The group was lead by Joseph B. Lynch. Lynch was one of a number of Delawareans who had moved to Chincoteague from the Williamsville, Delaware area. He had served for 90 days with Co. D 6th Delaware infantry during the civil war. The Delawareans had been members of the Sound Camp Church in Delaware and became members of the Goodwill Independent Church when they moved to Chincoteague. In 1884 the Goodwill Independent church joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. A few dozen members disagreed with this move and in February of 1892 formed their own church called the Christ’s Holy Sanctified Church. The newspapers and other people on the island referred to them as; The Sanctification Band, Lynchites (after their leaders Joseph Lynch), holy jumpers sanctified worshipers, etc. They rapidly became known in the area due to their belief that salvation is a two-step process consisting of conversion (repentance and forgiveness of sins) and sanctification (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) which cleanses the believer from all sin. Believers are then expected to live clean, holy lives. They also allowed women to be equal with men in preaching, refused to talk to people who wore black, believed that if one was married and sanctified and the spouse and or children were not sanctified the sanctified person should have nothing to do with the non-sanctified ones, ignore their marriage vows and leave them.
This resulted in court charges in 1894 against members of the church because they had conspired to committed acts of indecency, to wit: 1) caused Mary E. Burton to leave her lawful husband Woolsey; 2) promulgated the doctrine of "Free Love" teaching married women to disregard their vows; 3) appointed male and female members as "Fellow Watchers" to sit up at night and watch alone together in a room, thus scandalizing the people of Chincoteague Island and counseling the separation of wives from their husbands; 4) formed themselves into an "organized Band" in order to accomplish these indecent works "and otherwise misbehaving themselves. The newspapers had a field day with the story.
Three were convicted and, while out on bail, the group decided to leave while they could. There followed three waves of migration out of Chincoteague over the next three years. They decided to extend their religion in to the southern coast line. Since they were waterman by trade and familiar with boats, they built large house on barges and moved down the coast line of Virginia into North Carolina preaching their doctrine. They were not always well received and in Chowan County NC some members were killed when they were driven out.
Today the Christ's Sanctified Holy Church is an association of churches established primarily on the principle that salvation is accomplished by two separate works of the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The first work of grace is repentance toward God, or asking for forgiveness of the sins that we have committed. The second work is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or sanctification, which is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, eradicating the nature of sin. They have about seventeen churches scattered from Delaware to Florida to Mississippi
This weekend happens to be a big work weekend meeting in their headquarters at Perry Georgia. By work weekend I mean actual work; they are improving the Campgrounds by adding Sunday school rooms which will consist of framing, dry walling, pouring concrete, painting etc. This is in addition to the usual functions of devotion, Sunday school and worship.
Among the Delmarva people who had initially joined this group were; Joseph Lynch, Sarah Collins, Parker Bowden, Sarah Bowden, Charlotte lynch, John Collins, William Chandler, Sarah Chandler, Aaron Bowden, John Jones, William Collins, Mary Bowden, Catherine Birch, Maria Bowden, Margaret Powell, Lucinda Bishop, Joseph Gray, Mariah Collins, and James Workman.
When the first groups left Chincoteague in the 1890’s they were not the last of the church group. They continue in today. However you would encounter newspaper articles about the followers whenever another group left the island. Below are two articles from the Courier a newspaper in Salisbury Maryland.
Washington Times Nov 7 1895 below
from the Courier Feb 24 1906
21 july 1906 The Courier
Sept 1906 the Courier, salisbury MD