In our Wednesday evening services I’ve been in a series tracing our Baptist heritage. I called the series – “God’s Prevailing Work; His Church Through the Ages.” We have at last come to the place in our study where our Baptist forebearers came to the New World in the early 1600’s.
Few Americans today are at all aware of the tremendous contributions of Baptist people of those early days in the formation of our nation. The concepts of liberty of conscience, freedom of religion, and government by the consent of the governed were all brought about in the American fabric, in large part, by the influence of Baptists.
The trophies of freedom of religion, and “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” were first experienced in America in the newly formed colony called Rhode Island. It was chartered through the efforts of Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke. Providence R.I. was given the name in reference to God’s hand in the turn of event which brought about this grand new experiment in freedom.
We enjoyed the opportunity while in Providence last year, to visit the First Baptist Church there. Founded in 1638 by pastor John Clarke, it truly was the first Baptist Church in America! Next Wednesday, we’ll continue to look at the Providence of God in the heritage that was laid down before us.