all-black congregations in Georgia, all founded in the late eighteenth
century, were First African Baptist Church in Savannah,
Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, and Beaverdams Baptist Church
in Burke County. Early leaders in the state were David George, George
Liele, Jesse Galphin, and
Andrew Bryan. However, most African American Baptists in the state
before the Civil War were
slaves, forced to hold membership in white-dominated
churches. With the coming of freedom, the Zion
Baptist Association (founded in the Savannah area in 1865) was the first
African American general body in the state; it was followed, over the
years, by about 200 other associations.
A statewide convention was organized in
1870 and is perpetuated to some degree in two existing groups: the large
General Missionary Baptist Convention and the smaller New Era Baptist
Convention. Black Georgia Baptists were significantly involved in the 1895
formation of the National Baptist Convention of the United States of
America, which was organized in Atlanta.
There are now about 2,202 African
American churches with about 526,318 members in Georgia. Many are
identified with national and state conventions sponsoring missionary,
educational, and benevolent ministries.