August 25, 1851
“The Church Missionary Society for Minnesota was founded on August 25, 1851.
G-d, I’m not entirely sure which Church or who composed this society, but most likely it was the work of Josiah Pratt who dedicated his life to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel. Minnesota Territory, in this context, qualified as the extremity and meeting place of Western civilization and North American Native cultures. The Society reached out to Canadian and Midwestern First Nations through a branch known as the North West America Mission. **
Please read and enjoy this brief summary of the Church Missionary Society and it’s profound impact on the 19th Century.
“Our story began more than 200 years ago with a group of Christians whose hearts were stirred to put their call into action.
This group included people like William Wilberforce, John Venn, and John Newton. Together they worked to abolish the slave trade, they fought for the rights of oppressed people at home and they launched out on dangerous seas to share Jesus with the world.
The effects of their efforts – as well as the work of thousands of men and women who have followed in their footsteps – are still seen and felt across the globe today.
A brief history of Church Mission Society
The Society was founded in Aldersgate Street in the City of London on 12 April 1799. Most of the founders were members of the Clapham Sect, a group of activist evangelical Christians. They included Henry Thornton MP and William Wilberforce MP. The founders of CMS were committed to three great enterprises: abolition of the slave trade, social reform at home and world evangelisation.
Wilberforce was asked to be the first president of the Society but he declined due to his workload but took on the office of vice president. Thornton became the first treasurer. The Rev Josiah Pratt, curate of St John, Bedford Row (London) soon emerged in a proto-chief executive role.
The spiritual background to the emergence of CMS was the great outpouring of energy in Western Europe now called The Great Awakening. John Wesley, an Anglican priest and failed missionary, became a key player in the UK version of the story. Not all those influenced by the revival left the Anglican Church to become Methodists. One such was John Venn, the saintly rector of Clapham.
Members of the second and third generation following the revival saw many opportunities to consolidate its effects. Alongside the main Clapham agenda they sponsored Sunday Schools for evangelism and education, founded Bible Societies and much more.
The Reformation and the abolition of monasteries and religious orders left the Church of England without vehicles for mission, especially for outreach to the non-Christian world. This new membership society agreed to be loyal to the leadership of bishops and an Anglican pattern of liturgy, but not dominated by clergy and emphasised the role of laymen and women. Much of what we call the Anglican Communion today traces its origins to CMS work. However CMS today is not confined just to Anglicanism, both in terms of people it sends out in mission or ally agencies and projects around the world.
It was expected that Church of England clergy would quickly come forward to be missionaries. When this didn’t materialise CMS turned towards mainland Europe and the earliest missionaries were German Lutherans. For over a century CMS enjoyed rich work relations with the Churches and seminaries of Western Europe. Sadly this was gradually eroded as the European superpowers vied with each other in the race for colonial expansion. Even so we can say the 20th-century quest for Christian unity began through the experience of mission.” **
G-d, regretfully I haven’t yet located primary sources for the founding of CMS in Minnesota Territory, but I thank you for it. May the full number of Minnesotans see You in all Your beauty, and know and fulfill the mission you have created for them! May we follow in their paths to abolish slavery, take just and practical actions to better our State, and give away the happy news of the Gospel; Jesus loves us, wants us, forgives us, and helps us practice living free! Forgive our purposeless living! Forgive our fears of chasing the Wild Goose! (An ancient Celtic image for the Holy Spirit.) May we be blessed to fly, and under Your authority serve to heal all nations!
** “The Church Missionary Atlas (Canada)”. Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 220–226. Retrieved 19 October 2015.