The following is a pre-history of the formation of the Ohio Valley Association of Christian Baptist Churches of God, which I am ordained through. If you would like to know more about us you can find the link here. This blog examines the surrounding context of our formation and a backdrop for why.
Baptist Tradition in America
Rising from the North American revival called the Second Great Awakening, Baptist groups found themselves in the middle of explosive growth. The south and in the frontier west found themselves as the locations for this increase and North America, which had in 1812 around 200,000. Baptists, who were continually growing found themselves with over a million Baptist by 1850 (Noll, Mark A., 2010). During efforts to organize in the South, many found themselves struggling with the systematic doctrine of Calvinism and were against slavery. There they found themselves separating from the establishing of the Southern Baptist Convention and became themselves partial Calvinists or Arminian Baptist (Noll, 2010, K.L. 2920).
The Christian Baptist heritage comes from a group of Baptists based in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Though Baptists, they share a unity with other churches in that area that “sometimes has been called Appalachian Mountain Religious Groups” (Leonard, 2005, p.103). Practice, belief, and lifestyle by many are shared and allow for much commonality between churches, which is particularly beneficial to the communities. While seated in a worship service at the Baptist or Nazarene church, it would be commonplace to see those from other Baptist, Holiness, and charismatic background, praising together. For many, that is because they feel they are “perpetuating” and “retaining” the faith that resembles that of those that first settled their areas, but also that of New Testament Christians (Leonard, 2005, p.103).
Enterprise, Kentucky is the home of the Enterprise Association of Regular Baptist, from which a majority of the first Christian Baptist churches were associated. The Christian Baptist and Regular Baptist share much in their beliefs as demonstrated in their Articles of Faith. The Christian Baptist have fifteen articles of faith, and the Enterprise Regular Baptist is eleven. Each of the eleven is included in the Christian Baptist articles with a few wording variations. Those variations of word choices in a few key spots separate the two groups into partial-Calvinist/Arminian and what could later be termed a Wesleyan-Arminian faith.
Christian Baptist Formation
The Christian Baptist Manual contains in its opening a section titled the “Origin of the Christian Baptists.” It starts with the opening statement,
“In the year of 1931, it pleased our Lord to awaken person in the Ohio Valley to the fact that in these last days, the banner of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ needed to be held high and that the Gospel of Christ crucified was needed to be preached in its purity” (2011, p.3)
On January 3, 1931, several pastors and leaders from four churches in Ohio and Kentucky met at the North Moreland Church in Portsmouth, Ohio. With the help of two men from the Scioto Yearly Conference of Free Will Baptists and a representative from the Enterprise Association of Regular Baptists, a constitution, articles of faith, and rules of decorum were drafted. Van Williams was chosen as the first moderator of the Christian Baptist and thus the association was founded.
The name chosen was originally shorter, “Ohio Valley Association of Christian Baptists.” Why did it lengthen? Apparently, a group of churches from California had the name, “Christian Baptist.” In a meeting it was discovered that the California group indeed had the rights to the name, causing the Christian Baptist Association to rename. To signify that we believed in holiness and the second work of grace by sanctification, they chose to add three words, “Church of God.” By doing so, many ministers who had come from a strict Baptist background could more quickly adapt to a baptism of power by the Holy Spirit rather than a total cleansing from sin as the holiness churches taught.
(2011). Christian Baptist Manual. Wheelersburg, OH: Faith Bible Institute.
Leonard, Bill J., (2005) Baptists in America, New York, NY, Columbia University Press
Noll, Mark A. (2010) A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, Grand Rapids, MI. Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.