Rice, Luther

Rice, Luther
( 1783-1836 )
   founder of the first American Baptist missionary agency
   Luther Rice was born in Northborough, Massachusetts. As a young man he joined the Congregational Church and in 1807 enrolled in Williams College. While there, he met Samuel J. Mills (1783-1818) and other students with whom he shared a passion for foreign missions. In 1810, he followed them to Andover Theological Seminary, where he met Adoniram Judson. In 1812, he and Judson were commissioned by the newly formed American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to establish work in India.
   The ship that took them to India carried several British Baptist missionaries, and the two converted to the Baptist faith. They were rebaptized by William Ward (1769-1823) soon after arriving in India. Rice immediately returned to America to rally the Baptists to the missionary cause. He spent the next year traveling though the United states and organizing the first gathering of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United states for Foreign Missions (1814). This gathering became the catalyst for the formation of other national Baptist agencies to handle publishing and home missions, and became the core from which the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. would emerge. At Rice's instigation, the convention also organized a college (now George Washington University).
   Rice spent the remainder of his years traveling for the convention and the college, attending his last Triennial Convention in 1835. In the 21 years since its founding, the convention had come to support 25 missions and 112 missionaries. He died the next year on a fund-raising tour of the south.
   Further reading:
   ■ William A. Carleton, The Dreamer Cometh: The Luther Rice Story (Atlanta: southern Baptist Convention, 1960)
   ■ Edward B. Pollard and Daniel Gurden Stevens, Luther Rice, Pioneer in Missions and Education (Columbia, S.C.: Richbarry Press, 1995)
   ■ James Barnett Taylor, Memoir of Rev. Luther Rice (Baltimore: Armstrong & Berry, 1841)
   ■ Evelyn Wingo Thompson, Luther Rice: Believer in Tomorrow (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1967)
   ■ Rufus W. Weaver, The Place of Luther Rice in American Baptist Life (Washington, D.C.: The Luther Rice Centennial Commission, 1936).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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