The Church Mission Society (CMS), formerly known as the Church Missionary Society, is a British mission society working with the 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.
In 1829, the CMS began to send medical personnel as missionaries. Initially to care for the mission staff, these missionaries could also care for the physical well-being of local populations. Dr.
Henry Graham was the first CMS Medical missionary when he was sent to
Sierra Leone and shifted the focus from care of the mission staff to assistance for local people.
Josiah Pratt was appointed secretary, a position he held until 1824, becoming an early driving force in the CMS. The principal missions, the founding missionaries, and the dates of the establishment of the missions are:
West Indies (1813): The CMS started work in
Antigua and expanded to other islands. By 1838 the CMS had congregations of 8,000, with 13 ordained missionaries, 23 lay teachers and 70 schools. In about 1848 a shortage of funds resulted in the CMS withdrawing from the West Indies.
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (1817): Four CMS missionaries were sent to Ceylon in 1817 and in the following 5 years mission stations were established at
Kotte (Cotta) and
Jaffna. In 1850 a mission station was established at
Australia (1825): William Watson and Johann Simon Christian Handt arrived to establish the
Wellington Valley Mission near to
Wellington, New South Wales. However, because of drought and the lack of success of the mission, the CMS withdrew. In 1892 CMS Associations were set up in New South Wales and Victoria. In 1916 the Church Missionary Association of Australia was formed, which was later renamed the Church Missionary Society of Australia. By 1927 the CMS Australia was active in the
Northern Territory, Australia, including in communities along the
Roper River in the
South Africa (1837): Captain
Allen Francis Gardiner R.N. obtained the permission of
Zulu chief, to establish a CMS mission. Francis Owen arriving in August 1837, followed by W. Hewetson and a surgeon, R. Philips. However, following an armed conflict between the Zulus and the newly arrived
Voortrekkers (Boers), the CMS abandoned the mission.
Japan (1868): George Ensor established a mission station at
Nagasaki and in 1874 he was replaced by H Burnside. The same year the mission was expanded to include C. F. Warren at
Philip Fyson at
Yokohama, J. Piper at
Tokyo (Yedo), H. Evington at
Niigata and W. Dening at
Hokkaido. H. Maundrell joined the Japan mission in 1875 and served at Nagasaki.John Batchelor was a missionary to the
Ainu people of Hokkaido from 1877 to 1941.
Hannah Riddell arrived in
Kyūshū in 1891. She worked to establish the Kaishun Hospital (known in English as the Kumamoto Hospital of the Resurrection of Hope) for the treatment of
Leprosy, with the hospital opening on 12 November 1895. Hannah Riddell left the CMS in 1900 to run the hospital.
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 totalled: 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 late 19th and early 20th century, the CMS maintained a training program for women at Kennaway Hall at the former "Willows" estate where the training program started. Kennaway Hall was the Church Missionary Society training center for female missionaries. The training center was called "The Willows," under the Mildmay Trustees, until having been bought by the Church Missionary Society in 1891.Elizabeth Mary Wells took over the presidency in 1918 of Kennaway Hall.
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
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 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.
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.
In Australia, the society operates on two levels: firstly, at a national/federal level as 'CMS Australia', training and supporting various missionaries; and secondly, at a state level with 6 Branches, recruiting missionaries and liaising with supporters and support churches.
^Gobat, Samuel (2001). Journal of a Three Years' Residence in Abyssinia, in Furtherance of the Objects of the Church Missionary Society. Adamant Media Corporation (Elibron Classics) facsimile reprint of a 1834 edition by Hatchard & Son; Seeley & Sons, London.
^Donald Crummey, Priests and Politicians, 1972, Oxford University Press (reprinted Hollywood: Tsehai, 2007), pp. 12, 29f. For an account of the society's Amharic translation, see
Edward Ullendorff, Ethiopia and the Bible (Oxford: University Press for the British Academy, 1968), pp. 62–67 and the sources cited there.
^Charles William Isenberg; Johann Ludwig Krapf; James MacQueen (2011). Journals of the Rev. Messrs Isenberg and Krapf, Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society (Detailing their Proceedings in the Kingdom of Shoa, and Journeys in Other Parts of Abyssinia, in the Years 1839, 1840, 1841, and 1842). Cambridge University Press.
^Stock 1923. The more liberal CMS position may be compared with the attitude expressed in the preface to its 1904 English–Kikuyu Vocabulary, whose author, CMS member A. W. McGregor, complained of the difficulty in obtaining information about Kikuyu from "very unwilling and unintelligent natives" (
McGregor 1904, p. iii).
Hewitt, Gordon, The Problems of Success, A History of the Church Missionary Society 1910–1942, Vol I (1971) In Tropical Africa. The Middle East. At HomeISBN0-334-00252-4; Vol II (1977)Asia Overseas PartnersISBN0-334-01313-5
Murray, Jocelyn (1985). Proclaim the Good News. A Short History of the Church Missionary Society. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Stock, Eugene (1899–1916). The History of the Church Missionary Society: Its Environment, Its Men, and Its Work. Vol. 1–4. London: CMS..
Stock, Eugene (1923). The Recent Controversy in the C.M.S. (Reprinted from the Church Missionary Review ed.). London: CMS..
Ward, Kevin, and Brian Stanley, eds. The Church Mission Society and World Christianity, 1799-1999 (Eerdmans, 2000).
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. They were published from 1813–1855 by L. B. Seeley & Sons, London