The First Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Baptist Convention

Dr. George H. Keith

Minutes of the first Minnesota Baptist Convention(MBC) annual meeting, August 29, 1859, record 35 delegates in attendance. George H. Keith, Minneapolis, presided over the business meeting. One resolution provided guidelines for those who could participate. Another allowed visiting brethren to participate in the deliberations.

George H. Keith read a report presenting the articles of incorporation. John B. Pope read the constitution and by laws which were then adopted by the delegates. T.R. Cressey spoke from Isaiah 52:l on “The Elements of Strength in our Frontier Zion.”  Following this message, a nominating committee was appointed.

The afternoon session opened in prayer, followed by the discussion and adoption of the remaining articles of the constitution and bylaws. The report of the nominating report was given, and the following officers were elected:  president, George H. Keith (Minneapolis); vice president, Samuel Dooley (Shakopee), John D. Ford (Winona), JE Crooker (Owatonna), C. Ayer, (Le Sueur); secretary, John D. Pope (St. Pau); and treasurer, William Wakefield (St. Paul).

The evening session, designated “a Fraternal Religious Conference,” was led by CM Fuller and drew many people. A collection of $5.08 was received at the close of the conference.

Four resolutions were presented and adopted in the evening session. “Resolved, That Theological Education with the Baptists, especially in the West, demands greater consideration and more ample facilities. Resolved, That it is expedient to establish at present only one Theological Seminary for the Baptist denomination in the Northwestern States and Territories. Resolved, That we recommend to the Convention to raise . . .at least $400 to be expended under the direction of the Board for Missionary Purposes for the Convention.” The final resolution directed the secretary to file a certified copy of the Articles of Incorporation in a County Clerk’s office and with the Secretary of State.

Appointments to the following committees were made:  On Foreign Missions, On Home Missions, On Sabbath Schools and Publications, and On Education. During the evening session, a committee (JD Ford, George H. Keith, and Erasmus Westcott) report on Minnesota Central University stated, “We deeply regret the financial embarrassment under which the University is now laboring, and sympathize with those who, in their praiseworthy efforts to promote education, suffer in any respect on account of the same. But in view of our own immediate financial necessities, both as individuals and churches, we do not see how relief can be afforded by us at the present time; notwithstanding, we would encourage the Trustees to make every effort to relieve the Institution.”

The new convention agreed to meet with the Baptist Church at Minneapolis on Friday before the second Sabbath in September 1860, for its next meeting. Thus four associations with 66 churches and a membership of 1,672 organized the Minnesota Baptist Convention just three months after Minnesota became a state.

History of the Minnesota Baptist Convention by David Becklund, 1967.