International Mission Board

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International Mission Board
International Mission Board logo.png
Founded1845; 177 years ago (1845)
TypeNon-profit, Christian
HeadquartersRichmond, Virginia, United States
  • Global
FieldsChristian Missionary Outreach
AffiliationsSouthern Baptist Convention

The International Mission Board (or IMB, formerly the Foreign Mission Board) is a Baptist Christian missionary society affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The headquarters is in Richmond, Virginia, United States.


Postcard of the Foreign Mission Board building in Richmond, Virginia. Photo courtesy of the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

Thousands of small Southern Baptist churches dotted the landscape throughout the United States in the mid-19th century. Recognizing that many churches working together in missions could accomplish more than any one, the Board of Foreign Missions was established on May 10, 1845 (the same date the Southern Baptist Convention was formed) and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, USA.[1] Created as a sending organization funded through the cooperative efforts of SBC churches, they chose China as their first mission field and on September 1, 1845 the board appointed their first missionaries, Samuel C. Clopton and George Pearcy. [2]

In January 1849 the board began The Commission magazine to keep constituents informed of the mission work being carried out. Monthly circulation of the periodical reached 7,000 by April 1850 and is currently an online magazine, although there is an occasional print issue. Their first publication, Southern Baptist Missionary Journal is defunct.

Lottie Moon

On July 7, 1873 the board appointed its most famous missionary, Charlotte D. "Lottie" Moon, to China. Lottie served many years among the Chinese and after giving her life to foreign missions. In 1888, the annual fund-raising effort, The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering sponsored by the Woman's Missionary Union is established and latter take her name.[3] By December 1950 the Board had appointed a record-breaking 111 missionaries in that year alone.

In July 1964 the Board began a new effort to send single missionaries called the Journeyman Program. Today the Journeyman Program sends out hundreds of college-educated singles and married couples under 27 years of age each year for two-year terms throughout the world. In February 1989 the International Service Corps program was introduced to facilitate short-term missions for projects lasting from 4 to 24 months with a possible 12-month extension.

The Foreign Mission Board celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1995 and in 2001 exceeded 5,000 missionaries on the field for the first time. In 1997 the Foreign Mission Board voted to change its name to the International Mission Board which it is known by today.[4] In 2018, it has 3,667 missionaries. [5]


In 2005 Tony Cupit of the Baptist World Alliance accused IMB of conveying “a very false picture” by manipulating baptism statistics, such as by claiming all as the work of their missionaries without acknowledging local preachers and non-visited churches as adding to the total number.[6]

In June 2006, Enid, Oklahoma pastor and IMB trustee Wade Burleson voiced concerns about IMB, including: "The suppression of dissent by trustees in the minority through various means by those in the majority.” He voiced his concerns after the board recommended he be removed after posting criticism on his blog about the board's new policies on baptism and speaking in tongues. The decision was later rescinded internally after Burleson agreed to a new set of guidelines stating trustees may only speak in "positive and supportive terms."[7][8]

In 2018, author Anne Marie Miller publicly disclosed in a report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram how the IMB covered up abuse by one of their missionaries, Mark Edwin Aderholt.[9] Miller disclosed the abuse to the IMB in 2007 and they determined it was "more likely than not" that Aderholt sexually abused Miller when she was a minor. They allowed Aderholt to resign and did not inform future employers of this accusation. Miller reported the abuse to authorities in early 2018 and Aderholt was arrested in July 2018 and indicted on four felony sex crimes in December 2018.[10] Shortly after his arrest, the IMB apologized and initiated an external examination of Miller's case and all other sexual abuse cases.[11] On June 2, 2019, the Houston Chronicle uncovered a pattern of abuse covered up by the IMB.[12] The third party examination by Minnesota firm Gray Plant Mooty revealed serious faults with IMB's "zero tolerance" sexual abuse policy. Gray Plant Mooty "identified a number of significant concerns with IMB’s handling of past cases" and that the "IMB’s current policies and procedures fall short of contemporary best practice standards."[13] The IMB issued a statement saying they are implementing the recommendations of Gray Plant Mooty, though at the 2019 Southern Baptist Church Annual Convention, new president Paul Chitwood did not mention the report or findings, and a motion made by former IMB trustee Wade Burleson to make the report public was denied by legal counsel saying it was "out of order."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, Volume 5, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2016, p. 1206
  2. ^ Bill J. Leonard, Baptists in America, Columbia University Press, USA, 2005, p. 100
  3. ^ Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions, Zondervan, USA, 2011, p. 298
  4. ^ Lamin O. Sanneh, Joel A. Carpenter, The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World, Oxford University Press, USA, 2005, p. 72
  5. ^ IMB, Fast Facts,, USA, retrieved November 30, 2018
  6. ^ Welcome to Ethics! Archived 2009-01-17 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Welcome to Ethics! Archived 2007-05-13 at
  8. ^ Baptist mission board squelches criticism | Deseret News (Salt Lake City) | Find Articles at
  9. ^ By. "Southern Baptist officials knew of sexual abuse allegations 11 years before leader's arrest". star-telegram. Archived from the original on 2019-04-19. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  10. ^ By. "Southern Baptist leader indicted on charge of sexually abusing teenager in 1997". star-telegram. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  11. ^ "David Platt & IMB Issue Statement Apologizing to Anne Miller". SBC Voices. 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  12. ^ "Abuse by missionaries, but Baptist leaders stay quiet". Houston Chronicle. 2019-05-31. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  13. ^ Mooty, Gray Plant (2019-05-22). "Examination Update". International Mission Board. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  14. ^ Writer, By James Neal Staff. "Role of women, sexual abuse dominate Southern Baptist agenda at annual meeting". Retrieved 2019-06-27.

External links[edit]