As far as the United States is concerned, the most important member of the Church of England in this country has been George Whitefield. He was unlike any Anglican to have ever come to this country; he had become a Methodist, and he was a preacher of the gospel. On several occasions he traveled from Georgia and the Carolinas up to Massachusetts. In New England many Congregationalists were converted under his preaching and became evangelical themselves, earning the nickname “New Lights.” Many of these men subsequently learned the truth about the ordinances and became Baptists. Three of the better known of these men were Isaac Backus – important in the fight for liberty; Daniel Marshal – the apostle to Georgia and Shubal Sterns – the father of the Separate Baptists.
Shubal Stearns was born on this day (January 28) in 1706. At the age of 45 he became a Baptist and on May 20, 1751 he was ordained to the gospel ministry. After moving to Virginia with his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshal, where together they had a somewhat meager ministry, some friends contacted him from North Carolina, inviting him to minster among them. Sometime after his arrival, a church was constituted, not too far from where John Gano was then pastoring. The blessings of the Lord fell on Sterns’ ministry and the Sandy Creek church grew from 16 to over 600 members. But the blessing were not confined to just this one church. Sterns and his associates traveled a great deal, and churches were started all over the Carolinas, throughout Virginia and down into Georgia.
Shubal Sterns died on November 20, 1771. William Cathcart said of him that if he had been a Catholic, “he would have been canonized and declared the ‘Patron Saint’ of North Carolina… and stately churches would have been dedicated to the holy and blessed St. Shubal Stearns.”