This paper overviews the American missionary activity in Iran from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign Mission Board. Much of the research is based on the Board of Trustee minutes of the Foreign Mission Board, as well as archival material from the International Mission Board, the new name for the Foreign Mission Board that includes personal correspondences, letters, communications, statistics of churches in Iran, strategies for missions, and other documents. Academic papers, diaries, composed and written oral histories, and other information from Foreign Mission Board missionaries of this period also are used. Therefore, the significance of this paper lies, I hope, at least in presenting documents previously unknown and inaccessible.
Iran and Christianity are not typically associated with one another in the modern period. However, in the context of the greater historical narrative, a connection becomes apparent, a montage showing that Christianity in Iran includes ethnic Iranian Christians from Assyrian and Armenian backgrounds as well as Western missionaries. Western missionaries came to Iran to convert Iranians, including ethnic Iranian Christians. In their efforts, their activity played a role in Iranian state and society. This paper examines the connection between the government and the Western missionary in the modern period, suggesting the influence was not completely positive.