200 Years Ago Today – First American Foreign Missionaries Commissioned

February 6, 1812 (Salem, Massachusetts) – 1,500 people braved a harsh snow to attend the commissioning service of five men to the foreign mission field.

The Congregational service at Tabernacle Church is considered to be the beginning of the foreign missions movement in America.  These five men had prepared for this day since their days together in college.

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850)

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson is considered my many to be the father of the modern missions movement.  He was wed to Anne Hasseltine only the day prior to this service.  They spent their honeymoon being set apart for the mission field.

After some time they set sail on the ship Caravan on their way to India.  The journey was one of surviving serious storms and of Bible study.  Judson studied the Bible on the subject of baptism and became a Baptist.

He and his wife did not remain long in India.  Instead they became missionaries to the people in Burma initially in Rangoon.

Judson was taken captive in Burma for two years.  At the end of these two years, his wife passed away.  Judson moved to another part of Burma and focused his work on linguistic studies.

Samuel Newell

Samuel Newell (d. 1841)

In between the service and his departure, Samuel Newell took a bride.  He and his wife traveled on the same ship with the Judsons.  After being in India for a short period of time, Newell lost both his wife and his infant daughter.

Newell spent the final 20 years of his life ministering in Bombay.

Samuel Nott

Like Newell, Samuel Nott became married in the interim time.  He labored for many years in India.

Luther Rice

Luther Rice served only a short while as a missionary.  He was forced to return home due to health concerns.

Gordon Hall

Gordon Hall was the fifth of the men commissioned that day.