Baptists We Should Know: John Gano

Dr. Mark Rasmussen

John Gano was born in Hopewell, New Jersey in July of 1727. Gano’s father was a Presbyterian and a deeply religious man. With much personal study, Gano could not sway himself to accept sprinkling after studying the immersion of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. Because of his stance on doctrine he decided to unite with a Baptist church in Hopewell, New Jersey.

Not long after this, at the age of twenty-four, he felt a call to preach the Gospel and was ordained in May of 1754.

Gano became pastor of the Scotch Plains Church and remained in the area until 1760. In June of 1762, the First Baptist Church of New York was constituted from the parent church in Scotch Plains. Gano pastored this ministry for twenty-six years. A church that started with just twenty-seven members had a great influence on the city of New York.

At the beginning of the American Revolution, Gano felt a call to support his country and entered the army as a member of the chaplaincy. He served with courage, participating in the capture of 1,100 Hessians as part of Washington’s army. Afterward, he became chaplain to General James Clinton and served with him until the end of the war. Gano felt he needed to be in the front of the regiment lest it dampen the spirits of others or lead others to think that he was a coward. It was undoubtedly because of this that George Washington later stated, “Baptist chaplains were the most prominent and useful in the Army.” Gano was a close friend to Washington, and Gano’s grandchildren reported that he baptized the first president.

Gano returned home to his church after the war and found that much of the church had scattered. But when God’s man returned to leadership, the church was soon revived. In 1788, Gano became pastor of the Town Fork Church near Lexington, Kentucky, where he faithfully served until his death in 1804. Gano left a godly legacy, and his son pastored the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, for thirty-six years.