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American Baptist Churches

Fourth largest of a dozen major and scores of minor Baptist denominations in the USA, with over 6,000 congregations. From 1950 to 1972 the group was known as the American Baptist Convention, and from 1907 to 1950 as the Northern Baptist Convention. Before 1907 the congregations were joined only in local and state associations and were served on the national level by specialized agencies, the most important of which were the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (founded 1814), the publication society (1824), and the home mission society (1832). By the close of the nineteenth century, the American Baptist membership and ministry was reluctantly but effectively confined chiefly to the northern and western states. For the ABC, the twentieth century has brought three major developments: considerable theological diversification; increased organizational coordination; and resulting loss of the overwhelming predominance it had long held among Baptists outside the South.