Pioneering Methodist Episcopal missionary to China
Collins was one of eight children in a pious Methodist farm family in Michigan. While still a college student, he determined to become a missionary to China, but there was no Methodist mission work there, so after graduation he taught for two years at Albion College.
In 1847, he was called to New York, where he was ordained an elder and commissioned with Dr. and Mrs. Moses C. White, the first Methodist missionaries to China. They sailed on April 15 and arrived in Foochow (Fuzhou), one of the five treaty ports, four months later.
To create an opening for the gospel, Collins opened a school for boys in 1847 and another in 1848. He worked with other missionaries on Bible translation and distribution of tracts. In 1850, he was appointed superintendent of the Foochow Mission. Plagued with illness, he returned to the United States in 1851 and died the following year.
By Donald E. MacInnis, Formerly Director of the China Program, National Council of Churches in the USA, Coordinator for China Research of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Maryknoll, New York, USA
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved. It is taken, with permission, from the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity: http://bdcconline.net/en/stories/collins-judson-dwight
F. C. Bald, “First Missionary to China,” Quarterly Review (Univ. of Michigan, n.d.);
Frank T. Cartwright, “Notes on Early Foochow History,” unpublished manuscript in archives of the United Methodist Church, Madison, N. J.;
Walter Lacy, A Hundred Years of China Methodism (1948).