World Mission in Church and Society

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World Mission in Church and Society

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Dates of existence

c. 1931-1989


World Mission in Church and Society has been known by a number of titles over the years. Initially called the Foreign Mission Department of the National Council, it was changed to the Overseas Department after the reorganization of National Council in October of 1942. From 1969 to 1971 the office was known as Overseas Relations, and from 1972 to 1974 it was called Jurisdictional Relations. In 1975, it became the Department of Mission under the executive direction of Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning. In 1978, the department became known as National and World Mission, and finally in 1980, World Mission in Church and Society.

As the Church’s conception of overseas work evolved, so did the work of the office. While it continued to support schools, hospitals, and missions established during the Church's early involvement overseas, the focus increasingly turned to the cultivation of networks of support between independent churches in the Anglican Communion. The Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence (MRI) program of the early 1960s committed the Church to sharing its resources generously with struggling Anglican dioceses around the globe seeking their footing in newly-independent nations. The Overseas Department (as it was still known at that time) was heavily involved in coordinating funding, sending workers, and setting up channels of communication with these groups.

From the MRI program, other initiatives evolved, including Partners in Mission and Companion Diocese relationships, intended to connect the American church with Anglican partners across the globe on a personal basis through cultural study, discussion, and mission work. While much of the work in these programs was diocesan, the office coordinated these efforts on the national level. It also administered a certain amount of funding from the Venture in Mission program as seed-money to aid overseas dioceses with much-needed infrastructure and other projects.

Apart from its work with the global Anglican Communion, the office also worked on ecumenical matters, participating in initiatives of the Church World Service, the National Council of Churches, and other ecumenical organizations. In 1989, World Mission in Church and Society became the International Ministries sub-group of the Witness and Outreach Committee of the Executive Council.

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