By Bob Allen
A three-day conference in November will celebrate 200 years of Baptist missions and explore the lasting impact of Ann and Adoniram Judson, the first U.S. Baptist missionaries to serve on foreign soil.
“The Judsons: Celebrating 200 Years of Baptist Missions, Learning from the Past and Looking to the Future,” is scheduled Nov. 14-16 on Mercer University’s Atlanta campus. Sponsors include McAfee School of Theology, the American Baptist Historical Society, the Baptist History and Heritage Society, Baptist Women in Ministry and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Plenary speakers include Bill Leonard, professor of Baptist studies and church history at Wake Forest University Divinity School; Rob Nash, associate dean and professor of missions and world religions at McAfee School of Theology; Graham Walker, professor of theology and philosophy at McAfee; and Molly T. Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan.
Pamela Smoot, assistant professor of Africana Studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., is scheduled to give a plenary address on the Judsons and women’s issues in Burma, now officially known as Myanmar.
Breakout session leaders include Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; Duane and Marcia Binkley, field personnel jointly appointed by CBF and American Baptist Churches USA; and Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.
Adoniram Judson and his wife of seven days, Ann Hasseltine Judson, set sail for India Feb. 19, 1812, as Congregationalist missionaries. While doing translation work during the four-month voyage, Judson became convinced immersion was the mode of baptism in the Bible and decided to become a Baptist.
Denied entry into India, the couple eventually settled in Burma, where their work prompted formation of the first nationwide U.S. Baptist denomination in 1814. Today, Baptists number 43 million worldwide with 33 million of those in the United States.
Conference speakers will provide historical perspective on the contributions of the Judsons and other early missionaries and their work in education, women’s work and congregational involvement in missions. Workshops led by mission practitioners will focus on missional engagement in Baptist congregations today.
Friday evening, Nov. 15, is set aside for a worship service led by Burmese Baptists at First Baptist Church in Tucker, Ga. The service, open to the public, features preaching by Saw Ler Htoo, executive secretary of the Karen Baptist Convention, USA, and American Baptist Home Mission Societies missionary.
Registration for the conference is $85 per person and $130 for a couple. McAfee students can attend for free. The registration deadline is Nov. 1 and can be done online at the McAfee website.