An Historic Milestone


International Ministries Celebrates 200 Years as First National Expression of American Baptists

In September 19, 1811 Adoniram Judson was appointed by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions as a missionary to the East. Judson was also commissioned by the Congregationalists and soon married Ann Hasseltine on February 5, 1812. He was ordained the next day at the Tabernacle Church in Salem. On February 19, 1812 he set sail aboard the brig Caravan with Luther Rice (a Baptist pastor from Massachusetts), Samuel and Harriett Newell; and his wife, Ann (known as "Nancy") Judson.

At the age of 25 - knowing already the the languages Latin, Greek, and Hebrew - Adoniram Judson became the first Protestant missionary sent from North America.

The Judsons arrived in Calcutta in June 17, 1812. While aboard ship en route to India, he did a focused study on the theology of baptism. He came to the position that believer's baptism was imminently biblical and theologically grounded and should be the most meaningful symbol of one's obedience to Jesus.

On September 6, 1812, he switched to the Baptist denomination along with his wife and they were baptized by immersion in Calcutta by an English missionary. British authorities in India did not want Americans evangelizing Hindus in the area.

The following year, on July 13, 1813, he moved to Burma.

Judson offered to Baptists in the United States to serve as their missionary. Luther Rice who had also converted, was in poor health and returned to America where he continued to work tirelessly with William Carey, an English Baptist missionary, in building the support for the missionary endeavor of the the Judsons. In 1814, their work resulted in the formation of the first unified Baptist missionary sending body in the United States named, The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions (commonly called the Triennial Convention), and its offshoot the American Baptist Missionary Union. As times changed fresh vision emerged as well and the organization transformed once again, changing its name to the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, then to the Board of International Ministries, and now to its present expression, International Ministries.

It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts. And so on July 21-26, 2014, American Baptists, more than 140 partners from all over the world, and a historic "only-second-time-in-200-years gathering" of all missionaries of our denomination will assemble at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin in a World Mission Conference to celebrate 200 years of missions and witness of International Ministries, and perhaps hear God's call to a fresh vision for the future.

If you are not attending, join our entire denominational family in prayer during these days. Our senior regional pastor and executive minister, Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer is already there, having been asked by IM to provide spiritual care to our missionaries who are meeting a week before the WMC. Several ABCNJ staff, pastors and church leaders are traveling this weekend to attend the WMC. Here is a link to the press release of International Ministries, that details the historic significance of the event and the daily schedule of the conference.

It is well known that Baptists were birthed by missions and freedom. American Baptists stand at the vanguard of this distinctive.