A Sketch of Early Primitive Baptist History in the State of Michigan

Michigan gained its Statehood on January 26, 1837, the 26th state in the union. The territory had remained an almost unbroken wilderness until 1821, when the tide of immigration from the eastern States began. Among the number coming to this beautiful land of the then "far west," were Baptist families, who settled in what is now Oakland County. The first four Baptist churches in the state were organized at Pontiac (1822), Stony Creek (1824), Troy (1825), and Farmington (1826), all in Oakland County. These four churches met in Pontiac, in June 1829 (another source says 1827), and formed the Michigan Baptist Association. Among the number of ministers was Elder Moses Clark, who commenced his labors in Michigan in 1825 (see our Wayne County link).

From this first association, which soon grew to twenty-eight churches, the LaGrange Association (1832) (later called St. Joseph's River) and Raisin River (later called Washtenaw) (1835) were formed.

The St. Joseph's Valley Association announced its place of meeting in the Old School Baptist papers, in 1853, and presumbly was Old School in faith and practice.

The modern mission system seems to have taken root among these churches from their earliest history, but not without some opposition. The following accounts, recorded in the pages of the Signs of the Times, reveal, that there were those who opposed the inventions of men, even in Michigan.

"Canton, Wayne Co., Mich., Jan. 9, 1839. Dear Brother Beebe:- Herewith I send you a copy of the proceedings of a little band of us, who have taken our stand against the prevailing errors of the day. I assure you, the popular order are not a little chagrined at our course; if all their stories concerning us were true, we would be, perhaps the most vile and corrupt set of beings in the whole creation. But you may depend, Brother Beebe, we are not so premature as to commence our building without counting the cost, we were aware that our names would be cast out as evil, and we counted as a do-nothing, antinomian people. This however is not strange to us, for "If they called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household?" True, we have no righteousness of our own to boast of, but we confide in the finished righteousness of Christ, which we believe is freely imputed to us. We are disgusted with the linsey-woolsey righteousness of the popular Baptists around us who boast of the wonders they, with their money, are doing in the salvation of sinners. Verily they have their reward." Then follows an account of the formation of the Old School Baptist Church at Canton, in Wayne County, on October 13th, 1838, with Elder Moses Clark as their pastor.

At the church at Fairfield, in Lenawee Co., organized in about 1834, by Elder James Carpenter, a majority of the church withdrew from the modern mission system, declaring non-fellowship for the Raisin River Association. On August 17, 1839, representatives of the Canton and Fairfield Churches met at the home of Brother Elisha Kenyon, in Canton, Wayne Co., Michigan, and formed the Michigan Corresponding Meeting. Several other churches, including those at Leonidas, Avon & Oakland, Hillsdale (Pittsford), and Concord, soon united with this meeting, which was held annually or sometimes semi-annually.

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