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Student Volunteer Movement

A movement dedicated to enlisting Christian college students for foreign missions. It originated in a summer Bible study conference in 1886 at Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, called by the YMCA and presided over by D.L. Moody. Students like Robert P. Wilder* aroused concern for missions, and before the conference ended one hundred had signified their intention of becoming missionaries. The following school year, Wilder and another toured the schools to stimulate more interest. In 1888 the movement organized formally, with John R. Mott,* one of the original hundred, as chairman, a position he held for thirty years. The often misunderstood motto became “The evangelization of the world in this generation.” In 1891 came the first general convention in Cleveland, Ohio. After 1894 conventions were held quadrennially, reaching a peak at Des Moines, Iowa, in 1920, when 6,890 attended. Then came rapid decline. Before 1940 the SVM had lost its effectiveness. A brief resurgence after World War II was short-lived. In 1959 the organization was merged into the National Student Christian Federation which in 1966 became part of the University Christian Movement. In 1969 the UCM voted itself out of existence. During its lifetime the SVM saw more than 20,000 of its members become foreign missionaries.

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