African American Missionary History – John Stewart

john-stewartJohn Stewart was a missionary to the Wyandotte Indians of Ohio and founder of what is often considered the first Methodist mission in America. Stewart was born in Virginia in 1786 to free Negro parents.  Stewart joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1815 Stewart felt that he was being called to spread the word of God among the Indians and set out on a journey to complete this calling. His first stop was in Goshen, Ohio, where he stayed for almost six months. After this he moved to Sandusky, Ohio where he worked among the Wyandotte Indians.

Stewart was able to successfully convert both chiefs and tribal members to Christianity, a feat which leaves him with the credit of starting the first highly successful Methodist mission among the Indians of the United States. On August 7, 1819, the Ohio Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church established the first official mission to the Indians based largely on the work that Stewart had completed among the Wyandotte. Stewart died on December 17, 1823 at the age of 37.

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