Andrew Bryan

Born a slave in Goose Creek, South Carolina, Andrew Bryan (1737-1812) became a ground-breaking Baptist leader and helped establish the colony’s first African-American Baptist church in Savannah.

After being transported to Savannah by his owner Jonathan Bryan, Bryan became a Christian under the preaching of an African-American minister named George Liele.  Bryan assumed leadership of Liele’s congregation after Liele left for Jamaica.  Andrew’s brother Sampson also converted to Christianity, and helped his brother preach despite beatings and imprisonment they both received.

Eventually Bryan bought his and his family’s freedom and continued to grow his church community.  Even after his death in 1812, his work still bore fruit, and the membership in First African Baptist Church had swelled to 2,795 by 1831.

Adapted from the New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Andrew Bryan

Suggested Reading:

Andrew Billingsley, Mighty like a River: The Black Church and Social Reform (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Leroy Fitts, A History of Black Baptists (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1985).

Carter G. Woodson, The History of the Negro Church, 3d ed. (1921; reprint, Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1992).