Missions, Still the Need of the World
Luther Rice returned to America to gain support for the Judsons and for himself, with the intent that he might rejoin them shortly. Upon his arrival in America in 1813, Rice traveled throughout the States, raising support and arousing Baptist interest in missions. As a result, it was decided to hold a meeting on May 18, 1814.
On the appointed day, thirty-three Baptist delegates, representing eleven states, met in Philadelphia, with the idea of forming an organization to promote foreign missionary work. They wished to direct “the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort for sending the glad tidings of salvation to the heathen, and to nations destitute of pure gospel light.”
The society took for its name the General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions. Dr. Richard Furman of South Carolina was appointed its first president, and Dr. Thomas Baldwin of Boston was appointed the first secretary. It was arranged that they would meet triennially (once every three years) and thus the name “Triennial Convention.”
The first missionaries of the newly formed society, of course, were Adoniram and Ann Judson, and its first field was Burma.