William H. Brackney places the beginning of the Orthodox Baptist movement with the beginning of First Orthodox Baptist Church in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
ORTHODOX BAPTISTS. Name given to a movement of fundamentalist Baptists who emerged in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1931. W. Lee Rector (d. 1945), a former professor at Oklahoma Baptist University and pastor at First Missionary Baptist Church in Ardmore, resigned to form the First Orthodox Baptist Church, also in Ardmore. His guiding principles included reaction to perceived modernism in the Southern Baptist Convention, a clear premillennial stance, and the basic Baptist polity and thought of James M. Pendleton. Eventually, Rector founded a school, the Orthodox Bible Institute, in 1944 and published a periodical, the Illuminator, later the Orthodox Baptist (1931–).[i]
“The Orthodox Baptist Fellowship had its first meeting in May of 1935, 11 years ago. It met in the Central Baptist Church of Little Rock, Arkansas, where Rev. M. L. Moser, my good friend and a mighty evangelist, was then, and is now pastor.”[ii]
The Orthodox Missionary Baptist Fellowship “is a voluntary assemblage of saints, and not an aggregation of church messengers. It is a gathering together of individual Christians, not an official representation of churches. It is a gathering together of brethren from local churches at the invitation of some local entertaining church.”[iii] It seems a wise conclusion, based on research up to this point, that Rector hoped to have an “Orthodox” fellowship that encompassed Baptists who were “Orthodox” and transcended their association and convention connections.
Antecedents and Related Movements
Prior departures from the Southern Baptist Convention.
First Orthodox Baptist Church, Ardmore
Started in 1931 by W. Lee Rector. The church no longer exists in name. Trinity Baptist Church and the former First Orthodox Baptist Church[iv] “began discussions regarding a merger in early 2001 and the first service together was held the first Sunday of May that year.”[v]
Writings by William Lee Rector include (chronologically)
- Can an Evolutionist be a Christian, William Lee Rector, Boston, MA: Stratford Co., 1926
- The Rock of Ages and God’s Lighthouse, William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: W. Lee Rector, 1936
- The Book of Daniel, William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: 1941
- The Holy Spirit: the Guide into All Truth, William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: W. Lee Rector, 1941
- Church Truth from the Jerusalem Church to the Glory Church, William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: W. Lee Rector, 1942
- Facts, Nothing But Facts About the Orthodox Baptist Fellowship, William Lee Rector (tract) 1942
- What Orthodox (Missionary) Baptists believe: Or An Analytic Study of the Orthodox Baptist Confession of Faith, William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: First Orthodox Baptist Church, 1942
- The Law: Was it Nailed to the Tree? William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: First Orthodox Baptist Church, 1943
- Grace: from Eternity to Eternity, William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: W. Lee Rector, n.d.
- The Book of Acts: a Survey of Church Evangelism and Church Missions, William Lee Rector, Ardmore, OK: n.d.
[ii] Church Bulletin of R. Nelson Colyar, March 31, 1946, cited in the Barr-Smith Debate, p. 108
[iii] From “Facts, Nothing But Facts About the Orthodox Baptist Fellowship,” tract by W. Lee Rector, 1942, cited in the Barr-Smith Debate, p. 64
[iv] Prior to the merger First Orthodox had changed her name to Central Baptist Church.
[v] Re: “First Orthodox Baptist Church,” e-mail from Terry Tolbert (Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Ardmore) to the author, May 28, 2018