Conference Celebrates 200 Years of Baptist Missions

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Conference Celebrates 200 Years of Baptist Missions

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/20/13)—On November 14-16, 2013, McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University partnered with the American Baptist Historical Society, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist History and Heritage Society, Baptist Women in Ministry and the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board to produce a three-day event featuring missions experts and practitioners from across Baptist life, entitled, “The Judsons: Celebrating 200 Years of Baptist Missions, Learning from the Past and Looking to the Future.”

Conference speakers provided historical perspective on the contributions of Adoniram Judson, Ann Judson, Sarah Boardman Judson and Emily Chubbuck Judson to Baptist mission work, including education, women’s work and congregational involvement in missions. Workshops, led by mission practitioners, focused on missional engagement within their own congregations.

On Friday evening, November 15, Burmese Baptist congregations led a worship service at First Baptist Church, Tucker, Georgia. The worship service was led by American Baptist Saw Ler Htoo, executive secretary of the Karen Baptist Convention, USA and missionary for American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

Dr. Molly T. Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Shawnee, Kansas, was also on hand as a keynote speaker for the event, giving the closing address on Saturday, November 16.

“We planned this event to honor the 200th anniversary of a couple of kids in their 20s who had the courage to follow their beliefs, and had the entrepreneurship to start the mother of all Baptist mission societies in America,” said Loyd Allen, professor of church history at McAfee and one of the event’s conveners. “They had the courage to go to a very different place and stay there, producing fruit that could be passed down to our time.”

Rob Nash, professor of missions and world religions at McAfee and former coordinator of CBF Global Missions, gave the morning presentation on the Judsons’ mission to Burma in the 19th century and its relevancy to U.S. Baptists in the 21st century. 

“In 1814 delegates from various missionary societies gathered to coordinate their efforts in sending and supporting missionaries. In time, the mechanisms they created would transform the world by carrying the Christian faith into every corner of it,” explained Nash. “In 2014, our challenge is to build on their legacy by supporting, sustaining and nurturing, not simply missionaries now, but rather a much more powerful force, represented in emerging networks of Baptists that, if properly galvanized, can transform the world in even more substantive ways.”

Duane and Marcia Binkley, field personnel serving with American Baptist International Ministries and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, led a workshop focused on “The Judson Legacy: Educational Missions in the United States, Thailand and Burma.” Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries led a workshop on “Judson Legacy Lives On: Breaking the Chains of Sex Trafficking.” Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, also led a workshop on congregational involvement in missions engagement, highlighting CBF’s mission community networks and other resources for sustainable missions in the 21st century.

American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.

Photo and some information for this release were provided by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.