LECTURE: ABC Pioneer Missionary
Former IM Executive Director Rev. Dr. Reid Trulson will be speaking at Lancaster History on Monday, March 23. (see https://www.lancasterhistory.org ) This public event is 4:00-5:30 p.m. and is jointly sponsored by the Lancaster County Historical Society and the St. James Episcopal Church of Lancaster which this year is celebrating its 275th anniversary.
Dr. Trulson will be speaking about research he has been conducting in England, India and America about Charlotte Atlee White Rowe, the first American woman to be appointed as a foreign missionary by any denomination or mission agency.
The lecture is entitled, "The Scandal of a Female Missionary: Discovering the Life of Charlotte Atlee Rowe 1782-1863.”
While many know that American Baptists appointed Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice as our first missionaries in 1814, it is less well-known that Ann Judson was never appointed, (not by the Congregationalists who first appointed Adoniram in 1812 nor by Baptists two years later). Ann and other missionary wives were considered volunteer “assistant missionaries" to their husbands. Not until 1912 did that policy change so missionary wives could be equally appointed with their husbands.
In 1815, however, the Baptist Board appointed Charlotte White as a missionary, one year after appointing Adoniram Judson. Charlotte was a widow and whom the Board appointed to join work the Judsons were doing in Burma. Her appointment was considered scandalous by some because she was a woman and was not ordained. Nevertheless, Charlotte sailed for India in the midst of the controversy and before her opponents could successfully revoke her appointment. She would later marry a British Baptist missionary, Rev. Joshua Rowe, and serve with him in India.
Charlotte was the youngest child in the William Augustus Atlee family. Her father was prominent during the American Revolution, a Judge of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. Judge Atlee was also a leader within St. James Episcopal Church. Hence the interest in Charlotte by both the county and the church.
Charlotte is little known, despite her significance for Baptist, mission and women’s history. An article about her will soon appear in the American Baptist Quarterly, and Mercer University Press will be publishing her biography.
You are invited to attend this presentation with the opportunity to know and celebrate Charlotte, America’s first appointed woman missionary.
Summary of Charlotte White's Untold Story.pdf