Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Antipedo Baptists of Georgetown County, South Carolina, 1710-2010

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The Antipedo Baptists of Georgetown County, South Carolina, 1710-2010

Article excerpt

The Antipedo Baptists of Georgetown County, South Carolina, 1710-2010. By Roy Talbert Jr. and Meggan A. Farish. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2015. Pp. [x], 189. $34.95, ISBN 978-1-61117-420-5.)

This book is the history of what is now the First Baptist Church of Georgetown, South Carolina. Building on the foundation of earlier South Carolina Baptist historians such as Leah Townsend, Joe Madison King, and Robert A. Baker, the authors have dug deeply into the personal papers of ministers, local newspapers, and surviving church records. Covering three centuries of local church history, the book also contributes to the historiography examining the relationship between religion and society in the American South.

The first half of the book chronicles William Screven's journey to South Carolina, the development of Georgetown, the constitution of the Antipedo Baptist Church in 1794, and the ministry of its first long-term pastor, Edmund Botsford. In these early years, the Particular Baptists stood apart from other denominations with their doctrinal positions on adult baptism, closed communion, and election. They drew animosity from other religious groups, were skeptical of emotionally charged interdenominational revivals, and "disliked anything resembling Anglicanism," such as organs and fancy buildings, while "[t]he services themselves were much different from Baptist services of today" (pp. 45, 46).

One major theme throughout the book is population demographics. During the antebellum years, slaves made up approximately 90 percent of Georgetown's population, and within the church membership slaves outnumbered whites by as many as thirty-seven to one. Botsford was known for his outreach to slaves, as well as his writings in defense of slavery as a "positive good" (p. 56). Before the Civil War, church membership exceeded a thousand believers, but since most of the members were enslaved, and most wealthy local whites preferred Anglicanism, the church struggled financially. …

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