First Baptist Church of Charleston Honors Memory of Past Slave Members

Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston, and Leonard Griffin, pastor of Morris Street Baptist Church in Charleston, embrace after unveiling a marker to honor the memory of enslaved members of First Baptist Church.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (BP) — A South Carolina congregation has taken a step to officially honor the memory of past members of the church who were enslaved prior to 1865.

On Nov. 11, First Baptist Church of Charleston dedicated a marker that says: “In memory of the thousands of enslaved members of the First Baptist Church of Charleston whose names we do not know, but are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 7:9.”

The bronze tablet was unanimously approved by the congregation as a way of acknowledging the contributions of the many enslaved members who served in the church but had been largely ignored by history, said pastor Marshall Blalock.

“We can’t change the past, but we can honor those who were unjustly forgotten and work to bring the hope of a world where every person is recognized as uniquely made in God’s image, worthy of respect, and pursued in friendship,” Blalock said. “Only the Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ makes that possible, and this memorial honors people who through the power of the Gospel overcame the indignities and suffering of slavery and now rest in the peace of Christ himself.”

The plaque was placed in a prominent location next to the exterior door of the historic sanctuary where, prior to 1865, slaves would enter to ascend the stairs for worship. The marker is among the first of its kind in one of the historic Charleston churches where slaves were members, Blalock said.

The marker was unveiled in a dedication service attended by leaders from throughout the city of Charleston and the state of South Carolina. Donald Greene, president of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina, gave the invocation. “My ancestors prayed to God in the balcony of this sanctuary, and tonight their prayers have been answered,” Greene said.

Leonard Griffin, pastor of Morris Street Baptist Church, Charleston, joined Blalock in unveiling the plaque. Morris Street Baptist Church was formed in 1865 by freed slaves who had been members of First Baptist Church.

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Source: Baptist Press