American Baptist Home Mission Societies finds its roots in several American Baptist mission societies.
One of those is The American Baptist Home Mission Society, established in New York City in 1832 to preach the gospel, establish churches and support ministry among the unchurched and destitute. That same year the society sent 50 missionaries across the eastern and central United States to spread God’s Good News, and American Baptists have been planting churches—as well as schools, children’s homes, hospitals and nursing homes—winning souls for Christ, and speaking out for social and economic justice ever since.
By 1836, 150 home missionaries were at work in 14 states, two territories and two provinces. Women wanted to help with the work of answering God’s call, but The American Baptist Home Mission Society refused to appoint single women as missionaries. In response, the Women's Baptist Home Mission Society (WBHMS), based in Chicago, was founded in 1877, and Joanna P. Moore became its first fully commissioned missionary. Another women’s society, the Woman’s American Baptist Home Mission Society (WABHMS) was also founded in 1877 in Boston “to extend the kingdom of God among the women and children of America.”
Over the next century, missionaries expanded American Baptist ministry by:
- Founding 27 institutions of higher education for Freed People after the Civil War;
- Sending an envoy to Washington to work for treaties favorable to Native Americans;
- Opening a Baptist Missionary Training School in Chicago;
- Appointing missionaries to serve in Michigan, New York, Puerto Rico, Alaska and Arizona;
- Ministering among Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II; and
- Leading the way in work with Church World Service to offer new homes to more than 100,000 refugees since World War II.
The two women’s societies consolidated their work in 1909 under the name Woman’s American Baptist Home Mission Society. In 1955, The American Baptist Home Mission Society and WABHMS merged their work; then in 1972, the societies began carrying out mission as National Ministries.
In 2003, National Ministries added the denomination’s ministries of discipleship, education and publishing—including Judson Press—to its work when it absorbed Educational Ministries, which found its roots in the Baptist General Tract Society (founded in 1824) and the American Baptist Education Society (founded in 1888).
On April 27, 2010, National Ministries reclaimed the organization’s historic names and began carrying out its ministries in the name of Jesus Christ as American Baptist Home Mission Societies.
These booklets contain a wealth of information about the beginnings of American Baptist Home Mission Societies. We pray that the American Baptist Home Mission Societies story brings you inspiration and hope.