[File photo by Jerry Newcombe, to symbolize church]
Contrary to historical revisionism, the serious doubts of core Christian doctrines that Jefferson entertained later in life should not be used to define him for his entire life. In previous blogs, we’ve noted that Jefferson, as a layman, helped create an evangelical church.
In addition to the Subscription Jefferson wrote, which was the charter for the creation of the church, which called an evangelical minister, Rev. Charles Clay, Jefferson also wrote the
“Subscription to Support a Clerk of the Congregation in Charlottesville.” This document states:
“We the Subscribers agree to pay on the 25th day of December in the present year 1777 and so on the 25th day of December annually in every year after till we shall notify the contrary in writing to the Wardens for our Congregation, the sums affixed to our respective names, to such person or persons as by a majority of our Congregation, to be called together by the wardens for that purpose, shall from time to time be appointed to the office of clerk for the said Congregation, to assist the reverend Charles Clay in (____) performing divine service whenever he shall attend at Charlottesville for that purpose.”
On that document Jefferson’s name is followed by John Harvie, Randolph Jefferson, and Peter Marks. The fact that Jefferson voluntarily helped create and support a “Calvinistical Reformed” congregation that he cited as “our church” and whose pastor was Charles Clay, is one of the strongest indicators of the faith and religious preferences of Jefferson at this time in his life.
Our book contains for the first time in print a sermon from Rev. Charles Clay. The book actually contains two sermons by Clay. What type of ministry did Jefferson, as a layman, support through his own money and efforts as a layman? An evangelical one.