Baptists - American EducationProtestant Christians whose faith evolved from 17th-century Puritanism and Congregationalism, and is rooted in the belief that “conversion”—the deep, spiritual embrace of and commitment to Christianity—must precede Baptism. Moreover, just as conversion embraces the entire human spirit, baptism must immerse the total body.
There is no single Baptist Church. Like other religious groups, they sent missionaries fanning across North America to convert non- Baptists during the colonial era and during the peak of evangelism and the MISSIONARY EDUCATION MOVEMENTS of the 19th century. Their churches were the common schools of the colonial communities in which they settled and their ministers the only schoolmasters. The earliest remaining educational institution they founded was Rhode Island College, which the Rev. James Manning began in the parsonage of his church in Warren, Rhode Island, in 1764. The college moved to Providence in 1770 and later became Brown University.
By 1850, Baptists were the second largest denomination in America, after the Methodists. The more than 9,500 Baptist churches made up about one-fourth of all the churches in the United States. As it did in other churches, the debate over abolition split the Baptists into three groups: the northern abolitionists, the southern whites who favored slavery, and the southern blacks, who would be separated from their white coreligionists for more than a century thereafter. The wounds of the Civil War have yet to heal, and the Baptists remain divided by race in many areas of the country and by conservative and liberal social and political views.
Like other religions, the Baptists’ influence on education diminished after disestablishment of churches in the United States in the early 19th century and the growth of state-controlled public school education and colleges following the Civil War.