1783 – Luther Rice was born into a pedobaptist (Congregational) home on this memorable day. He along with Adoniram and Ann Judson became Baptists when they were baptized in India, after studying the subject of baptism on the voyage, although on different ships. Because of this they were compelled to sever relationship with their denomination which left them penniless and identify with the Baptists in America. In our opinion, this was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy found at Mat 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Prior to this there had been only scant missionary activity among the churches of North America and that was to the Indians and the settlers who had migrated westward. But from this effort of Rice and the Judson’s a great flood of missionaries began to go forth to many parts of the world. It all started with a group called the “Brethren” who had formed a missionary fellowship interested in world evangelism at Williams College (Congregational) in Massachusetts. One day during a rain storm some of the “Brethren” took refuge under a haystack, and while there prayed for those in the world who lived in spiritual darkness. It would forever be called the “Haystack Prayer Meeting.” Even though Rice wasn’t at the haystack, he was a part of the “Brethren” and was the first with the Judsons to go forth. Rice eventually returned to America to stir up the Baptists for world evangelism. He became the rope holder while Judson was tied to the rope. World missions needed them both. In the North there were mission societies, in the South the Baptist method was conventions.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 121..
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Baptists Publish the Word
1824 – THE FIRST BAPTIST PUBLISHING HOUSE IN AMERICA WAS FORMED IN THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY – On February 25, 1824, from a meeting in Washington, D.C., the “Baptist General Tract Society” was begun. Luther Rice was elected Treasurer. He was a partner of Adoniram and Ann Judson and had returned from the mission field to raise money to keep them on the mission field. Early on Christian people had united in the effort to evangelize through Christian literature. “The Evangelical Tract Society” was formed in Boston in 1811; the Philadelphia Sunday School and Adult School Union were organized in 1817, and the Baptists joined with other denominations in organizing the American Sunday School Union. However Baptist leaders were not satisfied until they had their own publishing house to formulate Baptist ideas and doctrine which culminated in the organization mentioned above. On April 30, 1840, in N.Y. City, representatives from 15 states voted to change the complexion and name to “The American Baptist Publication and Sunday School Society.” From that time Baptists have been able to obtain distinctive Baptist literature to train their members. The “Baptist Manual” was published consisting of a Doctrinal, Historical and Biographical series.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 77.
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We need submission to His commission
1844 – Dr. Jonathan Going went home to be with the Lord. Dr. Going, along with Rev. John Mason Peck founded the American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1832, whose goal was to promote the preaching of the gospel in North America. Going served as the corresponding secretary of the mission from 1832 to 1837. In 1838 he assumed the position of President of Granville College in Ohio. Jonathan was born to Jonathan and Sarah Going of Reading, Vermont, on March 7, 1786. He entered Brown University in 1805. As a student there he fell under deep conviction over his sins and received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and was licensed to preach by the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, while Stephen Gano was the pastor. This was during the time that the missionary fires were first beginning to burn hot in America. William Carey had gone to India in 1793. The Judsons and Luther Rice along with other Congregational missionaries had left our shores in 1812. The Judsons and Rice were converted to Baptist views on the ship as they sailed for Burma, and then Rice returned to create the first Baptist mission agency in 1814. Going had returned to Vermont to pastor and then to Worcester, Mass. where he had great success before his health broke. He took a leave of absence and with Peck went on a buggy trip through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri before returning with the burning desire to evangelize the west. Someone has said concerning the Lord’s command that “There is no such thing as foreign missions or home missions. The real concern is submission to His Great Commission. [William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 1:457. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 612-13.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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Thirty shots but none hit him
1846 – Eugenio Kincaid, along with others, laid the foundation for the University of Lewisburg (now Bucknell University) in Pennsylvania. He had gone to the area because his heart was burdened for missions, having been turned down by the Triennial Convention for service in Burma. Instead he planted a number of churches in the interior of Penn. He grew up in a Presbyterian family in Wetherfield, CT. and was gloriously saved and baptized while attending Baptist evangelistic meetings. He was in the first class of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institute in New York and thrilled when Luther Rice came to challenge the students in the cause of missions. By May of 1830 the TC believed he was ready and he and his wife sailed for Burma in May of 1830, by way of Calcutta, and arrived in Burma after four months, only four years after the jailing of Judson. 1831 was quite significant, 100 soldiers were converted but his dear wife also died because of the climate. In less than a year the Lord gave him another companion, one Barbara McBain, the daughter of a British military officer. He traveled 700 miles up the Irrawady River. At times he and his crew faced robbers and one time he sent his men on and stared the fiends down just as a Burman boat came into view. On the way back he was captured by boatloads of armed bandits, thirty gunshots were fired but none hit him. He was told to sit down but he refused as 70 men surrounded him with spears. For six days they debated on executing him, but he was able to escape and make it back to Ava. He ended his life in retirement on a farm in Girard, Kansas. [Lewis Edwin Theiss, CenTennial History of Bucknell University 1826-1946 (Williamsport, Pa.: Grit Pub. Company. Press, 1946), pp. 25, 45. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 547-49]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
Christ’s Ambassador to the West
Washington would be called the “Father of America,” but John Mason Peck would be known “God’s Ambassador to the Mississippi Valley.” He was born on Oct. 21, 1789 and in 1807 began teaching school. In 1809 he married Sally Paine, who proved to be an ideal wife for the pioneering life that God had in store for him. When their first child was born, the Peck’s hesitated to have the baby sprinkled which led them to a sincere study of the scriptures which led them to oppose infant baptism. Upon moving to New York they discovered a Baptist church in New Durham, and they were baptized in Sept. 1811. The church had services only once per month, and the people insisted that Peck preach to them when the pastor wasn’t present. In time he became pastor and continued in the ministry for 46 years. The Peck’s met Luther Rice and their hearts were turned toward Missions but not East Asia but to the Western United States. After studying for a year under Dr. Wm. Staughton in Philadelphia, the Triennial Convention met in that city in 1817. The Peck’s were accepted as missionaries to the West, being commissioned on May 18, 1817. He was not yet 28 years old when he wrote in his diary, “I have now put my hand to the plow, O Lord may I never turn back…” On July 25, 1817, with his wife and three little children in a small one- horse wagon, they began the journey of over 1,000 miles that would take over four months through undeveloped regions, and on Dec. 1 they entered St. Louis. In April 1818 the first baptismal service took place in the Mississippi River in the midst of a hostile environment, where the Bible had been burned and coarse songs were songs and blasphemy’s were hurled at them. Peck began a Baptist church making it his base of operations in the West. His trials were great. His oldest son died, sicknesses were many, hostile Indians were everywhere, he had to fight anti-missionary forces, his support was cut off by the Baptist Convention. But he fought on as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He died on March 14, 1858.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 304-06.
