Rice, Luther

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Founder of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination; b: Northboro, Mass., March 25, 1783; d. Edgefield, S.C., Sept. 25, 1836. He prepared for the Congregational ministry at Williams College and Andover Seminary, Massachusetts, where he was instrumental in awakening interest in foreign missions. In 1812 he was ordained and sailed for India as one of the first group of American missionaries. Arriving independently at the same conclusions on faith before Baptism as those of a colleague, the Rev. Adohiram Judson, Rice was rebaptized at Calcutta by English Baptist missionaries. Returning to America in 1813, he persuaded local Baptist associations to unite in a nationwide missionary society. The General Missionary Convention, meeting at Philadelphia, Pa., on May 18, 1814, established the Baptist Board for Foreign Missions and agreed to reconvene every three years. Since the convention was the only centralized Baptist agency, Rice sought to make it responsible for home missions and educational activities. He won its support for a theological school (now Andover Newton) and for Columbian College (now George Washington University, founded in 1822 at Washington, D.C.). Baptist financial troubles forced Rice to resign as treasurer of Columbian College in 1826, and thereafter the work of the convention was confined to foreign missions.

Bibliography: j. b. taylor, Memoir of Rev. Luther Rice (Richmond 1843; 2d ed. Nashville 1937). r. g. torbet, A History of the Baptists (rev. ed. Valley Forge 1963).

[r. k. macmaster]