Minutes of County Line Baptist Church, Caroline County, Virginia, Sep. 1829-May 1856
This book is an interesting look at how one small church functioned in the early to mid1800's. A Constitution was written as well as Rules of Decorum and a List of Members (both Caucasian and African-American) was compiled and notations made as to their inclusion in or exclusion from the church. This church did not function in the same way that most churches operate today. At the present time, if you don't want to go to church, you just don't go to church. You may encounter a "Where were you last Sunday?", but that is about it. Back in the 1800's, if you were absent more than three Sundays, this church appointed a committee from the male members of the church to inquire as to your reason for being absent. A committee would also be appointed to investigate other matters which came before the church such as getting drunk, attendance at a barbecue, dancing or allowing fiddling and dancing at your home, attending communion with the Campbellites (Christian Church) as well as more traditional infractions such as stealing, assault, marital conflict and strife, fornication with its sometime predictable results and "base conduct" (whatever that was). Once the matter was investigated, the person or people investigated were required to attend church and provide an explanation to the congregation. In most cases, an admission of guilt accompanied by a declaration of repentance would allow the "sinner" to full restoration of all rights as a member of the church. Legal conflicts were also mediated by the church and filing a suit in court was prohibited unless permission from the church was granted.