Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

100 Baptist Pacifists (26-50)

As I mentioned in my first installment, there are several other Baptist peacemakers who may be (or may have been) pacifists, but ambiguities or contradictory statements leave me uncertain.  So, I have to omit them from the list until I can clear up these uncertainties.  There are several notable Baptist women whose actions seem to show pacifist convictions (and they were/are definitely peacemakers), but the silence of the record keeps me silent, too.   (For instance, I am almost certain that Ann Hasseltine Judson, who worked so hard to get her husband out of the British prison during the Burmese war, was a pacifist and was a catalyst for her husband’s coming to pacifist views–but she is silent on the subject.  So is Emily Chubb Boardman Judson whose son, George Dana Boardman, was a leader in the peace movement.  But, again, she does not speak on the topic.  I’d love to include more women in these posts, but I will not simply make the sexist assumption that a woman shares the views of the men in her life–fathers, husbands, brothivers, sons–in the absence of positive evidence.  After all, I have been surrounded by strong, opinionated women all my life: My mother was a great influence, but we didn’t always agree. My sisters and I disagree on huge range of topics. My wife, a Baptist minister, shares many things in common with me, but our theologies are far from identical.  And I think my daughters simply humor me. )

26.  George Keith (1639-1716) was a Quaker who came to believe that the Inner Light was not enough and came to Baptist convictions on believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  His short-lived movement of “Keithian Baptists” (sometimes called “Quaker Baptists”) were thoroughly pacifist.

27.  Elder Peleg Burroughs (1748-1800).  Newport, R. I. Baptist pastor in the General (6 Principle) Baptist tradition (whose wife was a Seventh Day Baptist).  He sympathized with the U. S.  Revolution, but would not violate his principles by agreeing to fight or monetarily support the war.

28.  Benjamin Randall (1749-1800), founder of the Free Will Baptists, was a thorough pacifist and the first couple of generations of Free Will Baptists were pacifists, too, although most current Free Will Baptists are both theologically fundamentalist and socially conservative, including being militaristically nationalist.

29. Elder Elhanan Winchester (1751-1797), a Baptist who came to believe in universal salvation, was also a strong pacifist and an early opponent of slavery.

30.  Benoni Stinson (1798-1869) was a Kentucky pastor of a “United” Baptist congregation (i.e., composed of a mix of Regular or Charleston Tradition Baptists with Separate/New Light/Sandy Creek Baptists) who came to reject Calvinism for Arminianism. He founded the General Association of General Baptists and opposed both war and slavery.

31.  Howard Malcolm (1799-1878) was an American Baptist minister who held pastorates in both the South and the North prior to the Civil War.  He served as first president of Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY (a Baptist college not to be confused with Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. which is Catholic) and was later president of Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA (once Baptist and now secular).  Malcolm was active in many social reforms, including the abolition of slavery.  A strong pacifist, he was the founding president of the American Peace Society.

32. Henrietta Oden Feller (1800-1868) was a Swedish Baptist missionary to Canada where she founded a school for girls and women.  When the school and the Baptist congregation were attacked, she insisted that people respond with nonviolence and love of enemies.

33. William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) Baptist newspaper publisher and major leader of the movement to abolish slavery, Garrison was also involved in the struggle for women’s rights, for universal education and an end to child labor, and the abolition of war.

34. Susan Elizabeth Cilley Griffin (1851-1926), known as “Libby,” this missionary and pastor is the earliest documented woman to be ordained to the gospel ministry in Baptist circles.  She was a Free Will Baptist missionary to India, then ordained and called to a church in Elmira, NY.  When much of the Free Will Baptists merged with the Northern (now American) Baptists, Libby’s ordination was accepted.  Her pacifism grew out of her devotion to missions and experiences as a missionary.

35 . Henry Clay Vedder (1853-1935) was a Baptist minister and church historian who became an advocate of the Social Gospel and was a conscientious objector to World War I.

36.  Samuel Zane Batten (1859-1928)  Northern (American) Baptist minister and advocate of the “Social Gospel” and strong pacifist who opposed World War I even after the government declared that opposition to the war would be treated as treason.

37.  William Henry Haden (1875-1972) a British Baptist pastor, founded the Baptist Pacifist Fellowship in 1929 which is today the (British) Baptist Peace Society.

38.  Herbert Dunnico (1876-1958), British Baptist pacifist and conscientious objector during World War I.

39.  Edwin Foley (1877-1972), British Baptist pacifist and conscientious objector during World War I.

 40 Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861-1934), daughter of a Baptist minister, missions advocate, and suffragist (who was friends with Susan B. Anthony), Montgomery was the first woman to publish her own translation of the New Testament and to become head of a major denomination (president of the Northern Baptist Convention).  Her pacifism grew not just out of her study of the New Testament, but from her commitment to missions (vs. nationalism) and her commitment to advancement for women (women and children being historically the prime victims of war).

