- Mott, John R.
- ( 1865-19 55 )Methodist ecumenicist and missionary supporterJohn Raleigh Mott was born on May 25, 1865, in Livingston Manor, New York, but grew up in Postville, Iowa. His father, a lumber merchant, was elected the first mayor of the town.Mott attended Upper Iowa University, a small Methodist preparatory school, but transferred to Cornell University. While there, he became an active leader in the local Young Men's Christian Association. He represented Cornell at the 1886 summer collegiate conference run by Dwight L. Moody, and was among the hundreds of students who signed a commitment to work for world missions. Those students became the core of the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM).Following his graduation in 1888, he became national secretary of the Intercollegiate Y.M.C.A. of the u.S.A. and Canada, and continued to work for the Y.M.C.A. for 50 years. During World War I, Mott served as general secretary of the National War Work Council.Shortly after joining the Y.M.C.A. staff, Mott became chairman of the SVM executive committee. In 1895, with Karl Fries of SwEDEN,he organized the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) and became its general secretary. He subsequently went on a two-year world tour and organized a number of national WSCF chapters. Thanks to his charismatic and effective leadership, he was chosen presiding officer of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910.In 1900, Mott wrote possibly his most famous book, The Evangelization of the World in This Generation. His challenge to missionize the entire world, basic to the call of the Student Volunteer Movement, inspired a generation of Protestants to become missionaries or financial supporters.In the years after World War I, Mott turned his attention from student work to the wider mission field and to ecumenism. In 1921, he was selected chairman of the International Missionary Council, which aimed to promote cooperation and planning among the growing number of sending agencies, and reduce the detrimental effects of competition. He worked closely with many of the new indigenous leaders of the churches that evolved from the old Western missions.Mott was one of the founders of both the Faith and Order and Life and Work movements, the precursors to the World Council of Churches (WCC), established in 1948. Mott's room at Oxford hosted the early morning prayer sessions in 1937 for the leaders who were drawing up plans for the future WCC. Many of those in the room had first met Mott in the WsCF. Mott's lifetime of global work was acknowledged when he was named first honorary president of the WCC.Mott died on January 31, 1955. He is most remembered today for aiding and celebrating the emergence of local leaders in the many new non-Western churches. After World War II, he also took the lead in bringing German and Japanese leaders back into the ecumenical fellowship.Among Mott's many achievements was his persistent effort to preserve the historical records of the movements he aided. He helped found the Institute of social and Religious Research and the Department of social and Industrial Research of the International Missionary Council. His records have now been deposited at Yale University and elsewhere.See also United Methodist Church.Further reading:■ Galen M. Fisher, John R. Mott: Architect of Cooperation and Unity (New York: Association Press, 1952)■ C. Howard Hopkins, John R. Mott, 1865-1955: a Biography (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1980)■ John R. Mott, The Decisive Hour of Christian Missions (New York: Student Volunteer Movement, 1910); , The Evangelization of the World in This Generation (New York: Student Volunteer Movement, 1900); , The World's Student Christian Federation (n.p.: WSCF, 1920).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.