Judson continues to help young women belong, believe, become

Judson continues to help young women belong, believe, become

Julia Tarrant Barron was a “mover and shaker” among early Alabama Baptists. A wealthy widow with significant influence in her community of Marion, Barron organized meetings to discuss the founding of both the Judson Female Institute, now Judson College, and Howard College, now Samford University. A dedicated member of Siloam Baptist Church, an early co-owner of The Alabama Baptist, and a strong supporter of Baptist missions, Barron lived her life for things that would outlast her.

Barron was among those Alabama Baptists who believed deeply in the ties between personal faith and public good. During the 1830s and 1840s, Baptist churches and associations in Alabama were divided over the issue of whether missions was a necessary endeavor of the church.

Scathing condemnations of each side were recorded by both missionary and anti-missionary groups. Hosea Holcombe, a champion of missions in central Alabama, criticized the anti-missionary Baptists: “They … have often boasted that they did no harm. But the ground of their condemnation will be that they did no good.”

Embracing this emphasis on the necessity of “doing good,” Barron and her Baptist contemporaries wanted to educate generations of young women who would make lasting contributions to their communities and to the kingdom of God.
Barron and other Judson College founders also realized the importance of partnership. They learned from experience that their contributions as individuals had far greater effects when applied in a community of believers who sought to accomplish great things for the glory of God and the good of their neighbors.

This legacy shapes and inspires Judson College even in 2017. Judson students learn that they have both the individual and communal responsibility to share Christ’s love and redemptive work in the world, thus “storing up” treasures that will outlast them (Luke 12:22–34). The 2017 student life theme “Belong. Believe. Become.” echoes this idea and will direct the efforts of Judson’s campus community in the coming year.


As a woman who managed property, a business and considerable wealth alone nearly a century before women in the United States gained the right to vote, Barron held a deep conviction that women belonged as active members in society. She believed so strongly in the importance of Christian higher education for women that, though she had no daughters of her own, she generously and sacrificially gave money and land for the founding of the first women’s college in Alabama.

Today students at that college work, serve and learn together on a campus pervaded by a strong sense of belonging. Each Judson woman is known and encouraged to use her unique talents as a member of a community that is nationally recognized for its commitment to “the greater good.”

New Student Welcome Week begins August 27 with move-in and continues with a flurry of activity: a team-building campus-wide mega relay race at the Back to School Bash; meeting and serving Marion’s people during Marion Matters; and celebrating ties to Judson’s founders and to other generations of Judson women with Rose Sunday. These activities foster a sense of community at Judson as they help students find ways to connect with each other, with the College, with their neighbors and with Christ.


Barron and other Alabama Baptist founders named their first college after Ann Judson, America’s first woman to serve as a foreign missionary. Ann Judson gave her life selflessly to the people of Burma, translating Scripture, befriending and ministering to women and teaching girls while also supporting the work of her husband. The Judson Female Institute’s founders wanted their new college to be a place “of Christ” in which young women could learn to wholeheartedly follow Christ with their lives, as Ann Judson had.

The same vision is present in the Judson College of today. Students have opportunities to deepen their faith through weekly Chapel services, small group Bible studies, and relationships with local church members. Through Judson’s Faith-Based Service and Learning program, students incorporate service into their coursework, applying skills and theories learned in the classroom to service in their communities.

Last year Judson students taught art education classes for elementary and high school students, performed chemical analyses to monitor the purity of Cahaba River watersheds, visited elderly shut-ins and read to children at the local Head Start center. Students also served on missions teams during semester breaks in Alabama, Tennessee, Arizona, New York, Myanmar, Guatemala and Uganda.


While Julia Barron and other Judson founders believed in the value of education as an end in itself, their ultimate focus was always on the positive change that educated women could have on families, communities, churches and the world. Education provided young women with the skills they needed to make the best use of the unique talents God had given them. The same is true today.

Through engaging academics and opportunities to practice and grow in their faith, Judson women are prepared to become all that God calls them to be. Over the past 20 years, 96 percent of Judson students have enrolled in graduate school or been employed within a year of their graduation. This year’s graduates included a student who won a national research award, a student who participated in one of the most significant archaeological digs in recent history and a student who will spend her life strengthening Baptist congregations in Myanmar.

Though they have accomplished much, these Judson women live in service of a greater purpose than personal gain or glory. They follow in the footsteps of alumnae that include the first woman to address a legislative body in the state of Alabama, the woman who opened the first domestic violence shelter in Alabama and countless others who have followed God’s call to missions fields near and far. Judson women, no matter their vocation, stride toward the future with trust in the faithfulness of God and with determination to continue the legacy
of Julia Barron. (Judson)


Important dates

Scholarship Days:

• September 23

• November 18

• January 20

Junior Preview Day:

• May 5