Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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Church Planters You Should Know - Part 3: Elder John Waller

  • Jim Townsley
  • Aug 18, 2014
Many godly preachers influenced the moral fiber of Colonial America. Some of these men did the work of an evangelist, others filled the office of a pastor, and many traveled extensively proclaiming the truths of the gospel of Christ. The eighteenth century church in this new world was dominated by a state-church mentality. As a result, Baptists and separatists were not granted religious freedom. Many of these early preachers defied the order to join and support the state approved church. The result was persecution and imprisonment. Within this context of severe trials brave men of deep conviction followed their conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel, defying the orders of the state authorities.
Every generation has its challenges doing God's work because it will always be opposed by Satan. However, it is inspiring to learn of the courage of our founding leaders that blazed a trail of religious freedom that we enjoy today. We should all be challenged by the faith and courage of these pioneers of our Baptist churches.
One of these courageous preachers was Elder John Waller. Elder Waller was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, December 23, 1741. Though he came from a noble ancestry his early years were filled with sin and rebellion. He had a tendency to recruit others to follow his mischievous ways. His notoriety earned him the title of "Swearing Jack" and the reputation of being "The Devil's adjutant." His sin resulted in the issue of warrants for his arrest. While listening to the testimony of Elder Lewis Craig as he defended himself before the court, Waller came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. After seven or eight months of heart searching Waller eventually sought God in the woods following a Baptist meeting. It was there he was converted as he dropped to his knees and begged for mercy.
John Waller was soon baptized and began to preach the gospel he had scorned. He was eventually ordained by Lewis Craig and Samuel Harris on June 20, 1770. For a period of twenty four years he was the pastor of the Lower Spotsylvania Baptist Church in the Old Dominion. Bethabara Baptist Church was also founded by Elder Waller along with David Lilly, and Richard Shackleford.
The method he followed was going from house to house preaching the gospel and those who believed  were baptized, and eventually a new church established. In his history of the Baptists in Virginia, R. B. Semple described the preaching of Waller: "He conferred not with flesh and blood; but began to preach, that men ought everywhere to repent. Wherever he went, he was attended by divine power turning many to righteousness. His  name sounded far and wide. The Baptists and their adherents looked upon him as set for the defense of their cause; and with much confidence rallied around him, as their leader."