The Baptized Churches Of Christ – Appendix E
Kehukee Baptist Declaration – 1826
Elder Rueben Ross had preached the first Arminian sermon among Baptists near Port Royal, Tennessee in 1817. He had come from the Kehukee Baptist Association in North Carolina and settled in Tennessee. Over in the East, his brother, Martin Ross, also in the Kehukee Association had been preaching up missions from the commencement of the New Divinity Missionary Movement in 1805. He naturally supported the establishment of the Board of Foreign Missions in Philadelphia from 1814 to this time period, 1827. The first communication from the Board to the Kehukee was read in their 1815 session.
Reuben’s visit to North Caroline was fruitful with his brother, for he converted him to Arminianism. The Kehukee became one of the first Baptist associations able to see the Arminian direction of the mission movement. Their enlightment came to fruition in 1826. At this session, a paper purporting to be a “Declaration of The Reformed Baptist Churches of North Carolina” was read before that body, and it was tabled on Saturday, and then called up and discussed on Monday. It was referred to the churches for consideration, and request was made to bring their attention back to the association the following annual meeting, in 1827. The Kehukee Baptists Association was the largest and oldest Association in the South, having been constituted in 1769, and was the first to arrange correspondence with the Philadelphia Baptist Association in Pennsylvania, the oldest in the country (1707).
It was the Philadelphia that had been seized by William Staughton and the New Divinity gang and stirred it into the Modern Mission enterprise. It may have caught the Masonic Order by surprise, when the non-fellowship swept them out of the churches with the same brush stroke as the other societies; but Masons were foremost in the activities of the New Divinity school, and worked to advance the mission enterprise. The following is copied from the Minutes of 1827:
The Kehukee Baptists Declaration
“A paper purporting to be a Declaration of the Reformed Baptists in North Carolina, dated August 26, 1826, which was presented at the last Association, and referred to the churches to express in their letters to this Association their views with regard to it, came up for deliberation. Upon examination, it was found that most of the churches had given their opinions; and after an interchange of sentiments among the members of this body, it was agreed that we discard all Missionary societies, Bible societies and Theological seminaries, and the practices heretofore resorted to for their support, in begging money from the public; and if any persons should be among us, as agents of any of said societies, we hereafter discountenance them in those practices; and if under a character of a minister of the gospel, we will not invite them into our pulpits; believing these societies and institutions to be the inventions of men, and not warranted from the word of God. We further do unanimously agree that should any of the members of our churches join the fraternity of Masons, or, being members, continue to visit the lodges and parades, we will not invite them to preach in our pulpits, believing them to be guilty of such practices; and we declare non-fellowship with them and such practices.”
[1827 MINUTES: Kehukee Baptist Association]