by James W. Reapsome
Missions are doing something to nationalize the churches. A spot check by Evangelical Missions Quarterly reveals some interesting developments.
Missions are doing something to nationalize the churches. A spot check by Evangelical Missions Quarterly reveals some interesting developments.
Kenya. The World Gospel Mission is restructuring mission-church relations so that all mission activities will be under the "umbrella" of the national church. The African moderator of the church will be the key administrative officer for the entire program, not the mission superintendent. All properties will be in the hands of the boards of governors for institutions, or the church.
Congo. The Board of Missions/ Services of the Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches of North America has made "some rather drastic strategy changes" including: negotiate withdrawal of financial support of institutions; strengthen the training of leadership in evangelism, church planting, and administration; negotiate financial grants with the church to replace missionaries with Congolese in the Bible school; provide a minimum program of social and economic development which will enhance the life of the church in its society; place the bookstores on a business basis and transfer to the church or to individuals; arrange for full government subsidy of the high school program.
The Evangelical Free Church of America is in the process of transferring the charter to the national church, the Evangelical Church of the Ubangi. The church is now totally independent.
Grace Mission has 110 "strictly indigenous" churches. They build their own churches, support their own pastors, and "are run by the nationals." The secretary and head of all the churches is a national. He and other national leaders are members of the Field Council and have a definite voice "in running the whole field."
Sierra Leone. The Wesleyan Church has begun the process for the registration and establishment of the Sierra Leone Wesleyan Church in place of the American Wesleyan Mission in Sierra Leone. The constitution has been drawn up and is being studied for approval.
The Sierra Leone Church of the United Brethren in Christ will assume full support of its conference expenditures in 1972. This has been accomplished by a partial reduction of funds from the U.S. over the past four years. The education secretary in charge of primary schools has been replaced by a young Sierra Leonean. The principals in charge of two secondary schools are Sierra Leoneans.
Central African Republic. The Foreign Missionary Society of the Brethren Church has begun steps to place mission properties and institutions in the name of the national church. Committees composed of Africans are encouraged to assume greater responsibility in the operation of hospitals, schools, and literature work.
Nigeria. The Sudan Interior Mission continues to nationalize the program of the education department. Three major institutions still have missionary principals; all the rest are nationalized. Plans call for the complete nationalization of school administrations within three years. In the medical department, the first of eight leprosaria has been turned over to a national administrator. Plans have been made for the complete nationalization of the Bible training ministry. A Nigerian vice principal has been appointed at Igbaja Seminary. The nationalization of the radio ministry has been implemented by the appointment of a Nigerian, Rev. David Olitayo, by the Evangelical Church of West Africa as radio pastor.
India. The Evangelical Alliance Mission has amended its India Field Constitution and changed its name to The Evangelical Alliance Ministries Trust. This makes possible the inclusion of national leaders in the direction and operation of all field ministries. Under this arrangement nationals will be able to carry on all the present ministries if missionaries are withdrawn. Church properties will be held in the name of the trust. Local congregations can assume full control of such properties when requirements for leadership and finances are met.
The Assemblies of God held an All-India Conference on Evangelism at Bangalore to emphasize the responsibility of Indians to reach Indians for Jesus Christ. There has been "a new wave" of Indian evangelism since then.
The American Advent Mission Society established a national conference and placed nationals in key committees. Nationals were elected to take leadership positions in the conference; missionaries have begun to resign from certain committees. The national president will take full responsibility in 1972. The mission has begun to remit funds directly to the conference treasurer. A ten-year "pull back" program has begun, with one-tenth of mission-paid salaries to be withheld each year and assumed by the conference and the churches. A Trust Association has been formed to receive and supervise all properties. These are mostly church buildings, but eventually the Bible school, Christian education building and dispensaries will be turned over to the trust. A study is being made of the structure of the mission and its relation to the national conference. Probably a "parallel structure" will be instituted for the two organizations.
