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United Methodist Missionary Society

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 MMS/UMMS
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: United Methodist Missionary Society
Date(s): 1844-1933
View parent record
Extent: 11 boxes
Name of creator(s): United Methodist Missionary Society | Foreign Missions Committee
United Methodist Free Churches Foreign Missions
Methodist New Connexion Missionary Society
Bible Christian Home and Foreign Missionary Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

In 1907 the Methodist New Connexion (formed in 1797), the Bible Christians Methodists (formed in 1815) and the United Methodist Free Churches (formed in 1857 by the union of the Wesleyan Association and the Wesleyan Reformers) united to form the United Methodist Church. The foreign mission activities of all three - the Methodist New Connexion Missionary Society, the Bible Christian Home and Foreign Missionary Society and the United Methodist Free Churches' Foreign Missions - were combined to form the United Methodist Missionary Society (UMMS), under the control of one committee.

The Methodist New Connexion (MNC) began its missionary endeavours in 1824, and established a mission in Belfast, Ireland, in 1826. The conference of 1836 resolved upon a mission to Canada, and in 1837 the Rev. John Addyman became the first MNC minister to be sent out on colonial work. In 1859, Revs. John Innocent and William N. Hall became the first agents of the MNC to be sent to China. They arrived in 1860, worked at Shanghai and eventually settled at Tientsin. By 1907 the mission in China had three circuits, in Tientsin, Shantung Province and in the neighbourhood of Kai-ping, north of Tientsin. In 1862, Rev. J. Maughan began a mission in Adelaide, Australia. A mission was also started in Melbourne. Three years later the Rev. C. Linley began work in New Zealand. In 1874 the Canadian Mission united with the Wesleyan churches, and in 1887 the Australian Mission took a similar course. In 1905 the MNC churches in Ireland united with the Wesleyan churches to form the Methodist Church in Ireland. The MNC Missionary Society was managed by a Committee, which consisted of a President, Treasurer and Secretary, with 16 ministers and 16 laymen appointed annually by the Conference.

The Bible Christian Connexion formed its Missionary Society in 1821. In 1831 it sent two missionaries to North America, Rev. John Glass being stationed in 'Western Canada' and Rev. Francis Metherall in Prince Edward Island. The work was successful, and at the time of the union of Methodist churches in Canada, membership of the mission stood at 7,000. In 1845 two missionaries were posted to commence a mission in the United States (Ohio and Wisconsin). In 1850, Rev. James Way and James Rowe were sent to begin work in Adelaide, South Australia, and in 1855 Rowe opened a mission in Victoria. A New Zealand mission commenced in 1877. In 1885 the Society sent two missionaries to Yunnan, China, under the auspices of the China Inland Mission. This included Samuel Pollard, who became the most famed missionary leader amongst the Flowery Miao, a minority nationality. The Women's Missionary league of the Bible Christian Missionary Society was organised as an auxiliary to the Society in 1892, with special reference to the work in China. The work of the Society was affected by the creation of an independent Canadian Conference in 1854, and likewise in South Australia in 1876 and Victoria in 1886. In Canada in 1884, the Bible Christians followed the example of the MNC in Canada and united with the other Methodist churches. In 1895 they united with the Wesleyans in Queensland, and in 1896 the same thing happened in New Zealand. In 1900 the Bible Christians were involved in another 'Methodist Union' in the South Australian Mission, and in 1902 this was repeated in Victoria.

The Missionary Society of the United Methodist Free Churches was formed in 1857, by a union of the Wesleyan Association with certain churches of the Wesleyan Reformers. At the time of the union in 1857, the Wesleyan Association had several missions in Jamaica and the Australian colonies, which were continued by the new body. Following the amalgamation of the two churches a special Foreign Mission Fund was started, and as a first step Rev. Joseph New was sent to Sierra Leone. In 1860 a Foreign Missionary Committee was formed to develop the overseas work. Additional men were sent to strengthen the work in Jamaica and Sierra Leone, and entirely new missions were undertaken in East Africa, Tasmania and Australia. In 1864, Rev. W. R. Fuller was sent to China to begin work in the city of Ningpo. In 1865 the Jamaica Mission undertook work at Bocas del Toro, on the Isthmus of Panama, in order to minister to the Jamaicans who had settled there in search of employment. In 1878 the work in China was extended to Wenchow. In 1892 the UMFC Missions in Australia and Tasmania formed two independent 'Assemblies'. In 1896 the UMFC joined with the Bible Christians and Wesleyans in New Zealand to form the Methodist Church of New Zealand, and in 1902 the same three Churches entered upon a similar union in Australia. In 1912 there was a union in Jamaica, between the UMFC and the Wesleyan churches. This extended to Bocas del Toro.

Women's work in the United Methodist Church was represented by the United Methodist Women's Missionary Auxiliary. This organisation incorporated the Ladies' Missionary Auxiliaries of the United Methodist Free Churches. These auxiliaries are first mentioned in the UMFC Annual Report for 1898, which reports that 'the last Annual Assembly laid special emphasis on better organisation in our Sunday Schools, and the creating of ladies' missionary auxiliary societies as a means to this end'. The Annual Report of 1900 devotes a section to these Ladies' Missionary Auxiliaries, reporting the spread of the movement within the denomination and the formation of district branches.

In 1932 the United Methodist Church joined the Wesleyan Methodists and the Primitive Methodists Church to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain. The Uniting Conference was held on 20 September 1932. The work of the UMMS merged with that of the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists to form the Methodist Missionary Society (MMS).

Further reading: A S Hopkins, Trail Blazers and Road Makers: a History of the East African Mission of the United Methodist Church (1928).


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the United Methodist Missionary Society, comprising Minutes of the Foreign Missions Committee, 1908-1933, and a South West China Minute Book, 1905-1932. Minutes exist for the constituent churches as follows: the Methodist New Connexion Missionary Society, 1844-1908, the Bible Christian Home and Foreign Missionary Society, 1861-1909, and the United Methodist Free Churches' Foreign Missions, 1869-1883, 1900-1908.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The records of the United Methodist Missionary Society are divided into 'Home' and 'China' sections. There are separate sections for the Methodist New Connexion Missionary Society, the Bible Christian Home and Foreign Missionary Society, and the United Methodist Free Church Foreign Missions. Within each sub-fonds, minutes are arranged in chronological order.

Conditions governing access:

Unrestricted, but only to be viewed on microfiche.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Apply to Keeper of Archives and Special Collections in first instance.

Finding aids:

A published guide by Elizabeth Bennett, Methodist Missionary Society Archives on Microfiche, is available.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited on permanent loan by the Methodist Missionary Society from 1978 onwards.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds the records of the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society/Methodist Church Overseas Division (Ref: MMS), including papers of missionaries of UMMS and its constituent denominations - among them Samuel Pollard - in the biographical series. The United Methodist Missionary Society was the only Methodist society to have mission stations in Kenya at the time of Methodist Union of 1932, when its work was incorporated into the Methodist Missionary Society. Although the Synod minutes and correspondence from Kenya dates from after 1932, the work of the UMMS will be reflected in these records. The other sub-fonds comprise records of the Women's Work of the Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: MMS/WW) and records of the Primitive Methodist Missionary Society (Ref: MMS/PMMS). SOAS holds the Methodist Missionary Society Library, consisting of approximately 6,500 books and pamphlets. The Library includes United Methodist Free Churches Missionary Reports (1868-1916) and United Methodist Reports (1917-1932).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
16 May 2000, revised May 2002

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