Reverend Garrettson was a famous preacher and evangelist in the Methodist Church. He received national attention for his strong anti-slavery advocacy. In 1775, Garrettson began preaching at age 23 in Maryland. He was an active missionary and began a Methodist congregation in Nova Scotia as he preached throughout each colony. He also greatly influenced the impact of Methodism in America.
The Reverend Alfred T. Day described Reverend Garrettson as follows: “He freed his slaves. He got himself in some trouble preaching against slavery in a slave state like Maryland was, where slavery was very, very prominent, and was thrown in jail in Cambridge, Maryland.” Garrettson was a supporter of the cause for the Revolutionary War, but would not participate as a soldier, and was therefore, put into jail for some time. As Reverend Day mentioned, Garrettson did inherit slaves, but felt a voice telling him to let them go, and so he freed them. Garrettson did not believe in oppression, and due to his Christian faith, he believed slavery was wrong. Garrettson published an anti-slavery booklet which highlighted the evil act of slavery.
Garrettson also significantly advanced the Methodist Church throughout Nova Scotia for a few years and then in America. Garrettson became a preacher and elder in New York and brought thousands to the church in New York alone.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Garrettson was a strong believer in Jesus who described audibly hearing God’s voice several times. In describing how he came to know Jesus at age 10, he said this about hearing God’s voice: "‘Do you know what a saint is? A saint is one who is wholly given up to God.’ The voice is so real as if someone is talking to me face to face. The question stirs my heart.”
Garrettson also journaled that a thought stuck out to him while reading the Bible. He wrote, “It is not right for you to keep your fellow creatures in bondage; you must let the oppressed go free.” Garrettson credited God for his gifts and the effects of his preaching, and he was firm in his religious beliefs and thoughts on human rights.