The Jamaica Baptist Union Mission Agency (JBUMA) can be called the birth child of the Jamaica Baptist Missionary Society founded in 1843. This unique development in the history of Christian Mission in the Western Hemisphere occurred for two reasons. Firstly, it was the first recorded independent mission organization of its kind to be established in the New World, outside North America. Secondly, it was, unlike most if not all other know international mission Boards, the “precursor” rather than the “product” of an established Union or Convention. The expressed objective of this society was “to preach the Gospel in Africa, Central America and the entire world.”
This reality is well attested to from its founding in 1843 when H.M.S. Chilmark sailed from Southampton, England with the first contingent of British Missionary volunteers to work in Africa. On board the ship were Jamaicans Joseph Merrick and Alexander Fuller. En route, it anchored in Jamaica where they were joined by some forty others, both men and women, who had also volunteered to share their new found faith. Concerted and successful efforts were also made to plant the seed of the gospel in all the territories of the Central American Main Land, from Panama to British Honduras (Belize), especially in those places to which significant numbers of Jamaicans and West Indians had migrated. Subsequently, similar attention was directed to areas of the Caribbean such as Cuba, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Consequently, within the span of approximately 50 years, the society in addition to its ministry at home was carrying responsibility for work in eight different countries beyond its shores.
At home, the major focus of the society was directed towards the support of Calabar College and the training of leaders for the Christian Ministry. Founded 1842, this too was without parallel in the Western Hemisphere, being the first institution of its kind to be established specifically (not exclusively) for the training of native leaders for the ministry of the Church. In succeeding years, the Society added other items to its agenda as the need arose for attention to other areas of ministry and in many ways constituted the backbone or lifeline to the continued existence and growth of the denomination. The Society, acting in accordance with its original objectives and purposes, continued to make contacts with Fraternal Bodies in the United Kingdom and North America. This in an attempt to maintain or forge stronger links with those bodies and to negotiate wherever possible, the establishment of some kind of shared ministry to Jamaican/West Indian communities residing in those countries.
The coming into being of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship in 1970, resulted in the development of closer relationships among Baptists across the region, and the highlighting of the possibilities and needs for the advancement of Baptist witness in many places. As a result, the Society entered into a partnership with the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention for the establishment of Baptist work in the Island of Grenada in 1976 and has maintained that relationship and commitment to the present time.
The decade of the 1950s drew lines of distinction between the work of Evangelism and that of Mission and in a bid to facilitate efficiency of operation on the part of both entities, the Jamaica Baptist Union, at the February 11-16,1986 Annual General Assembly held at the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, Montego Bay, St. James voted for the establishment of a Board of Mission and Evangelism called the “Jamaica Baptist Union Board of Mission and Evangelism - the BME.” The objective, aim and purpose of the BME were to foster and promote the work of Mission and Evangelism in and through the churches of the Jamaica Baptist Union. It was to function as an agency of the Jamaica Baptist Union and was accountable for all its activities through the Jamaica Baptist Union Executive Committee.
It was at the 151stAnnual General Assembly that a resolution was passed and approved for the renaming of the BME to its present name - The Jamaica Baptist Union Mission Agency.