Evangelistic Work of Stearns and Marshall


Of momentous importance for the diffusion of Baptist principles throughout the South was the enthusiastic evangelism of Shubael Stearns and Daniel Marshall, “New Light” Baptists from New England (1754 onward). Stearns had become a Baptist in New England (1751) and had felt an irresistible impulse to devote his life to missionary work in the South. Marshall was led to Baptist views after his arrival in Virginia from contact with Baptists of the Philadelphia Association type.

Within the next thirty years multitudes were converted and accepted Baptist views through their ministry, and churches were organized in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The Sandy Creek (N. C.) church was organized by Stearns in 1755 and in a few years it had over 600 members.

In 1758 the Sandy Creek Association was formed, which for years embraced all the churches of the Separate type in the South. In seventeen years the connection had grown to forty-two churches with 125 ministers. The evangelism of Stearns and Marshall was characterized by an enthusiasm that verged upon fanaticism. Many new converts, without previous educational equipment or subsequent training, entered zealously upon the work of evangelization and the people heard with gladness their uncouth but earnest testimony to the power of the Gospel.

Samuel Macauley Jackson, ed., The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1908–1914), 472.

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.
1 Response
  1. Dustin Brown

    Love testimonies from the past like this! It’s proof it can be done and can be done all over the World! Love our Baptist roots and how at the heart American Baptist were church planters and soul winners. Curious about one thing though. What ended this church planting and evangelization movement? If you have any idea from your reading and study I’d be interested to know.

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