Council for World Mission Library
Name of creator(s):
Administrative/Biographical history: The Council for World Mission is a co-operative of 31 Christian denominations world wide, and was established in its present form in 1977. It grew out of the London Missionary Society (founded 1795), the Commonwealth (Colonial) Missionary Society (1836) and the Presbyterian Board of Missions (1847).
During the period after 1945, the work of the London Missionary Society (LMS) evolved from traditional mission fieldwork to a more democratic and decentralised structure based on the development of local churches and local church leadership. This response was brought about not only in answer to so-called 'decolonisation' but also to social and political change and demographic shifts in the post-war years. In 1966 the LMS ceased to exist as a Society and merged with the Commonwealth Missionary Society to form the Congregational Council for World Mission (CCWM). The Presbyterian Church of England Foreign Missions Committee joined with the Congregational Church of England and Wales (a constituent body of CCWM) in 1972 to form the United Reformed Church. This led to a name change in 1973 when the CCWM became the Council for World Mission (Congregational and Reformed). The CWM (Congregational and Reformed) was again restructured to create the Council for World Mission in 1977. This structure was more internationalist, reflecting greater ecumenism and church independence, and the end of Western dominance in the mission field. The CWM today is a global body, which aids resource sharing for missionary activity by the CWM community of churches.
The Colonial Missionary Society was founded in 1836 to work with British colonies, and to provide ministers for communities in Canada and America. In 1956 it changed its name to the Commonwealth Missionary Society, merging with the LMS in 1966.
The Council for World Mission is at present administered as a charity, under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners (comprised on 14 June 1966 and revised 29 March 1977), with the express aim 'to spread the knowledge of Christ throughout the world'. The Council includes members appointed by its constituent bodies, and meets once every two years. An Executive Committee is appointed by the Council, and holds at least two meetings per year. A General Secretary and other officers are also appointed by the Council.
In 2001 a consultation paper, A New Structure of Governance for CWM, was published, which will lead to a structural change in the way in which the Council for World Mission is administered.
Further information on the history of the London Missionary Society can be found in the official histories:
For details of related periodical publications, refer to the Scope and content field.
Custodial history: The Library of the Council for World Mission comprises both the General Library of the London Missionary Society, along with works donated by the medical missionary William Lockhart (1811-96). Lockhart’s Library was collected over fifty years, during time spent in China, London and Europe, and includes works in both European and East Asia languages (primarily Chinese). Lockhart donated his Library to the London Missionary Society in 1892.
Immediate source of acquisition: The CWM Library was deposited on permanent loan by the Congregational Council for World Mission (later the Council for World Mission) in 1973.
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Scope and content/abstract: The collection includes works relating to the London Missionary Society and its co-founding bodies, the Commonwealth (Colonial) Missionary Society and the Presbyterian Board of Missions. These include several histories, and LMS related periodicals. The latter include the Annual report of the LMS, Transactions of the Missionary Society (1804-1818), Quarterly chronicle (1815-1832), Chronicle of the London Missionary Society (1822-1950), Juvenile missionary magazine (1844-1894), and News from afar (1895-1939).
Regarding specific LMS missions, the collection includes runs of reports covering whole regions, single missions or single institutions; these are supplemented by accounts from local missionaries, local Conferences and LMS Deputations. The collection also contains biographies of many LMS missionaries and their spouses, both prominent (such as David Livingstone) and less well known. As well as works about the LMS, the collection also includes publications by LMS missionaries, on subjects ranging from evangelism to aspects of the cultures they encountered.
The collection also contains works relating to other Christian missions, such as Russian Orthodox missions, Catholic missions (particularly in East Asia, and including material on the Chinese rites controversy), and Protestant missions (including bodies such as the Church Missionary Society, the Baptist Missionary Society and the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade).
The collection also contains works on many aspects of the Christian mission: theology and theory; history; geography and atlases; organisation, finance, public relations and evaluation; evangelism and preaching (including hymns and music); relation of Christianity to other religions; cultural and anthropological aspects; special work (to specific ethnic or religious groups; rural, educational, industrial and vocational training; linguistic work; work with women; medical work); missionaries (including women missionaries, vocations, working conditions); interdenominational co-operation and Christian unification; indigenous Church administration and development of local churches.
In addition, the London Missionary Society prepared for its work by building up a large intercultural library on the geography, history, natural history, anthropology, religion, philosophy, literature, science and medicine of the peoples with whom it was to be in contact, contributed to greatly by the missionaries themselves. The collection has good holdings of early works on travel and exploration; translations of Asian classics into European languages; dictionaries and grammars; and the earliest imprints of many Asian, African and Pacific languages. For some languages these missionary publications provide the only known record.
System of arrangement: The Council for World Mission Library is subdivided as follows, following the lines of its historical acquisition:
Part I: Books of the Lockhart Library relating chiefly to China and the Far East, in European and Oriental Languages.
ACCESS AND USE
Language: Predominantly English, plus around 100 other languages, including c21 Western languages such as French, Latin, German and Italian, and vernacular languages of Asia, Africa, America and Oceania.
Conditions governing access: Unrestricted.
Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without permission of the owner. Apply in the first instance to the Archivist.
Finding aids: All books in the collection have the prefix CWML. The library collection has been catalogued on the SOAS online catalogue, which is also available via Telnet at: lib.soas.ac.uk
London Missionary Society and Goodeve Mabbs, Catalogue of books contained in the Lockhart Library and in the General Library of the London Missionary Society (London: London Missionary Society, 1899).
Part of the Council for World Mission Library was purchased by the National Library of Australia (NLA) in 1961, amounting to approximately 600 volumes of Chinese publications, and including an important collection of materials on the T’ai P’ing Rebellion. A catalogue to these works is now available from the NLA, and a copy is in the CWM Library at the SOAS. Further details may also be obtained on the NLA's website.
Note: Authority (where required; see Access Conditions) for consultation of the CWM Library may be be sought from the Council for World Mission.
This record was compiled with the aid of:
Date(s) of descriptions: 8th February 2002