WNC History Timeline

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www.childers-shepherd.org, 31 Dec 2008
In his History of the French Broad Association (Mars Hill College Press, 1908, 2002), John
Ammons said:

“Stephen Morgan was one of the oldest ministers, and was identified with the Association from its organization.
He was a man of strong character, and indomitable will; rugged in nature, he was inclined to be rugged in his
ways, and he made himself to be feared as well as to be loved. He preached the gospel for more than fifty
years, and died in a ripe old age without a spot upon his character. He was pastor at Flat Creek for more than
forty years, and was nominally the pastor till his death, although for several years he had been laid aside for
reasons of infirmity. His were days of self-denial, of sacrifice, of toil, of suffering, for Christ’s sake. For forty
years, through heat and cold, through wet and dry, he rode monthly on horseback to Grassy Creek [Spruce
Pine, NC]              to minister to the little flock at that place, and during all this time he never missed an
appointment. Morgan’s lot was a hard one, and he was peculiarly fitted to fill it; his was pioneer work, and well
and truly he did it. He not only had to master the difficulties which were unavoidable in dealing with an
uneducated and crude people, whose moral standard was not very high, but he had to face difficulties arising
from another source. The Methodists had entered the country with its first settlers, and were much more
numerous than the Baptists, and to add to the seriousness of the problem, most of the intelligence and culture
was with the Methodists, and their ministers were better educated. Morgan was the man for the hour and the
occasion. Bold by nature, and being well grounded in Scripture doctrines, he met his opponents with the Sword
of the Spirit, and never did his colors trail in the dust. The Methodists never liked him, yet they believed him to
be a Christian, honest in his convictions and upright in his motives, yet they feared him and never dared to meet
him in open combat. His progress was slow, but he builded better than he knew, and the efforts of his
opponents reflected on their own heads. The Baptists increased and the Methodists decreased, and ground that
was wholly occupied by Methodists is now Baptist ground.” (pp. 56-57)

“His labors were spread over a wide field, and were abundantly blessed; he had much to do in building up the
older churches in the French Broad Association. He was recognized as a wise counsellor and a safe leader, and
his assistance was much sought when difficulties arose in the churches. Many amusing anecdotes are told
which illustrate his wit. Riding along the road one day he met a woman who came up smiling and extending her
hand and said, ‘How-da-do, Bro. Morgan.’ He took the proffered hand, and looked at her with inquiring gaze.
‘Don’t you know me,’ she inquired. ‘No,’ he replied. She then told him her name, upon which he said, in his
peculiar style, ‘Oh, yes, I know you, and never knew any good of you, either; good-bye.’

“It shows the style of the man; he hated shams and frauds, and always took pleasure in uncovering, exposing,
and rebuking them. He loved to preach and to hear preaching, but he could not stand botch work in the pulpit;
and he was often known to pull the coattail of this brother if he did not please him, or rather, if he thought he
was making a failure. It is hard to imagine what our present condition would be had we had no Morgan to lay
the foundation and blaze the way. He was a great and good man, and we who knew him best miss him most.
The Morgan spirit hovers over this Association till this day. Long may his memory live.” (pp. 58-59)

John Ammons’ account of Stephen Morgan also includes an extended discussion of a theological debate which
fiercely divided these pioneer Baptists: “predestination” versus “freewill”. (Ammons, pp. 11-22)