The Mennonite Brethren plan to withdraw all permanent missionaries by the end of 1972 in three equal annual stages. If necessary, a brief extension of medical services will be considered beyond 1972. Fellowship with the church in India will continue through periodic special ministries and Christian nurture. Financial grants with the church will be negotiated to meet specific needs.
All missionaries of the Ramabai Mukti Mission are under the supervision of Indians. The Indian pastor and the church board govern the church and direct the evangelistic outreach and the daily operations.
Churches of the International Christian Fellowship in the Tamil and Telugu fields are "fully indigenous." The mission is giving assistance in organizing a national church conference.
The Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends has made plans to have its hospital nationalized by an all-Indian staff. The Christian education arm of the Evangelical Fellowship of India is now in the hands of Indians.
Japan. The Japan Evangelical Mission has established a policy of complete financial independence by the national church. The church has been independent in organization and administration, but the mission has assisted with small subsidies for pastors working in pioneer areas. Under the new plan churches will be asked to give 10 percent of their undesignated offerings for these pastors.
Far Eastern Gospel Crusade has adopted a program for the transfer of responsibility from missionary to national pastor, and a sharing of responsibility for the economic and continued development of the group. There is a reciprocal relationship in which the pastors are asking the missionaries to help them in evangelistic outreach, and the missionaries are asking pastors for their counsel and pastoral ministry in the development of the church. The national church leadership is involved in the earliest planning for evangelistic thrusts in new areas. The churches are committed to see that evangelism results in the establishment of churches.
The Mennonite Brethren are negotiating for the transfer of their one-third interest in the Osaka Biblical Seminary to the national church. They also are working toward a reduction in missionary personnel and funds for the seminary. They hope to transfer missionaries to new areas for evangelism and church planting.
Korea. The 13,000-member Assemblies of Cod church in Seoul is building a $3,000,000 church building entirely with its own money.
The Evangelical Alliance Mission has directed its personnel away from "direct church planting" toward work with existing churches in a program of strengthening the local ministry and assisting local churches in their efforts to establish new congregations. Missionaries will no longer be the church planters and the church leaders, but assistants and helpers to the local churches.
Taiwan. The Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends has put national pastors on the Missionary Council. The number is increasing each year. All churches are manned by national pastors. The churches are asked to assume all operating costs "as soon as they are able."
Overseas Crusades does not have its own churches, but has a team of U.S. and national personnel. The Taiwan advisory board of Chinese and one missionary meets monthly to review the ministry, to advise the Taiwan team, and to send recommendations to the U.S. A Chinese has been appointed field director. Both U.S. and national missionaries are responsible to him. He is a member of the mission’s board of directors.
Philippines. Nationals have been appointed by Far Eastern Gospel Crusade to "high levels of responsibility" at Febias College of Bible. Missionaries are working with several independent church groups to encourage the emergence of national leadership.
The Evangelical Free Church of the Philippines, the national church body, was organized and made an independent group.
The Wesleyan Church missionary field superintendent was replaced by a Filipino. The new book of church government follows an indigenous policy. Approval was granted for holding the first provisional general conference. The first Filipino missionary family was sent to Indonesia. The national church began a project to establish a headquarters near Manila.
Hong Kong. The Free Methodist support of pastors is on a five-year program with a 20 percent cutback in subsidy. The chairmanship of the conference executive committee is to be rotated among nationals and one missionary.
Peru. The South America Mission has prepared the groundwork for the formation of a national church organization, to be the church counterpart of the mission, through whom and with whom the mission will work. A committee of seven — three Peruvians, two Indians, and two missionaries— has been appointed to prepare a draft of a constitution and to call a general assembly of all mission-associated churches as well as unaligned churches.
The Andes Evangelical Mission is associated with the Iglesia Evangelica Peruana, which is completely autonomous. The mission became associated officially with the church last year.
The Regions Beyond Missionary Union adopted a policy of "strategic withdrawal." Missionaries will be withdrawn from the older, established church centers and will be redeployed to new, unevangelized areas. They will continue in service ministries: Bible institute and printing. Full administrative control of the Christian education program, radio work, youth work and the literacy program is to be turned over to the national church, together with the money formerly provided by and administered by the mission on these programs. The mission subsidy will be continued for another five years. This procedure, which is short of complete fusion, will allow the mission to continue its evangelistic mandate as a separate entity, while leaving the national church in full control of its own programs.
Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador. The churches which were a part of the Friends Mission of Central America (California Yearly Meeting) have been organized into an autonomous Yearly Meeting. Missionaries continue to cooperate with the new body.
The director of the Quiche Bible Institute, a cooperative work between the Primitive Methodist International Mission Board and the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. is now a national. Nationals now control the Primitive Methodist national church conference. A national is directing the mission’s hospital in Guatemala. Nationals are teaching literacy under the direction of the national conference.
Central American Mission churches in El Salvador were required to have their executive committee include at least 50 percent missionaries. Under a reform move, the constitution of the national church has been changed so that it has full voice in the selection of those who should represent the churches as members of the executive committee. Missionaries may still belong to the executive committee, but they are chosen by nationals, not imposed on them.
Mexico. Mexican Militant Mission has begun a program to achieve full support of national pastors by the churches. The Mennonite Brethren plan to withdraw all permanent North American personnel.
Guyana. The Church of God continues partial support of its churches, but all funds are handled by nationals. Operating through a national council chosen by pastors, the national church directs all activities. A national will be appointed Supervisor. The mission feels that its work is progressing as well under complete nationalization as it did when U.S. personnel were there.
Jamaica. The Missionary Church in Jamaica elected its first black Jamaican as president. By-laws have been changed to encourage Jamaican leadership. The church is autonomous, but Jamaican delegates have often elected officers from among missionaries.
Venezuela. The Orinoco River Mission is studying a plan for the disposition of mission property, and for a new relation in which it would be "subservient" to the national church.
Chile. The national church organization of the Gospel Mission of South America is headed by a board of five Chileans and two missionaries, who are elected by the church convention. General fund money is turned over to nationals for building and evangelism projects. The heavily-subsidized Bible institute day residence program has been changed to an evening program, so nationals will more easily be able to maintain it.
Dominican Republic. The total work of the Commission on Overseas Missions of The Evangelical Mennonite Church is under the director of the national conference organization. Previously, some matters had been church-directed, other mission-directed. The home board lends missionary personnel to the national church.
All of the work of the West Indies Mission is under the national church, not only the assignment and evaluation of missionary personnel but also the designation of money. Missionary finance is handled individually through the home office.
Argentina. The administration and operation of the Russian Bible Institute of the Slavic Gospel Association is in the hands of national Slavic leaders and teachers. The school continues to receive a large portion of its financial support from the U.S.
Colombia. The Assemblies of God elected its first national superintendent. One missionary, elected by nationals, serves on the executive presbytery.
The Mennonite Brethren are working with the church to transfer missionaries to new areas of evangelism and church planting. The mission will discontinue operation of the high school, but will negotiate financial aid for the church to continue the school or to send students to other schools.
The South America Mission has drawn up a constitution which is being ratified by the national church. The result will be an association of churches with which and through which the mission can work.
Brazil. The Mennonite Brethren are negotiating with the national brotherhood for continued participation in cooperative evangelism and church planting. The mission will withdraw personnel from the Bible school by 1973. The theological extension program will be transferred to the church by 1972.
Fourteen Terena Indian churches of the South America Mission elected a committee of six nationals to draw up plans for a fellowship of Terena churches in South Mato Grasso. Subsequently, a general assembly will be convened for representatives from all of these churches.
In general. The Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society hopes eventually to internationalize its board so that it is not limited to U.S. citizens. In the work as a whole, there would be no position limited to U.S. citizens. The mission has assigned men from Jamaica, Cuba and Canada to work in the U.S. In Costa Rica, most of the missionaries are from other Central American countries.
The Latin America Mission, whose churches in Costa Rica and Colombia have previously been organized as independent associations, is working on plans for restructuring the mission "to root it more thoroughly in Latin America and enable it to become more fully an arm of the Latin American church, rather than a North American organization which offers services in Latin America."
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