“The Apostle of Education”
Richard Furman began to preach at the age of 16 and became popularly known as the “boy-evangelist.” Reese and Evan Pugh ordained him two years later, on May 10, 1774, as pastor of High Hills. After a fruitful ministry there of 13 years, he became pastor of the Charleston Baptist Church, which he served for the rest of his life. “In the community no minister ever enjoyed so large a share of general confidence and reverence.” For 38 years he made “annual excursions” into various parts of the state, preaching the gospel and promoting the interests of the denomination. This itinerant ministry resulted in numerous revivals and the formation of many churches. His eloquence and fame as a preacher once opened for him an opportunity to preach in the United States Congressional Hall.
During the time that education was suspect for ministers in the South, particularly among the Separate Baptists who feared that schools would dilute Baptist spirituality, divert mission money, and lead to a hireling ministry, Richard Furman become known as the “Apostle of Education.” He led the association to form a General Committee in 1790 to administer educational funds. This committee provided funds for scholarships to attend the Baptist College in Providence, Rhode Island, and for young men to study under pastors who would also lead them in the reading of theology.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 191 -192
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