Virginia Baptists' first state missions work is featured in the new issue of the Virginia Baptist Register, the annual journal of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.
Fred Anderson, executive director, has written “Turning the World Upside Down,” an article recounting the challenges of Jeremiah Bell Jeter and Daniel Witt, the self-styled “Bedford Plowboys” who, as young ministers, served as the first state missionaries.
For two years, Jeter and Witt traveled by horseback as agents of the new Baptist General Association of Virginia and its Board of Managers. Their primary mission was to determine the religious climate across Virginia, to preach the gospel when opportunities were presented and to enable the board to know where churches might be planted in the future.
Their journeys were filled with serious and humorous episodes. From the journeys, the two young men forged a friendship which lasted throughout their lives. In full adulthood, Jeter and Witt were two of the primary leaders among Virginia Baptists. Anderson gives the background to the need for state missions and the biographies of the two early missionaries.
Michael Whitt, special projects assistant at the Historical Society, has edited Daniel Witt's journal of the missionary journeys of 1823-24 and provided a Virginia Baptist gazetteer or dictionary of churches, meeting houses and private homes visited by the missionaries.
Copies of the Register will be mailed to annual members of the Historical Society. Others may order a copy for $8, including shipping. Send orders to Virginia Baptist Historical Society, P.O. Box 34, University of Richmond, VA 23173.