History of Baptist World Mission
HISTORY OF BAPTIST WORLD MISSION
THE EARLY BACKGROUND
Baptist World Mission was born out of a theological struggle. The conflict began in the old Northern Baptist Convention (now called the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.). Within that denomination, the system of thought called “modernism” had made considerable progress. Modernists (now called “liberals”) denied the great historic truths of the Christian faith such as Christ’s deity, His virgin birth, His atoning death, and His bodily resurrection.
The colleges and seminaries of the denomination, as well as many pastors and churches, were
tainted with this heretical system. The American Baptist Foreign Mission Society had sent out
some missionaries of this persuasion. All of this greatly disturbed Bible-believing people within the American Baptist constituency. They decided a mission board was needed that would send only evangelical missionaries to the field. Thus, the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society (CBFMS) was organized in 1943. The Conservative Baptist Association came into being as a national fellowship of churches in 1947. In 1950 the Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society was born.
Prior to the existence of these groups (which were organizationally separate from one another),
another body, made up of individual members, had been active. It was originally called the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, whose principal reason for existence was to protest and combat the modernism within the Northern Baptist Convention. This body changed its name to the Conservative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and, along with the other entities mentioned, became a part of what was known as the Conservative Baptist movement.
THE GROWING CONFLICT
It was not long before the movement began to show signs of strain. There actually existed within the Conservative Baptist framework two distinct groups. One group was more openly fundamental in its stance and more militant in its defense of the faith. This group became known as the “hard core.” The Conservative Baptist Fellowship formed the nucleus of this group. On the other side stood a group that had embraced the philosophy known as the “New Evangelicalism.” It was a compromise position which gained increasing acceptance in the 1950s. Those espousing this position became known as the “soft policy” group. The leadership of the two mission agencies was aligned with this body.
The strong fundamentalists within the Conservative Baptist movement became increasingly unhappy with the encroachments of this compromise position. Repeated efforts were made at different levels and in different organizations to repudiate the new evangelicalism and to firmly establish Conservative Baptists as fundamental separatists. Through political maneuvering their efforts were thwarted. Fundamentalist leaders pastored some of the strongest Conservative Baptist churches and also headed some of its educational institutions. They felt deeply that the Conservative Baptist movement was drifting from the biblical moorings upon which it had been established.
THE BATTLE OVER THE DENVER SEMINARY
In 1950 the Conservative Baptist Seminary was formed and located in Denver, Colorado. There
were great expectations for this first Conservative Baptist school. Some of the strongest leaders
were members of the board. It became evident after a time, however, that there were ideological differences between those who held a softer position on separation and those who wished to maintain a stronger position. Some of the more separatistic men gradually resigned from the board, and it was left under the control of those of milder persuasion.
Dr. Vernon Grounds became the president of the seminary. He was a vocal advocate of the new
evangelical position and began to author many study papers espousing this viewpoint and decrying the more fundamental and separatist stance. The seminary had considerable influence among many churches in Colorado and did not lose opportunity whenever possible to place pastors favorable to their viewpoint. The position and activities of the seminary caused a great uproar within the Colorado fellowship of churches. Strong separatist leaders in that state fought against the seminary and refused to support or commend it. This group went their own way. The issues there were a microcosm of the issues being debated nationwide.
THE BATTLE OVER PREMILLENNIALISM
The doctrinal statement of the CBA of America included a commitment to premillennialism. Most of the early Conservative Baptists were of premillennial persuasion. However, the original doctrinal statements of the two mission boards—CBFMS and CBHMS—did not have a premillennial confession. Repeated efforts were made to get the word “premillennial” inserted into the doctrinal statement of both mission agencies. The Home Mission Society finally did insert the word and thus became officially premillennial. The Foreign Mission Society, however, steadfastly refused to make the change. Very specious arguments were offered as to why this should not be done, but probably the most honest answer is found in Bruce Shelley’s History of Conservative Baptists when he writes:
Those who opposed the insertion of the word into the doctrinal statements did so not
because they denied the doctrine but rather because they saw an effort to include it as part of the narrowing process already marked in the areas of polity and separation (p. 90).
Opponents of an openly premillennial confession vigorously acclaimed that they themselves were premillennial, but that they did not think, for various reasons, the mission societies should be so positionalized. The arguments enlisted in their cause were not theological but pragmatic.
