Pioneer African-American Baptist minister

Bryan, Andrew (1737–1812).

Born in slavery at Goose Creek, South Carolina, Bryan was brought to a plantation near Savannah, Georgia.

Near the age of thirty-five he was converted to Christianity by George Liele, who evangelized along the coastal plantations. Beginning his own ministry, Bryan and his brother, Sampson, were brought before city authorities and whipped for refusing to discontinue their work.

He and his followers were forbidden to hold services at night, but they were able, with owners’ permission, to meet during the day, and Bryan’s master opened his barn at Brampton for their use.

In 1788, Abraham Marshall, a white Baptist minister, accompanied by Jesse Galphin (or Jesse Peter), a African-American associate, visited the congregation. After examination they baptized forty to sixty people and ordained Bryan—an early, if not the first, ordination of an African-American.

The First Colored, later African, Baptist Church erected its first building in 1794, and the membership grew to 850 by 1802. After purchasing his freedom Bryan was able to extend his ministry, organizing a Second African Baptist Church with Henry Francis, a slave, as pastor. He then went on to organize a Third Church in another part of town.

Widely known by Baptists in England and in North America, Bryan died in October 1812, active in the ministry until the end of his life.

 Daniel G. Reid et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).

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