Shubal Stearns (sometimes spelled Shubael) (28 January 1706 – November 20, 1771), was an evangelist and preacher who, though his name is seldom mentioned today, was to have a profound impact in planting the seeds for the spiritual direction of much of the population of the United States. Stearns' highly successful ministry is inextricably intertwined with the rise and expansion of the Separate Baptists — especially in much the American South, where the Baptist faith today remains that of the overwhelming majority of people.
Stearns was born in Boston. His family were members of the Congregational church in Tolland, Connecticut, when in 1745 he heard evangelist George Whitefield. Whitefield preached that instead of trying to reform the Congregational church over doctrinal issues, it was necessary to separate from it; hence his followers were called the "New-Lights". Stearns was converted, became a preacher, and adopted the Great Awakening's view of revival and conversion. The "New Lights" also came to be called the "Separates", in part because they pointed to 2 Cor. 6:17 "be ye separate", ie, from the mainstream "Old Light" Congregational church.