Of Faith and Courage: The History of the ABCFM



The World Christian Community

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Today missionary work no longer requires long ocean voyages or the tedious work of Bible translation. Instantaneous communication has made the world, as some say, a global village.

Christianity has changed as well. Its new centers are in Africa, Asia, and South America, and the majority of Christians now live south of the equator, outside the old "western world". It now makes sense to think of missions as multi-directional, a movement which has made Christianity a global faith, and also brought the rest of the world back to the United States. Missionaries and their children have served as cultural interpreters, as diplomats, anthropologists, linguists, and social critics. Converts from the mission field have helped shape American ideas about race and culture.

The American Board has gone through its own series of changes. In 1913, it became an official arm of the Congregational churches, and with the formation of the United Church of Christ in 1957, became part of the United Church Board for World Ministries. It now exists as part of Wider Church Ministries, formed in 1996 by a union of the United Church Board and the Division of Overseas Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Fred Field Goodsell
Fred Goodsell

"Today American Protestants greet churches of many lands and races as they seek to strengthen the fellowship of a world Christian community. ... Indeed, they are called of God to hold the world together in a beloved community which in diverse times and diverse places they pioneered and helped to create."

--Fred Goodsell, You Shall Be My Witnesses, 1952


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