In Barnstaple, England, there lived a nineteen-year-old man named Charles Veysey. Through reading the New Testament he came under deep conviction for his sins, and trusting the Lord Jesus alone, he was given the peace of salvation from sin. Seeing from the Bible that he needed to be immersed as a testimony of his faith, he began looking for someone who believed and practiced believer’s baptism. It took some time, but he finally discovered such a person – someone known as a “Baptist.” Having been sharing with others what he had discovered in the Bible, not only was Charles ready to be baptized, but so were four others. Eventually, on this day in 1817, a Baptist church of twelve members was formed.
The clerks of the Barnstaple Baptist Church were diligent through the years, documenting periods of revival and decline. Church minutes note that there were twenty-two pastors in the congregation’s first sixty-five years, and as one might expect, the best years were those when the pastor stayed longer than a few months.
One of the lessons coming out of the Barnstaple church minutes were the problems which arose out of the poorly handled call of J. N. Rootham in 1880. Unwisely, the church invited two men to candidate at the same time. After hearing both men preach successively, the congregation voted to call Brother Rootham, but the vote was not unanimous. The result of that popularity contest was a divided congregation, which a short while later split the church.