December 30

Zacharius Morrell is our subject for today. J.M Carroll declared that to Morrell “is due as much, or more, than to any other man, the right beginning and right foundations of organized Baptist work in Texas.”

Zacharius Morrell was born in South Carolina in 1803 where he was saved and began his ministry. Before the age of twenty, despite being plagued with weak lungs, he began preaching the gospel, serving the Lord for fourteen years in Tennessee. When he began coughing blood far too frequently, a physician recommend that he quit preaching and perhaps move to a more mild climate. He considered the second part of the recommendation and moved his family to Mississippi, with plans of venturing farther into Texas. When he heard of the domination the Catholic church in Texas he feared for his family’s safety and hesitated to move on. But several of his Tennessee fellow travelers, including two Baptist deacons and his own physician planned to make a survey trip west, and Morrell joined them. On this day in 1835 at the Falls of the Brazos, Brother Morrell preached his first sermon in Texas – with a clear voice and stronger body than what he had known for years.

Over the next forty years, Bro. Morrell distinguished himself with his defense of the Truth against the anti-missionary “Hard-shells” and the Campbellites. He fought with his Bible and sometimes with his rifle. For example, after an Indian attack killed two people in his congregation, he pursued the murderers for several hours before returning to console the grieving families. Then he rode 45 miles through the night to reach his own home.

When Zacharius Morrell first arrived in Texas, there were no more than fifty Baptists scattered across a wide expanse of territory. When he died in December 1883 there more than 80,000 missionary Baptists organized into many Biblical churches.