The History of Australian Baptist Mission

Australian Baptist mission started in 1864 as the activity of individual Baptist colonies in Australia. On 28 October 1882, the first Australian Baptist missionaries, Ellen Arnold and Marie Gilbert, left Adelaide for India.  After that, Baptist Missionary Societies in each of the other colonies also sent missionaries to India and then in 1912 those societies formed a federation and the Australian Baptist Foreign Mission (“ABFM”) was registered on 1 May 1913 with its headquarters in Adelaide. The work focused on the region of Bengal.
Following world war two, Australian Baptists were challenged to extend their evangelistic passion across the borders of Bengal to neighbouring countries and to people living in Papua New Guinea.
From there Australian Baptist horizons extended to more countries in Asia and Africa. Baptist work among Aboriginal Australians was also entrusted to the mission.
The name of the Mission was changed to the Australian Baptist Missionary Society (“ABMS”) in 1959 and the current name, Baptist Mission Australia, was adopted in January 2022.

For nearly 140 years, God has used the Mission staff to contribute to the transformation of the lives of many people groups.  Around 1,800 active faith communities are operating with a formal membership of more than 150,000 believers and a wide range of medical, health and development initiatives are now led by national churches. 

Ongoing Relationships 

In many areas where the Mission was previously active, church unions now operate without the presence of resident Australian Baptists. The Mission’s partnership with these unions continues through visits, prayer, scholarships and financial support: The Mission also provides support for:

Our focus today

Today, Baptist Mission Australia is at a dynamic and exciting stage of its journey in mission with Jesus Christ.

There are three significant areas of ministry:
  • Bringing to birth new believer movements among nine people groups who are some of the least evangelised and often marginalised peoples in the world;
  • Supporting partner church groups formed and strengthened by God through the work of Australian Baptists 
  • Engendering a passion for mission among Australian Baptists and helping them become partners in God’s plan for the world.
From Five Barley loaves
After years of researching, writing and editing, Baptist Mission Australia has published, From Five Barley Loaves: Australian Baptists in Global Mission 1864–2010, edited by Tony Cupit, Ros Gooden and Ken Manley.

The book is a comprehensive account of the pioneering global mission work of Australian Baptists.

To find out more or to order your copy head to our resources section.