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Cross on beach

Blacks receive the gospel gladly
1831 – Thomas Paul, one of the first black Baptist pastors is the one that we honor on this day.  Paul was a “free black” born in Sept. 1773, and at 16 was born the second time.  On May 1, 1805 he was ordained to the gospel ministry.  Black Baptists were numerous at that time numbering an estimated 400,000 by the end of the Civil War.  However, they had few Black churches and worshiped with the white folks but segregated in galleries, or in groups within their auditoriums.  Bro. Paul formed the African Baptist Church in Boston, later called Joy Baptist, and served as their pastor for twenty years.  According to one account, He was no ordinary man…”His understanding was vigorous, his imagination was vivid, his personal appearance interesting, and his elocution was graceful…”  In time the Gold Street Baptist Church in New York invited him to help them.  Paul assisted the black’s to separate from the whites and establish the Abyssinian Baptist Church, and even though a small group, Paul remained and led them as pastor.  Because of Carey and Thomas, this was also the time that Baptists were awakening to the burden of missions.  The Mass. Baptist Missionary Society was started in 1815.  The African Baptist Missions Society was formed in Richmond, VA by black Baptists.  Paul applied to the Mass. Society for service in Haiti, was accepted and went at age 55.  However, the French language proved to be difficult and he returned home.  Thomas passed into the presence of the Lord on April 14, 1831.  What a tribute he was to the Lord and his race.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, p. 152.
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104 – April 14 – This Day in Baptist History Past


An Outstanding Early Black Pastor



Thomas Paul was born on September 3, 1773, in Exeter, New Hampshire. The names of his parents and their role in the community are not known. In 1789, at the age of sixteen, Paul converted and was then baptized by the Reverend Mr. Locke, and he began preaching at the age of twenty-eight. He traveled and preached for three years before settling down. In 1804 he made Boston, Massachusetts his home. A year later on May 1, 1805, Paul was ordained at Nottingham West, New Hampshire, and during the same year he married Catherine Water-house.


On August 8, 1805, twenty-four African American members met in Master Vinal’s schoolhouse and formed the congregation known as the First African Church. The white church members’ response to the separation of African American members was minimal. Boston’s two white Baptist churches assisted the congregation in its early stages and encouraged its growth. Finally, on December 4, 1806, Thomas Paul was installed as pastor of the First African Church, which was later renamed the Joy Baptist Church.


Paul presented a plan in 1823 to the Baptist Missionary Society of Massachusetts, to improve the moral and religious condition of the people of Haiti. His plan was enthusiastically accepted and he was sent as a missionary for six months. During his stay, President Boyer of the Republic of Haiti gave Paul permission to preach at public gatherings. He successfully reached many through his missionary work, but because of his lack of knowledge regarding French languages his overall success was limited.


Thomas Paul passed into the presence of his Lord on April 14, 1831.


The First African Church was an important part of the African American Boston community as it addressed issues and concerns of the day.




Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: Paul Thomas (1773–1831) – Minister, missionary, Organizes Independent Black Churches in Boston and New York, Missionary Work in Haiti – J Rank Articles





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