In 1973, the Baptist General Association of New England (consisting of Baptist churches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) named Gene Bolin the first director for student ministries for the region. Mack Taylor, Scott McBroom, Mike West and Wayne Harvey led collegiate ministries in New Haven, CT, and Boston and Worcester, MA. These were the first ministries supported by the churches of what would become the Baptist Convention of New England and the North American Mission Board.
During the weekend of October 24-26, 1975, the first collegiate fall conference was held in Springfield, MA. Today, the fall conference is known as Fusion and gathers hundreds of students and young adults from throughout New England and eastern Canada.
The summer of 1977 saw the first New England students appointed to serve as summer missionaries through the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention. Summer missionaries serve either in North America through the North American Mission Board or internationally through the International Mission Board for 6-8 weeks during the summer.
In 1989, a special report was given to the churches of New England regarding student involvement in church planting. Harvard University student Thomas Hathcote helped start several churches in the early days of Southern Baptist work in New England. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary students Ray Allen, Jim Wood and Mark Dever helped start churches in Andover, Marlborough and Topsfield, MA. College and university students were also vital in assisting church starts in Boston. “These students,” the report noted, “along with many others, followed in the footsteps of those visionary students present at the nineteenth century Haystack Prayer Meeting on the Williams College campus in Massachusetts – the prayer meeting that launched the mission movement for Baptists in America.”
Through the early 1990s, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware higher education department assisted the Baptist Convention of New England collegiate ministries, as there was no full-time director in New England.
In 1992 work was reported on 15 colleges and universities in New England, by 1995 work was reported on 26 colleges. Throughout the early 21st century, ministry on the campuses has been continued through partnership with the local church and church plants in New England, the Baptist Convention of New England and the North American Mission Board.
In 1997, students at the fall conference were given a challenge that continues today: “The world has not seen what God can do with college students sold out to Him.” Students responded to the challenge, with 14 serving around the world in the summer of 1998.
Also in 1998, the genesis of a new strategy to make disciples on campus developed. A collegiate minister and church planter were called to Amherst, MA, and the University of Massachusetts, and planted MercyHouse Church.
This vision for world evangelization and discipleship continued into 2001 when a commitment was made by the network ministries to send 16 students to Southeast Asia. In 2004, while continuing partnerships to make disciples in Southeast Asia, students spent time imprisoned in their country of service for their efforts to spread the Gospel. God is continuing to call New England students to passionately follow Him for the glory of His Name, and God continues to lead church planters and collegiate ministers to New England in a call of faith. Further, students from New England are rising up to make disciples in New England and throughout the world.
The network of collegiate ministries in New England works in partnership with the local church and church plants in our common vision to see a generation of New England college students passionate for Christ and His Church.