History of Baptist Associations
Evidence suggests that an association of Particular Baptist churches existed in London as early as 1644. The earliest association of Particular Baptist churches on record dates from November, 1650, when the first "General Meeting" of the churches in South Wales was held. These churches were planted with the help of the London churches and most likely incorporated the same pattern of association modeled in London.
Other associations were born soon afterward in Berkshire (Abingdon) (1652), the West Country (1653), and the Midlands (1655). By far the most fruitful of the English associations was the Northamptonshire Association, which was founded in 1765. It was this Association that provided the nurturing environment that produced the Particular Baptist Foreign Missions Society in 1792. These and similar associations help to reinforce the obvious: that throughout the 17th century and into the 18th, the English Baptists conscientiously organized themselves into geographical associations of churches.
The first association of Particular Baptist churches in America was the Philadelphia Association, formally established in 1707. In the course of time, this Association included churches extending from Connecticut in the north to Virginia in the south. Perhaps most notable among the accomplishments of this Association is how it worked to plant churches up and down the East Coast. So many were organized that the association was able to form "daughter" associations throughout the colonies, including the Baltimore, Salisbury, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey associations. They were all committed to the principle that autonomous churches should join together for the good of the cause of Christ, which expresses the convictions of ARBCA.
Read more about our forefathers at the Hall of Church History