Church Mission Society

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Church Mission Society
Formation12 April 1799; 225 years ago (12 April 1799)
FounderClapham Sect
TypeEvangelical Anglicanism
Protestant missionary
British Commonwealth
HeadquartersOxford, England
Chief Executive Officer
Alastair Bateman from May 2019
WebsiteOfficial website

The Church Mission Society (CMS), formerly known as the Church Missionary Society,[1] is a British Anglican mission society working with Christians around the world. Founded in 1799,[2][3] 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 logo of Church Missionary Society in 1799

The original proposal for the mission came from Charles Grant and George Udny of the East India Company and 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.[4][5]

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 Anglicans who met under the guidance of John Venn, the Rector of Clapham.[2] Their number included Charles Simeon, Basil Woodd,[4][6] Henry Thornton, Thomas Babington[7] 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,[8] a biblical commentator. Many of the founders were also involved in creating the Sierra Leone Company and the Society for the Education of Africans.[9]

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.[4]

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.[10][11]


In 1802 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:[12]

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.[51] 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.[12] 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.[12]

In the first 25 years of the CMS nearly half the missionaries were Germans trained in Berlin and later from the Basel Seminary.[12] 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.[12] 30 CMS missionaries were appointed to the episcopate, serving as bishops.[12]

The CMS published The Church Missionary Gleaner, from April 1841 to September 1857.[52] 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".[53]


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.[54] Kennaway Hall was the Church Missionary Society training center for female missionaries.[55] The training center was called "The Willows", under the Mildmay Trustees, until having been bought by the Church Missionary Society in 1891.[56][57] Elizabeth Mary Wells took over the presidency in 1918 of Kennaway Hall.[58]

20th century[edit]

During the early 20th century, the society's theology moved in a more liberal direction under the leadership of Eugene Stock.[59] 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.

21st century[edit]

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.[60]

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"[61]) 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.[61]

The Church Mission Society Archive is housed at the University of Birmingham Special Collections.

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.[62]


Secretary or Honorary Secretary


CEO(with title changes)[edit]

General Secretary

Executive Leader

Chief Executive Officer

  • From May 2019: Alastair Bateman

Clinical Leadership[edit]

