Faithful Heroes: Luther Rice, Southern Baptist founder

Luther Rice was a missionary who was vital in establishing the Southern Baptist Convention.

Luther Rice

Luther Rice was born on March 25, 1783 in Northborough, Massachusetts. He was the son of Amos and Sarah Graves Rice.

While at Williams College, he became part of a group known as “the Brethern”.

He sailed alongside missionary Adoniram Judson to Calcutta, India on February 18, 1812. Soon there after he met with English Baptist missionary, William Carey. He and Judson son converted from the Congregationalist denomination to the Baptist denomination.

A short time later, Luther Rice returned to the United States.

Rice worked to unite Baptists in America to support foreign missionaries and organized “The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in United States of America, for Foreign Missions,” in 1814.

That same year, Brown University awarded an honorary doctorate to Rice.

“He spent the rest of his life garnering support for missionaries and Baptist work, traveling across America by horseback to raise funds and awareness for Baptist missions.”

In 1821, he founded Columbian College, where he would serve as treasurer from 1826 until his death.

On September 2, 1836, Rice was traveling through the Southern United States to raise money for missions and the more than fifteen Baptist colleges and seminaries he’d founded. He died while on his travels in Saluda, South Carolina and is buried in the Pine Pleasant Cemetery there.

His work would lead to the establishment of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 1962, Luther Rice University was founded in Lithonia, Georgia.

Luther Rice Hall at George Washington University is named in his honor.



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