RESTRICTIONS ON ACCESS
Open for research.
The Division of Christian Education was organized in 1950 as part of the new National Council of Churches. It assumed the activities of the International Council of Religious Education, the National Protestant Council on Higher Education, and the Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada.
The purposes of the Division were:
The governing body of the Division was the Division Assembly. Business affairs were handled by a Board of Directors. Roy G. Ross was executive secretary of the Division from 1950 to 1951. He was replaced by Gerald E. Knoff, who served as executive secretary from 1951 to 1964 and then under the title of associate general secretary from 1965 to 1972.
From 1950 to 1956 the Division maintained its headquarters in Chicago in the offices of the former International Council of Religious Education. In 1956 the offices were moved to New York.
With the reorganization of the NCC in 1972 the Division of Christian Education became the Division of Education and Ministry.
When the Division of Christian Education was established, it was stated that the "Executive Secretary shall administer and supervise work of the Division, with the help of his associates and other members of the Division staff. His duties include (a) presentation of staff nominations and (b) preparation of administrative reports." The duties also included such things as initiation and direction of Division programs and fundraising.
The title of executive director was changed to general secretary and in 1965 to associate general secretary, reflecting changes in NCC organizational structure. Gerald E. Knoff held the position from 1951 until 1972.
The Commission on General Christian Education, formed in 1950, assumed the activities of the International Council of Religious Education. The Commission served "as the medium of the Department for Christian Education for advancing the work of Christian education in local church and community." It assisted "member boards, councils of churches, and related agencies in the development of a comprehensive Christian education service for persons of all ages in the home, local church, and community."
The educational program of the Commission was carried out by thirteen departments including Administration and Leadership; Adult Work; Audio-Visual and Broadcast Education; Children's Work; Curriculum Development; Family Life; Newspaper Lesson Syndication; Weekday Religious Education; Youth Work; Camps and Conferences; Vacation Religious Education; Religion and Public Education; and the International Journal of Religious Education. Some of these departments were combined or eliminated as the Commission developed.
Working in conjunction with the departments were seventeen advisory sections of professional workers and lay leaders. These sections included Adult Work; Children's Work; City Executives; Denominational Directors; Directors; Editors; Lay; Leadership Education; Missionary Education; National Denominational Executives; Pastors; Professors and Research; Publishers; Regional Executives; State Council Executives; Weekday Religious Education; and Youth Work.
E. Fay Campbell served as general director of the Commission from 1950 to 1951. Alcwyn L. Roberts was general director from 1953 to 1963, when Eli F. Wismer, Jr. assumed the post.
With the reorganization of the National Council in 1965 the Commission on General Christian Education was eliminated. Much of its work was assigned to the newly created Department of Educational Development. However, the Department of Youth Work was placed within the new Division of Christian Unity.
The Department of Educational Development was formed in 1965 to replace the Commission on General Christian Education. The Department of Educational Development assists "the denominations in expressing mission, ministry, and unity through education, especially in church, home, and community." The purpose of the Department is defined as "developing more effective educational theory, media, technologies, curriculum designs and resources, programs and practices, and strategies of change." This purpose is implemented in three functions including facilitating "data gathering, information dissemination, communication and dialogue among the churches about education; coordinating "research and development;" and administering "cooperative planning and joint programming of projects."
Eli F. Wismer served as executive director of the Department from 1965 to 1974.
The Commission on Christian Higher Education was formed in 1950 to assume the activities of the Interseminary Movement, the Department of the Ministry of the Federal Council of Churches, and the National Protestant Council on Higher Education. In 1953 the United Student Christian Council and the Student Volunteer Movement joined the Commission as related movements.
The structure of the Commission included an Administrative Committee; the Joint Department of Christian Vocations, consisting of the Student Volunteer Movement and the Department of the Ministry; the Department of Campus Christian Life, which supervised projects in cooperative campus ministry, held workshops, provided consultation and survey services, and brought together denominational personnel responsible for campus Christian life; and the Department of Christian Institutions, which was designed to carry on the concerns of the churches in relation to their colleges.
In 1959 the Commission underwent extensive reorganization. In January the Council of Protestant Colleges and Universities replaced the Department of Christian Institutions. The Council was a voluntary association of private colleges and universities, whose purpose was "to develop a vital relationship among the member colleges and universities that will enable them to maintain the historic Protestant tradition of concern for higher education, to develop... a greater unity of theological understanding of their nature as Christian institutions and to maintain a vital relationship between the Protestant colleges and Protestant churches..."
