George Liele

In our Biblestudent movement we all know the writings of the English Particular Baptist and Congregationalist preacher who has remained highly influential among Christians of various tendencies. But in the 17th century there were already lots of Baptists that accepted God’s sovereign grace and preached to people that Jesus was the way to fall under that Gift of Grace.

In the New World was such Grace of Salvation a sound many slaves loved to hear. It gave them a lot of hope for the future, coming to believe that there was going to come a day that they would be totally free.

Our guest speaker for the next five articles, Jennifer Grisham, looks at one of those Baptists that was born into slavery in Virginia in 1752.


George Liele

“George Liele . . . was converted through the witness of his master. He was a subscriber to the Reformed faith, he was a gifted preacher, and he was free to carry on his work. Between 1773 and 1775, he established the Silver Bluff Church, and it was located on the South Carolina bank of the Savannah River near Augusta, Georgia.

Andrew Bryan (1737–1812) founder of Bryan Street African Baptist Church, affectionately called the Mother Church of Black Baptists, and First African Baptist Church of Savannah in Savannah, Georgia, the first black Baptist churches to be established in America.

“Now, in about 1782, George Liele baptized a young man named Andrew Bryan, who went on to found the African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia — and by the way, this is the oldest existing Black church in the country, and it is still there; you can go to Savannah and take pictures of it. Liele became the undisputed leader of African American Christians in Georgia until 1783. . . .

“In 1783 George Liele immigrated to Jamaica. As a Black, itinerant, ex-slave preacher, he was indeed a novelty on the whole island. And, therefore, he attracted considerable attention, and news of his preaching quickly spread. His preaching style was similar to that of Whitefield — very powerful orator, very powerful orator. Well, he was instrumental in planting hundreds of churches throughout the Caribbean. George Liele is a well-known figure in the Caribbean, and he is greatly revered. He was America’s first missionary — an African American — and he’s often forgotten in our history, but that’s what it was.”

{Excerpt from Carl F. Ellis Jr., CS251 History and Theology of the African American Church, Logos Mobile Education (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press), 2017.}



Looking at 5 American black theologians, pastors and missionaries

Next: Rev. Henry Highland Garnet

5 thoughts on “George Liele

  1. Pingback: Rev. Henry Highland Garnet | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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