Minutes of the National Association (1935-Present)

The Cooperative General Association, organized in 1916, soon came to include in its membership associations from West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. The General Conference, organized in 1921, likewise came to include associations from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Within a decade, the idea of merging these two organizations into one national body of Free Will Baptists became part of the agenda of them both. And so the Rev. E.C. Morris from Georgia, who was pastor in Bryan, Texas, invited the General Conference to meet there in 1932 and extended an invitation to representatives of the Cooperative General Association to attend.

During the 1932 meeting of the General Conference in Bryan, Texas, then, a committee was appointed to confer with a similar committee of the Cooperative General Association about the possibilities of uniting the two bodies. By the 1933 meeting the committees were recommending the union. By 1934 both organizations approved the terms defined by the joint committee and named representatives to meet in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1935 to bring this work to fruition.

In fact, then, the National Association of Free Will Baptists was organized at Cofer’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, during sessions meeting from November 5-7, in 1935. At first, the new body was scheduled to meet every three years, and so its second meeting was in 1938. The two regional organizations were to continue to meet annually, with the Cooperative General Association becoming the Western General Association and the General Conference becoming the Eastern General Association. Each of them did convene in 1936, 1937, and 1938. But when the National convened in 1938, all agreed that it should meet annually, and the two regional associations ceased to function.


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