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John G. Turner

Latter-day Saint elder and Utah pioneer, was born in northern Maryland to Andrew Abel and Delila Williams. Abel left the area as a young man. Little is known of his early life; it is unclear whether he was born enslaved or free. One later census identified Abel as a “quadroon,” but others listed him as “Black” or “Mulatto.”

In 1832, Abel was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and soon gathered with the Mormons in Kirtland, Ohio. In 1836, he was ordained to the church's Melchizedek or higher priesthood, making him one of a very small number of African American men to “hold the priesthood” during the church's early years. An expectation for all righteous adult male members of the church, priesthood meant the possibility of leadership positions and the authority to perform ordinances. In December 1836 Abel had become a ...

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Jacob Andrew Freedman

soldier, minister, and social activist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the youngest of the six children of Levi Allensworth and Phyllis (maiden name unknown), slaves of the Starbird family. The Starbirds were respected members of the community and were partners in Wilson, Starbird, and Smith, a wholesale drug company based in Louisville. Levi died when Allen was an infant. Phyllis's other five children either had been sold down the Mississippi River or had escaped to Canada. Phyllis hoped that Allen could “even if partly educated, win his freedom” (Alexander, 9). Believing that God would play a role in his redemption as well, Phyllis named Allen after Richard Allen, the founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In Allen Allensworth's early years he was given to Thomas Starbird, Mrs. Starbird's son, as a companion.

When Thomas was sent to school Allensworth s ...

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Jeremy Rich

Christian missionary and promoter of African American settlement in Liberia, was born a slave in Charles City County, Virginia, United States, around 1780. Little is known of his early life, though his father was thought to have been a Baptist. In 1803, Cary’s master hired him out to work at the Shockoe tobacco warehouse in the nearby city of Richmond. Cary’s diligence and industriousness impressed his new employers, who began to pay him a wage after they had sent a set fee to Cary’s master. This extra money allowed Cary to save money for himself, so that one day he could buy his freedom and the liberty of his wife and two children. Although he accused himself of swearing often and carousing during his early years at the warehouse, Cary had a religious experience in 1807 and became a Baptist At this point he had never received any ...

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Charles Rosenberg

minister, active in the Underground Railroad, reputed to have founded ten churches, including the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, was born in 1833 on a plantation in New Kent County, Virginia. By the laws of that state, he was the property of the Ferrell family. His name was variously spelled Dungee, Dungy, Dunjy, and Dunjee. His children adopted the Dunjee spelling.

Five Ferrell heirs moved to Alabama, and sold the family's Virginia plantation in 1842 to former president John Tyler, who renamed it “Sherwood Forest.” Dungee was hired out to Virginia governor John Munford Gregory, and in later years spoke well of him. However, when the Ferrells—who had sold off many slaves, and had a reputation for severity—sent word that they wanted him sent to Alabama, Dungee escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad in February 1860 arriving first in Hamilton Ontario then traveling via Toronto ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

rabbi, black nationalist, and emigrationist, was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, the son of Edward Ford and Elizabeth Augusta Braithwaite. Ford asserted that his father's ancestry could be traced to the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria and his mother's to the Mendi tribe of Sierra Leone. According to his family's oral history, their heritage extended back to one of the priestly families of the ancient Israelites, and in Barbados his family maintained customs and traditions that identified them with Judaism (Kobre, 27). His father was a policeman who also had a reputation as a “fiery preacher” at the Wesleyan Methodist Church where Arnold was baptized; it is not known if Edward's teaching espoused traditional Methodist beliefs or if it urged the embrace of Judaism that his son would later advocate.

Ford s parents intended for him to become a musician They provided him with private tutors who instructed ...

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Jeremy Rich

a Baptist minister and a pioneer of African American settlement in Sierra Leone, was born in the early 1740s in Essex County, Virginia. His parents, John and Judith, were both slaves born in Africa.

George s family was owned by a man named Chapel who carried out brutal punishments on George s parents and siblings For example George watched as his brother Duck was hung up in a cherry tree whipped five hundred times had salt rubbed into his wounds and then sent to work in the tobacco fields Horrified by such torture George ran away at the age of nineteen He met some traveling white people the day after he fled Chapel s plantation on the Roanoke River George worked for one of them for three weeks until he heard Chapel had put out a bounty of thirty guineas for George s capture His white patron told him to ...

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Jeremy Rich

explorer and Baptist missionary pioneer in central Africa, was born in Sancreed, Cornwall, England, on 21 August 1849. His father moved the family to Birmingham in 1852. Although his father was an Anglican, Grenfell became interested in Baptist teachings and attended a Baptist church in his youth. When Grenfell reached the age of fifteen, he joined the great revival of 1859 that swept through much of England and was baptized. Like so many other British and North American missionaries in the nineteenth century, the books of David Livingstone captivated Grenfell with stories of adventure. Before seriously considering a missionary career, Grenfell worked as an apprentice at a hardware factory. This practical training later was extremely valuable in central Africa as Grenfell traveled on his steamer up and down the Congo River. In 1873 he decided to leave behind his work and previous religious training by enrolling at ...