THE BATTLE OVER THE PORTLAND MANIFESTO
At the annual meeting of Conservative Baptists held in Portland, Oregon, in 1953, the so-called
“Portland Manifesto” was adopted. In the document, which was agreed to by the CBA and the two mission agencies, the Conservative Baptist movement was declared to be “separatist in spirit and objective.” However, the passage of years began to reveal that many Conservative Baptists were not nearly as separatistic as this document might seem to suggest. For this reason efforts were made to have the document reaffirmed by a vote of the messengers. At the meeting in 1963 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Rev. Ronald MacDonald, a pastor from Michigan who was a member of the CBHMS board, moved the reaffirmation of the Manifesto. A spokesman arose and made an impassioned speech opposing the motion and declared that the circumstances that called for the adoption of the Manifesto in 1953 were no longer present, and that, furthermore, the document was being misused and misinterpreted by the “hard-core” separatists. Such devious attacks upon the document, plus skillful political maneuvering, insured the defeat of the motion. The opposition to a clear statement, which had once been affirmed by all Conservative Baptists, openly revealed that a drift had occurred within the movement—a departure from some of the original principles that were espoused.
THE BATTLE OVER THE NEW EVANGELICALISM
One year at the CBA annual conference, Dr. Charles Woodbridge was a featured speaker and
addressed the gathering on the subject of “The New Evangelicalism.” It was a masterful address, but on the way downstairs in the elevator, a CBA seminary president stated to another leader, “None of it applies to us.” Unfortunately he was mistaken, and a great deal of it “applies to us.” Leaders in the CBA and its affiliates were not willing to admit to their new evangelical position, which they had embraced.
One of the leading figures in new evangelical circles was Billy Graham. His ecumenical campaigns were bringing believers and unbelievers together under the banner of evangelism. There was considerable support for Graham’s position among Conservative Baptists. Even in earlier days, the Conservative Baptist movement, as a whole, had strong ties to the National
Association of Evangelicals, a bastion of the new evangelical philosophy. The strength of
those ties has been evidenced more recently as the Conservative Baptist Association has been
received into formal fellowship with the NAE.
Featured at Conservative Baptist meetings and promoted by many Conservative Baptist pastors
were various interdenominational organizations that did not profess to take a separatist position let alone a Baptist one. For instance, at the Long Beach convention in 1964, the following groups had displays: American Bible Society, Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Gospel Light Publications, Presbyterian Ministers Fund, Narramore Christian Foundation, and the National Association of Evangelicals.
THE BATTLE OVER “CONVENTIONISM”
While the Conservative Baptists disavowed “conventionism” as they had known it in the old Northern Baptist Convention, they, nevertheless, had tendencies in that direction. While each Conservative Baptist group declared itself an autonomous body, there was an interlocking arrangement, which tended to strengthen the denominational spirit and loyalty. There was talk from time to time of merging everything together, but this never materialized. Many of the objectionable features of the old Northern Baptist Convention were gradually making their appearance within the Conservative Baptist movement.
A NEW MISSION SOCIETY BORN
Some of the fundamentalist leaders requested a special meeting of the Conservative Baptist Fellowship in order to discuss the situation within the movement. This historic meeting was called by the president of CBF, Dr. Earle Matteson, and was held in Chicago in September of 1961. After considerable prayer and discussion, the board of CBF voted unanimously to organize the World Conservative Baptist Mission (WCBM). It was formed to be a consistent fundamentalist and separatist mission agency without any compromise with New Evangelicalism. In June of 1966, the name was changed to “BAPTIST WORLD MISSION.” It became apparent that Baptist World Mission (BWM) and the Conservative Baptists were going in different directions, and all ties with that movement were severed.
The following were the first officers of the Mission:
President – Bryce Augsburger
Vice President – Ernest Pickering
Secretary – Kenton Beshore
Treasurer – Henry Sorenson
The original board members were as follows:
Arthur Allen Ed Nelson
Roy Austin Monroe Parker
Mrs. Harriet Bratrud Paul Seanor
David Farrington Mrs. Willard Stallcup
Herbert Hoover David Tirrell
John Johnson Richard Weeks
Joseph MacMullen Arno Weniger, Sr.
