NextLevel Online: History of the Restoration Movement

Session 8: Foreign Mission and the Second Division

This session examines the onset and progression of foreign missions in the Restoration Movement, and the division that it ultimately causes.


Classroom Instructions

Materials: Lesson Outline
  • Two Types of Missions:

    • Organized Mission – Missionaries are sent to the mission field under the direction of an organization (i.e., a Missionary Society).

      • In the early years of the Restoration Movement, all missionaries were sent to the mission field through a Missionary Society.

      • Missionary funding was sent to the Missionary Society and the society determined how the money would be dispersed to the missionaries.

    • Independent Missions (Direct Support Missions) – Missionaries are sent to the mission field through the support of a church, several churches, and/or individual supporters.

      • One of the early Direct Support Missionaries was W. D. Cunningham, a very successful missionary in Japan.

      • Cunningham wanted to go to the field through a society, but came down with polio and was judged unfit for missionary service – So, he raised support and went to Japan without the backing of a society.

  • Missionary Societies and Theological Liberalism.

    • American Christian Missionary Society (1849) – The first Missionary Society in the Restoration Movement.

      • First Missionary: James T. Barclay (1807-1874) – Served two terms in Jerusalem with little success.

      • Second Missionary: Alexander Cross (c.1811-1854) – A former slave who went to Liberia and died soon after his arrival.

      • The ACMS was plagued with financial difficulties and had little success.

  • Christian Woman’s Board of Missions (1874) – Formed at the insistence of Caroline Neaville Pearre.

    • First Missionary: W. H. Williams – Served in Jamaica with limited success.

    • The CWBM formed a School of Missions in Indianapolis that later became a part of Yale University.

    • The CWBM was fairly successful in sending missionaries throughout the world.

  • Foreign Christian Missionary Society (1875) – An incredibly successful Missionary Society that sent many missionaries around the world.

    • In the first year of the FCMS, they sent missionaries to Denmark, England, and France.

    • Archibald McLean (1849-1920), the “Father of Restoration Foreign Missions,” served as the very successful leader of this society (1882-1920).

  • United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS)

    • 1920 – The three earlier societies and six other agencies were consolidated into one large organization: The United Christian Missionary Society.

      • Supporters of the Consolidation said it created structural and financial efficiency.

      • Opponents of the Consolidation said it threatened the autonomy of the churches and wasted money on overhead expenses.

    • Major Problems arose as the UCMS began to accept and advocate liberal practices among missionaries:

      • Social Gospel

      • Open Membership

      • Comity Agreements – Dividing a nation into denomination regions.

  • Wolfe Affair – In 1925, the UCMS entered a comity agreement in the Philippines and threatened to drop Leslie Wolfe’s support if he did not move from his highly successful work in Manilla.

    • Wolfe remained in Manilla and became a Direct Support Missionary.

    • 1926 – Wolfe was brought to the Disciples General Assembly to tell his story, but was made to look foolish by the liberal leadership.

    • P. H. Welshimer (1873-1957), minister of the Restoration Movement’s largest church, led a group out of the convention in protest.

    • Welshimer’s group formed the North American Christian Convention, which first met in Indianapolis the following year (1927).

  • The creation of the North American Christian Convention eventually led to formation of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

  • Additional Resources:

    • Filbeck, David – The First Fifty Years: A Brief History of the Direct-Support Missionary Movement

    • Hayden, Edwin V. – North American Gold: The Story of Fifty North American Christian Conventions

    • Helsabeck, W. Dennis, Jr., Gary Holloway, and Douglas A. Foster – Renewal for Mission: A Concise History of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ

    • Murch, James DeForest – Adventuring for Christ in Changing Times

    • Warren, William Robinson – The Life and Labors of Archibald McLean

About NextLevel Online

The vision of Ozark Christian College is to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide. The mission of Ozark Christian College is to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education.