Medical Superintendent

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Church Missionary Society Archive – General Introduction and Guide to the Archive". Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Mounstephen, Philip (2015). "Teapots and DNA: The Foundations of CMS". Intermission. 22.
  3. ^ The Centenary Volume of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East 1799–1899 (PDF). London: Church Missionary Society, digital publication: Cornell University. 1902.
  4. ^ a b c "The Church Missionary Atlas (Church Missionary Society)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 210–219. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  5. ^ Hans J. Hillerbrand, Encyclopedia of Protestantism: 4-volume Set, Routledge, UK, 2004, p. 1390
  6. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, February 1874". The Origin of the Church Missionary Society. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  7. ^ Aston, Nigel. "Babington, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/75363. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, August 1867". The Church Missionary Society (From the "American Church Missionary Register"). Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  9. ^ Mouser, Bruce (2004). "African academy 1799–1806". History of Education. 33 (1). doi:10.1080/00467600410001648797. S2CID 144855979.
  10. ^ Register of Missionaries (Clerical, Lay, and Female), and Native Clergy from 1804-1894 (Available through: Adam Matthew, Marlborough, Church Missionary Society Periodicals). Church Missionary Society. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  11. ^ West Africa (Sierra Leone) : Original papers, missionaries : Henry Graham. 1830-1834. C A 1 O106. Africa Missions. Church Missionary Society Archive. (Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham). (Adam Matthew Digital)
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Church Missionary Atlas (Church Missionary Society)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. xi. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Keen, Rosemary. "Church Missionary Society Archive". Adam Matthew Publications. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d "The Church Missionary Atlas (Christianity in Africa)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 23–64. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  15. ^ Marsden, Samuel. "The Marsden Collection". Marsden Online Archive. University of Otago. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  16. ^ a b "The Church Missionary Atlas (New Zealand)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 210–219. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  17. ^ a b c "The Church Missionary Atlas (India)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 95–156. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  18. ^ a b c d "The Church Missionary Atlas (Middle East)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 67–76. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  19. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (Ceylon)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 163–168. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  20. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, March 1857". Missionary Work Around the Winnepegoosis Lake, Rupert's Land. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  21. ^ a b c d "The Church Missionary Atlas (Canada)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 220–226. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  22. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, September 1877". The Red Indians of the Saskatchewan. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  23. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, December 1853". The Eskimos (part 1). Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  24. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, December 1854". The Eskimos (part 2). Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  25. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, June 1877". The First Missionary to the Eskimos. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  26. ^ 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. ISBN 1421253496.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ 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. ISBN 9781108034173.
  29. ^ "History of the CMS-Australia". CMS Australia. 2016. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  30. ^ Moorehead, Alan (1963). "Chapter 16, Paradise Reformed". The White Nile. Penguin. ISBN 9780060956394.
  31. ^ Kevin Ward, "A History of Christianity in Uganda" Archived 23 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine in Dictionary of African Christian Biography.
  32. ^ St. John, Praticia Mary (1971). Breath of Life: The Story of the Ruanda Mission. Norfolk Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-0852110041.
  33. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (China)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 179–196. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  34. ^ Buckland, Augustus Robert (1894). The Heroic in Missions: Pioneers in Six Fields. T. Whittaker.
  35. ^ "School History". Anglican International School Jerusalem. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  36. ^ "Location". Jerusalem University College. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  37. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (Mauritius)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 157–159. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  38. ^ a b c "The Church Missionary Atlas (British Columbia)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 227–232. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  39. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, March 1861". First Letter from a New Missionary to British Columbia. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  40. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (Madagascar)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. p. 160. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  41. ^ "Anglican Church in Tanzania". Anglican Communion. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  42. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, September 1874". C.M.S. Missionaries in Japan. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  43. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, December 1874". Our Missionaries in Japan. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  44. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, May 1877". The Ainos of Japan. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  45. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (Japan)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 205–2009. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  46. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, January 1875". Appointment of Rev. H. Maundrell to Japan. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  47. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, May 1876". The New Mission to Persia. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  48. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, February 1877". From London to Ispahan. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  49. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (Persia)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 78–80. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  50. ^ Speziale, Fabrizio, ed. (2012). Hospitals in Iran and India, 1500-1950s. Brill. ISBN 9789004228290.
  51. ^ The Centenaru Volume of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East 1799–1899 (PDF). London : Church Missionary Society, digital publication: Cornell University. 1902. p. 6.
  52. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner". Church Missionary Society (1841–1857). Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  53. ^ "Mission Periodicals Online (Yale University)". Archived from the original on 10 March 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  54. ^ Whitehead, JAck. "The March of Bricks and Mortar into Stoke Newington". Retrieved 21 December 2022.
  55. ^ "Kennaway Hall: By One Who is There". Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  56. ^ "Kenya Mission: Precis book, 1907-1918". Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  57. ^ "Biographies". Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  58. ^ "02 Sep 1918, The Church Missionary Gleaner - Church Missionary Society Periodicals - Adam Matthew Digital". Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  59. ^ 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).
  60. ^ "Executive leader: Philip Mounstephen". Church Mission Society. Archived from the original on 26 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  61. ^ a b Church Mission Society Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 January 2016.
  62. ^ "About CMS Australia". CMS Australia. Retrieved 16 October 2020.


  • Harris, John W. (1998). We wish we'd done more: Ninety years of CMS and Aboriginal issues in north Australia. Adelaide: Openbook Publishers. ISBN 0859108961.
  • 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 Home ISBN 0-334-00252-4; Vol II (1977)Asia Overseas Partners ISBN 0-334-01313-5
  • McGregor, A. W. (1904). English–Kikuyu Vocabulary. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. OL 23468442M.
  • Murray, Jocelyn (1985). Proclaim the Good News. A Short History of the Church Missionary Society. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-34501-2..
  • 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). excerpt
  • 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 to 1855 by L. B. Seeley & Sons, London
Some are online readable and downloadable at Google Books; 1814, 1815, 1822, 1823, 1826, 1828, 1829, 1831, 1834, 1846.

External links[edit]