In September 1959 the National Student Christian Federation was formed by the merger of the United Student Christian Council, the Student Volunteer Movement, and the Interseminary Movement. Its purpose was "to stimulate, to strengthen, and increasingly unite the student Christian movements in a corporate life of study, work and worship, and to foster Christian community." This federation was replaced in 1966 by the University Christian Movement, composed of student Christian movements of the major Protestant denominations, the student YMCA and YWCA, the National Newman Federation, the National Federation of Catholic College Students, and local and regional campus groups. The University Christian Movement was dissolved in July 1969.
A related movement of the Commission was the Faculty Christian Fellowship. Formed in October 1952, it was "a community of teachers and scholars seeking to determine their responsibilities as Christians in their teaching, their scholarship, and their total involvement in the life of the university and the church." In 1964 it became the Committee on Faculty Interests.
Another related movement of the Commission on Higher Education was the Commission on Ecumenical Voluntary Service Projects, which promoted and recruited individuals for worldwide service projects. In 1965 it was placed under the control of the Division of Christian Unity.
In 1965, with NCC reorganization, the Commission on Christian Higher Education became the Department of Higher Education. The stated concerns of the revamped department were "the nature and mission of the church in higher education and in the academic world, critical issues in the development of higher education, the relevance of Christian faith and vocation to learning and education, the Christian student's responsibility in his calling and in areas of social concern, and provision for disciplined study of Christian faith in all institutions of higher education."
Raymond F. McClain served as general director of the Commission from 1950 to 1954. He was replaced by Hubert C. Noble, who was general director from 1955 to 1970.
The Interseminary Movement had its beginnings in 1880 as the American Interseminary Missionary Alliance. From 1937 onward it was sponsored by the Young Men's Christian Associations and the American Committee for the World Council of Churches. Its purpose was "to promote understanding among students at the various theological seminaries." The Movement joined the NCC in 1950 as the Interseminary Committee. In 1959 it became part of the National Student Christian Federation.
The Student Volunteer Movement was created in 1886 as the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. The Movement's purpose was to promote the missionary enterprise both at home and overseas and to enlist qualified students in the mission field. The Student Volunteer Movement joined the NCC in 1953 as the Missionary Services Department of the Joint Department of Christian Vocations. The Movement, although an integral part of the NCC, maintained its own identity and had autonomy in matters of policy, program, and pronouncements. In 1959 the Movement became the Department of Missionary Services of the National Student Christian Federation.
The United Student Christian Council was founded in 1944 as a national federation of fourteen Protestant student Christian movements. The Council coordinated the work of its member movements and served as the United States member of the World Student Christian Federation. The Council joined the NCC in 1953 as a related movement and in 1959 was one of the merging agencies of the National Student Christian Federation.
The Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada joined the NCC at its formation as the Joint Commission on Missionary Education under the Division of Christian Education. The name was changed to the Department of Education for Mission in 1965.
The purpose of the Department is "to serve churches by fostering and strengthening the work of education for mission." The Department annually publishes and distributes study materials on themes in the areas of home and foreign missions. The term mission often refers to a special discipline rather than geographical outreach. For example, the home mission theme of 1966 was "Affluence and Poverty: Dilemma for Christians." The study materials, published under the imprint of the Friendship Press, include books, plays, films, filmstrips, maps, and albums on the selected mission study themes. The cooperating communions then use the materials in educational and organizational programs. The Department also promotes denominational study conferences and a series of interdenominational summer conferences across the country.
Franklin D. Cogswell served as executive director of the Joint Commission from 1951 to 1953. He was succeeded by J. Allan Ranck, who served from 1953 to 1967. William C. Walzer was executive director from 1967 to 1977.
The Department of Ministry began in 1950 as a part of the Joint Department of Christian Vocation under the direction of the Department of Higher Education. In 1956 the joint department became the Department of the Ministry within the Department of Higher Education. The Department of Pastoral Services merged with the Department of the Ministry in 1965 to form a new independent Department of Ministry within the structure of the Division of Christian Education.
The Department of Ministry "is concerned for persons employed by the churches in the professional work of ministry... identifies elements that contribute to their health and effectiveness... works with denominational and interdenominational agencies to establish or improve education and support structures... assumes a special responsibility for the professional servant group within the ministry..."
Ralph E. Peterson was executive director of the Department from 1965 to 1966. John E. Biersdorf served in the position from 1967 to 1972.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The papers of the Division of Christian Education, 1897-1974, detail the history, organization, and activities of the Division and its various departments, commissions, and committees. Although the papers extend from the years 1897 to 1974, they date primarily from the period 1950 to 1972.
Series I: Associate General Secretary, 1944-1972