American Baptist Home Missionary Society of New York
Early 19th-century Baptist churches in the United States formed national “societies” with specific mission orientations, generally related under the umbrella of the Triennial Convention of Baptist Churches. The deepest root of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) is the Baptist General Tract Society founded in Washington, D.C., on February 25, 1824, “to disseminate evangelical truth, and to inculcate sound morals, by the distribution of tracts.” In 1826 the tract society relocated to Philadelphia, where it was renamed the American Baptist Publication Society. The 1824 tract society became the American Baptist Society in 1870, the Board of Publication and Education in 1944, and Educational Ministries in 1972. Home mission pioneer John Mason Peck was the general secretary, 1843–1845.
The Home Mission Society (ABHMS), itself, was organized in 1832 to raise support for missionaries in North America. Later, Dr. Henry Lyman Morehouse, corresponding secretary of ABHMS, took the lead in forming the American Baptist Education Society (ABES) in May 1888 to promote “Christian education under Baptist auspices in North America.” A major achievement of the group was the founding of the University of Chicago in 1890, strongly supported by John D. Rockefeller. In addition, Dr. Morehouse (for whom Morehouse College is named) succeeded in engaging Rockefeller in major financial support for Bacone College, Spelman College, and black education in general. Responsibility for historically black colleges, founded by and for freedmen and women after the Civil War, remained with ABHMS until the Great Depression, when this work was transferred to the Education Society. After 1935, the only schools administered by ABHMS were Bacone College, Muskogee, Oklahoma; International Baptist Seminary, East Orange, New Jersey; and the Spanish-American Baptist Seminary (SABS), Los Angeles. The publishing (Judson Press), educational, and discipleship ministries of the educational society were transferred to National Ministries in 2003 with the dissolution and merger of the Board of Publication and Education (Educational Ministries).
Other significant roots that were grafted into the work of the national societies were the Women’s Baptist Home Mission Society (WBHMS), founded in Chicago on February 1, 1877, and the Woman’s American Baptist Home Mission Society (WABHMS), founded in Boston on November 14, 1877. These two societies merged in 1909 and moved their offices to New York City. In 1955, the WABHMS integrated its work with ABHMS.
Soon after the founding of ABHMS, the Free Will Baptist Home Mission Society was formed in Dover, N.H., on July 31, 1834, with David Marks as the first corresponding secretary. In 1842, Marks moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where he befriended the evangelist Charles G. Finney and was active in the Underground Railroad. The Free Will Society and related Free Baptist Women’s Missionary Society of Boston merged with the American Baptist Societies in 1911.