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Angela Bates

slave, pioneer minister, coroner, and politician, was born in Scott County, Kentucky. As a slave he was a carriage driver and house slave. It was against the law for slaves to learn to read and write, which was sometimes punishable by death, but Daniel took the risk. He learned by secretly listening to and watching his master read. He saved scraps of printed paper and taught others to read and in doing so almost lost his life after he was discovered by his master. After emancipation the Freedman's Bureau established schools to educate the formerly illiterate slaves. It was then that he could take full advantage of his freedom and spend time improving his reading skills.

In 1862, while still a slave, Hickman became a Christian, and in 1866 after emancipation he became a minister and the pastor of the Owens Baptist Church the ...

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David M. Dean

James Theodore Holly was born free in Washington, D.C., the son of James Overton Holly, a bootmaker, and Jane (maiden name unknown). At fourteen he and his family moved to Brooklyn, where he worked with his father. By 1848, while clerking for Lewis Tappan, an abolitionist, Holly became interested in the antislavery movement. In 1850 he and his brother Joseph set up as “fashionable bootmakers” in Burlington, Vermont, where both became involved with the growing debate over black emigration. James supported the American Colonization Society and Liberia, while Joseph believed that freed slaves should not have to leave the United States.

In 1851 Holly married Charlotte Ann Gordon (with whom he was to have five children) and moved to Windsor, Canada West (now Ontario), to coedit Henry Bibb's newspaper Voice of the Fugitive During his three years in the Windsor Detroit area Holly ...

Article

John G. Turner

Latter-day Saint and Utah pioneer, was born to former slaves in Wilton, Connecticut. Beginning as a young girl, she worked for a wealthy white family. “[W]hen about fourteen years old I joined the Presbyterian [Congregationalist] Church,” she wrote many decades later. “Yet I did not feel satisfied it seemed to me there was something more that I was looking for” (Newell, p. 263).

Around 1842 still living in Connecticut Manning was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints commonly known as Mormonism Several weeks later she experienced the gift of speaking in tongues a practice common in Mormonism during the early years Obedient to the church s principle of gathering she left her home to travel with her family and a group of Latter day Saints to Nauvoo Illinois Upon reaching Buffalo New York the black members of the church were refused further ...

Article

Julian  

Salim Faraji

Monophysite priest sent by Theodora, empress of the Byzantine Empire and wife of Justinian I, to the kingdom of Nobadia, where he began his missionary endeavors in 543 CE. He was the first Christian missionary sent to Nubia in connection with an official Byzantine mission. Christianity had begun to encroach upon Lower Nubia as early as the middle of the fourth century, through the efforts of Coptic monks, as recorded in the hagiographical tradition. Julian was part of a Monophysite (the doctrine of Christ’s purely divine, as opposed to both divine and human, form) faction that included the Byzantine Empress Theodora, exiled Alexandrian Patriarch Theodosius, and the bishop and missionary Longinus.

Julian had been a priest under Theodosius in Egypt and was quite familiar with the ecclesiastical intrigues of his time including the theological debates between the Orthodox Chalcedonians who held that Christ s nature was dual both human and ...

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Jeremy Rich

antislavery activist and a pioneering African American settler in Sierra Leone, was born around 1760 to a slave family on a plantation located not far from Charleston, then the capital of the British colony of South Carolina. His father was born in Africa.

He worked as child as a domestic servant but then at the age of nine was reassigned to prepare cattle hide At the age of twelve King joined the growing evangelical fervor of the First Great Awakening movement promoting a personal and emotional tie to Jesus Christ and became a fervent Protestant Christian King s life as a young man was full of suffering as he worked as an artisan in Charleston He was assigned to watch over his master s tools and was regularly beaten by his owner During the American Revolution King s master chose to move King to an inland location out of fear ...

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Joanna Brooks

Born into slavery near Charleston, South Carolina, Boston King followed his parents into labor on the plantation. His father was a native-born African, kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child; his mother was a healer who learned herbal medicine from local American Indians. At the age of sixteen, King was bound as an apprentice to a carpenter, who subjected him to cruel beatings. King fled his master when the British captured the city of Charleston during the American Revolutionary War, and he won his freedom by taking refuge behind British lines.

Many thousands of enslaved African Americans like Boston King gained freedom by joining the Loyalist forces during the Revolutionary War. British colonial and military officials promised freedom to black defectors twice during the war—with the Dunmore Proclamation of November 1775 and the Philipsburg Proclamation of General Henry Clinton in June 1779 in the hope of encouraging ...

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Milton C. Sernett

George Liele said of his slave origins, “I was born in Virginia, my father's name was Liele, and my mother's name Nancy; I cannot ascertain much of them, as I went to several parts of America when young, and at length resided in New Georgia” (Baptist Annual Register, p. 332). Liele's master Henry Sharp took him to Burke County, Georgia, as a young man. Liele wrote that he “had a natural fear of God” from his youth. He attended a local Baptist church, was baptized by Matthew Moore, a deacon in the Buckhead Creek Baptist Church about 1772 and was given the opportunity to travel preaching to both whites and blacks Liele preached as a probationer for about three years at Bruton Land Georgia and at Yamacraw about a half mile from Savannah The favorable response to Liele s ministerial gifts caused Sharp who was ...

