Not many men overhear a sermon from a mile away and surrender to preach because of it. But that’s what happened to Henry Leach in 1808. Here’s how it happened.
Some 2,000 Free Will Baptists from the Gorham and Parsonsfield Quarterly Meetings met in August 1808, in northern Saco, Maine. Four Free Will Baptist ministers did most of the preaching, one of whom was Henry Hobbs, noted for his strong voice.
Historians describe the glorious power of the Lord working wonders of grace among the people in the great “grove reformation” at Saco. When Preacher Hobbs took the pulpit that hot August day, more than 2,000 people were sitting in the grove listening.
Hobbs spoke so loudly that Henry Leach, a sinner who was a mile away, heard the gospel. The voice of Preacher Hobbs became like the voice of God to Henry Leach who felt greatly convicted of sin and called on Christ for salvation. Mr. Leach was later ordained as a Free Will Baptist minister.
The grove revival continued for three weeks with 150 conversions. In the presence of 1,600 people, Preacher Hobbs baptized 90 willing converts. Before winter ended that year, another 250 people were converted as a direct result of the 1808 grove revival.
About the Writer: For many years, David Joslin (now deceased) served as chairman of the Free Will Baptist Historical Commission.