab your mask.

Blind date. If you are going on a blind date and you are unsure whether you want to cut and run early, you can wear the mask and sunglasses so they don’t recognize you.

Making a quilt. Here’s my favorite idea. Give all the leftover masks to grandma, and let her make a quilt in memory of 2020.

Have you got any ideas? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Yes, Virginia, there are Thanksgiving songs!

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Article copyright by Bob Rogers.

The season of Christmas is so celebrated in America today, that the holiday suffocates Thanksgiving! People replace their orange pumpkins with holly of red and green, earlier and earlier in November. When I suggested to a friend he might wait until after Thanksgiving to play Christmas songs, his reply was, “There aren’t any Thanksgiving songs, so I’m playing Christmas songs!” Here’s my reply: Yes, Virginia, there ARE Thanksgiving songs! (I can’t remember his name, so I’ll call him Virginia, with apologies to the famous 1897 editorial of The (New York) Sun, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”) Here are some Thanksgiving songs that are so awesome, they are worth downloading on Amazon Music, Spotify, watching on YouTube, or however you do it:

  1. “Thank You” by Chris Tomlin with Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line is a fast-paced country song of reasons to thank the Lord.
  2. “The Thanksgiving Song” by Ben Rector is a joyful pop song listing specific things we do on Thanksgiving. Written in 2020, the last stanza thanks God because “we made through, I do believe, the longest year in history.” The official You Tube video shows the words on the plates, boxes of food items, etc. as he sets the table.
  3. “At This Table” by Idina Menzel is an soaring, inspirational pop song that invites everybody to gather together at the same table of love.
  4. “Thankful” by Josh Groban features a rich, melodic pop tune, with inspiring lyrics calling us to look beyond ourselves and be grateful.
  5. “What I’m Thankful For” by Garth Brooks and James Taylor is a country song of gratitude for faith and family.
  6. “My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness” by Keith & Kristyn Getty has a beautiful Irish melody, a modern hymn, set to deep Christian theology of gratitude. I encourage you to watch this one on YouTube.
  7. “Thankful” by Kelly Clarkson is a sassy-styled pop love song of gratitude.
  8. “Thank You” by Keith Urban is an emotional pop song that reflects on how his wife rescued him from despair.
  9. “I Thank You” by Sam & Dave is a classic R & B love song.
  10. “Thankful N’ Thoughtful” by Sly and the Family Stone is a soul song that will have you dancing with gratitude.

I’m not that Bob Rogers

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It’s near the end of September 2020, so I was just checking the monthly statistics on my blog, when I noticed a huge jump in the number of visitors on September 28. What’s going on? I wondered.

I noticed that most of the visitors were coming from Search Engines, so I wondered why people were searching for Bob Rogers. I knew that there is a Pentecostal preacher, Dr. Bob Rodgers, who is pastor of the 9,000-member Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville, Kentucky. When I was a pastor in Georgia, our office sometimes got calls asking if I was he, and our secretary had to disappoint them: “He’s not that Bob Rodgers” (My family didn’t have enough money to put a “D” in Rogers.) After I learned that the Kentucky Rodgers pronounced a “curse” upon his political opponents, I was glad he spelled his name wrong, because I do believe Jesus loved His enemies and told us to “bless, not curse” (Luke 6:27-28). There is also a prominent Assembly of God pastor in Texas named Bob Rogers.

In addition to the above, according to Wikipedia:

Bob Rogers may refer to:

And of course, I’m none of those people. But the answer was in that list above.

But this time, I noticed most of the visitors to my blog were coming from Australia! With a little searching myself, I soon learned that a radio disc jockey in Sydney, Australia, named Bob Rogers, announced his retirement after 78 years on the air. I mean, this dude toured with the Beatles, and was still on the radio! But at age 93, he said, “I think it’s time we gave the young fellows a bit of a go.”

I’m not that Bob Rogers, either, but I’m glad a learned about my namesake. He’s a pretty cool guy; and he spells Rogers correctly, too.

In case you came to this blog looking for the Aussie disc jockey Bob Rogers, you can read more about him here.

