|Caraleigh Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC|
My 1st cousin 7x removed (and seriously...born in 1795), John STANCIL, was a preacher. Just one of many colorful personalities in my family.
Apparently, he was quite the rebel and liked to do things his own way. His adherence to a doctrine called Hell Redemptionist got him into a bit of trouble with the more conservative locals. That rascal.
The Hell Redemptionist doctrine later became known as the Universal doctrine which matured into today's Unitarian-Universal Church. Not a traditional church, but interesting.
Liberalist Magazine (1827) - love that title - called John a strong man of unblemished character and that he was a powerful preacher with very convincing arguments. That makes me proud, even if John is 7x removed.
Progress of Universalism in North and South Carolina
Reprinted in Universalist Magazine 11 August 1827, from the contemporary newspaper The Liberalist (Wilmington, N. C.)
It is highly probable, that many of the Carolinians, so noted for their philanthropic and benevolent feelings, have, long prior to the preaching of the doctrine among them, believed in the final salvation of all men. But such has been the predominant influence of the preachers of the system of endless of misery, and so highly dangerous has it been to poularity, reputation and interest, to dissent from the prevailing doctrines of the day, that even those who believed the doctrines of the gospel, were more safe from the anathemas of the superstitious devotee, in the reputed character of Deist or Infidel, than they would have been in that of the Universalist. Hence it has happened, that borne down by public opinion and popular prejudice, Universalists have rather preferred to endure the stigma thus unjustly cast upon them, than to hazard the experiment of a public declaration of their real sentiments, and a vindication of them from reason and the word of God. The clergy in these states have nevertheless had the address and cunning to keep the people generally ignorant of all doctrines but their own, [and even those, they are incapable of explaining, and causing them to view a departure from those doctrines as treason against God and their own souls, and the inevitable cause of endless damnation. And such has been the power of this bigotted and ignorant race of beings, over the human mind, so completely have thet debarred any thing like investigation or inquiry, that even at this late period, there are thousands of parsons in these states, that have scarcely heard of a Universalist, and take it for granted, that every person, professing to believe the scriptures, professes also, in their belief in the notion of an interminable punishment. Yet, notwithstanding, there have been some better informedm who have ventured to thing for themselves, who have whispered their thoughts to others, and by which means the doctrine of Universal Salvation is found scattered here and there, as a "little leaven," which we trust will finally leaven the whole lump.
The first account I have been able to obtain of the preaching of the doctine in these parts is of a man by the name of John Stansel, of Johnstone county, N. C. some thirty years ago. Said an elderly Baptist minister, from whom I received this account:
Mr. Stansel had been a preacher in some other denomination, [Universalist Magazine editor's note: "As the copy of the Liberalist which we received was in this place impaired, we were obliged to supply what we throught was the sense."] but finally changed his sentiments and became a Universalist; or rather, what was called in those days, a Hell Redemptionist. I often conversed with him on the subject; heard him preach several times; and had one public controversy with him. I confess his arguments, many of them, were powerful; some of them almost staggered my faith; and still I think that there is much in the scriptures, that looks mightily like his doctrine. He was a strong man, well acquainted with the Bible, and a good preacher; and maintained, to the day of his death, an unblemished character. He died firm in the belief of the doctrine he had taught, and regretted only, that he could leave no one behind him, to follow up the work.
From A Concise History of the Kehukee Baptist Association from its original rise down to 1803 by Lemuel Burkitt and Jesse Read:
Elders Burkrtt, Ross and Barnes, were appointed to attend the church at Flat Swamp, who were under difficulties respecting the doctrine of Universal Restoration, strenuously propagated amongst them by a certain John Stansill, and propose measures for their relief.
My 3rd cousin 3x removed on the Johnson side, William Ruffin COATS, was also a minister, but I don't know very much about him.
Then there's my awesome Uncle Earnie who pastors Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox, Virginia.
Many others in the family were lay preachers and highly active in their churches. If you haven't already, check out the "Family Churches" tab at the top!