Sunday, August 06, 2006

John Stancill

John Stancill ( -1795) was one of the first known preachers of universalist restoration in North Carolina. He was an elder in the Baptist Church, and preached from the 1760s to 1790s. Variant spelling of his name is " Stansel/Stancil/StansalIs ". If that's all you want to know, you can stop there. Either he or his parents were born in Maryland. He was a elder in the Flat Swamp Baptist Church - which is near the border of modern Martin and Pitt county in North Carolina. (the county line changed so its not in the county now it was then). This church is roughly ten miles north of the present Greenville NC. It's my understanding that the church still remains as of 2002. In the upheavals of the Baptist Church in the 1830s - Flat Swamp sided with the Primitive Baptists (also known as Old School Baptist). The Primitive Baptists did not have "clergy" but Elders. The below from 'the History of the Church of God"(1886) by Cushing Biggs Haskell and Sylvester Haskell - concerning the Flat Swamp church. "In the beginning, however, of the year 1776, this church was constituted, ...And at the same time John Page, one of her members,was ordained to the administration of gospel ordinances. Elder Page took the pastoral care of the church, and labored with great zeal and success......1795. Some time previous to this the church had experienced great difficulties; as the love of many began to wax cold, it gave an opportunity for the enemy of souls to sow seeds of discord among them. The church seemed to go down to ebb tide, while errors were spreading and extending in the doctrines of Arminianism and Universalism. There were no ingatherings for several years, and the Lord was pleased to call their pastor to his rest in 1795; and although there had been raised up in this church several preachers,yet at this time she was entirely destitute of ministerial gifts. In this destitute situation she raised her cries to the Lord to sendforth laborers, and to raise up one to go in and out before her. In answer to these cries, it appears the Lord was pleased to send her Elder Joseph Biggs, who had been lately received a member at Skewarkey. The church gave him a call to take the pastoral care in February, 1796, but according to his request ordination was deferred until February, 1797. The church being in a cold state and abounding with disorders, there were no additions, many excommunications, very little decorum, and conferences thinly attended. Often did her young pastor sit in conference with only seven or eight members. "(for what it's worth, one of my relatives had ordained Elder Biggs). From Vol. 1 of THE LARGER HOPE: The First Century of the Universalist Church in America, 1770-1870 by Russell Miller on page 758 in a section titled North Carolina: "Two Dunkards, John Ham and John Stanstel, were responsible for the first Universalist preaching in the years between 1780 and 1800 in eastern North Carolina, where most of the earliest Universalist societies in the state were organized. ( from Jacob Frieze,"History of Universalism in North Carolina," Universalist Magazine 9 (11 August 1827): 30-31, reproduced from the Liberalist (Wilmington, NorthCarolina). Also "At the meeting of the Kehukee Baptist Association in Halifax County in 1790, three elders were appointed to visit the Flat Swamp church ... to investigate the theological damage done by "a certain John Stansill," who was propagating the doctrine of Universal Restoration." As for Stancill being a Dunker - well, I don't believe he was a GermanDunker -however I'm still trying to figure out English Dunkers in the Carolinas! The Dunkers (aka as Tunkers, German Baptist Brethren andcurrently Church of the Brethren) in South Carolina and some in central North Carolina did all become Universalist in theology in the 1790s - and Universalist Churches by the 1820s.... anybody know anything else?

1 comment:

Martha said...

Very interesting.
One of my ancestors, Elizabeth Duggan, was baptized at Flat Swamp, and later joined Bethlehem Baptist Church in Washington Co. GA.
"History of the Church of God" (don't forget the subtitle: "... from the Creation to 1885 A.D.") is a very interesting tome. What I can't figure out is how a "primitive" Baptist became so learned. So many "isms" to rail against!
What I would like to see is some minutes from the Flat Swamp church.