Osman Cleander Baker 30 July 1812 – 20 December 1871) was an American biblical scholar and Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Osman was born in Marlow, New Hampshire
. He entered the Wilbraham Wesleyan Academy
at the age of fifteen, where soon after he was converted to Christ, and was received into the church by Dr. Wilbur Fisk
(who was at that time Principal
of the school).
Osman was licensed to exhort in his seventeenth year. In 1830 he entered Wesleyan University. He had successfully completed three years at Wesleyan when failing health compelled him to leave the institution. Yet, while in college he also was licensed as a Local Preacher, laboring diligently in that office
Ordained and Academic Ministry
The Rev. Mr. Baker became a teacher
in the seminary
at Newbury, Vermont
in 1834. He was elected Principal of this seminary in 1839.
Having resigned the seminary principalship in 1844, the Rev. Mr. Baker was appointed Pastor of the M.E. Church in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was appoiinted Presiding Elder of the Dover District in 1846. During the next year he accepted a professorship in the General Biblical Institute in Concord, New Hampshire, which later became the Boston University School of Theology. Dr. Baker became a distinguished scholar. He also continued to reside in Concord for the remainder of his life.
The Rev. Dr. Osman Cleander Baker was elected
to the Episcopacy
of the Methodist Episcopal Church by the 1852 General Conference. He discharged the varied duties of this office with diligence and success until 1866.
In 1866 Bishop Baker was attacked with partial paralysis while on his way to preside over the Colorado Annual Conference. He reached his destination with great difficulty. He thusly examined and ordained the ordinands in a private room, rather than before the entire Conference. He then returned home, having suffered much pain and extreme exhaustion.
Bishop Baker's health then became sufficiently restored to enable him to preside at a few other Annual Conferences, and to attend the annual and semi-annual meetings of the Board of Bishops of the M.E. Church for two more years, when his strength again declined and his voice was greatly affected.
Final Illness and Death
Bishop Baker was no longer able to take a public role in the work of the Church. Nevertheless, he continued to attend the various meetings and enjoyed them, up until a short time before his death.
Returning from worship one Sabbath, he fell helpless at the threshold of his home, but regained his strength for a time. The fatal stroke of paralysis came 8 December 1871. Bishop Baker lingered but a few days afterwards. He died 20 December 1871 in Concord, New Hampshire, aged fifty-nine years.
The Rev. Mr. Osman Cleander Baker was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Divinity.
Also, Baker University
is named in his honour. Chartered 12 February 1858
, Baker University is the oldest University
in the State of Kansas.
Bishop Simpson's Assessment
, who was made a Bishop at the same General Conference, wrote this of his colleague Osman Cleander Baker:
- In his general character he was distinguished for regularity and symmetry. His temperament was even and quiet; he was possessed of sound judgment and retentive memory, and combined calmness with firm religious convictions. As a teacher, he was assiduous; as a preacher, he was persuasive in manner, chaste in style, and often his ministrations were attended with divine power. As a Bishop, he was impartial and judicious, and his administration was marked by a clear understanding of the constitution and laws of the church. His published work on the Discipline indicates his thorough knowledge of the administration of the church.
- Cyclopaedia of Methodism, Matthew Simpson, D.D., LL.D., Ed., (Revised Edition.) Philadelphia, Louis H. Everts, 1880.