On a sultry Saturday afternoon in August, 1806, Mills and four other students gathered as usual in the maple grove of Sloan’s Meadow for one of their twice-weekly prayer meetings. Thunderclouds broke open the sky, driving the students to seek shelter from the rain on the lee side of a great haystack. With thought turned toward their classroom studies of Asia and the East India Company, Mills shared his burden that Christianity be sent abroad. With the exception of Harvey Loomis, who felt that missionary efforts should first be concentrated domestically, Mills, Byram Green, Francis L. Robbins, and James Richards prayed that American missions would spread Christianity through the East.
In 1808, Mills and other Williams students formed “The Brethren,” a society organized to “effect, in the persons of its members, a mission to the heathen.” Upon the enrollment of Mills and Richards at Andover Seminary in 1810, Adoniram Judson from Brown, Samuel Newall from Harvard, and Samuel Nott from Union College joined the Brethren. Led by the enthusiasm of Judson, the young seminarians convinced the General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts to form The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1810. In February, 1812, Rev. and Mrs. Judson, Rev. and Mrs. Newall, Rev. and Mrs. Nott, Rev. Gordon Hall, and Rev. Luther Rice were commissioned as the Board’s first missionaries and set sail for Calcutta, India.source