The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was organized under Calvinist ecumenical auspices at Bradford, Massachusetts by the General Association of Massachusetts, on the June 29, 1810.
ABCFM had its origin in the desire of several young men in the Andover Theological Seminary to preach the gospel in the heathen world. (The term ‘heathen’ (without the knowledge of Jesus Christ and God) was a term in use at the time (200-years ago.))
The Missionaries to Hawai‘i were sent out in ‘Companies,’ the first leaving Boston on the ‘Thaddeus’ on October 23, 1819. The Missionaries included ordained ministers of the Gospel, physicians, teachers, secular agents, printers, a bookbinder and a farmer.
Most of them were young people, still in their twenties, full of life and enthusiasm. All were pious and accustomed to ‘lead meetings.’ Some were scholars able, when the native language had been mastered, to put into Hawaiian the Scriptures from the original Hebrew and Greek.
All were pioneers and versatile as pioneers are forced to be. The ministers had to carpenter, the doctors had to plow, the printers had to preach.
The women of the mission taught school or rather classes of native adults and later of children, in all manner of subjects, besides managing their own households, entertaining guests, taking care of their children, and ministering to the sick.
First known as ‘Portraits of American Protestant Missionaries to Hawaii’ (1901), then, ‘Missionary Album Sesquicentennial Edition’ (1969), these earlier books were listings of the respective Companies of Missionaries that came to Hawai‘i, illustrations and images of each, and brief biographical information.
As part of the preparation for the bicentennial of the arrival of the Pioneer Company of American protestant missionaries, another update and re-visioning will be published (the present working title is ‘Partners in Change: A Biography of ABCFM Missionaries to Hawai‘i’).
‘Partners’ will contain an introduction that stresses the collaboration and positive working relationship between missionaries and ali‘i. The body will consist of approximately 190 individual biographies averaging about two pages each, which is much longer than the two to four paragraphs, or sometimes three sentences given for each in the prior volumes.
The biographies will include information about the individual missionary: some background history about the individual, their reasons for becoming a missionary, times of service, stations served, specific contributions, if they stayed or returned, if and when they became citizens of Hawai‘i, and what they did after they returned or stayed.
The present ‘Partners’ draft also consists of about 150 pages that focus on the Hawaiians and Tahitians significantly involved with the mission’s work (which are left out of the prior publications).
The book will be a scholarly book with complete citations, but written for a popular audience; it will help illustrate the collaboration between Hawaiians, Tahitians and New England missionaries.
Hawaiian Mission Houses recognizes the Hawaiians and Tahitians as major players in the achieving the goals of the mission.