On March 25, 1817 a new organization was born in Augusta. It was called “The Baptist Praying Society of Augusta.” Although it was not yet a constituted church, this group of eighteen people drafted a statement about their purpose for coming together. They wrote:
“We, the Baptist Brethren of Augusta, Georgia, being in a destitute state, without preaching, church union, or communion, and at the same time believing it is our duty, privilege, and high calling to be more united; believing also that it is inconsistent with the principles of true and vital religion, and hoping it will not be offensive to the particular churches to which any of us belong or have belonged, have thought proper to enter into the following covenant, viz.:
“We agree to join in a society to be known and styled ‘The Baptist Praying Society of Augusta’; to meet in evening prayer meetings as often as convenient; to use our individual influence among our preaching brethren to get Sabbath preaching among us.
“Further, we agree to watch over each other in faithfulness, in love, and in all things taking the Word of God for the man of our counsel.
“We hope to conduct all matters amongst us in decency and order as required by the Gospel. We agree to appoint a clerk to keep a fair record of all matters that they may be thought worthy of notice; also to appoint a moderator to preside over our society’s meetings, and to preserve order amongst us.
“As the desire of all is the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we agree that when it may be thought by sister churches around about us that we are in a fit state for constitution, to become constituted, or so soon as it can be done on Christian and Gospel principles.
“Done in society, this 25th day of March, 1817, and signed by the following persons:
Eighteen members of the Baptist Praying Society signed the document.
This is our spiritual heritage as a church. These eighteen people, along with a host of others who played an important role in the founding of a Baptist church in Augusta, form the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) which makes up the ancestry of our church. Their pioneering beginnings gave us the DNA of a church which continues to this day and into the future. What is this spiritual heritage? What can we learn from this “great cloud of witnesses?” We will talk about that this Sunday morning.