Missions, Still the Need of the World
Profile – Luther Rice
Luther Rice returned to America to gain support for the Judsons and for himself, with the intent that he might rejoin them shortly. Upon his arrival in America in 1813, Rice traveled throughout the States, raising support and arousing Baptist interest in missions. As a result, it was decided to hold a meeting on May 18, 1814.
On the appointed day, thirty-three Baptist delegates, representing eleven states, met in Philadelphia, with the idea of forming an organization to promote foreign missionary work. They wished to direct “the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort for sending the glad tidings of salvation to the heathen, and to nations destitute of pure gospel light.”
The society took for its name the General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions. Dr. Richard Furman of South Carolina was appointed its first president, and Dr. Thomas Baldwin of Boston was appointed the first secretary. It was arranged that they would meet triennially (once every three years) and thus the name “Triennial Convention.”
The first missionaries of the newly formed society, of course, were Adoniram and Ann Judson, and its first field was Burma.
Revival came and spread in the land.
December 16, 1769 – Jesse Mercer – Was born in Halifax County, North Carolina. According to William Cathcart, in his time, “He was the most influential Baptist minister in the State of Georgia.” He was the oldest child of the Rev. Silas Mercer, and his young life was circumspect in every regard, but at the age of 15, he saw himself as a sinner and was converted. In his 17th year he was baptized and united with the Phillips’ Mill Church. In his 19th year he was married, and before he was 20, he was ordained into the ministry and began his fruitful work for the Lord.
For over 50 years he served the Lord as pastor, but he traveled extensively preaching the gospel to the spiritually impoverished in sparsely settled areas of the state. He was influenced by Luther Rice and became a strong advocate of missions among the slaves, promoted the Sunday school movement, and led in the efforts of the temperance movement. He served as a trustee of the Columbian College in Washington, D.C. He served as clerk of the Georgia Baptist Association for 21 years, and as moderator for 23 years. He was President of the Georgia Baptist Convention for 19 years, from its founding in 1822 until 1841. He also published The Christian Index. His wife died on the way home where he preached at the Triennial Convention in 1826 and the following year he married Nancy Simons, a wealthy widow, and together they became generous donors to the cause of Christ. Though he was granted a doctorate from Brown University in 1835 he preferred not to be called by that title but they called him “Brother” and his friends called him “Father.” On returning from a revival where there was a great outpouring he stood before his people and said with tears, “You are too good to be saved!” Revival came and spread in the land.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 524-26.
He was called “the man with the twenty hands.”
December 01, 1817 – John Mason Peck arrived with his family in St. Louis, Missouri after a 129 day journey by wagon, by boat, and on foot. They had to carry him, sick with a fever off on a stretcher. He had surrendered to the mission field under Luther Rice. He began by gathering children for a school and doing evangelistic work among the black population and make excursions into the surrounding areas to preach. He planted the earliest Baptist churches west of the Mississippi River. Limited in his own education, he founded the first College in the West. So great was his energy, he was called “the man with the twenty hands.” The following entry from his 1925 journal gives an example: He said that he had been gone from home for 53 days, had traveled through 18 counties in Ill. and 9 in Ind., rode 926 miles, preached 31 regular sermons, besides several speeches, addresses and lectures. He revived three Bible societies, and established seven new ones, aided in forming three Sabbath-school soc’s., and in opening several societies where none existed. The family had to live frugally on $5 per month from the Mass. Baptist Missions Soc. Peck eked out a living through other means including manual labor. When the interest in the Baptist Mission Societies in the East waned Peck and Jonathan Going doubled their efforts and laid the foundation for a new Missions Society in a period of strong anti-mission sentiment. We owe much to this man who built the first Baptist church in the city of St. Louis.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 501-02.