This Sunday in Baptist History
Joseph Reese was born in Wales. When he was 13 years old his family moved to the area of South Carolina called “The Congarees,” becoming one of the first families to settle there. He was raised in the Anglican church, but when the pioneer Baptist preacher, Philip Mulkey, visited the Congarees, Joseph was born again. Later, as the Separate Baptist, Daniel Marshal, began to evangelize the area, Reese joined with him. In 1765 they led 32 people to establish the Congaree Baptist Church, and Brother Reese became their pastor. Three years later, on this day (Feb. 28), he was ordained to the gospel ministry, assisted by Regular Baptists Oliver Hart, from Charleston, and Evan Pugh from Mount Pleasant.
Pastor Reese served the Lord at Congaree throughout most of his life, with breaks to serve as a chaplain in the Revolutionary War, and for a short time pastoring at Boiling Springs, S.C. One of the highlights of his ministry was to be an instrument in the conversion of Richard Furman, who became a well-known and highly-used minister of Christ throughout the South.
The historian David Benedict states that during the last years of his life, Bro. Reese became infirm and unable to leave his bed. But as he deteriorated several of the members of his church would come to his home and carry their former pastor, in his bed, three miles to the church house. After hearing his pastoral successor preach, Reese would often prop himself up and address a few words in a conversational style to his friends, who often melted into tears.
Joseph Reese died on March 5, 1795 at the age of 63.