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THE WORD

CHRISTIAN CLERGY AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Part III: The Story of Pastor David Avery

By Dr. Bill Miller
[image] Pastor David Avery (1746-1818)

In this fourth of a series of articles, we remember the famous “Black Regiment” of Pastors who fought and ministered during the Revolutionary War. They got their nickname from the British military, who blamed them for their embarrassing loss of the War. At the time, the British were the strongest military force in the world, and even the King said it was the American clerics that had caused their defeat. How is it possible that men who wore black robes and preached on Sundays with no military background were the ones who caused their defeat? The answer is, their impact was insurmountable:

  1. They were generally the most respected and educated members of the American culture consisting of mostly Christian church-goers.
  2. Therefore, their positions on issues carried a lot of weight and gave the colonists a biblical justification for their desire to rebel against England.
  3. They were wonderfully gifted and passionate orators who inspired their members and then personally led them into battle.
  4. They recruited militia and regular troops from within their congregations with much greater effectiveness than the professional military recruiters.
  5. Their strong faith was evident in their fearlessness in battle, which inspired the colonists and averted many a retreat for the undermanned and underequipped Continental Army.

One of the best examples of such a man was Pastor David Avery, who, when the War started in 1773, had just become the Pastor of the Winsor Vermont Congregational Church at the age of 27. He was converted under the ministry of the famous Pastor George Whitefield, earned a degree from Yale, and was awarded an honorary degree from Dartmouth. Less than two years after becoming the Pastor, he announced his resignation to his shocked congregation one Sunday morning in April 1775 to join the Army. After the service, he went outside to speak to the church’s men about forming a militia, and 20 of them went home that day to fetch their muskets, say goodbye to their families, and march off to Boston under the command of their new Captain, David Avery.

Only two months later, we find him standing on Bunker Hill praying for an American victory, arms outstretched to heaven during a battle that was being fought on nearby Breeds Hill. He was praying in plain view, inspiring the Americans, including his own militia. All the while, the British shots that didn’t find their targets on Breeds Hill were landing on Bunker Hill all around the praying Pastor Avery, who came away with a new name: “The Patriot Pastor of Bunker Hill.” The Americans lost the battle that day only because they ran out of ammunition. The British lost more than one thousand troops in a disastrous Pyrrhic victory.

Pastor Avery soon became one of General Washington’s favorite Chaplains. They had become friends and often dined and traveled together. He also became lifelong friends with Benjamin Franklin. Pastor Avery was there to watch the British abandon Boston. He was present for the Battle of Long Island. He was with Washington during his retreat from New Jersey, during the crossing of the Delaware River, and during the excruciating winter of 1776-77 at Valley Forge. He was at the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga, the Battle of Bennington, and assisted Washington in exposing Benedict Arnold and capturing his accomplice. During these events, he acted in the capacity of a musket-shooting Chaplain who also ministered to the wounded and dying after the battles.

There was no way the British could have handled hundreds of black-robed men like this with their determination and courageous dedication to God. It was a total mismatch!

Submitted by Dr. Bill Miller, Granbury, Texas. Dr. Bill is the founder of Make A Way Ministries, a nationally recognized credit and financial counseling ministry. He has written hundreds of articles and more than 40 books over the past thirty-plus years, eleven of which are presently available on Amazon. In late 2018, Dr. Miller published an important book on the subject of national border integrity called The Truth about Open Borders explaining from Scripture God’s views on borders. He can be reached at bmiller@makeaway.net or 817-533-9499.

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