May 31

John Bryce was born of Scotish parents in Goochland County, Virginia on this day (May 31) in 1784. He was raised in the Episcopal Church, but at the age of 21 he came under conviction through the preaching of Andrew Broadus and upon his profession of faith united with the small Baptist church in his community.

Bryce was bi-vocational throughout his life. Not only was he a preacher and pastor, but also a very worthy lawyer. For a while he served in Richmond and Lynchburg and was a friend of Chief Justice John Marshall. During the war of 1812 Bryce was a chaplain in the army, after which he pastored and worked in Fredericksburg and Alexandria in Virginia. He felt very strongly in an educated ministry, so he assisted in the establishment of Columbian College in Washington before moving to Kentucky and helping to establish Georgetown College, the first institution of higher learning west of the Appalachians.

In 1844 Bryce was appointed surveyor of Shreveport, Louisiana. He was there when Texas was annexed to the United States, and it is said that he was President Tyler’s confidential agent.

But his most important work was not political or patriotic but eternal. He was a preacher of the gospel and a Baptist pastor with a missionary heart. When he arrived in Shreveport he supposed there was not a Baptist church or another Baptist preacher within 200 miles. When he left in 1851 there were about 20 churches.