October 28

On this day (October 28) in 1856, Francis Wayland penned the preface to his work, “Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches,” in which he clearly enunciated the principles of religious freedom and the autonomy of the local church.

He wrote, “Baptists have ever believed in the entire and absolute independence of the churches. By this, we mean that every church of Christ, that is, every company of believers united together according to the laws of Christ, is wholly independent of every other; that every church is perfectly capable of self-government; and that, therefore, no one acknowledges any higher authority, under Christ, than itself; that with the church all ecclesiastical action commences, and with it terminates, and hence that the ecclesiastical relations proper, of every member, are limited to the church of which he belongs.”

Wayland became a champion for religious freedom, eventually becoming known as “the apostle of Baptist independence.”