Basel Mission

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Mission 21
Logo m21 de blau 20160310 VV.png
  • German Missionary Society
  • Basel Evangelical Missionary Society
  • Basel Mission
Formation1815; 204 years ago (1815)
TypeChristian missionary society
  • Missions, theological, cultural exchange and research
  • Development cooperation in poverty reduction, peacebuilding, health, women and gender
HeadquartersBasel, Switzerland
Region served
Worldwide especially Africa, Asia and Latin America
Official language
Johannes Blum
Claudia Bandixen [de]
WebsiteMission 21

The Basel Mission is a Christian missionary society active from 1815 to 2001, when it transferred the operative work to Mission 21 [de], the successor organization of Kooperation Evangelischer Kirchen und Missione (KEM) founded in 2001.


Archives building of the Basel Mission

From the outset the society set out to be Protestant but non-denominational.[1] Arising from concerns about what would happen if Napoleon managed to seize the city of Basel. Both Calvinists from Basel and Lutherans from Württemberg made a holy vow to establish the seminary if the city was spared. The Basel mission was the result.[1] The first president of the society was the Reverend Nikolaus von Brunn.[1]

The mission was founded as the German Missionary Society in 1815. The mission later changed its name to the Basel Evangelical Missionary Society, and finally the Basel Mission. The society built a school to train Dutch and British missionaries in 1816. Since this time, the mission has worked in Russia and the Gold Coast (Ghana) from 1828, India from 1834, China from 1847, Cameroon from 1886, Borneo from 1921, Nigeria from 1951, and Latin America and the Sudan from 1972 and 1973. On 18 December 1828, the Basel Mission Society sent its first missionaries, Johannes Phillip Henke, Gottlieb Holzwarth, Carl Friedrich Salbach and Johannes Gottlieb Schmid, to take up work in the Danish Protectorate at Christiansborg, Gold Coast. On 21 March 1832, a second group of missionaries including Andreas Riis, Peter Peterson Jäger, and Christian Heinze, the first mission doctor, arrived on the Gold Coast only to discover that Henke had died four months earlier.

Since World War II, the mission has operated abroad via local church congregations. As of November 2002, the major countries or regions of operation were Bolivia, Cameroon,[2] Chile, Hong Kong, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Peru, Singapore, Sudan and Taiwan.

A major focus for the Basel Mission was to create employment opportunities for the people of the area where each mission is located. To this end the society taught printing, tile manufacturing, and weaving, and employed people in these fields.[3] The Basel Mission tile factory in Mangalore, India, is such an endeavour.

Basel Mission Seminary[edit]

The Basel Mission Training Institution (BMTI) partnered for some time with the Anglican Church Mission Society. Important missionaries to Palestine like Bishop Samuel Gobat and John Zeller were trained at the seminary. The first Inspector (Director) of the Institute was Stuttgart native, Christian Gottlieb Blumhardt (1779-1838).[3] The curriculum covered four core areas:[1][3][4][5][6]

  • Theology – Bible Studies, Bible Passages, Biblical History, Pastoral Care, Old Testament, Old Testament Exegesis, New Testament, New Testament Passages, Faith and Morality, Patristics, Dogmatics, Systematic Theology, History of Christianity, Scriptures for Homiletic Use, Basic Homiletics (Preaching), Catechesis, Mission History, Methods of Missionising, Church History and World History
  • Linguistics – Philology (study of languages), Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, English and Dutch Grammar
  • Skills Training – Arithmetic, Calligraphy, Orthography (writing and spelling skills), Rhetoric and Correspondence, Map-making/Cartography, non-European geography, Geography, Anatomy, Basic medicine, Surgery, Botany, Logic/Philosophy and Useful knowledge (integrated Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics)
  • Supplementary Instructions – Parish record-keeping, Interacting with Catholic missions, Drawing, Music, Singing, Reading and Technical drawing/Civil engineering

Inspectors of the Basel Mission[edit]

The following ordained ministers served as the Inspector or Director of the Basel Mission:[3][7]

Inspector Tenure of office
The Rev. Blumhardt 1816 – 1838
The Rev. Hoffmann 1839 – 1850
The Rev. Josenhans 1850 – 1879
The Rev. Schott 1879 – 1884
The Rev. Praetorius 1881 – 1884
The Rev. Oehler 1884 – 1909
The Rev. Oettli 1909 – 1931
The Rev. Huppenbauer 1932
The Rev. Kellerhals 1932

Notable individuals affiliated to the Basel Mission[edit]


  • Brick, Caroline (November 2002). "Basel Mission Records". Mundus: Gateway to missionary collections in the United Kingdom. Accessed 17 November 2006.
  • Quartey, Seth. Missionary Practices on the Gold Coast, 1832-1895: Discourse, Gaze and Gender in the Basel Mission in Pre-Colonial West Africa. Youngstown, New York: Cambria Press, 2007.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Basel Mission Society (1815)". German Missionaries in Australia. Griffith University. Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. ^ Alfred Saker: The Pioneer of the Cameroons (1908), p. 12, by his daughter Emily M. Saker, [1] Archived 13 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d "The Basel Mission bi-centenary celebration (1815 - 2015):…Origin, Heritage, Birth of Presbyterian Church Of Ghana - The Ghanaian Times". Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  4. ^ Herppich, Birgit (31 October 2016). Pitfalls of Trained Incapacity: The Unintended Effects of Integral Missionary Training in the Basel Mission on its Early Work in Ghana (1828-1840). James Clarke Company, Limited. ISBN 9780227905883. Archived from the original on 22 August 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Basel Mission Society (1815) | German Missionaries in Australia". Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  6. ^ Mohr, Adam (2013). Enchanted Calvinism: Labor Migration, Afflicting Spirits, and Christian Therapy in the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 9781580464628. Archived from the original on 3 December 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  7. ^ "A short centenary sketch : the settlement of West Indian Immigrants on the Goldcoast under the Auspices of the Basel Mission 1843-1943 - BM Archives". Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2019.