(Christian History) This Black Pastor Led a White Church—in 1788

Lemuel Haynes’s pastoral career spanned forty years. He began his life of Christian service as a founding member and supply pastor to the church in Middle Granville, Massachusetts. He served in Middle Granville for five years, then received ordination from the Association of Ministers in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Haynes completed his ordination in 1785 while serving a church in Torrington, Connecticut. However, despite his evident prowess as a preacher, he was never offered the pastorate of that church due to racial prejudice and resentment among some churches in the area. In 1783 Haynes met and married twenty-year-old Elizabeth Babbit, a young white schoolteacher and a member of the Middle Granville congregation. The couple bore ten chil­dren between 1785 and 1805.

On March 28, 1788 Haynes left the Torrington congregation and accepted a call to pastor the west parish of Rutland, Vermont, where he served the all-white congregation for thirty years—a relationship between pastor and congregation rare in Haynes’s time and in ours both for its length and for its racial dynamic. During his stay in Rutland, the church grew in membership from forty-two congregants to about three hundred and fifty as Haynes modeled pastoral devotedness and fidelity to the people in his charge. He also emerged as a defender of Calvinistic orthodoxy, opposing the encroachment of Arminianism, universalism, and other errors.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture