A Mightily used man of God
1791 – Dr. Adiel Sherwood, pastor and educator, was born in Washington County, New York, and after graduating from College was trained in theology at Andover Seminary. Andover was founded by the Conservative Congregationalists after liberalism had penetrated Harvard. There he studied under Dr. Moses Stuart, who had been used of God to eradicate the liberalism that Adoniram Judson had encountered in his college years. After that he pastored a Baptist church and taught in an academy at Waynesboro, Georgia. It was there that he was ordained in March of 1820, when James Mercer served on the Counsel. From there he was called to pastor the Bethlehem Baptist Church near Lexington, Georgia until 1821. In May of 1824 he was married to Miss Heriot of Charleston, S.C. For the next ten years until 1832, he labored in church planting and missions, and with Rev. Jesse Mercer established the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1822. In 1835 he participated in the national Triennial Convention. In 1841 he became the first president of the newly formed Shurtleff College in Illinois. For five years he was pastor in Cape Girardeau, Missouri until he returned to Griffin, GA to pastor a Baptist church and head up Marshall College there. The Sherwood’s home was devastated by the Federal army in their march through Georgia in 1864 and struggled with starvation. It is calculated that 14,000 converts were baptized from the ministry of this God blessed man. [R.S. Duncan, History of the Baptists in Missouri (St. Louis: Scammell and Company, Publishers, 1882), p. 805. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 541-42] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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“[a] Primitive Baptist preacher of much force and usefulness.”
Jan. 20, 1788, the first black Baptist church in America was established at Savannah Georgia by Abraham Marshall who was white, and Jesse Peter a black man, at Brampton’s barn, three miles west of Savannah. Its first pastor was George Lisle, who was liberated by Mr. Henry Sharp of Burke County, GA, and afterward became a pastor at Kingston, Jamaica. He was one of four outstanding black preachers of that time, along with John Jasper, Lott Carey, and Colin Teague. There were no doubt many others, but good records were not kept of those times. But one other was Ralph (Rolf) Freeman of Anson County, N.C. Soon after his salvation and baptism, he expressed a desire to preach the gospel of Christ. In time he was licensed by his home church. His owner decided to sell him, but his brethren raised the funds and purchased his freedom. Ralph began to travel and preach and was soon ordained. He was often called on to preach funerals and was asked to preach the funeral of a fellow evangelist (white) who bequeathed Ralph his horse, overcoat, Bible, and $50 cash. The evangelist, Elder McGee’s brother collected an offering for Ralph at the graveside of another $50. Shortly after that the N.C. legislature passed a law forbidding black men from holding public services. Ralph was mortified and his ministry curtailed. At his death he was buried in the churchyard of the Bethlehem Baptist Church and in 1907 the Honorable Eugene Little erected a gravestone with these words: “He was a Primitive Baptist preacher of much force and usefulness.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 41-42.