On February 6, 1812, Adoniram and Ann Judson were commissioned as missionaries from the Congregational Church and they set sail for India. But while out on the waters, Judson began to read the Bible anew about the issue of water baptism. Arriving at the conclusion that believers should be baptized by immersion, the Judsons were baptized by British Baptist missionaries when they reached Calcutta, India, that September. Identified as Baptists, they were no longer engaged by the Congregationalists.
Luther Rice, also intending to serve as a missionary in 1812, met the Judsons in India but returned for medical reasons. His key contributions included raising support for the Judsons and motivating the formation of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the US for Foreign Missions. This became known as the Triennial Convention which met in Philadelphia on May 21 in 1814. This is the date IM celebrates as our founding anniversary. The convention appointed a committee (the Baptist Board for Foreign Missions) to manage what would become the Baptists’ first unified national missionary-sending effort formed in the U.S. Our name has changed over the years — The American Baptist Missionary Union (1846)
1910 Became the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and by 1942 obtained tax exempt status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3).
1973 Began doing business as American Baptist International Ministries and now International Ministries (IM).
IM has grown and evolved over more than two centuries of ministry. It is the oldest international Baptist mission agency in North America. Its central mission is to work cross-culturally to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ and to proclaim, through both word and deed, God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life for all creation.
Adoniram Judson is known to have said, “Our future is as bright as the promises of God.” God promises to be with us, never to leave us, and that through God, anything is possible. The story of International Ministries is seeing the impossible become God’s promises realized.
The story is one of surprises by God and God’s people as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ.