‘Gone to the Baptists’
Oct. 22, 1795 – Was the day that Baptist historian and pastor, Isaac Backus heard Stephen Parsons preach, according to an entry in Backus’ diary. Parsons, a native of Middletown, Conn., and a member of the Separatist Congregational church in his home town became pastor of the branch that formed in Westfield, Conn. in 1788. However, in 1795, after much study on the subject, Parsons rejected infant baptism and was dismissed from his church.
Parsons was baptized by Elder Abel Palmer, Pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Colchester, Conn. Seven of his former members went with him and they formed a Baptist church in Westfield. Later Parsons became pastor of the Baptist church in Whiteboro, N.Y. The split in the Congregational Church started with the Revivals of George Whitefield. The decadent Congregational churches were inundated with new converts from the Whitefield and other revivals of that era. In time the new, on fire converts left, and started new Congregational churches called “Separates” or “New Lights.”
The new churches however were cut off from the tax revenues for the upkeep of their church buildings and pastors salaries. At this point, absent infant baptism they were only a step away from being Baptists. Coen says it well: ‘Gone to the Baptists’ is a frequent entry in the record books of the Separate churches beside the names of former members who had adopted the principle of believer’s, as opposed to infant’s baptism.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: from This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 577 – 78.