Edinburgh Missionary Conference

Edinburgh Missionary Conference

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The 1910 World Missionary Conference, or the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, was held June 14 to 23, 1910. Some have seen it as both the culmination of nineteenth-century Protestant
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 Christian missions
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

 and the formal beginning of the modern Protestant Christian ecumenical movement.

Edinburgh 1910

Major Protestant denominations and missionary societies, predominantly from North America and Northern Europe, sent 1,200 representatives to Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland. Delegation was based on the annual expenditure of the missionary societies; one hundred additional special delegates were appointed by the British, Continental, and American Executive Committees. No Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 or Roman Catholic missionary organizations were invited.

Lord Balfour
Alexander Bruce, 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh
Alexander Hugh Bruce, 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh KT GCMG GCVO PC DL JP was a Scottish Unionist politician, banker and statesman, who took a leading part in the affairs of the Church of Scotland...

 of the Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

, a former Unionist cabinet minister
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

, was the President of the World Missionary Conference. American John R. Mott
John Mott
John Raleigh Mott was a long-serving leader of the YMCA and the World Student Christian Federation...

, an American Methodist
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

 layperson and leader of both the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions and the World Student Christian Federation
World Student Christian Federation
The World Student Christian Federation is a federation of autonomous national Student Christian Movements forming the youth and student arm of the global ecumenical movement...

, chaired its proceedings. The main organiser was Joseph Oldham, a leader in the British Student Christian Movement. The conference was held in the Assembly Hall of the United Free Church of Scotland
United Free Church of Scotland
The United Free Church of Scotland is a Scottish Presbyterian denomination formed in 1900 by the union of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland...


Before the conference convened, eight assigned commissions, each with twenty members, conducted two years of research on their assigned topic. Each commission produced a single volume report, which was distributed to all of the delegates before they headed to Scotland and discussed at the assembly during the Conference.

The Eight Commissions and their date of presentation at the Conference are as follows:
  1. Carrying the Gospel to all the Non-Christian World (June 15, 1910)
  2. The Church in the Mission Field (June 16, 1910)
  3. Education in Relation to the Christianization of National Life (Jun 17, 1910)
  4. Missionary Message in Relation to the Non-Christian World (June 18, 1910)
  5. The Preparation of Missionaries (June 22, 1910)
  6. The Home Base of Missions (June 23, 1910)
  7. Missions and Governments (June 20, 1910)
  8. Co-Operation and the Promotion of Unity (June 21, 1910)

A ninth volume, containing the proceedings and major speeches, was published after the conclusion of the Conference.

The spirit of the Conference was driven by the watchword of the Protestant Christian Missionary community at the time: "The Evangelization of the World in This Generation." Thus, sentiments of obligation and urgency drove many of the commission reports, discussions and speeches at the Conference. A call to unity among Protestant missionaries was also a common desire expressed at the Conference, although no common liturgy was celebrated among the delegates while in Edinburgh.

Subsequent Events

Although the World Missionary Conference convened as a discursive enterprise, a vote was carried to establish a Continuation Committee when Commission VIII's report was presented. In the next few years, members of this committee, under the direction of John Mott, headed to India, Burma, Malaysia, China, Korea, and Japan to gather information. The work of the Continuation Committee was interrupted by World War I, but formed the foundation for the establishment of the International Missionary Council, established in 1921. Later, in 1948, the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...


Centennial 2010 Meetings

In celebration of its 100-year anniversary, a new World Missionary Conference was slated for Edinburgh in 2010. Like the 1910 original, it was preceded by discussions on reports written by nine appointed study groups. There was a delegate conference in Edinburgh from 2–6 June 2010, which included representatives of the Evangelical, Protestant, Orthodox and Pentecostal churches, and the Roman Catholic Church. It produced a Common Call to mission. Recognising the global nature of modern Christianity and the wide appreciation of the Edinburgh 2010 legacy across churches and mission bodies, many other events and study processes have been taking place throughout the year. The whole process is co-ordinated through the Edinburgh 2010 website, where documents, videos, photos, etc. are available.

Also in 2010, three other major conferences have been or will be held to commemorate Edinburgh 1910. The first was held in Tokyo as a gathering of global mission leaders, from May 11-14th, called the Global Mission Consultation
Tokyo 2010
The first of four global consultations celebrating the centennial of Edinburgh 1910, the Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation brought together around 1,000 Christian mission leaders from 140 countries in May 2010. Another 1,000 attendees came to Tokyo 2010 as observers...

. The next gathering, the Lausanne movement
First International Congress on World Evangelization
The First International Congress on World Evangelization held from July 16–25 July 1974, is sometimes also called the "Lausanne Congress", "Lausanne '74", or "ICOWE"....

 will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 16–25 October 2010. The third will be held in Boston, from November 4–7. Each of these four gatherings will reflect on the significance and outcomes of Edinburgh 1910 over the last century, as well as look to the future of the Church's global mission in the century ahead. The meetings in Edinburgh and Boston are more ecumenical in representation, and the meetings in Tokyo and Capetown are primarily evangelical. The Tokyo meeting was organized and designed for evangelical mission leaders, and the Capetown meeting was organized and designed for a broad representation of Church and mission leaders.

See also

  • Timeline of Christian missions
    Timeline of Christian missions
    This timeline of Christian missions chronicles the global expansion of Christianity through a listing of the most important missionary outreach events.-Apostolic Age:.Earliest dates must all be considered approximate...

  • Tokyo 2010
    Tokyo 2010
    The first of four global consultations celebrating the centennial of Edinburgh 1910, the Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation brought together around 1,000 Christian mission leaders from 140 countries in May 2010. Another 1,000 attendees came to Tokyo 2010 as observers...

Category:Christian missionary societies

External links

  • http://etd.gsu.edu/theses/available/etd-07062006-114644/ "Protestant Christian Missions, Race and Empire: The World Missionary Conference of 1910, Edinburgh, Scotland," by Kim Sanecki (A Master's Thesis on the Conference).
  • The World Missionary Conference 1910 by C.C. Morrison
    Charles Clayton Morrison
    Dr. Charles Clayton Morrison was an American Disciples of Christ minister and Christian socialist.Born in Harrison, Ohio, he attended high school in Jefferson, Iowa, Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and the University of Chicago...

     (a first hand account of the conference from an editor of Christian Century)
  • Edinburgh 2010 Trinity Theological College, Singapore
  • Edinburgh 2010 Official Site.