calendar February 15, 2023 in anti-racism

Black History Month: Pioneering Pastors

By Dr. Addie J. Butler

The Holy Spirit moved in Colonial Charleston, South Carolina! In 1815, Rev. John Bachman (a man of European descent and a naturalist) became the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church and served for nearly six decades.1 During his tenure, he helped found Newberry College, the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and the South Carolina Lutheran Synod.2 In addition, he collaborated with John James Audubon in the writing and editing of several works that featured Audubon’s illustrations.3

But the Holy Spirit really moved during the late 19th century! “By 1860, the (B)lack communicant membership of St. John’s had grown to 200 with a (B)lack Sunday School of 150 pupils.”4 But the Spirit wasn’t through moving yet!! “Bachman tutored three (B)lack men to be Lutheran pastors: Jehu Jones, Daniel Alexander Payne and Boston Drayton.”5

Rev. Jehu Jones was ordained by the Lutheran Ministerium of New York in 1832 (because Black men were not ordained for the Lutheran Ministry in South Carolina at that time), making him the first ordained Lutheran of African descent in the United States.6 He organized St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1834 – the first independent African descent Lutheran congregation in North America.

Rev. Daniel A. Payne organized a school for slaves and free children of African descent in Charleston, which was forced to close in compliance with newly enacted state laws.7 Later, he enrolled at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to become a better teacher (1835-1837). He earned license (elder) and ordination certificates in 1837 and 1839, respectively.8 He became the sixth bishop of the AME Church and the first to have formal theological seminary training. Rev. Payne became the founder and first Black president of a Black college in the western world (Wilberforce College) and served there for 13 years.9

Rev. Boston Drayton was encouraged by Rev. Bachman to go to Africa as a missionary of the Lutheran Church. “He ordained him in 1846 in Charleston and gathered the money to send him and his family to Liberia.”10 Rev. Drayton became the third Black man to be ordained by the Lutheran Church in the United States and the second hope for a Black Lutheran missionary to Africa.”11 “And before his death in 1866, Drayton had become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia and had been Governor of the neighboring African state of Maryland until it merged with Liberia in 1857.12

This same Holy Spirit is moving still!


  1. Lester D. Stephens, “John Bachman, February 4, 1790-February 24, 1874,” South Carolina Encyclopedia, [accessed from on February 9, 2023].
  2. Dr. Mark Scott, 2017, Bachman Society [“Brochure”] St. John’s Lutheran Church [accessed from on February 9, 2023.]
  3. “John Bachman,” Encyclopedia Britannica, [accessed from https://britannica.com on February 9, 2023.]
  4. John’s Lutheran Church, 2006 [“Pamphlet”] St. John’s Lutheran Church.
  5. Jeff G. Johnson, Black Christians: The Untold Lutheran Story, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1991), p. 120.
  6. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, African American Ministries Program, Commission for Multicultural Ministries, Report on African American Ministry (Chicago: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1993), p. 8.
  7. Marvin A. McMickle, “Daniel A. Payne,” An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage (Valley Forge, PA, Judson Press, 2002), p. 42.
  8. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1997 edition, p. 8.
  9. Jeff G. Johnson, p. 121.
  10. Richard Stewart, 1978 manuscript for DPL-LCA (Division for Professional Life – Lutheran Church in America) as reported in Report on African American Ministry, 1997, p. 8.