Billington Sanders was born on this day in 1789. By the age of 9 he had lost both his parents, but he was then raised in another godly home in Appling Georgia, where he attended the Kiokee Baptist Church. After the Lord saved him, he was baptized by Abraham Marshall and joined what was the first Baptist church in Georgia. I have had the privilege of visiting the very building where he first heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It may not have been policy, but some churches in those days experienced exceptional growth through large families. Bro. Sanders married Martha Lamar, who gave him 9 children. When Martha died, he married Cynthia Holliday and 13 more children were born. Sadly only 9 of these children outlived their father.
Billington Sanders was a faithful member of his church, often preaching the gospel when he was needed. He was also a school teacher and a judge on the Georgia Superior Court. In 1831 he helped to establish a classical and theological seminary. It began with great sacrifice on Sander’s part. The students lived “as in a camp” with the most meager food, using a common school-room without heat or ventilation for their classes. The cheerfulness and zeal of their instructor encouraged them and the classes continued, until over time, Mercer University grew out of its roots.
Sanders is not well-known as a pioneer preacher. I don’t believe he was called or ordained to that ministry. But he was instrumental in giving a Biblical foundation to others who filled that important role in Georgia and the surrounding states.