The Beginnings of NZCMS
On a Friday evening in April 1799, a small group gathered at the Castle and Falcon pub in London. They were meeting to form a new society which would spread the Gospel to the world – to disseminate ‘treasures more valuable than silver and gold…the offerings of spiritual peace and Christian freedom.’ These men were part of the Clapham Sect, a network of evangelical Christians that included well-known figures such as William Wilberforce.
The Clapham Sect had long been discussing ways to preach the Gospel and plant churches in Australia, the East Indies, Southeast Asia and Africa. The Church Missionary Society (CMS) was born from these conversations, and the first missionaries were sent out to Africa, India and then New Zealand.
In New Zealand, the CMS missionaries were amongst the earliest European settlers. At first there were very few converts; however the Gospel started to spread, and Māori began turning to God. It was these new believers who became the most effective at reaching their own people.
New Zealanders soon began thinking beyond Aotearoa, to the world beyond; and in 1892, 78 years after the first missionaries arrived to our shores, the New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS) was formed. Less than a year later, a woman named Marie Pasley became the first missionary sent out by NZCMS, serving in Japan for 29 years. Since that time, our missionaries have served in countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, Europe and the Pacific.
It is by God’s grace and provision that we continue to prepare, send and support partners in mission, and empower the Church to participate in God’s mission wherever they are.
Learn More about the Story of Mission in Aotearoa New Zealand
The Clapham Sect
The Gospel in Aotearoa
Our Story: Aotearoa
This fascinating book tells the story of mission in Aotearoa through the lens of the New Zealand Church Missionary Society. Written by a range of authors, it provides a rich history and valuable perspective. Please contact us to purchase a hard copy of the book.
If you would like to engage further with the conversation about identity and history in Aotearoa New Zealand, we recommend the work of the Karuwhā Trust. They seek to help people know the story they are a part of by connecting communities through haerenga, story and service.
Zinzendorf and the Moravians
The Clapham Sect
The Church Missionary Society - King and Kingdom
Rosie discusses the founding of the Church Missionary Society in 1799, speaking of their passion for sharing the Good News of Jesus and fighting against injustice.