Earle Matteson John Weidnaar
Peter Mustric Allan Williams
Dr. Lee Long, General Director of the Conservative Baptist Fellowship, was elected missionary
secretary of WCBM and served in both capacities in the early days of the Mission. He headed the Mission until his retirement in 1967.
THE BATTLE OVER THE WORLD CONSERVATIVE BAPTIST MISSION
Needless to say, the appearance of the Mission produced a fire-storm of controversy within the
Conservative Baptist movement. Vitriolic articles were written against the agency and its founders. Some of its leaders were referred to as “Johnny-come-latelys” who were inciting division within the movement. A paper published in the East called “Conservative Baptist Witness” constantly opposed the stronger separatists and promoted the official “denominational line.” Repeatedly, efforts were made to obtain display space for the WCBM at the annual conferences. There was no success. Display areas could be provided for all kinds of interdenominational groups, but a genuine conservative Baptist mission was not allowed representation.
As the organizational structure of the Mission was being developed, two approaches were discussed. Some desired a board composed of persons elected in some manner by the supporting churches. This was the pattern followed by CBFMS, whose board members were elected in annual regional meetings. After considerable debate, however, it was voted to make the board self-perpetuating. The majority felt that this structure was better suited to protect the Mission from future deviation. The decision was made at the annual meeting held in Casper, Wyoming, in 1967.
The God-called leaders of Baptist World Mission over the past 50 years have manifested the true meaning of servant headship – taking up the cross of ministry and following Christ for the glory of God and the good of others.
Dr. Lee Long became the secretary of World Conservative Baptist Mission in January 1964, the first executive officer to serve the fledgling agency, ministering faithfully in that role until 1969.
In November of 1969 Dr. Monroe Parker accepted the call to be the General Director of the mission. He assumed the assignment with the understanding that the mission office would be relocated from Chicago, Illinois, to Decatur, Alabama, where he made his home. Under Dr. Parker’s dynamic leadership, BWM grew throughout his tenure. It was said of Dr. Parker in the early days that he “pulled the mission out of the mud.”
In May of 1981 Dr. Fred Moritz was installed as assistant to the General Director and in 1984 was appointed Executive Director. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, he also served as Field Administrator for Eastern Europe and Canada, as well as holding Bible, evangelistic, and mission conferences throughout the U.S. and around the world. The mission saw extensive growth numerically and spiritually under his leadership.
Dr. Ron Brooks was added to the staff as Field Administrator in 1991 and served in that role until his retirement from BWM in 2011. Having retired from the United States Army with the rank of major, he became a missionary under BWM in 1986 and established a church in Heidelberg, Germany. His administrative duties included ministry in churches, schools, and conferences, as well as the oversight of the missionaries serving in Western Europe and Israel.
In June of 1993 Dr. Ernest Pickering became Deputation Director, taking the new missionaries through the appointment process and assisting them through the time of deputation until they left for the field. While teaching in Moscow during the summer of 1996, Dr. Pickering began to lose his sight. By November he was completely blind. In December of 1996 the Pickerings moved to Pennsylvania, where he resided until his death.
Dr. David Cummins joined the BWM team in June of 1997. He served as Deputation Director until his home going in August of 2009. Having pastored for 47 years, he brought a wealth of ministry experience to the mission. He was also a gifted writer, speaker, and Baptist historian, much in demand for his preaching ministry.
In 1997 another mission agency of like persuasion merged with BWM, bringing 15 of their missionary families. In August of that year Dr. Jack McLanahan came from that board. His experience in the pastorate and as a mission director for 15 years brought great benefit to BWM. He served as Field Administrator for North and South America until his retirement in 2009. He was promoted to heaven in September of 2012.
Mike Williquette was appointed as Business Director for BWM in 1997 and continues to serve effectively in that capacity, overseeing the finances and office operations of the mission. While holding a master of business administration degree, his greatest assets are his work ethic and his heart for God’s work and people.
As the Lord continued to bless with more missionaries, additional staff became necessary. Dr. Dennis Walton, a successful pastor with a heart for missions, was added as Field Administrator for Asia and Australasia in February of 1998. Beginning in August of 2007 and until his retirement in 2009, Dr. Walton served as assistant to the Executive Director, aiding Dr. Moritz in his administrative responsibilities.
