Born in New England in the 1750’s, Lemuel Haynes was abandoned by his parents as an infant and raised by a Christian family as their indentured servant. At the age of twenty-one he was granted his freedom whereupon he enlisted to fight in the American Revolutionary War, first as a Minuteman (civilian colonists who formed local militia) and then as a regular army soldier.
Upon leaving the army, he felt God calling him into pastoral ministry. Having a sharp intellect, he was offered a scholarship at Dartmouth College (today an Ivy League College), but turned it down, choosing instead to be trained in the trenches of the local church. In 1785 he was ordained as a Congregational Minister and in 1788, after a period of church planting in Massachusetts, he accepted a call to serve a small congregation of 42 people in Rutland, Vermont.
For the next 35 years Lemuel watched his small church grow into a confident, gospel proclaiming, slavery opposing congregation of over 350 people.
It’s a great story of God working through one of his faithful servants. But Lemuel Haynes story has a surprising twist. Lemuel was the son of a Caucasian mother and first-generation Black-African slave – hardly an ideal lineage in colonial America – and the church that grew under his ministry in Rutland, Vermont, was an all-white church.
The gospel of Jesus, when freed to do its work in the power of the Holy Spirit, knows no racial or social bounds. It shatters them to expose the true glory of one humanity created in the image of God. One people under one Lord, Christ Jesus.