A Brief History of Wilmington Primitive Baptist Church

The First Hundred Years from 1785 to 1885.

The Beginning

Below is a statement found in the Church records giving an account of the begininnig of the Wilmington Church.

"A Just and true statement of the rise, progress and organization of the Baptist Church in the Borough of Wilmington is as follows, viz 1783.

In the summer of 1783, Mr. Thomas Angier an inhabitant at Brandywine, invited the Revd. John Boggs and Thomas Flesson, two Baptist preachers to preach at his house, which requrest they complied with. There was at this time not more than 5 regular Baptists in the borough, tho their preaching was not attended by many, yet their appeared to be a divine power accompanying the good word of the gospel, after some time a number became exercised and inquiring the way Zionward and some came forward testifying their faith in Jesus Christ expressing thier desire to follow him in his instiutions, by being baptized with his baptism, according to his own appointment--. Other places also opened for the brethren to preach in, having as yet no public house of worship for our accomodation to resort to Mr. Caleb Way in Wilmington opened his house for the brethren to preach in. "A short time after it was proposed to buyild a house for public worship. Joseph Stedham, Esqr, generously gave a lot of ground 60 feet fronting on King Street continuing that width half way throught the square, then 25 feet through to French Street. "Persons were then appointed to procure subscripstions for building a meeting house, subscriptions increasing, managers were appointed to carry on the building, viz, John Boggs, Thomas Flesson, Richard Riley, John Garnett, John Stow, Joshua Vaughn and Thomas Angier. Thomas May, Esqr was appointed treasurer, Thomas Fleeson, Clerk. "Several of the ministering brethren visited and preached at different times among us viz, Revd. William Rogers, Saml Gibbons, Eliphaz Daizy, and some others. Societies for Religious worship were opened in several places and there was daily experiences of the power of God the Grace of God in conversion of sinners among the people. "The subscripstions increased so as to encourage us to proceed in the building of a meeting house. September 25th, 1785 was fixed for laying the foundation of the new house, the managers and friends at a distance were notified to attend.

The 8th of October the same year was appointed to consitute the Church. Ministers present Able Griffith, John Boggs & Thomas Fleeson. Br. Fleeson by appointment preached from 1st Cor: 12 & 13. For by one spirit we are all baptized into one body. whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we bond or free and have all made to drink in one spirit. In the afternoon met again & Br. Boggs preached. Afterwards the persons constituted belonged to the Welsh Trace, London Tract, Philadelphia & Brandywine Churches viz (not named) were requested to produce letters of dismission. Then the form of a Church Covenant was read and they with ... were declared by Br. Griffith a Church agreeable to gospel order, a prayer was offered up and an hymn or psalm suitable to the occasion was sung.

"Next day being the Lord's Day October 9th, Br. Abel Griffith preached in the forenoon. Br. John Boggs in the afternoon. Br. Thomas Fleeson administered the Lord's Supper to the new church and a number of members of sister churches. In the evening we has a solemn meeting at Br. Angier's. Br. Fleeson exhorted, Br. Boggs spoke afterwards. The next morning we met for business, and took a most affectionate leave of each other, rejoicing to see what the Lord had done by such weak instruments & crying grace, grace unto it.

"On the 29th of the same month, the Church met for business and agreed unanimously to give Br. Fleeson a call to preach and administer the ordinances one half of the time for 6 months. He accepted the call and was received without and limitationa as in the former. He at that time resided at London Tract and preached there at Wilmington, Chester, Mareenhook, Turkshead, DilworthTown and other places,

The Wilmington Church was admitted into the Philadelphia Association in their session in 1786. The Church was dismissed from that body to help form the Delaware association in 1795.

The "New Light" Controversy

In 1839 the Wilmington Church declared against the "new lights", but in 1856 the Church has drifted back into the new school column according tot he church books by 1856 with Sunday Schools etc. The Church, or a part of the church was simultaneiously represented in the Philadelphia Association (beginning in 1856) and the Delaware Association. In 1869 the last two clerks were excluded for falsifying the Church books to make the Church look like a "new light" Church.

Pastors

Elder Thomas Flesson 1785 - ????
Elder Thomas Angier
Elder John Boggs, Sr. ???? - 1800
Elder Joseph Flood 1801 - 1802
Elder Daniel Dodge 1802 - 1818
Elder Samuel R. Green 1819 - 1823
Elder Daniel D. Lewis 1824 - 1825
Elder John Peckworth 1826 - 1837
Elder Miller 1839 - 1854
Elder Mathews 1854 - 1856
Elder Samuel Earle 1856 - 1857
Elder Ephraim Rittenhouse 1859 - 1902

Clerks

George Evans 1805
Dr. John Vaughn 1805 - 1807
Azarichas Fobes 1807 - 1813
William G. Jones 1813 - 1814
Samuel Jaquett 1814 - 1815
Thomas J. Kitts 1815 - 1818
Samuel Harker 1819 - 1822
Norris Jones 1822
Samuel Harker 1822 - 1824
William Allmond 1824 - 1827
Samuel Harker 1827 - 1830
John Godes 1830 - 1832
William Bannas 1832
Joseph Jones 1832 - 1834
Gideon F. Tindall 1834 - 1835
William Allmond 1835 - 1851
William Bannas 1851 - 1869
R.P. Laivrisa 1872 - 1879
L.B. Alexander 1879 - 1881

The Second Hundred Years from 1885 to 1985.

The ... Meeting House

In 1913 the church moved from the meeting house at King Street to new building.

The Fenton Affair

In 1922 an issue arose in the Delaware Association, known as the Fenton Affair. Elder J. M. Fenton was a minister in Canada who may or may not have been excluded. The Wilmington, Cow Marsh and Byrn Churches were dropped from the Delaware Association for association with Elder Fenton. Elder J. G. Eubanks left the service of Wilmington Church over this issue. It was the position of the above three churches that they did not know the Canadian situation well enough to judge between the factions. The rift between the Delaware Association and the Cow Marsh and Wilmington Churches was attempted to be healed in 1938 to no avail and also during the tenure of Elder W. D. Griffith at Welsh Tract and Elder C. E. Benson at Wilmington and Cow Marsh.

The North Van Buren Street Meeting House.

In 1969 the church moved from the ... meeting house to the present meeting house at 2911 North Van Buren Street.

Pastors

Elder Ephraim Rittenhouse 1856 - 1857
Elder J.G. Eubanks 1902 - 1922
Elder W.S. Alexander 1923 - 1935
Elder B.E. Cubbage 1935 - 1950
Elder C.E. Benson 1950 - 1966
Elder J.E. Alderton 1967 - 1968
Elder W.E. Blair 1968 - 1981
Elder R.W. Johnson (supply) 1981 - 1983
Elder J.C. Weaver 1983 - 1985

Clerks

Joseph S. Towresey 1890 - 1926
C.E. Benson 1926 - 1936
India Jarmon 1936 - 1956
Ruth Blest (Jordin) 1956 - 1966
Elnora B. Stein 1966 - 1984
Jeannette McDowell 1984 -

The Third Hundred Years from 1985 to the Present.

Pastors

Elder William Dwayne Fletcher
Elder Jason Andrew Huffman - 2002
Elder Sidney Charles Smith 2002 - Present

Clerks

Jeannette McDowell 1984 - Present

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