“The Board of Foreign Missions of the Southern Baptist Convention, have become convinced from experience, that the issue of a small monthly sheet is demanded.” (Vol. 1, No. 1)
The Commission (TC) was the FMB/IMB’s longest-running periodical, published with interruptions from 1849 to 1861 and then for an unbroken period of 65 years beginning in 1938. In its early incarnation, it was a 4-page broadsheet newspaper containing “general business” of the FMB and its relations with state and associational conventions, in addition to communications from missionaries and digests of poetry and geographical information on China and Africa. Its publication was halted by the Civil War and it was not resumed until 1938, when it replaced Home and Foreign Fields as the SBC’s missions magazine. Its focus in these years was on stories from the mission fields and each number featured pieces by serving missionaries as well as missionary rosters and reports of financial collections from the states. In later decades TC became known for its photographic content, featuring the work of photographers like Don Rutledge and Joanna Pinneo. However, it was not a majority-color publication until 1996. After 2003, TC survived in a limited form as Commission Stories, a short newsletter-style publication that ended in 2015.
The primary editors from 1849-1861 were FMB Corresponding Secretary James B. Taylor and co- secretary Abram M. Poindexter, along with James L. Reynolds, Henry K. Ellyson, and Edward Kingsford. From 1938-1943, the editor was FMB Executive Secretary Charles E. Maddry, followed by Eugene C. Routh (1943-1948), Josef Nordenhaug (1948-1950), Frank K. Means (1948-1956), Eugene Hill (1956-1959), Floyd H. North (1959-1980), Leland F. Webb (1980-1995), Louis A. Moore (1995), Mary Jane Welch (1995-2008), Bill Bangham (2001-2003), and Michael Chute (2004-2008).