Birth of the Minnesota Baptist Convention

According to David Becklund in his book on Minnesota Baptist history, Baptist missionaries in the United States were eager to form local and state organizations as soon as they had organized a few churches. Timothy Cressey, who has been mentioned in previous postings, was the leader in establishing Baptist churches in Minnesota Territory.

In 1851, two years after Congress declared Minnesota a territory, the Minnesota Baptist Association (MBA) was organized in St. Paul. Its first meeting was held September 24, 1852. This group considered itself a state organization, and most likely it did encompass the settled area of Minnesota Territory at that time; however, the association later became the Twin City Baptist Association.

On August 27, 1856, delegates to the Southern Minnesota Baptist Association (SMBA) met for the first time in Chatfield. Membership was open to all churches that could comply with the doctrines detailed in the Articles of Faith approved by delegates. This association sent messengers to the 1856 MBA annual meeting in central Minnesota, and both associations passed resolutions favoring the formation of a state Baptist organization.

Becklund wrote that the “first definite move to organize a state convention in Minnesota was made at the third session of the Southern Minnesota Baptist Association on August 27, 1858.” Held at the Baptist church in Saratoga, the meeting had 41 representatives from 16 churches with a total membership of 400. Delegates unanimously adopted the following resolution: Resolved, that time has fully come when the Baptists of Minnesota should organize a State Convention in order to prosecute the work of domestic Missions.

The MBA, at its 7th annual meeting, also expressed the desire for a state organization. The actual planning meeting for the proposed Minnesota Baptist Convention took place at the Hastings Baptist Church September 8, 1858. Any Baptist church contributing to the organization was entitled to a delegate. Officers included a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, 2 auditors, and a board of not more than 15 trustees. All trustees “must be members of Baptist churches, working in harmony with the Convention.”

One of the main reasons for organizing a convention was to encourage the Home Mission Society to supply missionaries and funds for Minnesota. Delegates from 4 associations met on Monday, August 29, 1859, in the Baptist church at Winona to form the Minnesota Baptist Convention, known today as the Minnesota Baptist Association (MBA). Delegates from the following churches participated:

Winona Minneapolis Teffton Utica
Chatfield Richmond Hamilton St. Charles
Hastings St. Paul Faribault St. Cloud
Cannon City Lake City Austin Wabasha
Rochester Pilot Mound Carimonia Saratoga
Wasioja Owatonna Money Creek  

Information taken from A History of the Minnesota Baptist Convention by David Becklund, 1967.