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100 Years Appeal: The Beginnings of CMS SANT

The Church Missionary Society was established in 1799 by a small group of evangelicals in the UK, including John Newton and William Wilberforce. In 1825, CMS-UK formed a CMS outpost in Sydney and by the end of 1892, independent committees under the name ‘Church Missionary Association’ were established in both Sydney and Melbourne. The first missionary to be sent out from Australia was Helen Philips in 1892 to Sri Lanka.

In the early 1900s, the colony of South Australia was struggling to survival and so there was very little momentum for worldwide mission. In December 1910, the Revd A.R. Ebbs came to Adelaide from the Victoria committee to see if he could find commitment to the vision of CMS among South Australians. He quickly rallied a new group of people who could serve as a local committee. There was a great effort by this small committee to establish a Branch of the Church Missionary Association, but they experienced a number of setbacks due to church politics. In 1914, the first Summer School was launched, which set the pattern of Bible teaching and missionary talks that are characteristic of Summer Encounter conferences since. In 1916, the Adelaide committee, sent out their first gospel worker from Adelaide, Miss M. M. Miller to Uganda. Finally, at the Summer School in Adelaide at the end of 1917, it was announced that the Church Missionary Society Federal Committee had accepted the application of the Adelaide committee to be formally the South Australian Branch of the Church Missionary Society. The announcement at the 1917 Summer School read,

“the Council have unanimously resolved that it is desirable in the interests of the work of the Society that the proposed Branch should be formed, and I am commissioned by the Council to declare it, here and now, to be formed.”

From 1921 – 1950, CMS South Australia sent out 16 gospel workers to Egypt, China, the Sudan, Tanzania, Iran, Uganda, and India. Interestingly, apart from Tanzania, all other locations are now considered in 2018 to be secure locations. From its beginnings, CMS SANT has been sending gospel workers to locations in the world that can be dangerous for the sake of making the gospel of Jesus Christ known.

Over the past 100 years, CMS SANT has sent out about 96 long-term gospel workers to work cross-culturally to commend Christ to the world’s gospel poor. Currently, we have 16 workers serving globally in Namibia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cambodia, South-East Asia, East Asia, and Chile. We are thankful that God has grown the small committee of men and women who first started CMS SANT in 1910–1917 to the CMS presence serving in South Australia and the Northern Territory today to work with the local church under the global vision of a world that knows Jesus.

The local presence of CMS SANT would not be possible, however, without the commitment and generosity of prayer and financial supporters. Would you consider supporting the work of CMS SANT by giving a one-off gift to the 100-years appeal? For information about the CMS SANT 100-years appeal, please click here.