Our History as General Baptists
General Baptists are one of the many Baptist denominations in the world today. They have a distinct and distinguished heritage in church history. In the early part of the 17th Century the Church of England, under King James I, decreed to bring all the people of that nation into the one body. Those who refused to conform were forced to leave their homeland.
Among the non-conformist who went to Holland were such men as John Smyth and Thomas Hewlys. These men believed in:
Separation of Church and state.
That Christ died for the whole human race.
That faith and repentance were pre-requisite to salvation.
They also taught that baptism was for believers only, thus rejecting infant baptism. These doctrines were instilled in the church which these men founded. Because of the beliefs on general atonement and baptism they were called “General Baptist.” Many historians agree that this was the first church to be called Baptist.
General Baptist in America
There is every indication that General Baptists were among the earliest settlers in the new America, and assumed a strong role of leadership among free thinking people. However, amid turmoil and transition during the Colonial Period General Baptists lost their identity. Successors to their doctrinal teachings were called Free Will Baptists.
General Baptist Re-Established
A dynamic young Baptist preacher by the name of Benoni Stinson moved into Southern Indiana in 1822. Because of his beliefs pertaining to general atonement he soon found himself alienated from other Baptist of the area. In 1823 Benoni Stinson organized Liberty Church in Evansville, Indiana. Through this church the name and teachings of earlier General Baptists were re-established. This movement began to spread and in 1870 a national body called General Association of General Baptists was organized.
General Baptists have continued to function as a denomination made up of churches in the United States, Guam, India, Saipan, the Philippines, Honduras, Mexico and Jamaica. Although General Baptists function as a denominational body, the local churches are self governing.
Location of Home Offices
The headquarters of General Baptists is located at Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Included in the headquarters is the Denominational Executive Director, Financial Services, Home and Foreign Missions, Ministerial Services, Women’s Work, Men’s Brotherhood, Congregational Ministries, and setting adjacent to the Headquarters building is Stinson Press.
General Baptists own and operate Oakland City University, Oakland City, Indiana. It also operates some Bible Institutes in some of the foreign locations.
The denominational ministries of General Baptists are financed primarily through a program called “Unified Giving.” We, along with most of the churches help support the various ministries by our financial stewardship.