John Stewart (missionary)

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John Stewart (1786-1823) was a missionary to the Wyandot Indians of Ohio and founder of what is often considered the first Methodist mission in America. Stewart was born in Powhatan County, Virginia to free Negro parents who were of mixed ancestry; a mix of white, black, and Indian.[1]

Born in Virginia of free parentage, Stewart was a Baptist of mixed European and African descent. After he was robbed on his way to Ohio, he attempted to drink himself to death. Suffering agony of soul, he was delivered from depression by joining the Methodists during a camp meeting. He became ill from resisting a call to preach. Recovery commenced after he agreed to obey God. He heard the voice of a woman and a man calling him to preach to the Native Americans, and he set off in a northwesterly direction. He sang and preached to the Delawares on the way to the Wyandott Indians. Reaching the Wyandotts, he was befriended by a government agent who directed him to Jonathan Pointer, an African American who had been captured by the Indians and was fluent in Wyandott. With Pointer as interpreter, Stewart began to sing and to preach to them in 1816. Despite opposition, he warned the Wyandotts to “flee the wrath to come.” His singing and preaching resulted in the conversion of the chiefs, leading women, and others. Rival missionaries appeared and accused him of exercising ministerial functions without a license. Supported by native converts, Stewart requested recognition by the Methodist Episcopal Church and was accordingly licensed in 1819. The church supported his mission work financially and by appointing missionaries to continue it. Stewart’s example helped to inspire the formation of the Methodist Missionary Society in 1820.

Robert, Dana L., “Stewart, John,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 641-642.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Born in Virginia of free parentage, Stewart was a Baptist of mixed European and African descent. After he was robbed on his way to Ohio, he attempted to drink himself to death. Suffering agony of soul, he was delivered from depression by joining the Methodists during a camp meeting. He became ill from resisting a call to preach. Recovery commenced after he agreed to obey God. He heard the voice of a woman and a man calling him to preach to the Native Americans, and he set off in a northwesterly direction. He sang and preached to the Delawares on the way to the Wyandott Indians. Reaching the Wyandotts, he was befriended by a government agent who directed him to Jonathan Pointer, an African American who had been captured by the Indians and was fluent in Wyandott. With Pointer as interpreter, Stewart began to sing and to preach to them in 1816. Despite opposition, he warned the Wyandotts to “flee the wrath to come.” His singing and preaching resulted in the conversion of the chiefs, leading women, and others. Rival missionaries appeared and accused him of exercising ministerial functions without a license. Supported by native converts, Stewart requested recognition by the Methodist Episcopal Church and was accordingly licensed in 1819. The church supported his mission work financially and by appointing missionaries to continue it. Stewart’s example helped to inspire the formation of the Methodist Missionary Society in 1820.

Robert, Dana L., “Stewart, John,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 641-642.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

http://www.bu.edu/missiology/missionary-biography/r-s/stewart-john-1786-1823/

References[edit]

http://www.bu.edu/missiology/missionary-biography/r-s/stewart-john-1786-1823/

  1. ^ The Missionary Pioneer: Or, A Brief Memoir of the Life, Labours, and Death of John Stewart (Man of Colour), Founder, Under God, of the Mission Among the Wyandotts, at Upper Sandusky, Ohio. New York: J.C. Totten. 1827.