What started in a small way as a mission to educate English-speaking settlers in Newfoundland became, through broad vision and lively faith, a great missionary enterprise that paralleled the spread of the English language world-wide, through the 19th and 20th centuries.
Founded by Samuel Codner in 1823, the Society rapidly became a significant partner in laying the foundations of the Anglican infrastructure in most of the continents of the world. Since its inception it has pioneered evangelism and church-planting amongst English-speaking people.
Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the subsequent expansion of the British Empire, the Church also developed its work in the colonies. The Society was often a major player in the spread of the gospel. It occupied a sphere where it could do much good and where other societies were often either unable or unwilling to develop.
Pioneering educational work was always an important auxiliary aspect of the society’s early work. By 1846 The Newfoundland School Society had become the principal school society working across the empire, promoting literacy and numeracy amongst adults and young people alike, regardless of their denomination.
The range and diversity of the work of the Society since its beginnings can be seen in the following examples of ministry:
- City Mission work of Montreal
- Missions to railway workers in Canada
- Running a ‘Railway Saloon Church’ in Sudan
- Flying parsons and the Anglican Medical Service in Australia
- Deaconesses in Australia
- Sunday School by Post in Canada, Australia, East Africa and Europe
- Funding a second Anglican bishopric for Europe
- Seasonal chaplaincies to holidaymakers in Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain and North Africa
Initially, the Society’s ‘continental’ work in Europe was incidental to its work in British colonies. However, it began ministry to English-speakers on the continent from 1825 and as more English-speaking people moved to live and work in Europe so the ‘continental’ work of the society increased. Europe is the major focus of ICS’s outreach but we also minister around the Mediterranean, North Africa as well as the South Atlantic and South America. From its earliest days, the Society has always ministered to anyone (be they diplomats or refugees) who speak English, regardless of nationality or background.
For more information on ICS’s history click here.