One significant part of the Faith2Share network of agencies is the Church Mission Society (CMS) which was founded in 1799 but has grown, over the years, into an international family of agencies, all of whom now play their part within the Faith2Share network.
The oldest member of the family is CMS Britain, founded in 1799 during the fermenting of the Evangelical Awakening in Europe, by John Venn, William Wilberforce and others. Its first missionaries, German Lutherans, arrived in what is now Sierra Leone in 1804.
Today many mission agencies are becoming more involved in Business as Mission but for CMS this is nothing new. In 1808 CMS sent ‘lay settlers’ to New Zealand to be ‘pioneers of industry and civilisation’ and through this method to ‘introduce the Gospel’ to the native population. New Zealand rapidly became one of the most important mission contexts for CMS in its first century and in 1892 this led to the establishment of the New Zealand Church Missionary Society. NZCMS today has around forty missionaries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East andEurope.
As part of its commitment to ending the slave trade, CMS began work in the Caribbean in 1818 establishing many schools and other institutions. This work virtually collapsed in 1841 but in 1895 CMS in London sent Bishop Tugwell to Jamaica specifically to recruit Jamaican missionaries for work in Africa. The Jamaica CMS was formed and their recruits were trained at a former CMS college. Jamaica CMS now focuses on the mission of the Church within Jamaica itself. Their three priorities are evangelism, education and development.
The second oldest CMS is not in New Zealand or Jamaica but rather CMS Australia. In 1825 an Auxiliary CMS was established in Sydney with Samuel Marsden as President and the objective of mission work “amongst the Aborigines and Blacks”. Soon two CMS missionaries, who had been defeated by the climate in Sierra Leone, were sent from London to begin this work. Early CMS reports speak of the appalling degradation of the First Nation peoples (or Aborigines) and how the society committed itself to mission ‘on the margins’ in this new land.
CMS Australia is now the second largest member of the CMS family with missionaries working in many countries around the world. Its three priorities in mission are outreach in the Islamic world, urban mission and work amongst students.
The work of CMS Canada has long since been absorbed within the mission of the Anglican Church of Canada but it is worth recalling that in 1894 Wycliffe College were seeking to send missionaries from Canada and asked CMS for help in doing this. As a result CMS Canada was established sending many missionaries to North West Canada to work with First Nation (Red Indian) people. CMS Canada also demonstrated CMS’s commitment to work amongst other faith communities by sending missionaries to Japan. In 2007 Mission Together Inc. was launched as a new mission agency in Canada, inspired by the earlier work of CMS and working with other CMSs through theFaith2Share network.
CMS Ireland has worked closely with CMS Britain for 190 years. In 1814 three of the London committee of CMS went to Dublin (taking four days for the journey!) establishing the Hibernian Auxiliary which has, over the years, grown into the vibrant CMS Ireland that we know today. Sharing resources with CMS Britain for many years the Irish society works in both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland and is the most significant mission agency of the Church of Ireland. Today CMS Ireland describes itself as a Mission and Development agency of the church working in eleven countries from Sudan to Nepal and Egypt, with a major commitment to youth work.
In 1996 CMS-USA joined the CMS family, bringing with it a clear focus on multi-cultural teams in mission. The agency is currently working in close cooperation with the South American Missionary Society, USA.
In 2008 CMS Africa became a fully autonomous mission agency working out of Nairobi and Cape Coast, Ghana. Now playing itspart within the Faith2Share network CMS Africa seeks to envision African churches for a local and global mission, equip them to raise resources for mission work and mobilise Africans for mission service.