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Resolution Concerning A Proposed Memorial To Luther Rice

This year of grace, 1936, marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the death of the greatest American Baptist in all the history of our denomination–the illustrious Luther Rice. The Baptists at the nation’s capital are having a special recognition of this significant event, and one of our distinguished educators, and men of letters, is writing a new biography of the great denominational leader and statesman which will call fresh attention to the immortal labors, and the incomparable achievements of this man to whom American Baptists owe an obligation that can never be adequately discharged.

Moreover, within less than another decade we shall be observing the one-hundredth anniversary of the organization of the Southern Baptist Convention at Augusta, Georgia, in 1845. Not very far away in Saluda County, South Carolina, repose the ashes of Luther Rice, the seer of visions, the doer of mighty tasks, who led the Baptists out of a wilderness into a cooperative fellowship, fired them with evangelistic and missionary zeal and passion, laid the foundations of our missionary organization, of our system of schools and colleges, of our publishing houses and denominational journals, and of practically every item in our present set-up by means of which, under God, we have grown from an obscure and uninfluential group to the largest evangelical body in our western world. Surely one of the high points in that epochal anniversary of 1845 will be a Baptist pilgrimage to the obscure resting place of this prophet of the larger day of which he was the flaming herald.

It would seem if there is one spot on the continent that should be hallowed ground to our Baptist people it is the one made sacred with his dust at the little rural church of Pine Pleasant in Saluda County, South Carolina. The present simple marking is far too inadequate to be a worthy expression of the appreciation our people should feel and cherish for this pioneer and apostle of our modern Baptist world. It seems fitting, therefore, that on this hundredth anniversary of his passing the Southern Baptist Convention should project some plan looking toward an enduring Memorial of his abundant life and labors.

RESOLVED, Therefore, (1) That the Convention looks with favor on the proposal to build some worthy and adequate memorial to mark the grave of the great leader;

(2) That a committee of five be appointed to study the situation carefully, both as to the kind of memorial to be established, the necessary cost of the enterprise, and the ways and means of providing the same. This committee shall be composed of Chas. A. Jones, South Carolina, Chairman; Rufus W. Weaver, District of Columbia; W. H. Williams, North Carolina; Ellis A. Fuller, Georgia, and W. L. Ball, South Carolina;

(3) That this committee be requested to publish its findings and recommendations in the denominational press at least sixty days before the next Convention, and to submit the same to the next regular session.

(4) That, since Luther Rice was an American Baptist in whom all of our people have a rich and royal inheritance, we do most heartily invite our fellow-Baptists of the Northern Convention to join us in this proposal to do honor to this hero of the faith; and that they be requested to appoint a similar committee to work with ours in maturing plans for the proposed memorial.


The Luther Rice Centennial Committee has cooperated with like committees from the Baptist World Alliance, the Northern Baptist Convention, the Columbia Association of Baptist Churches and the First Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., in the organization of the Luther Rice Centennial Commission, a corporation chartered under the laws of the District of Columbia.

The representatives of the several participating Baptist bodies met in Washington, September 18, 1935, and organized with the following officers: Dr. Geo. W. Truett, honorary president, Dr. J. H. Rushbrooke, honorary vice-president, Dr. J. H. Franklin, president, Dr. Charles E. Maddry, vice-president, Mr. W. W. Everett, treasurer, Mr. E. X. DeGrott, secretary, and Dr. Rufus W. Weaver, executive director. The headquarters of the Commission are located at 715 8th St., N.W., Washington, D.C.

Since the organization of the Committee a sum of money has been raised to cover postage, stenographic work and other expenses incident to the preparation for the observance of the Centennial of the death of Luther Rice, September 25, 1936.

The executive director, Dr. Weaver, has traveled over eight thousand miles, made a score of addresses, written and secured the publication of many articles and all this at a total cost to the Commission of $13.50. Those who are laboring to make this Centennial a success are giving both time and talent without any other remuneration than the joy of calling to the attention of the Baptists of America the man to whom they owe a greater debt of gratitude than to any other leader who has risen among us.

The chief interest centers upon the Luther Rice Centennial Day, September 25, 1936, when the Baptists, North and South, East and West, will gather at the Pine Pleasant Baptist Church, near Saluda, S.C., to pay honor to the memory of Luther Rice. The Governor in South Carolina, honorable Olin D. Johnston, a leading Baptist layman, has given the Commission assurance that by proclamation he would set aside September 25, 1936, as the Luther Rice Memorial Day and that he will attend in person the celebration for the purpose of welcoming the Baptists of America to South Carolina. The Baptist women of South Carolina will care for the entertainment of those that come. A broadcast with a nation-wide hook-up is being planned. Seminaries, colleges and State Conventions are being asked to put on suitable programs. All the Baptist churches of America are being requested to observe the Centennial of the funeral of Luther Rice, Sunday, September 27, 1936, as the Luther Rice Memorial Day, when sermons will be preached upon the Apostolic labors of this devoted leader.

The success of the movement depends upon the voluntary cooperation of Baptist pastors and churches. A brochure entitled “The Place of Luther Rice in American Baptist Life,” giving a brief account of his labors will be mailed to any one sending eight cents in stamps to the headquarters, 715 8th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. The best available work, “Luther Rice, Pioneer in Missions and Education,” can be secured from the Baptist Sunday School Board or the American Baptist Publication Society for the small sum of $1.00.