Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/G/C
TitleCommittee work
Extent234 volumes, 125 files, 57 items
DescriptionMinutes, papers and correspondence created and compiled by CMS committees and sub-committees, largely dated 1799-1953. Including a complete sequence of the Society's principal minute books 1799-1953 and accompanying indexes 1799-1966; minutes of general meetings of the Society 1799-1823 and papers for General and Executive Committee meetings 1934-1949.

Also including small, additional sequences of records of committees appointed to deal with different areas of the Society's work, to consider procedures and regulations, review the Society's finances, consider the Society's ecclesiastical position and relations and its relationships with other organisations, namely:

1873-1909 Clerical Sub-Committee
1858-1878 Indian Bishop's Resolutions and Laws and Regulations Sub-Committees
1874-1896 Procedure Sub-Committee
1856-1887 sub-committees on polygamy, and marriage of Christian converts
1895-1919 relations between CMS and Church of England Zenana Missionary Society
1890-1906 Personal Questions Sub-Committee
1861-1910 Special Sub-Committee on the Constitution of Native Churches
1900-1909 Educational Committee
1901-1904 Foreign Literature Committee
c 1891-1915 industrial committees
1784-1898, 1930-1936 Ecclesiastical Committee
1907-1908 Special Limpsfield Home Committee
1908-1909 Special Committee on Mission Administration in the Field
1913-1914 Sub-Committee on Bishop Tucker's Resolutions
1917-1918 Memorials Sub-Committee
1918-1919 Thankoffering Committee
1906-1922 Conscience Clause (India) Sub-Committee
1924-1927 Special Committee on the Secretariat and Staff
1932-1934 Federation Committee
1927-1937 Special Sub-Committee on Recruiting, Selection and Training of Candidates
1937-1940 Ways and Means Committee
1941-1947 Joint Council
1914-1950 Foreign Council
1887-1901 Centenary Committees
1903-1921 review committees

This series also includes records of the Archbishop's Evangelistic Committee 1934-1941 (non-CMS), a few miscellaneous committee papers 1849-1943 and a sequence of CMS sub-committee minutes, including:
1924-1949 Appointments Committee
1799-1818 Committee of Correspondence
1808-1818 Committee of Accounts
1812-1923 Patronage Committee
1892-1923 secretariat committees
with records of other special and sub-committees.

These records should be considered alongside the principal minute book series which include references to, and sometimes reports and papers of, these committees, minutes of other committees addressing similar topics and, in a few instances, additional minutes including minutes of the Clerical Sub-Committee 1838-1881, Committee of Correspondence 1818-1916, Patronage Committee 1833-1880, and Committee of Accounts 1818-1875. For a list of the committees whose minutes are recorded in the main minute books see CMS/G/C 1.

The committee records are a core source of information on all aspects of the Society's business in the UK and overseas. Some provide detailed reviews of different aspects of the Society's work, most notably the Centenary Committee papers, the review committees and committees appointed to look at Society expenditure such as the Ways and Means Committee. For research into named individuals, the main series of minute books, records of the Committee of Correspondence, Clerical Sub-Committee, Limpsfield Home Committee and Appointments Committee, incorporate biographical data on candidates, missionaries, staff and officers including some references to Home staff for whom few alternative, easily searchable sources are available. Furthermore, the minutes incorporate information that was confidential and not available elsewhere in the records.

As the committees compiled material relevant to their area of enquiry, their records include papers and correspondence extracted from the overseas (missions) series. This is indicated at file level. Letters relating to items in the minutes can be found in the correspondence series (see CMS/G/AC).

