Brief History of Royal Ambassadors
In October 1907, Woman’s Missionary Union appointed a “Committee on Mission Work for Boys”. Miss Fannie Heck, president of WMU, was chairman of the committee. Miss Heck and another committee member, Miss Elizabeth Briggs (later Mrs. T.C. Pittman), attended a young people’s missionary conference in Asheville, N.C. There they heard a song, “The King’s Business,” that was about Christian “ambassadors.” Miss Briggs suggested the name “Ambassadors” as a good name for a boys’ missions organization. Miss Heck added the “Royal.”
At the 20th annual meeting of Woman’s Missionary Union in May 1908, WMU members voted to sponsor a missions organization for boys ages 9-17, and that the name be the “Order of Royal Ambassadors.”
One messenger, Mrs. W.M. Petway, was so excited about the new organization she hurried home to form the first Royal Ambassador chapter in the Southern Baptist Convention-the Carey Newton Chapter of First Baptist Church, Goldsboro, N.C.
By 1909, there w ere 45 RA chapters, involving several hundred boys, in the Southern Baptist Convention. By 1915, there were 500 chapters with 4,500 members. Program materials for boys first appeared in Our Mission Fields, a WMU publication for women which included materials for several youth organizations. In 1924, a ranking system was introduced, featuring the ranks of Page, Squire, Knight, and Ambassador. Two higher ranks, Ambassador Extraordinary and Ambassador Plenipotentiary, were added in 1929 for boys 13 and older. Camping became a very important part of RA work, causing enthusiasm among boys. The first RA camp was held at Virginia Beach in 1917. By 1925, RA camps were being held in Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky. Royal Ambassadors celebrated their 25th anniversary in 1933.
There were 4,369 chapters with 41,864 members. In recognition of the anniversary, M.E. Dodd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Shreveport, LA, arranged for a 45 minute, coast to coast broadcast, one of the first major Southern Baptist broadcasts in the history of the convention. By 1943, RA work had grown to the point that a full time convention wide Royal Ambassador secretary was needed.
WMU employed J. Ivy Bishop to fill the position. Bishop had worked as RA secretary for Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina, making him the logical choice for the convention wide job. He served until Sept. 1, 1953.
Over the years, RA’s has served as a guide to many in missions, national politics, professional sports, and businesses, with over 6 million attending RA’s since the organization begin. In 2012, RA’s returned to it’s roots, with the WMU leading others in Jesus’ Name.
Royal Ambassadors (RA’s) is a missions discipleship organization for boys in grades 1-6 that helps them develop a Biblical worldview with an emphasis on missions learning and missional living. RA’s utilizes activities that are designed to help boys learn about missions and get them personally involved in practical missions experiences while having fun.
The Purpose of Royal Ambassadors
The Purpose of Royal Ambassadors is to involve boys in missions. Involvement in missions is living one’s faith daily: personal experience in witness and ministry, and giving and praying to support persons involved in missions. The Royal Ambassador program helps boys to become aware of the needs of people around the world and to respond to those needs. The organization seeks to lead boys to a personal commitment to Christ and assist them in their Christian growth experience. Through Royal Ambassadors, boys are led to an awareness of their responsibility to Christ and encouraged to become His ambassador. This purpose is outlined in the Royal Ambassador Pledge.
As a Royal Ambassador I will do my best:
- To become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ
- To have a Christ-like concern for all people
- To learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world
- To work with others in sharing Christ
- To keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body
Royal Ambassadors accomplish the points of the pledge through:
Participation in chapter meetings. Each boy is given opportunities to use his talents and abilities in chapter activities. The chapter also provides fellowship with Christian boys which helps them feel their worth as they work or play together.
Participation in mission projects. Mission projects provide opportunities for boys to show their Christian concern for other people. Through these projects boys become conscious of their Christian responsibilities to others, especially those in need, by actually doing missions. Please see the statewide missions project listed on the right.
Participation in interest activities. The use of interest activities can provide fun teaching avenues and learning situations, enhancing Christian relationships and the total program. Royal Ambassadors is a well-balanced mission program which helps boys with spiritual, social, mental and physical needs. Royal Ambassadors capitalizes on what boys enjoy doing. In addition to mission education, Royal Ambassadors provides an increased understanding of the true values in life, a respect for other people, an increased desire to help other people, experience in working with others, leads to improvements in personal habits, and provides an outlet for many fun and energetic activities that boys need.