Hamilton Square Baptist Church
A Historic Northern Regular Baptist Church
By Robert K. Fall
The subtitle of this article is based on what I answer when I’m asked kind of church I attend. This is a mouthful and throws my questioner off his\her train of thought. The usual answers include, “An Independent Fundamental Baptist Church”, “A Southern Baptist Church,” “A Conservative Baptist Church,” ect.
My answer is based on our church’s historical underpinnings. Unlike other churches of Hamilton Square’s age (131 years), we have no active, attending members with any family history and knowledge going back to our founding years. This makes it difficult for most members and friends of HSBC to understand Hamilton Square’s historic underpinnings.
I use Historic were most people would use Fundamental. Why? Hamilton Square was founded in 1881. Twenty nine (29) years before the publication of The Fundamentals (1910-1915). As a word denoting a organization, Fundamentalist came into usage in 1920. Doctrinally, our positions predate the Fundamentalist movement. In other words, Hamilton Square (nee Zion Baptist) was a Fundamentalist church before Fundamentalism was fun.
In answer to the question, why Northern Baptist and not Southern Baptist? In 1881, the Southern Baptist Convention’s ministry was still confined domestically to the areas south of the Mason-Dixon Line and the Ohio River to include Texas and Missouri. San Francisco was as about a strong a Union stronghold as you could find in the period (e.g. Union Square). Two further factors helped make Zion Baptist Church (later Hamilton Square) a Northern Baptist church. First, our founder Gustavus Schroeder’s home church before he moved west was the First Baptist Mariner’s Church of New York City. The other, Captain Schroeder’s November, 1880 advertisement for a pastor appeared in a Boston, Massachusetts publication, The Baptist Examiner.
The last term which needs definition is Regular. In the opening paragraph of our February, 1881 articles of agreement, our organizers wrote [my italics]:
We whose names are hereby given, being members in good standing of the Baptist denomination, holding the faith of the regular Baptist Churches of the United States as generally accepted,
Regular is used in this sentence in the same sense as it is used by the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches which formed in the 1920s. The Northern Regular Baptist position is laid out in the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1830. Dr. Francis Wayland further explained the position in Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (1857).
Hamilton Square Baptist Church seeks to serve her Lord in the future with a solid foundation in the past.
As published in HSBC the Messanger, October, 2012.