Stephen Mumford and the Seventh Day Sabbath

     In 1671, the first Seventh Day Sabbath keeping congregation was founded in New Port, Rhode Island, by Stephen Mumford.   
    Mumford and his family had come to Rhode Island years earlier from the seventh day sabbath keeping Bell Lane, "Church of God", in England.  Mumford, soon became successful in business and occupied a place of distinction in the New Port community. 

    Finding no other sabbath keepers with whom to convocate, the Mumfords began to fellowship with members of the Sunday keeping First Baptist Church, while still observing the sabbath on Saturday privately in their own home.  It was with five members of this congregation that they eventually formed a sabbath keeping church.   (Seventh Day Baptist Memorial, Vol 1, pg 36) 
    A plaque in their old Sabbatarian meeting house in Newport commemorates the church's founding: 

    "To the Memory of Wm. Hiscox, Stephen Mumford, Samuel Hubbard, Roger Baster, Sister Hubbard, Sister Mumford, Sister Rachel Langworthy.  Who for greater freedom in the exercise of religious faith in the observance of God's Holy Sabbath - The seventh day of the week - reluctantly severed their connection with the parent church, the First Baptist Church of Newport, and entered into a church covenant the 23rd day Dec., 1671."
    The doctrine of this church was not surprisingly, very closely related to that of the Apostolic Church and the other "True Christians" mentioned in this writing throughout the Church's history.   
    They kept the Ten Commandments.   
    They believed in the immersion baptism of adults and did not baptize children.   
    They believed in the "laying on of hands".   
    They practiced the foot washing described in John 13:3-16. 
    They did not refer to ministers as "Reverends", since they believed only God should be revered. 
    They were a pacifistic people who opposed war, slavery, and secret societies.   
    They did not believe in the trinity. 
    They believed the Holy Spirit was the "Power of God". 
    In his book, "A History of the Sabbatarians or Seventh Day Baptist's in America", Henry Clarke claims that these sabbath keepers did not adhere to the doctrine of a trinity. 
    "I conclude they all believe in one God, the Father and maker of all things, sin excepted, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, or that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and also in the Holy Ghost, as the operative power or spirit of God.   But there are few if any, of this denomination, as I conceive, who believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are three absolute distinct persons, coequal, coessential, and coeternal Gods, and yet but one God; as such an idea would be in the face of scripture, and repugnant to right reason."   (page 62)
    By 1692, the congregation at Newport had 40 members. 
    Another assembly sprang from out of this Church in western Rhode Island at Hopkinton. 
    This Rhode Island church also spread to other areas, as the "Seventh day Baptist Memorial" chronicles. 
    In 1703, a Sabbath keeping congregation was started at Piscataway, New Jersey and later at Shrewsbury New Jersey, calling themselves the "Church of God" and are both linked in this journal directly to the Rhode Island Church.   (Vol 2, No 3, pg 121 and Vol 2, No 4, pg 160) 
    By the late seventeen hundreds, the congregation at Hopkinton had grown to become one of the largest Sabbath keeping Churches in America with close to one thousand members. 

    It was during this time that the strongly established Sunday keeping churches throughout the nation began to actively persecute those who kept the Seventh Day.



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The Great Falling Away by Joseph Santora --- ©1998-2002 True Christian Ministries