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Indiana Baptist History, 1798-1908, by William T. Stott







This Association was organized in 1812 and named for the oldest church; besides, the first meeting was. held with this church. The churches that went into the organization were Silver Creek, Mount Pleasant, near Madison, Fourteen Mile, Knob Creek, Upper Blue River, Lower Blue River, Camp Creek and Salem; the ordained ministers were Elders Jesse Vawter, Philemon Vawter his brother, William McCoy and John Reece. Correspondence was established with the following Associations: Salem Wabash, Long Run and White Water. In 1816 part of the churches withdrew to join in forming the Blue River Association, yet the minutes for 1819 show that the number of churches is seventeen, the number of ministers nine and the total membership 600.


It was not unusual to have queries as to doctrines or duties presented at the Association; one for 1819 was: "Can an orderly set of brethren constitute themselves into a church state!" Answer: "We see no scripture reason why a number of orderly brethren may not constitute themselves into a church; yet, for the sake of church union we think it commendable to obtain the advice of neighboring churches." Another deliverance at that session is worthy of note: "The Association recommends to the churches to send up short letters and omit the Articles of Faith unless they have changed their faith.


The Circular letter of the same year deals with an important matter, namely, whether the churches should adopt a statement of beliefs. The answer is in the affirmative, and the reasons are given: First, it does not ignore nor subordinate the scriptures; second, it lets the world know what we understand the Bible to teach, and so puts us in a position to refuse membership to such as might use that privilege to deny our doctrines and paralyze our best efforts.


The statistics for 1826 give twenty-eight churches, thirteen ordained ministers, and a total membership of 1,015. In 1827 a considerable number of members withdrew to join in forming the Coffee Creek Association. The prosperity was never as great afterwards as it had been hitherto, and yet the statistics for 1828 show thirteen churches, five ordained ministers and

515 members. The Annual Baptist Register for 1838 gives fifteen churches and 622 members. We know that the teachings of Alexander Campbell had already begun to affect some of the churches of the Association. As a result, four or five churches had withdrawn to join the Lost River Association which was known to be strongly under the influence of Parkerism.


The "father" of the Association was, without doubt, Elder Jesse Vawter; he was its first moderator, and indeed the only one till he withdrew in 1827 to join in forming the Coffee Creek Association.