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Missionary Society’s Disavowal of the Ku Klux Klan

July 3, 2017

 

The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America was founded in 1908 and was organized "to promote the spirit of fellowship, service, and cooperation" within Christian churches across the United States. Later known as the FCC, the organization originally represented of over thirty denominations of Protestantism and was made up mostly of volunteers.

 

As the FCC became larger in size and scope, the organization was able expand its reach into many different social arenas by establishing programs that aimed to spread generosity and kindness throughout communities. The FCC was active in tackling social issues such as workers’ rights, and by 1921, the FCC started an agency whose goal was to aid race relations in the U.S. by way of education and activism. The FCC also sought to mend racial fences through the church and in 1922, the FCC issued a statement condemning the Ku Klux Klan.

 

In the statement, the FCC announces that “Any organization whose activities tend to set class against class, or race against race is consistent neither with the ideals of the churches nor with true patriotism” and goes on to warn about the “evils of mob rule” which is afflicting the Klan. The letter ends with the declaration that organizations, such as the Klan have no right to “speak in the name of Protestantism” and other congregations are prompted to “exert every influence to check their spread.” Considering the popularity and sympathy toward the Klan at the time, the FCC nonetheless stood by their principles and disavowed the hateful organization.

 

The Congregational Home Missionary Society, or CHMS, was established in 1893 and became a department of the Congregational Church Extension Boards (CCEB) in 1917. The CCEB organized the Congregational Church’s missionary actions throughout the nation. The CHMS sent financial aid to churches that couldn’t support their congregations and was also in charge of missionary projects in thirteen western states, foreign speaking congregations, and Black churches located in northern cities. The CHMS announced that the FCC statement and stance on the Ku Klux Klan “expresses so fully the position of the Congregational Home Missionary Society.” The CHMS endorsed the FCC’s statement, making its position clear that the society wanted their missionaries to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and to put into practice anti-Klan ideologies.

 

The Congregational Home Missionary Society records held at the Amistad Research Center are currently undergoing archival processing and will be opened for research use in the fall of 2017.

 

 

Images from the Congregational Home Missionary Society Records. Images from Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission

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