Board of Foreign Missions

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a.k.a. - "the Board"

Presbyterian denominations are connectional organizations. Individual congregations are connected in groups (called presbyteries) within geographic regions allowing for reasonable travel between them. In turn, these regional groups are connected with each other across the nation, at an administrative and policy making level called General Assembly. This is where denominational initiative is administered. As early as 1820, the Presbyterian denominations that eventually became responsible for founding and supporting Schutz School developed a mission initiative with two emphases. One was the responsibility of the Board of National Missions, with efforts extended to needs and opportunities on the North American continent, and the other was the responsibility of the Board of Foreign Missions, whose efforts supported planting churches and providing education and medical care and training in Africa, Asia and South America. Correspondence often refers to “the Board,” meaning those people in the United States who were responsible to the General Assembly for the denomination’s mission work. The Board of Foreign Missions of the United Presbyterian Church of America (UPNA) was a small group working from a modest office in Philadelphia, to administer the funds dedicated to mission support in India, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Sudan, North and South. The directors of the Board of Foreign Missions usually had had field experience in one of those mission fields, prior to taking on office work connecting the interests of the congregations (who were the sending members of the denomination) with the missionaries and mission institutions overseas. The Board of Foreign Missions hired new missionaries, made decisions on the numbers of missionaries that the funding could support, sought funding for projects requested by the missionaries on the field, and represented the missionaries and mission interests at the General Assembly level of the denomination. The Board of Foreign Missions of the UPNA was replaced by the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations (COEMAR) when the UPNA joined with the United Presbyterian Church of the USA in 1957.