September 7, 2016
Oliver Gregory was corresponding secretary for the Maryland Baptist Union Association (MBUA) for fourteen years, beginning in 1888. That year the last of the original founders of the MBUA, Joseph Mettam died. Gregory served simultaneously as a pastor, secretary to the SBC, and corresponding secretary for MBUA.
O. F. Gregory was a South Carolinian who joined the confederate army at age sixteen. Wounded four times at the Battle of Manassas, he survived to become a pastor in Alabama. In 1885, he accepted the pulpit at Baltimore’s High Street Church (renamedFourth Baptist in 1898). He resigned in 1902 to accept a pulpit in Alabama’s state capital. Returning to Baltimore eleven years later, he spent the last six years of his life as pastor of a little suburban Baltimore church called Govans. In 1938 this church, renamedGregory Memorial, became Maryland Baptists’ first to have a thousand enrolled in Sunday School.
The 1901 minutes of the MBUA contain an address by Gregory outlining the accomplishments of his first sixteen years in Maryland. According to his calculations, the association had added six white and five black churches with a net gain of 2,243 members, but it had also lost 6,582 members along the way despite an average 412 baptisms a year. Gregory connected the losses to population shifts westward and northward to parts of Baltimore where no Baptist churches existed. He blamed the tendency of these displaced members to drift to other denominations (or to no church at all) on the failure of Maryland Baptists to educate their members in distinctive Baptist principles. This omission, in his view, led to an alarming increase in “unprincipled Baptists.” Under Gregory’s watch, certain important Maryland Baptist ministries were initiated, but the flowering of social reform coupled with religious zeal came with his successors in the Progressive Era.
In 1902, Gregory resurrected the name the Maryland Baptist in a new publication that served the MBUA but was not officially connected with the denomination. It failed in 1907.
This biography was taken in whole from:
You Are A Great People, by W. Loyd Allen