When considering modern missions, most Baptists recognize the names William Carey and Adoniram Judson. But there’s a lesser known name to add to the list of early missionaries – George Liele, a freed slave who became a missionary, evangelist and church planter in the late 1700s.
In February 2020, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee designated the first Sunday in February as “George Liele Church Planting, Evangelism and Missions Day.” Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., made the motion to add the calendar date at the SBC’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Birmingham.
The SBC formally recognized Liele’s efforts as part of a resolution on “African American Contributions To American Baptist History” at the 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, the same historic year messengers elected the first African American SBC President, Fred Luter.
Additionally, in 2019, the SBC’s National African American Fellowship renamed its annual banquet after Liele and presented awards to Julia Frazier White and Deborah Van Broekhoven, co-authors of the 2013 book, George Liele’s Life and Legacy: An Unsung Hero.
In response to the new day of recognition, the African American Fellowship (AAF) of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D) encouraged African American churches to take a special offering during February in honor of Liele’s ministry. Gifts will support the The George Liele Fund and the BCM/D’s partnership with Kenya.
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(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sharon Mager is a Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware communications specialist and BaptistLIFE correspondent.)