Milestones from the Past 175 Years

20 Major Moments in IMB History

Foreign Mission Board Formed: May 10, 1845

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.

First African American Missionary Appointed: 1846

Southern Baptists’ first African American 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.


Single Females Granted Appointment as Missionaries: July 12, 1871

The Foreign Mission Board appointed Lula Whilden to China, reviving the appointment of single female missionaries. She and her married sister became the first “missionary kids” (children who grow up on the mission field) to serve as Southern Baptist missionaries.

Charlotte D. “Lottie” Moon

Lottie Moon Appointed to China: July 7, 1873

The Foreign Mission Board appointed Charlotte D. “Lottie” Moon to China. Her heroic service and challenging letters home over the next four decades rallied Southern Baptists to the cause of missions.

First Bible Translation Printed: 1888

The first Bible translated by a Southern Baptist missionary was printed in commemoration of the death of its translator, Matthew Yates. He translated the majority of the New Testament into the Shanghai dialect of Chinese.

Woman’s‍ Missionary Union Formed: May 11, 1888

The Woman’s Missionary Union (an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention) was organized in Richmond. The organization became an essential force for missions education, support and prayer among Southern Baptists.

First Christmas Offering Collected: December 1888

Annie Armstrong and the Woman’s Missionary Union solicited funds for the first Christmas offering for foreign missions. The offering, initially collected to send missionaries to join Lottie Moon in China, became an annual event and the Foreign Mission Board’s primary source of funding.

Warren Memorial Hospital

First Southern Baptist Mission Hospital Opened: 1903

The first Southern Baptist mission hospital, Warren Memorial Hospital, opened in Hwanghsien, China. The building was financed by First Baptist Church of Macon, Georgia, and named after their former pastor, Dr. Ebenezer W. Warren.

Lottie Moon Offering Established: 1918

The China Mission Offering was renamed the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® in grateful memory of the missionary who initiated the idea to collect funds at Christmastime.

Cooperative Program Established: 1925

The Southern Baptist Convention established the Cooperative Program to provide income to denominational entities. The Foreign Mission Board was designated to receive 50% of the total receipts, which would assist in recovering from the shortfall of the $75 million campaign.

Jewell Starr Reid

First Native American Missionary Appointed: October 12, 1938

The Foreign Mission Board appointed the first Native American Southern Baptist missionary, Jewell Starr Reid, of Cherokee ancestry. She and her husband, Orvil, served in Mexico, where she died in 1940.

Offering Receipts Surpassed $1 Million: Christmas 1945

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® annual receipts surpassed $1 million for the first time as the Foreign Mission Board marked its 100th anniversary. The stage was set for sending a new generation of missionaries to many lands recovering from the devastation of World War II.


Alfredo Celso Muller

First Hispanic Missionary Appointed: April 9, 1946

The Foreign Mission Board appointed its first Hispanic missionary, Alfredo Celso Muller, a native of Mexico. He served until his death in 1962. His wife, Damaris, who was Swiss, retired in 1968.





The Hoshizaki Family

First East Asian Missionaries Appointed: June 9, 1955

The Foreign Mission Board appointed its first ethnically East Asian missionaries, Reiji and Alice Hoshizaki, of Japanese descent. They served in Japan until their retirement in 1984.





Young adults participating in training for the Journeyman program.

Journeyman Program Started: June 19, 1965

The Foreign Mission Board began sending young adults for two years of missions service. Since the inception of the Journeyman program, more than 6,400 young adults have served among the nations.

Missionary Learning Center

Missionary Learning Center Opened: April 9, 1984

Career missionary orientation sessions began at the new Baker James Cauthen and Eloise Glass Cauthen Missionary Learning Center in Virginia. The seven-week program was set to occur six times annually. Over the years the duration and frequency of the program fluctuated, but all missionaries are still required to attend orientation at the Learning Center prior to serving overseas.


Yvette Aarons

First Deaf Missionary Sent: December 30, 1989

The Foreign Mission Board’s first Deaf missionary, Yvette Aarons, was commissioned for a four-year special assignment to Trinidad. She was appointed as a career missionary to Trinidad in 1993 and also served in St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, Indonesia and Thailand before retiring in 2016.





Name Changed to International Mission Board: June 18, 1997

The Southern Baptist Convention recommended that the Foreign Mission Board change its name to the International Mission Board, based on concerns the term “foreign” implied missionaries are natural and others are different. The word “international” better indicated the gospel is natural for all peoples of the world.

More than 500,000 People Baptized: 2002

For the first time, Southern Baptist missionaries and their overseas partners baptized more than 500,000 people in a single year.

‘Foundations’ Document Clarified Missionary Task: 2018

International Mission Board leaders released the “Foundations” document to provide clarity and common understanding of core missiological convictions, key terms and the six components of the missionary task: entry, evangelism, discipleship, healthy church formation, leadership development and exit.