Southern Baptist Convention

Southern Baptist Convention

Baptists settlers from England were active in the American Colonies beginning in the mid-1600’s.  As the name implies, a central tenant is the emphasis on adult (“believer’s”) baptism.  Other common beliefs or characteristics among Baptists are “salvation through faith alone,” the importance of Scripture and the autonomy of local congregations.

There was a split between southern and northern Baptist over the issue of slavery.  The separation was triggered by the Home Mission Society policy that a person who kept slaves could not be a missionary. This prompted Baptists from the south to meet in Augusta, Georgia in 1845 and organize the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

The Foreign Mission Board (FMB) was created in 1845 along with formation of the SBC.  A mission in Nigeria was established as early as 1850.  But for a variety of economic and social reasons, the Baptist FMB did not become fully active in its missionary efforts to Africa until after World War II.

The FMB began supporting missionary work in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1950-51 with the founding of the Sanyati Baptist Mission. The FMB also established a Baptist Seminary outside of Gwelo (Gweru) (now two institutions – the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Theological Seminary).  The majority of missionaries were withdrawn in 1978 after the killing of SBC missionary Archie Dunaway.  The Foreign Mission Board became the International Mission Board in 1997.

SBC currently has more than 16 million members world-wide.  It is the world’s largest Baptist denomination and one of the largest Protestant churches in the United States.  Within Zimbabwe, there are four Baptist organizations: the Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe; Baptist Union of Zimbabwe; National Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe and United Baptist Church of Zimbabwe.

Missions

Institutions

  • The Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe
  • The Zimbabwe Theological Seminary

References

Contributor
  • Mark Loomis
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