|Formation||12 April 1799|
|Type|| Evangelical Anglicanism |
Chief Executive Officer
|Alastair Bateman from May 2019|
The Church Mission Society (CMS), formerly known as the Church Missionary Society, is a British mission society working with the Anglican Communion and Protestant Christians around the world. Founded in 1799,CMS has attracted over nine thousand men and women to serve as mission partners during its 200-year history. The society has also given its name "CMS" to a number of daughter organisations around the world, including Australia and New Zealand, which have now become independent.
The original proposal for the mission came from Charles Grant and George Uday of the East India Company and the Rev. David Brown, of Calcutta, who sent a proposal in 1787 to William Wilberforce, then a young member of parliament, and Charles Simeon, a young clergyman at Cambridge University.The Baptist Missionary Society was formed in 1792 and the London Missionary Society was formed in 1795 to represent various evangelical denominations.
The Society for Missions to Africa and the East (as the society was first called) was founded on 12 April 1799 at a meeting of the Eclectic Society, supported by members of the Clapham Sect, a group of activist evangelical Christians, who met under the guidance of John Venn, the Rector of Clapham.Their number included Charles Simeon, Basil Woodd, Henry Thornton, Thomas Babington and William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was asked to be the first president of the society, but he declined to take on this role and became a vice-president. The treasurer was Henry Thornton and the founding secretary was Thomas Scott, a biblical commentator. Many of the founders were also involved in creating the Sierra Leone Company and the Society for the Education of Africans.
In 1802 Josiah Pratt was appointed secretary, a position he held until 1824, becoming an early driving force in the CMS. The first missionaries went out in 1804. They came from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg and had trained at the Berlin Seminary. The name Church Missionary Society began to be used and in 1812 the society was renamed The Church Missionary Society.The principal missions, the founding missionaries, and the dates of the establishment of the missions are:
Up to 1886 the Society had entered 103 women, unmarried or widows, on its list, and the Annual Report for 1886-87 showed twenty-two then on its staff, the majority being widows or daughters of missionaries.From the beginning of the organisation until 1894 the total number of CMS missionaries amounted to 1,335 (men) and 317 (women). During this period the indigenous clergy ordained by the branch missions totalled 496 and about 5,000 lay teachers had been trained by the branch missions. In 1894 the active members of the CMS totaled: 344 ordained missionaries, 304 indigenous clergy (ordained by the branch missions) and 93 lay members of the CMS. As of 1894, in addition to the missionary work the CMS operated about 2,016 schools, with about 84,725 students.
In the first 25 years of the CMS nearly half the missionaries were Germans trained in Berlin and later from the Basel Seminary.The Church Missionary Society College, Islington opened in 1825 and trained about 600 missionaries; about 300 joined the CMS from universities and about 300 came from other sources. 30 CMS missionaries were appointed to the Episcopate, serving as bishops.
The CMS published The Church Missionary Gleaner, from April 1841 to September 1857.From 1813 to 1855 the society published The Missionary Register, "containing an abstract of the principal missionary and bible societies throughout the world". From 1816, "containing the principal transactions of the various institutions for propagating the gospel with the proceedings at large of the Church Missionary Society".
During the early 20th century, the society's theology moved in a more liberal direction under the leadership of Eugene Stock.There was considerable debate over the possible introduction of a doctrinal test for missionaries, which advocates claimed would restore the society's original evangelical theology. In 1922, the society split, with the liberal evangelicals remaining in control of CMS headquarters, whilst conservative evangelicals established the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society (BCMS, now Crosslinks).
In 1957 the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society was absorbed into the CMS.
Notable general secretaries of the society later in the 20th century were Max Warren and John Vernon Taylor. The first woman president of the CMS, Diana Reader Harris (serving 1969–1982), was instrumental in persuading the society to back the 1980 Brandt Report on bridging the North-South divide. In the 1990s CMS appointed its first non-British general secretary, Michael Nazir-Ali, who later became Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England, and its first women general secretary, Diana Witts. Gillian Joynson-Hicks was its president from 1998 to 2007.
In 1995 the name was changed to the Church Mission Society.
At the end of the 20th century there was a significant swing back to the Evangelical position, probably in part due to a review in 1999 at the anniversary and also due to the re-integration of Mid Africa Ministry (formerly the Ruanda Mission). The position of CMS is now that of an ecumenical Evangelical society.
In 2004 CMS was instrumental in bringing together a number of Anglican and, later, some Protestant mission agencies to form Faith2Share, an international network of mission agencies.
In June 2007, CMS in Britain moved the administrative office out of London for the first time. It is now based in east Oxford.
In 2008, CMS was acknowledged as a mission community by the Advisory Council on the Relations of Bishops and Religious Communities of the Church of England. It currently has approximately 2,800 members who commit to seven promises, aspiring to live a lifestyle shaped by mission.
In 2010 CMS integrated with the South American Mission Society (SAMS).
In 2010 Church Mission Society launched the Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme, providing leadership training for both lay people and those preparing for ordination as pioneer ministers. It is accredited by Durham University as part of the Church of England's Common Awards. In 2015 there were 70 students on the course, studying at certificate, diploma and MA level.
In October 2012, Philip Mounstephen became the Executive Leader of the Church Mission Society.
On 31 January 2016 Church Mission Society had 151 mission partners in 30 countries and 62 local partners in 26 countries (this programme supports local mission leaders in Asia, Africa and South America in "pioneer settings") serving in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. In addition, 127 mission associates (affiliated to Church Mission Society but not employed or financially supported through CMS) and 16 short-termers. In 2015–16, Church Mission Society had a budget of £6.8 million, drawn primarily from donations by individuals and parishes, supplemented by historic investments.
The Church Mission Society Archive is housed at the University of Birmingham Special Collections.
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Chief Executive Officer
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