The Church of Christ Mission Photography Collection is an ongoing work started in partnership with the University of Southern California's International Mission Photography Archive - IMPA project. Our contribution to the IMPA project contained photographs selected from 18 different collections, all taken between the years of 1880 and 1960. As the collection represented here grows, it will include images beyond the dates specified by USC's IMPA project. All the photos represented in this collection are housed within Abilene Christian University's Special Collections and Archives.
Before 1915, Churches of Christ and International Missions were not a priority, though a handful of missionaries and their families were already located overseas: William Bishop in Japan; J.M. McCaleb in Japan; and John Sherriff in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Through the work of Don Carlos Janes and other missionary promoters, there were at least 56 missionaries and their families working outside of the United States of America by 1930. This number stayed steady, despite economic depression, doctrinal controversies within Churches of Christ, and even World War II.
Following the cessation of hostilities at the end of 1945, two new European mission efforts came into being: a mission to Germany led by Roy Palmer and Otis Gatewood in the late 1940s, and a mission to Italy led by Cline and Gerald Paden. A large "boom" in mission efforts by Churches of Christ did not really begin in earnest, however, until the late 1950s when churches began sending out large numbers of missionaries all over the world. This is possibly do to several factors: new economic prosperity, a desire to combat the specter of "godless" communism, and a larger understanding of the world after World War II. In 1945, Churches of Christ had missionaries working in 22 countries, and by 1969 there were missionaries working in 45.
This collection showcases photographs of the missionaries, their families, the people with whom they lived and worked with, and the contexts in which they lived their daily lives. The collection also illustrates various methods and approaches missionaries from Churches of Christ employed as they sought to conduct their work in a variety of cultures and historical contexts.
Abilene Christian University's Special Collections and Archives is grateful for the tremendous work of Jeremy Hegi, who researched, scanned, and created invaluable metadata for the majority of this collection.