Baptist churches around Great Britain celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Carey over the weekend.
Born on Aug. 17, 1761, Carey, a Baptist minister, linguist and botanist, is often dubbed the “father of modern mission.” In 1792, he founded the mission society that sent him to India, a country in which he served for 41 years and eventually died.
That society, BMS World Mission, now works in 35 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East.
A series of events were organized in Britain to commemorate Carey’s birth – in Paulerspury (where Carey was born), Northampton (where he was baptized), Moulton (where he lived as a minister) and Hackleton (where he worked as a cobbler).
Sunday, Aug. 21, was designated “Carey Sunday,” a church event endorsed by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Baptist Union of Scotland and the Baptist Union of Wales.
Churches across Britain used all-age resources and “William Carey – Journal Extracts,” a DVD from BMS World Mission.
Carey Baptist Church in Moulton hosted an all-day reading of the gospels on Saturday.
“This is the place where he had the vision,” Rev. David Gamston said.
“We think it’s important to celebrate because without him, we might not have had the mission societies we have now.
“His impact is very clear to us. We get a lot of visitors here, from Korea, China, India, the U.S. They’re all so grateful to God for William Carey. He introduced the gospel to so many. It’s very humbling.”
During his time in India, the one-time cobbler from Northamptonshire helped to translate the Bible into 35 languages, founded the still respected Serampore College in West Bengal and assisted in the banning of the practice of sati (widow-burning).
On Aug. 17, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the site of Carey’s baptism in the River Nene (now the site of a railway station) in a special service. The William Carey exhibition at St James Church of Paulerspury also began.
On Sunday, Carey Baptist Church of Hackleton held a picnic and featured a brief service with a short talk by Peter Im, professor of Intercultural Studies at William Carey International University, Pasadena, Calif.
“William Carey’s achievements are towering and his legacy endures today in the Indian nationals continuing his work in the country that he loved and in the Society he founded,” Mark Craig, BMS director for communications, said.
“Carey’s model of mission was new, countercultural at the height of Empire and wonderfully powerful.
“His lifetime’s commitment to the Indian people and to the gospel means that his name is still held in high regard across the subcontinent.
“Carey Sunday is less a way of honoring one remarkable man than an opportunity to reaffirm our own commitment to continuing his work of justice, mercy and God’s truth.
“William Carey would have been disappointed to know that, 250 years after his birth, the land of India is still not effectively reached with the gospel.
“But I think he would be pleased that Christians across Britain are still passionate about making Jesus known and enabling people across the globe to meet with the living God.”