Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Seventh Day Baptist History VI

"…To Other Parts of the World"
America, 1850 -

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Protestants in both Europe and America came to feel a burden to bring the news of the gospel to those peoples around the world who had not yet been evangelized. Missionary societies were created to support such efforts, first in India and China, and later in Africa and around the world. The Englishman William Carey was the first Baptist missionary to India, arriving there in 1793. His example inspired many others.

The first Seventh Day Baptist missionary effort in 1818 was directed toward the frontier to encourage “the destitute and scattered of the Seventh Day Baptist denomination” and “home field” missions have remained important ever since that time. Soon, though, American Seventh Day Baptists felt the call, like others, to carry the gospel abroad.

One of the early missions was to Jews first in America and then in Palestine. It was inspired by an erroneous assumption that the Sabbath would be sufficient to establish common ground. The effort was a failure.

Lucy Carpenter, missionary to China
China. In 1844 a Missionary Association was created with the explicit intention, expressed in its constitution, to reach out “…to other parts of the world.” In 1847 Solomon and Lucy Carpenter and Nathan and Olive Wardner set sail for China. The work they began in and near Shanghai would be the primary focus of American Seventh Day Baptist missionary work for a hundred years. The Shanghai Seventh Day Baptist Church was founded in 1850 with seven members. When the Chinese Communists took power in 1949 the church had almost six hundred members.

Malawi. In the late 1800s a missionary was sent to central Africa, to the then British colony of Nyasaland – today Malawi. That missionary had some success but in 1912 was expelled by the colonial government because of his political activity. African Seventh Day Baptists remained, however, and at their request the mission was reopened in the 1940s. After the close of China Malawi became an important focus for American Seventh Day Baptist missions.

Other American missionary activity resulted from appeals for assistance by Sabbath believing groups who had decided that they were in fact Seventh Day Baptists. In 1924 fourteen Jamaican churches so declared themselves. Crandall High School in Kingston, Jamaica, established in 1948, was supported by the Missionary Society. Others in such countries as the Netherlands, South Africa, Guyana, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Burma, Poland, India – sometimes with missionary support from North America – more often without – have established relationships with the Conference.

A World Federation. In 1964 The Seventh Day Baptist World Federation was created – an alliance of Seventh Day Baptist conferences from five continents and twenty-two countries – to promote “Seventh Day Baptist unity in Christ and a vigorous witness throughout the world.”

Although never as large nor with as many resources as other denominations, Seventh Day Baptists have supported – and continue to support – Our Lord’s command to “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Source: Don Sanford, A Choosing People: The History of Seventh Day Baptists, 1992

The picture is of Lucy Carpenter, one of the first SDB missionaries to China.

The next in the series: "Seventh Day Baptist History VII - Defining Who We Are"

This series begins with: "Seventh Day Baptist History I - Seventh Day Baptist Origins"

Links to all of the posts about Seventh Day Baptist History can be found here.

This series of short summaries of Seventh Day Baptist history is part of a project undertaken for the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society, which maintains its archives and a museum in Janesville, Wisconsin.

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