Dead Ends

The roads of life–where do they take us? In 1793, slavery was becoming a pillar of southern economic success; many southern farmers chose this road. Gowan Pamphlet, the pastor of the black church of Williamsburg requested admission of his church into the all-white Dover Association of Baptist Churches; he picked a road that looked difficult to travel. Two roads–one of slavery and the other based on the equality of man before God. Neither ultimate destination was clearly seen at the time.

Sandy and I just returned from a trip along the Oregon/Mormon Trail researching the third book in my Fury series. I wanted to travel to stops mentioned in the story. One of these was Red Rock, Iowa. Our GPS took us about nine miles off the main road over narrower and narrower gravel and dirt roads on the way to Red Rock. All the time, I looked forward to arriving at the historic town. Finally, the GPS said we were almost there. Excitement rising, we made a turn…and stopped. Just ahead was a  sign that read DEAD END.

The road to Red Rock. WayToRedRock_Extract_Sm

How much like life! I thought. As with many of the southern cotton farmers who thought they were on the right path, all indications were that I was as well…until I saw that the end was really a dead one.

Where were we to go? How would we find Red Rock? A cloud of dust arising from the road back, gave me hope. I flagged down a truck that looked official, like its driver would be able to help. I spent a good 15 minutes talking with a new friend, Cleo. He cleared up the matter. Red Rock dam was built in the 1960’s and covered the town of Red Rock. Contemporary pictures of Red Rock, Iowa, would be the peaceful surface of Red Rock Reservoir.

Again, I thought, How much like life! There IS someone who knows the paths we travel—which ones lead to death and which to life.

See more at “The Courage of Your Faith,” this month featuring “The Slaves.” “The Courage of Your Faith” consists of 12 short stories from our history and 12 Bible Studies on issues as relevant today as they were in the past. Each study includes supplemental information and a Power Point slide presentation

Slavery Divides Baptists

In the Baptist Beacon, I found the following summary. “In 1785 the Baptist General Committee of Virginia pronounced slavery ‘contrary to the word of God.’ Two years later the Ketockton Association called it ‘a breach of divine law.’ In 1790 the General Committee of Virginia adopted a statement calling slavery ‘a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, and inconsistent with a republican government; and therefore (we) recommend it to our brethren to make use of every legal measure, to extirpate the horrid evil from the land.’ By 1840 Northern Baptists and Southern Baptists disagreed over the issue with the southerners supporting the institution of slavery. Virginia Baptists called Baptists of the south to a meeting in Georgia…. Since 1845 we were no longer just ‘Baptists’ but ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern Baptists’.”

Corporate views changed dramatically in the south during the first half of the 19th century. As Baptists in the south dealt with the issue of slavery, some no doubt wavered in their acceptance of the practice when confronted face to face with its reality. Can people be property? How would you have reacted to a socially accepted belief (some arguments for slavery can be found here) when your personal experience called it into question? The short story at “The Southern Baptists” addresses just such a personal dilemma.