Ron McCaskill, Pastor of Christchurch Cairo (Georgia)
On this past November 13, Christchurch Cairo enjoyed Dr. Bruce Gourley as our guest. As a Baptist historian, Bruce had stories! One story that touched my heart was how the Baptists were treated in Virginia when it was still a colony. The Anglican church was the state church. As a result, taxes supported the church and its clergy. Because Baptists not only opposed a state church and actively taught the separation of church and state, they refused to pay taxes. They also refused to baptize their infants into the state church. This put them on a collision course with the law. Baptists were persecuted. They lost jobs and property. They were also jailed, especially the preachers. Dr. Gourley told one story of how one Baptist preacher was grabbed by the hair of his head and dragged out of his pulpit and off to jail. Another story Bruce shared was how “thugs” were hired, by those who opposed Baptist, to taunt the preachers. Some even urinated on a preacher while he preached.
As I pondered these stirring stories, I was filled with a mixture of deep respect, sadness and resolve. Sadness, because so many of every-Sunday-attending Baptists, in my community, stare blankly and annoyingly at me when I talk to them about historical Baptist principles like separation of Church and state, soul-competency, priesthood of the believer, and autonomy of the local Church. Deep respect, because Christchurch Cairo not only teaches these Baptist principles but offered a “Baptist Principles” seminar, a while back, to the public which was taught by the renowned Baptist scholar Dr. Buddy Shurden. And resolve to keep telling the Baptist story as faithfully as our spiritual forefathers did.
Christchurch Cairo is working hard to keep Baptist principles alive, and there is still a price to be paid to accomplish this mission. Even though it is challenging, within our subculture, it is a challenge worthy of our best. Thank you for praying for us as we strive to be found faithful. Perhaps future Baptists will speak of us, one day, with the same reverence that we remember our Baptist spiritual forefathers.