Musical Notes: “To God be the Glory,” Hymns on Piano; “Jesus Keep me near the Cross,” Salt of the Sound; “O God, You are my God” (Psalm 63), Celtic Psalms, Vol. 1. The music for first two hymns was composed by W. H. Doane, father of Marguerite and Ida Doane, co-founders of OMSC. The tune of the last song is “Eleanor Plunkett,” an original harp melody by O’Carolan (1670–1738). It is sung by Rev. Kiran Young Wimberly and accompanied by the McGraths. Kiran is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and a spiritual director in N. Ireland.

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The Early Years: Houses of Fellowship

What we now call OMSC began officially in 1922 as the Society for Foreign Mission Welfare and was called the “Houses of Fellowship.” Founders Marguerite and Ida Doane (daughters of renowned hymnwriter William Howard Doane) sought to provide a place for North American missionaries on furlough to recover their health and have their spirits lifted before returning to their fields abroad.

The Doanes established a complex of missionary furlough apartments in Ventnor-by-the-Sea, Absecon Island, New Jersey, and housed nearly 3,400 adult missionaries in their first 25 years (in addition to another four thousand children, pastors, and other visitors). These early visitors represented 106 mission agencies and denominational boards, 97 fields, and 443 overseas stations.

Marguerite Doane
Marguerite Doane
Ida-Doane
Ida Doane

EQUIPPING MISSIONARIES FOR THE JOURNEY

The Society for Foreign Mission Welfare that operated the Houses of Fellowship changed its name in 1967 to the Overseas Ministries Study Center (OMSC). The name change coincided with the introduction of a series of classes for the continuing education of resident missionaries in matters biblical, theological, and cross-cultural. In those days, OMSC’s residents were almost exclusively North American missionaries serving with various denominational boards and independent agencies. These courses, open to the general public, have been led by some of the most respected scholars and practitioners in the world of missions. 

1976: Advancing Mission Research with the IBMR

When Dr. Gerald H. Anderson was appointed as executive director in 1976, one of his first initiatives was to expand OMSC’s outreach with the publication of a full-blown academic journal. Building on the legacy of the Occasional Bulletin from the Missionary Research Library, the International Bulletin of Mission Research continues to serve scholars and practitioners interested in mission and World Christianity, representing a broad range of denominations and research interests. It has appeared quarterly since January 1977.

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1987: OMSC moves to New Haven

As study became a more central component of community life at OMSC, the corporation decided to move from Ventnor to a more cosmopolitan venue that could offer academic opportunities, resources for research, and social and cultural enrichment. After visits to several potential sites, the trustees voted in 1985 to relocate to New Haven, Connecticut. Until December, 2019, we were located just a block from Yale Divinity School, whose Day Missions Library is regarded by many as the premier mission research library in the world.

“Whatever may or may not have been the sins of our missionary predecessors, … the commission to disciple all the nations stands at the center of the church’s mandate, and a church that forgets this, or marginalizes it, forfeits the right to the titles ‘catholic’ and ‘apostolic.’ ”

— Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, inaugural address, New Haven, Oct. 5, 1987

For a more detailed history, see Renewal for Mission by Robert T. Coote (PDF).

2020: OMSC at Princeton Theological Seminary

The OMSC House on the Campus of Princeton Theological Seminary
The OMSC House on the Campus of Princeton Theological Seminary
On June 5, 2019, OMSC and Princeton Theological Seminary signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to relocate OMSC’s operations and programs to the Princeton Theological Seminary campus, beginning with the 2020–2021 academic year. For more information please click here (PTS website) or here (Religious News Service website). In making this strategic move, OMSC will continue our work of amplifying the voices of the World Christian movement for generations to come. See News & Events for more on what’s happening now at OMSC.

Reflections on OMSC

For those who may be new to our work, we thought it would be helpful to invite some of the leading scholars who have contributed to the work of OMSC and the IBMR to look back on the New Haven years and to look forward to our future at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Professor Emeritus Stephen Bevans, SVD and Professor Roger Schroeder, SVD, Catholic Theological Union in Chicago

Professor Dana Robert, Boston University School of Theology

Dr. Darrell Whiteman, Founder and Director of Global Development

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OMSC Directors & Executive Directors

  • Ida and Marguerite Doane (1922 – 1953)
  • Alice Bell (1954 – 1967)
  • Marjorie Roberts (1967 – 1973)
  • R. Pierce Beaver (1973 – 1976)
  • Gerald H. Anderson (1976 – 2000)
  • Jonathan J. Bonk (2000 – 2013)
  • J. Nelson Jennings (2013 – 2015)
  • Darrell L. Whiteman, Interim (2015 – 2016)
  • Thomas J. Hastings (2016 – Present) CV
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