Though Baptists settled in the southern colonies in the seventeenth century, they did not have a strong regional presence until the mid-eighteenth century, when congregations planted in Virginia and the Carolinas began establishing regional bodies like the Charleston Association (1751) in South Carolina, the Ketochton Association (1765) in Virginia, and the Kehukee Association (1765) in North Carolina. Baptist churches represented a broad range of beliefs and practices loosely bound by theological commitment to adult salvation after experiencing the work of grace. Deeply independent, Baptists did not organize into centralized denominational polities until the late nineteenth century after small, locally-governed congregations had already spread across the South.
Baptist tastes in sacred music and other worship practices were correspondingly diverse. In the early nineteenth century, the denomination split into missionary and antimissionary camps over the introduction of foreign mission associations and Sunday schools, fault lines with both theological and musical significance. Antimissionary Baptists ultimately rejected both along with the use of instrumental music, resisting the stylistic influence of Sunday school music in their worship. Antimissionary sentiment seeded the modern Primitive, Regular, and Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Baptists whose relatively small denominations continue to have a presence in the South. By the turn of the twentieth century, Baptist congregations were joining national denominations in greater numbers, including the white-led Southern Baptist Convention (founded 1845), and the black-led National Baptist Convention (founded 1880). Both conventions maintained publishing outfits that provided denominational hymnals and social worship, Sunday school, and gospel collections to their respective congregations.