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  • Reuben Holmes (1820 - 1906)
    Timeline 1830: Birth of Reuben Graves Holmes, the fifth of nine children born to Col. Peter and Olive (Graves) Holmes 1831: Moved to Paxton, Ma. to live with sister Olive and her husband who was ...
  • Rev. James Walter Lowrie (1856 - 1930)
    James Walter Lowrie was a missionary under the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in China from 1883 until his death. He served in Peking from 1883 until 1892, founded a...
  • Rev. Reuben Post Lowrie (1827 - 1860)
    Reuben Post Lowrie was a missionary under the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in China from 1854 until his death, serving in Shanghai.
  • Rev. Walter Macon Lowrie (1819 - 1847)
    Walter Macon Lowrie, missionary, was born in Butler, Pa., Feb. 18, 1819; son of Walter and Amelia (McPherrin) Lowrie. He was graduated from Jefferson college in 1837, and from Princeton Theological sem...
  • Rev. John Cameron Lowrie (1808 - 1900)
    The Rev. Dr. John C. Lowrie, who was one of the foremost missionary workers in the Presbyterian Church, died at his home, 411 William Street, East Orange, Thursday night. He had been confined to his be...

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The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem (nom. missio), meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send". The word was used in light of its biblical usage; In the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach in his name. The Greek word used in the Greek New Testament for “missionary” is the noun ἁπόστολος – Apostle from the verb ἁποστέλλω - ‘apo-stello’ to send-out.

The Hebrew word is ‘shali’ach’, an emissary; the early Christian apostolate comes from the Jewish pattern of sending messengers in pairs, not singly. John 20:21 ("As my father has sent me, so I send you") and the rabbinic rule in Ber. 5:5, "A person's messenger is as himself" bears similarity.

The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed, movement or philosophy as in "Alexander the Great was an Apostle of Hellenism".

  • Nestorian communities evangelized much of North Africa.
  • Cistercians evangelized much of Northern Europe, as well as developing most of European agriculture's classic techniques.
  • Portuguese trade with Asia was profitable and as Jesuits came to India around 1540, the colonial government in Goa supported the mission with incentives for baptized Christians. * Later, Jesuits were sent to China and further countries in Asia.
  • In North America, missionaries to the native Americans included Jonathan Edwards, the well known preacher of the Great Awakening
  • In Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Catholic missionaries selected and learned among the languages of the Amerindians and devised writing systems for them. Then they preached to them in those languages (Quechua, Guarani, Nahuatl) instead of Spanish, to keep Indians away from "sinful" whites.
  • From 1732 onwards the Moravian Church began sending out missionaries.
  • Around 1780, an indigent Baptist cobbler named William Carey began reading about James Cook's Polynesian journeys. His interest grew to a furious sort of "backwards homesickness", inspiring him to obtain Baptist orders, and eventually write his famous 1792 pamphlet, "An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of Heathen." Far from a dry book of theology, Carey's work used the best available geographic and ethnographic data to map and count the number of people who had never heard the Gospel. It formed a movement that has grown with increasing speed from his day to the present.

Famous American Missionaries

  • Geronimo Boscana
  • Anton Docher
  • Antonio de Olivares
  • John Stewart (missionary)
  • John Wesley

Famous French Canadian Missionaries