In 2002 Rev. Steve Anderson was appointed as Field Administrator for Africa. Steve joined BWM in 1997 as a furlough-replacement missionary, having previously served three terms in West Africa. Steve’s giftedness in doing many things well has equipped him for effective leadership with BWM. He currently oversees BWM missionaries serving in Africa, UK, Ireland and the Middle East, as well as furlough replacement.
In 2007 Rev. David Walton joined the staff to become Field Administrator for Asia and Australasia and served in that capacity for two years. A man of God with extensive pastoral experience and a heart for missions, he is now pastoring a church in southern Alabama.
2009 brought major changes to the administration of BWM. Dr. Fred Moritz retired from full-time ministry as Executive Director and was appointed as Emeritus Director and board member. He continues to promote the mission in his itinerant evangelistic ministry while teaching one semester each year in the Maranatha Baptist University Seminary.
Dr. Bud Steadman was appointed Executive Director elect on February 3, 2009, and assumed his role as Executive Director on August 1 of the same year. In addition to over 30 years of pastoral ministry, he has broad missionary experience through his local church missions program, as well as writing and speaking extensively. His ministry with BWM involves administrative oversight and missionary encouragement around the world.
Dr. Dave Canedy was appointed to the position of Deputation Director on February 3, 2009, and began full-time responsibilities with the mission in October. Having served as a BWM missionary to Nova Scotia prior to pastoring Marquette Manor Baptist Church in Downers Grove, Illinois, Dr. Canedy also oversees BWM’s U.S. church planters and Canadian missionaries.
Prior to joining the mission as a Field Administrator for Latin and South America on January 1, 2009, Rev. Jesse Garza served in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was instrumental in the planting of five churches. During his administrative ministry with BWM, Brother Garza used his unique skills in the Spanish language to effectively serve the BWM missionary family and their churches. Upon his retirement from the position in 2016, he launched a new church-planting effort among Hispanics in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Dr. Kevin Brosnan joined the BWM home office team in 2009, after effectively serving several terms as a missionary in South Africa. In addition to ministering as the Field Administrator for Central Asia and Europe, he is a gifted writer and serves as the overseer and editor of the BWM publications and media outreach.
Dr. Walt Schmidt joined BWM in August 2004 as a furlough-replacement missionary. In 2009 Dr. Moritz asked Dr. Schmidt to fill the role of administrator for Asia and Australasia. Walt served faithfully and effectively in that role prior to his return to furlough replacement and subsequent retirement from the mission.
Dr. Pat Delaney assumed the administrative leadership role for Asia and Australasia in the fall of 2010, after nearly two decades of faithful ministry in Singapore and Taiwan. He brings to BWM a great heart for missionaries and an understanding of how to serve them effectively.
Rev. Mike Martin began his role as Latin and South America administrator in August of 2016. Prior to assuming this position, the Martins spent over a decade as part of a church-planting team in Porto Allegre, Brazil. In addition to filling the role of a missionary church planter, Mike served as the leader of the local seminary during his final term of service.
Space does not permit an overview of the indispensible contribution of the many unsung heroes of the BWM home office – the Board of Trustees who serve the mission on their own time and expense; the wives of our administrators, who greatly enhance the effectiveness of their husbands; the administrative assistants who serve so competently in the various secretarial functions of the mission; and the wonderful volunteers who make BWM more effective and efficient in serving our missionaries. To these choice servants of Christ, we give special recognition.
Baptist World Mission has grown significantly since its inception, presently serving nearly 270 adult missionaries in 48 different countries. Through these faithful servants of Christ, multiplied thousands of souls have been saved. Hundreds of vibrant local churches have been established. Eternal destinies have been altered. Families have been rescued from Satan, and the impact will be felt for generations to come. Such is the work of New Testament missions. Such is the work of our BWM missionaries.
We give praise to the Lord for His calling upon each of the God-called laborers who serve with BWM. It is a privilege beyond statement to be able to labor in the greatest work in the world – carrying out the commission of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, taking His glory and His Gospel to all men and all nations. All praise to the Lamb of God!
Chapter 1 Updated 10/17