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Since 1845, almost 25,000 Southern Baptist missionaries have shared the gospel, made disciples, planted churches and planted their lives in 185 countries around the world. This interactive timeline celebrates 175 years of Southern Baptists on mission through the International Mission Board, which was originally called the Foreign Mission Board. Get to know missionaries whose names may have been forgotten but whose stories remind us of the power of God and the courage of His people. Learn about significant moments in Southern Baptist history, often shaped by events happening in the world at large. Celebrate God’s faithfulness through 175 years of remarkable missions history.




In 1845 the Foreign Mission Board was formed so Southern Baptists could take the gospel to foreign lands. Within months, several missionaries were appointed to China and Liberia.


Redeemed Beginning

In 1845, the Foreign Mission Board’s legacy began in sin and brokenness. Only God’s redeeming love and the reconciling power of the gospel could result in a convention of churches that today is among the most diverse in the world.


Foreign Mission Board Formed

The newly formed Southern Baptist Convention established the Foreign Mission Board as part of the “one sacred effort, for the propagation of the gospel” and placed its headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.


China Opened as First Mission Field

Southern Baptists chose China as their first foreign mission field, and Samuel C. Clopton was appointed as the first missionary. He served in China less than a year before dying from illness.


James B. Taylor Appointed Executive Leader

The Foreign Mission Board appointed pastor James B. Taylor as its first leader (officially titled corresponding secretary). He served until days before his death in 1871, guiding the organization through its early growth and the tumultuous Civil War years.


'Missionary Journal' First Published

The first edition of the "Southern Baptist Missionary Journal" was published to share news from the foreign mission field. News continued to be published in print form, primarily through "The Commission" magazine, until 2012, when missions storytelling transitioned to primarily online formats.


First African American Missionary Appointed

Southern Baptists’ first black missionary, John Day, was appointed to Liberia. He was a free man already living in Liberia who started churches and discipled believers while working within the government to help establish Liberia as a nation.


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