College of Missions

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The College of Missions (Danish: Missionskollegiet; Latin: Collegium de cursu Evangelii promovendo) or Royal Mission College (Kongelige Missions-Kollegium) was a Dano-Norwegian association based in Copenhagen which funded and directed Protestant missions under royal patronage. Along with the Moravian church, it was the first large-scale Protestant mission effort.

The College was established by Frederick IV to institutionalize the work he began by funding Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Pluetschau's mission at the Danish colony of Fort Dansborg (Tranquebar) in India. Among its first efforts were funding missions in Lapland and Hans Egede's Bergen Greenland Company, which established the Island of Hope mission in 1721. Two child converts from the mission would later inspire Count von Zinzendorf to begin the Moravian missions.

Its first chairman (præses) was Johan Georg von Holstein (16 Feb 1662 – 26 Dec 1730),[1] who was the namesake for Holsteinsborg (now Sisimiut) in Greenland.[2]

Work among the Sami (Finnemisjon) was initiated under the pietist Thomas von Westen (1682–1727) in 1716. He swiftly established thirteen stations before his death.[3]

Work in Greenland was directed first by Hans Egede and then, after the death of his wife, his son Paul. It was administered in conjunction with the Moravian missions there and the various chartered companies, particularly the Royal Greenland Trading Department. Early on, the well-endowed college could provide an extensive scientific library to missionaries like Hans Glahn, Otto Fabricius, and Andreas Ginge who studied the flora, fauna, and meteorology of Greenland during their missions.[2] Money was so limited in the later 18th century that all but five missionaries were returned to Denmark in 1792 and British hostility during the Napoleonic Wars brought the number down to a single person.[4]

Most of the college's early records were destroyed in a Copenhagen fire between 5–7 June 1795.[2] The college was abolished in 1859.

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  1. ^ Bricka, C.F. Dansk Biografisk Leksikon (Danish Biographical Dictionary). Op cit. "Aner til Marie Nielson" ("Ancestors of Marie Nielson"). Accessed 3 May 2012. (Danish)
  2. ^ a b c Del, Anden. "Grønland som del af den bibelske fortælling – en 1700-tals studie" ["Greenland as Part of the Biblical Narrative – a Study of the 18th-Century"]. (Danish)
  3. ^ Miller, Barbara Helen. Connecting and Correcting: A Case Study of Sami Healers in Porsanger. CNWS Publications, 2007.
  4. ^ Jensen, Einar Lund & al. Monographs on Greenland: Man and Society, Vol. 38: "Cultural Encounters at Cape Farewell: The East Greenland Immigrants and the German Moravian Mission in the 19th Century". Museum Tusculanum Press, 2011.