Posted: 15 Feb 2015 04:03 PM PST
Dr. Richard Furman
When church membership meant something
On Feb 16, 1750, Oliver Hart began his ministry in Charleston, S.C. at the Baptist church that was established when William Screven led his congregation to flee when they were persecuted in Kittery, Maine. Richard Furman who later became pastor, began his term of service in 1787. Following are some of the terms of church membership for the Charleston church at that time. Possibly the pendulum had swung too far to the right by then, but who can deny that in these days of “anything goes religion”, the pendulum has swung too far to the left, and in many instances, church membership has almost become meaningless. They had three main rules for church membership. First they were to notify the pastor of their desire for membership in time before the next communion seasons so that he could appoint the deacons or any other of the brethren that he may think proper, to visit the candidate to obtain needful information concerning their faith, character and life. The second phase involved a period where appointed people would spend a time of fellowship with the prospective members to become better acquainted with them. The third step would be a face to face meeting with the congregation where they would have the opportunity to ask the candidate any questions concerning their faith and repentance, etc. If all was well, they would then be baptized and admitted to all of the privileges of the church. Or they would accept them on receiving a letter of recommendation from the church from where they had come – The date was 1828.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 95-97.