It should be noted that the records of the General Secretary's Department do not encompass all of the Society's minutes. In particular, once other departments were established, their committee minutes were generally held within the records of that department.
DocumentCMS General Secretary Department Guide to Committee minutes.pdf
Access StatusOpen, but subject to some access restrictions
Physical DescriptionThe Finding Numbers for the main series of minute books and accompanying indexes have been modified to allow each volume to be catalogued individually. The 107 volumes of minutes which all formerly shared the single Finding Number 'CMS/G/C 1' can now be located using CMS/G/C 1/1-107; indexes formerly with the Finding Number CMS/G/C 1/1/1-16 now have Finding Numbers CMS/G/C 1A/1-16. See file level descriptions for details.
Administrative HistoryThe General Committee, also referred to as the Committee (and now the General Council), was the first of the CMS committees. It was appointed 15 April 1799 to have overall responsibility for the superintendence and control of [all] the Society's business; to receive reports of the other committees, decide where missions were to be established and how they would be developed. Although, as the Society expanded, responsibility for different aspects of the its work was delegated to subordinate committees, it remained the key body for formulation of policy, changes to laws and bye laws, approval of instructions for missionaries departing overseas, key honorary appointments and advising the Secretaries and other governing bodies on different aspects of the Society's business including questions concerning the welfare of the Associations.

Overseas and home committees were appointed by the General Committee to superintend the two broad aspects of the Society's work. The Committee of Correspondence was appointed 20 May 1799 'to seek for proper Missionaries, to superintend their instruction, and to correspond with them when out'. By the latter half of the 19th century its remit had been expanded to include recommending where missionaries should be located and taking responsibility for the general direction of the Society's overseas work. Over time, sub-committees were appointed to assist with both the mission work and selection and training of candidates including the three Group Committees (succeeded by the Africa, India and Far East (initially China) Committee and, from 1948, the Africa, West Asia and Egypt and East Asia Committees), the Clerical Sub-Committee, the Candidate Committees, the training college committees and the Medical Committee. In some instances the Group Sub-Committees reported to the General Committee; they were reconstituted as full committees in 1892. The Committee of Correspondence, renamed the Foreign Committee in 1916, was succeeded by the Home and Foreign Committee in 1919. After its appointment in 1923, the overseas work of the Society was reported directly to the Executive Committee by the Africa, India and Far East Committees and their successors. In 1881, the General Committee appointed a Committee of Funds and Home Organization. This committee combined responsibility for oversight of the Society's Associations with work previously carried out by the Committee of Funds which had been appointed 'to circulate information respecting the Institution [Society]; to adopt proper means of augmenting the Subscriptions and Benefactions; to obtain Collections in Churches and Chapels; and to nominate, from time to time, to the General Committee, suitable persons to act as Agents for the Society in the principal Towns throughout the Empire.' It elected sub-committees that dealt with, and reported on, different aspects of the Society's Home work including the Gleaners Union Auxiliary Committee, Women's Committee (Home), Home Preparation Union, Auxiliary Committee for work with children etc. In 1916 the Committee of Funds and Home Organization was renamed the Home Committee. The Home Committee was one of the predecessors to the Home and Foreign Committee appointed 1919. After the appointment of the Executive Committee, matters relating to Home Organization, education and publicity once again came under the remit of a 'Home Committee'.

A new governing committee came into operation in 1923 with the appointment of the Executive Committee. This Committee absorbed the work of the Patronage Committee and took on the detailed management work of the General Committee including the appointment of subordinate committees and CMS Secretaries, receipt of the reports of committees that previously had reported directly to the General Committee (including the Home Committee and the Africa, India and Far East Committees) and, from 1925, gave final approval to candidates nominated by the Candidate Committees; it also directed the work of the Church Missionary Trust Association. The Executive Committee reported to the General Committee.

The Committee of Patronage was appointed by the General Committee 'to procure patronage and support for the Society; and to nominate, to the Committee, proper persons, as Patrons, Vice-Patrons, and Vice-Presidents of the Society.' By the late 19th century its remit was expanded to include nomination of the President, Honorary Life Governors and Life Members and the Preacher of the Annual Sermon. It ceased to exist when its role was built into the functions of the new Executive Committee.

Annual lists of the committees appointed by the General Committee, home, foreign and Executive Committees, can be found in the principal minute books (CMS/G/C 1).
CopiesMany of the minutes and accompanying indexes are available on microfilm and online: see CMS/G/C 1 and CMS/G/C 1A/7


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