Academic NewsJudson NewsNews

Chapel speakers bring Judson College’s history to life

In celebration of the 175th anniversary of Judson College’s founding, two recent chapel speakers shared pieces of Judson’s history.

Dr. Jerry Cain, Chancellor of Judson University in Elgin, Illinois, presented “Ann Hasseltine Judson: The Legacy of an Excellent Lady” on October 14. Cain presented the story of the life of Judson College’s namesake (and first American female foreign missionary) in an enjoyable and memorable Chapel hour, adding humor and placing the Judsons’ story in a broader historical context. Drawing on church and secular history, Cain described the social, political, and religious environment in 18th-century America, from which Ann Judson and her husband Adoniram sailed as Baptist missionaries for the country of Burma. (This year marks the 200th Anniversary of their departure). Cain emphasized Ann’s courage and seeming defiance of convention by being noticeably present–even approaching the altar herself–in the missionary-commissioning service held for her husband and other (male) missionaries. Cain noted the great risk and sacrifices the Judsons made on their way to and during their service in Burma (now Myanmar) and praised Ann’s commitment to serving God, her family, and the people of Burma. Before her own death, Ann kept her husband and other missionaries alive and nourished during their imprisonment in Burma by bribing her way past prison guards with her own possessions. This life-saving act of service enabled Adoniram Judson to finish translating the Bible into the Burmese language.
From 1998 to 2012, Cain served as President of Judson University, which is named for Adoniram Judson.

Earlier in the semester, Reverend Chris Peters of Cross Creek Church in Birmingham presented “James H. DeVotie:  A Lens into Southern Religious Life in the 19th Century.” Rev. Peters is completing his Ph.D. in Southern Religious History at the University of Alabama, and his doctoral research includes the influence of James DeVotie, who served as minister of First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa and later Siloam Baptist Church in Marion. DeVotie was instrumental in uniting the trio who founded Judson College and was a strong religious influence on many of the first Judson students while he pastored Siloam Baptist Church from 1840 to 1855.  DeVotie was also influential in the founding of Howard College—today, Samford University—and The Alabama Baptist newspaper.

Leave a Reply