CHURCH AND SCHOOL
Two North Carolina institutions whose encouraging antebellum development was blunted by the distresses of war were the church and the school. By 1860 the ten leading Protestant denominations had 157,000 members, with 65,000 Baptists, 61,000 Methodists, and 15,000 Presbyterians. Together they constituted a major force in society. Throughout the state numerous denominational colleges and academies provided religious education for ministers and a proper environment for the education of lay men and women.
But not even the churches were exempt from the disorganization and impoverishment of the war years. The Board of Managers of the Baptist State Convention reported in 1862 that they "never have felt such embarrassment. Discouraged by the state of the country, and crippled by their indebtedness, they hardly know where to begin or what to say." Membership in churches and attendance at both churches and conventions were in a state of decline. Except for work with the armies, missionary activity had virtually ended, and it was "painful to the Board to have to state that they have not a single Missionary in their employment."1 The next year the board reported that the religious needs of the soldiers were so great that rather than divide their small resources they had decided to abandon the department of state missions and devote their full attention to the soldiers. To supervise this work they had appointed N. B. Cobb as superintendent of colportage at a salary of $1,500 a year. The board added that they had been trying to persuade pastors to leave their churches for brief tours as missionaries to the soldiers, but the "strange apathy" of the pastors had defeated this crusade.2
What was happening to the Baptists was happening to the other denominations. In addition, the decline in contributions and attendance, plus the erosion of endowments by inflation, prevented repair of church____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: North Carolina Civil War Documentary. Contributors: W. Buck Yearns - Editor, John G. Barret - Editor. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 1980. Page number: 225.