Rhenish Mission
   The Rhenish Mission, the popular name of the German-based United Rhenish Missionary Society (Rheinische Missions Gesellschaft), has been one of the most important Protestant missionary agencies since 1828. The society traces its origin to 1799, when 12 Lutheran laymen meeting at Elber-field founded the Bergische Bible Society and the Wupperthal Tract Society. The two organizations later merged with the Barmen Missionary Society (founded in 1815) to form the Rhenish Mission.
   Namibia in southern Africa was the first field for the Rhenish Mission. As resources became available, work was initiated in Borneo (1830s) and China (1846). These missions continue today in such structures as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southwest Africa and the Chinese Rhenish Church-Hong Kong Synod. Much of the Chinese mission was lost following the Communist takeover, but some congregations survive in association with the China Christian Council, the primary Protestant structure in China. In 1861, the work in Borneo spread to Sumatra, which survives today as the Batak Protestant Christian Church.
   The society's work waxed and waned together with the German colonial enterprise, between the 1880s and the German defeat in World War I. The final blow was the German defeat in 1945 and the Chinese Communist revolution. What remained was gradually transferred to indigenous leadership.
   In 1971, the Rhenish Mission merged with the Bethel Society, another German missionary organization, to form the United Evangelical MissionCommunity of Churches on Three Continents. In the process of formation, the new society became more closely affiliated with the Evangelical Church in Germany, and developed a new emphasis on social service ministries.
   The United Mission is headquartered in Wuppertal, Germany.
   Further reading:
   ■ United Evangelical Mission. Available online. URL: http://www.vemission.org. Accessed on June 15, 2003
   ■ E. Theodore Bachmann and Mercia Brenne Bachmann, Lutheran Churches in the World: A Handbook (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Press, 1989).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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