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Willie Henderson

Scottish medical doctor, missionary, author, antislavery campaigner, British consul, and explorer of southern and central Africa, was born in a one-room tenement home in the modest Scottish town of Blantyre on 9 March 1813. He was the second son of Neil Livingstone, a self-employed tea dealer, and Agnes (née Hunter) Livingstone. Taught to read by his family, the young Livingstone embarked on self-education through the judicious reading of cultural and scientific works. He came slowly to Christianity and saw no conflict between faith and scientific understanding. Livingstone’s Christianity had a strong practical bent. His faith led him to, in his words, devote his “life to the alleviation of human misery” and led him to obtain a “medical education” in the hope of working in China (Missionary Travels p 5 At nineteen he enrolled to study medicine at Anderson s College in Glasgow now the University of ...

Article

Born to a poor Scottish family in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland, the devout young David Livingstone entered the London Missionary Society (LMS) in 1838 with the intent of studying medicine and then traveling to China, a dream cut short by the 1839–1842 Opium War. But when his services were solicited by missionaries working in southern Africa, he turned his sights to that region, and four months after his ordination in November 1840 he set sail for Cape Town.

From 1841 until 1857 Livingstone journeyed throughout southern Africa as a member of the LMS, traveling through the Kalahari Desert and working among the Tswana. In 1844, while on his way to Mabotsa, he was attacked by a Lion; one of his arms would remain permanently impaired.

In 1845 Livingstone married Marry Moffet, the daughter of one of his mentors, Robert Moffet Marry initially accompanied him ...

Article

Salim Faraji

Monophysite priest and the first ordained bishop to the Christian church in Nubia, was the successor of Julian, the first Byzantine Christian missionary sent to Nubia. Longinus was originally based in Egypt before residing in Constantinople and was appointed by the exiled Alexandrian patriarch Theodosius to serve as Nubia’s first bishop. He lived during the middle and late sixth century; his missionary activity commenced in Nobadia in 569 CE and concluded in 580 CE with his sojourn to Nubia’s southern kingdom Alwa—also known as Alodia in Greek texts. He is considered to have led the longest and most successful missions to Nubia and thereby provided the ecclesiastical foundation for the emergence of medieval Nubia.

Longinus has been characterized by scholars as being a member of the Monophysite Triumvirate of the sixth century which consisted of himself Empress Theodora of Byzantium and the Patriarch Theodosius Empress Theodora the wife of the ...

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Eric Young

The son of a former slave, Joseph Merrick first sailed to Africa in 1843, landing on the island of Fernando Pó in what is now Equatorial Guinea and later making his way to the mainland and the area that is now Cameroon. There he established the Baptist Cameroons Mission, associated with the Baptist Missionary Society of London, in Douala and Bimbia. For the next five years he was active as a minister and as a translator, teacher, craftsman, and explorer. Merrick set up a printing press at Bimbia and translated the Bible into Isubu, the local language, and wrote a primary-school textbook. In addition, he built a brick-making machine for the mission. Merrick explored the region extensively; he was the first non-African to visit the Bakoko people and one of the first to climb Cameroon Mountain. Dr. Alfred Saker an English Baptist minister presided over the ...

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Hope Hazard Gamboa

Presbyterian missionary in South Africa, was born on 21 December 1795 in Ormiston, East Lothian, Scotland. His father Robert Moffat was a custom-house officer and his mother was Ann Gardiner. In 1806 his family moved to Carronshore, near Falkirk, where Moffat attended a parish school. At the age of 14, Moffat was apprenticed to a gardener named John Robertson at Parkhill, Polmont; and in 1813 he moved to England, where he became an under-gardener to a Mr. Leigh in High Leigh, Cheshire. He left in 1815 to work for James Smith, a Scottish nonconformist who lived in Dukinfield in Lancashire. After being influenced by some Wesleyan Methodists and attending a missionary meeting led by William Roby in Warrington, Moffat decided to become a missionary. He was accepted by the London Missionary Society in 1816 and ordained at Surrey Chapel Moffat became engaged to Mary Smith daughter of his former ...

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Robert Ross

Scottish missionary active in South Africa, was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, to a family of weavers. He himself worked from the age of eleven in a mill in Dundee, where he converted from the Church of Scotland to the Congregational Church. In his late teens, he received what amounted to a scholarship to study for the ministry in London. After a short period as a minister in England, he accepted a call to Aberdeen, Scotland, where he served in the Congregational church from 1804 to 1819 He was a captivating preacher who built up a considerable following among the youth of the city He was also active in supporting the London Missionary Society LMS raising funds and suggesting mission candidates During this period he married a member of his congregation Jane Ross who was fifteen years younger than her husband They had seven children Of these three of the ...