41. Kenneth Scott Latourette (1884-1968) was a Baptist layperson, Yale historian of China and of the history of Christianity, especially Christian missions.  Latourette’s global sense of the church as the Body of Christ led him to embrace Christian pacifism.

42. Edwin McNeill Poteat Jr. (1892-1955).  Baptist pastor in both the South and the North of the United States and a missionary to China, president of Colgate Rochester Theological Seminary.  McNeill was one of the founders of the Baptist Peace Fellowship in 1929.  His pacifism led him to become a registered Independent in politics in order always to be able to “speak truth to power.

43.  George L. “Shorty” Collins (1892-1991)  who was 6′ 5″ and thin,  was an American Baptist minister, one of the Founders of the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and of the Baptist Pacifist Fellowship. He was for many years a traveling field secretary for the Fellowship of Recobnciliation.

44.  Edwin T. Dahlberg (1893-1986).  American (Northern) Baptist pastor, was one of the founders of the U.S. chapter of the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation (1915), and a founding member of the Baptist Pacifist Fellowship (1929).  President of the Northern Baptist Convention (now American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.) (1946-1947) and President of the National Council of Churches (1957-1960). Dahlberg received the Gandhi Peace Award.  The American Baptists annually award the Dahlberg Peace Award to a major peacemaker. The first recipient (1964) was Martin Luther King, Jr.

45. Ernest Alexander Payne (1902-1980), British Baptist pastor, historian, and ecumenist.  His pacifism was rooted in his Anabaptist view of the church.

46. Robert James McCracken (1904-1973), Scottish born Baptist minister who taught theology at McMaster Divinity School in Ontario and was the second Senior Minister of Riverside Church (NY) and taught homiletics at Union Theological Seminary.  More orthodox than his predecessor at Riverside Church (Fosdick, see previous post), McCracken’s pacifism was rooted in his Calvinistic trust in the Soveriegn Grace of God.

47.  Culbert G. Rutenber (1909-2003). Known as “Cubby,” Rutenber was a Baptist minister from the conservative evangelical strand of Northern/Americasn Baptists.  In addition to several pastorates, Rutenber spent most of his career teaching Christian social ethics and philosophy of religion at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now called Palmer Theological Seminary) where he articulated an evangelical version of the social gospel.  His best known book defending Christian pacifism was The Dagger and the Cross.

48. Frank Stagg (1911-2001) was a famed Southern Baptist New Testament scholar. His opposition to the Vietnam War led him to rethink the question of war and Christian discipleship altogether and, led by his study of the New Testament, he embraced Christian pacifism.

49. Jo Ann Robinson (1912-1992), was a National Baptist (African-American) and a member of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL.  She was also a nonviolent activist for social justice. She was president of the Women’s Political Caucus and in the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP.  When Rosa Parks, the NAACP secretary, was arrested for sitting in the “white section” of the city bus, Robinson and other women organized the Montgomery Busy boycott and the Montgomery Improvement Association–though male leaders liker Robinson’s pastor, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., soon got all the press.

50. Carl W. Tiller, Jr. (1916-1991) was a layleader in  Northern/American Baptist circles, also sitting on the board of the Baptist World Alliance.  A pacifist and ecumenist, he was president of the American Baptist Convention (now American Baptist Churches, USA) in 1966 and 1967.

February 7, 2011 - Posted by | Baptists, blog series, church history, nonviolence, pacifism, peacemakers


  1. Thanks so much, Michael, for sharing this work. I am thankful to have known some of these pacifists.

    Comment by Dick Myers | February 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Me, too, Dick.

      Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 7, 2011 | Reply

  2. Michael,

    Are you aware of any decent sources on the Keithian Baptists. I’ve not heard of this before but would like to read more.

    Comment by Casper | February 12, 2011 | Reply

    • I first ran into mention of Keith and the Keithian Baptists in Paul DeKar’s book, Baptist Peacemakers, which will be in my bibliography at the end of this series. I have since seen them mentioned in several Baptist history texts, but always with only a paragraph to a page of coverage. I know of no monograph or even journal article on them, but I’ll look when this series is over and I’m giving the bibliography for further reading. Thanks for your interest, Casper.

      Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 14, 2011 | Reply

  3. I like your series about Baptist pacifists. One name you may already have planned to include is. G. McLeod Bryan (d. 2010) emeritus professor of religion at Wake Forest. He was a mentor to me in many ways, with a strong commitment to nonviolence and social justice.
    Thanks for your work. Your blog is new to me, but already I’ll put it on “favorites.”


    James Garrison, Arden, NC

    Comment by James Garrison | February 25, 2011 | Reply

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