Sunday, April 27, 2008

John Henry Bashor Williams

J. H. B. Williams was a mission executive with his beginnings and endings in April. Born in April 1883 near Belleville, KS, he was elected a minister at the age of 20 and studied at McPherson College. While a student, his interest in foreign missions was awakened by addresses by Student Volunteer Movement leaders John Mott and Robert Speer in 1905.

After several years as a farmer and minister, this personable and businesslike young man was employed by the General Mission Board as the Church of the Brethren celebrated its 200th Anniversary year. For several years, beginning in 1912, he edited The Brethren's Missionary Visitor.

Following the retirement of Galen Royer in 1918, Williams became executive secretary-treasurer of the General Mission Board. He reorganized the Board and recruited M.R. Zigler to serve as home missions secretary and H. Spenser Minnich to serve as education secretary.

His leadership in developing mission and social policy ended abruptly with his death in April 1921 at the age of 38. Following an extended tour of Brethren mission fields in China, India, and Europe, he contracted typhoid fever at Mombasa, East Africa (Kenya) where he died on April 17, 1921. Although his death delayed a survey of potential mission fields in Africa, it further stimulated existing interest in African mission which would lead to Brethren mission efforts in Nigeria in 1923.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia