International Missionary Council

Founded at Lake Mohonk, New York, in 1921, the IMC was designed to be a council of councils. It was an outgrowth of the great World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh* in 1910, responding to the increasing desire for more cooperation among Protestant Christian missions. Its membership was restricted to regional cooperative agencies, such as the national missionary councils in Europe and America and the national Christian councils in what were considered the mission lands. The total membership ultimately included thirty- eight agencies. Mission boards or societies were not members, except as they were represented in these regional agencies.

The IMC was not an administrative, but a consultative and advisory body. Its chief function was to stimulate cooperation, arrange for joint conferences, make careful surveys or studies of the missionary enterprise, and recommend procedures. Its major conferences were those of Jerusalem (1928), Madras (1938), Whitby (1947), Willingen (1952), Ghana (1957), and New Delhi (1961). Its official organ became The International Review of Missions, which had started publication in 1912. It also published a number of missionary studies of permanent value. During World War II and until 1955, it assisted the “orphaned” missions whom the war had cut off from support from their homelands. At the Ghana assembly it created a theological education fund to assist theological schools overseas.

After the formation of the World Council of Churches* at Amsterdam in 1948, the IMC came under increasing pressure to become the missionary arm of that body. At the cost of losing a few of its members, in 1961 it took the final step at New Delhi of integration with the WCC as its Commission/Division of World Mission and Evangelism.