Putting our troubles into perspective- my story

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Sometimes it helps to put our troubles into perspective. Let me share a memory from many years ago. As a young pastor just beginning a family, I served several churches as pastor on a small salary. My wife Mary and I had some financial struggles, but we were happy, getting by living in a mobile home nicely furnished at one church, and later a larger pastorium, although we sometimes didn’t have the money to refill the butane heater. Our first child, Melissa, was born. Money was tight, but God provided. Eventually, I decided God was calling me to return to New Orleans Baptist Seminary and work on a doctoral degree.

Those days in seminary working on my doctorate were especially difficult times financially. I gave up my church position as pastor to dedicate myself to study, and I took a job on campus working for the grounds crew three days a week, so I could be in class and study the other days. I also worked as a grader for the professor, but that paid very little. My income was even less than when I worked for a church, even with Mary working. We stretched the money every way that we could.

One December day during this time, I got a call from the church there in New Orleans where we were members. They wanted me to pick up a Christmas gift for a needy seminary student family. I was so excited, because I thought that must be for my family. I arrived at the church, and they gave me the name and address of a student family in my apartment building. My heart dropped, but I dutifully took the gifts of food, gift cards and other presents, and went to the door of the family and knocked. When they opened the door, I was shocked– the family had an apartment full of kids, and had almost no possessions inside. They were so much worse off than me and Mary and Melissa. It put things in perspective, and I rarely felt sorry for myself again. I was thankful for what I had.

We all have a choice, to look down at our problems, or look up at our God, the Lord who provides (Genesis 22:14). As the apostle Paul wrote, “Set your minds on things above, not earthly things” (Colossians 3:1). A poet put it this way: “Two men looked out prison bars/ One saw mud, one saw stars.” It all depends on your perpsective, so let’s look up and be thankful for what we have.

Zoom Ten Commandments

ZOOM TEN COMMANDMENTS

(Source unknown)

1. Thou shalt not sit under a light with a fan lest thou incite others to have a seizure.
2. Thou shalt wear clothes if thine camera is on, cover thine nakedness.
3. Thou shalt mute thyself if thou art not speaking, especially if thou hast the sniffles or gas.
4. Thou shalt not sit in front of a light-filled window unless thou art in the witness protection program.
5. If thou shalt go to the bathroom, take not others with thee, love thy neighbor.
6. Thou shalt not private message someone gossip, the host and the Lord seest the transcript.
7. Warn others if thou art on a call lest they defile the meeting w/ an unseemly appearance.
8. Zoom not w/ someone else in the same room, the echo is an abomination.
9. Eat not w/ thine microphone on, it is an abomination
10. Be not content w/ screen time, face to face is better

How to Have a Lousy Marriage in Seven Easy Steps

Using a little reverse psychology, my friend Doug Munton hits the nail on the head with this list!

Doug Munton

Married or planning to marry? Want to make that marriage as unhappy, bitter and painful as possible? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are seven easy steps to having a lousy marriage.

1. Make your marriage all about you. This is Lousy Marriage 101. Don’t consider your spouse. Make it all about you, you, you. Forget their interests, needs or love language. Better to not think of them at all. Keep the focus of the marriage all about what you want, what you like and what you need. Is that so hard?

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12 signs that you’re from Mississippi

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Are you from Mississippi? Then you should know the following:

  1. A “pack of Nabs,” is a package of crackers (as in “Nabisco”) in a wrapper.
  2. Kosciusko is pronounced Causey-ES-ko.
  3. When you need a shopping cart at Wal-Mart, you ask for a “buggy.”
  4. When you say you’re “fixin’ to git a coke,” you may be about to purchase a Pepsi, and if you’re “fixin’ to cut out the light,” you are about to turn off the light switch.
  5. Biloxi is pronounced bill-UX-ee. If you say bill-OX-ee, you are a Yankee.
  6. When you’re going to visit your parents, you say, “I’m gonna see mom and ’em.”
  7. The noon meal is dinner, especially if it is on Sunday at mom and ’ems.
  8. When you see a mother pushing a baby stroller, you tell her she has “precious cargo.”
  9. Saucier is pronounced SO-sher, but Gautier is pronounced GO-shay.
  10. You love to eat fried catfish with hush puppies and ketchup.
  11. Pecan is pronounced puh-CAHN. (If you say PEE-can, you are either a Yankee or from southern Georgia.)
  12. You take a pecan pie to dinner on the grounds at church after revival meeting, and to the family meal at church after a funeral, and to mom and ’ems for Sunday dinner.
  13. BONUS: You pronounce it: Miss-IPPI.