Haystack Prayer Meeting

   A single prayer meeting under a Massachusetts haystack is believed by historians to have been a focal point in America's transition from a missionary target region to a missionary-sending country. on an afternoon in August 1806, five students at Williams College, Samuel J. Mills (1783-1818), Harvey Loomis (1785-1825), Byram Green (1786-1865), Francis L. Robbins (1787-1850), and James Richards (1784-1822), assembled for a regular outdoor prayer session. When it began to rain, they sought shelter under a haystack. Mills persuaded the group to pray in support of his dream for a missionary effort overseas, especially in Asia, though Loomis believed the American West should take priority as a missionary field.
   The idea bore fruit two years later when a student society was formed called the Brethren, to promote a mission to the "Heathen." The society moved to Andover Theological Seminary in 1810 where new members joined, including Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), Samuel Newall (1784-1821), and Samuel Nott (1788-1869).
   Judson presented the Brethren's ideas before the General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts, which in response founded the first organization to send missionaries overseas from the United States, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. At the time of the ministerial conclave, Mills's family was hosting Henry Obookiah (c. 1792-1818), a Hawaiian convert who symbolized the fertile missionary field Mills hoped to reach.
   The American Board took the lead in sending missionaries around the world, first to India and Ceylon and then to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. They would soon be joined by American Baptists (to whom Judson quickly shifted his allegiance) and the Methodists.
   Further reading:
   ■ Calvin Durfee, A History of Williams College (Boston: A. Williams, 1860)
   ■ "The Haystack Prayer Meeting." Available online. URL: http://wso.williams.edu/Haystack Prayer Meetingdchu/MissionPark/meet-ing.html. Accessed on February 15, 2004
   ■ Haystack Prayer Meeting - The 100th Anniversary of the Haystack Prayer Meeting (Boston: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1907)
   ■ LaRue W. Piercy, Hawaii's Missionary Saga: Sacrifice and Godliness in Paradise (Honolulu: Mutual Publishing, 1992).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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