In 1768 the first Baptist church in what is now the State of Vermont was formed in the town of Shaftsbury. It arose out of the New-Light movement, and in 1788 it had become the mother of three other churches in the same town. The second church in Vermont was organized in the town of Pownal in 1773. These two towns were the seats (cathedrae) of Baptist influence and missionary effort for a considerable period in Vermont. Towards the close of the Revolutionary war the county of Windsor increased rapidly in population, and with the new residents several Baptist ministers found their way to that section of Vermont. A church was formed in Woodstock in 1780, of which Rev. Elisha Ransom became pastor. Between 1780 and 1790 there were thirty-two churches. Vermont, making with the five previously formed thirty-seven churches; in which there were 28 ordained ministers and 1600 communicants. This was a time of great zeal, prayer, and effort, and the blessing of God descended in great power upon the struggling Baptist communities of the Green Mountain State. The Baptists suffered severely from the tyranny of the "standing order" at this period in Vermont, and it was only after years of persistent labor that the disabilities under which they groaned were removed, and the complete separation of Church and State was accomplished. The Shaftsbury, the first Baptist Association, was established in 1780; of the five churches composing it, two belonged to Vermont and three to New York and Massachusetts. The Woodstock Association was organized in 1783 from churches located in Vermont and in New Hampshire. The church of Canaan, of which Dr. Thomas Baldwin, subsequently of Boston, was pastor, was one of the constituent members of this Association. The celebrated Aaron Leland, lieutenant-governor of Vermont, was one of the early ministers of the Woodstock Association., The Vermont Association
was formed in 1785 of five churches. There are seven Associations in the State, the largest of which is the Lamoille, and the smallest the Vermont Central. In these seven Associations there are 114 churches, 79 pastors, and 9870 members. There are 101 Baptist Sunday-schools in the State, with 1162 officers and teachers, and 9291 scholars. During the year $6563.73 were given for benevolent. objects. While many of the churches are weak, owing to removals to the West, others are enjoying encouraging prosperity. The Baptist Convention was organized in 1825, and has rendered blessed service in spreading the gospel in Vermont. Its officers in 1880 were, President, Rev. D. Spencer; Vice-Presidents, Rev. M.A. Wilcox, Col. J. J. Estey; Secretary, Rev. W. H. Rugg; Treasurer, Gen. George F. Davis. Vermont has also a Baptist Historical Society and a Baptist Sabbath-School Convention. Vermont Baptists have been the warm friends of education; they aided Hamilton, and they have sustained academies among themselves with great liberality. They have placed a number of distinguished men in the governor's chair and in other secular positions, as well as in the ministry; and they have given to sister States some of our finest scholars, most distinguished educators, and ablest preachers.
[From William Cathcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; reprint 1988, pp. 1192-3. — jrd]
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