While the earliest Christian missionaries to Korea were not Western missionaries but Koreans who had become Christians in China and the first foreign missionary to Korea was Chinese, by late 19th Century, the missionary effort would be dominated by missionaries from the West in partnership with thousands of Korean pastors, Bible women, colporteurs, evangelists, etc.
Following is a list of those mission organizations to which those Western missionaries belonged.
Many of the following mission groups efforts in Korea were exploratory. I have italicized those missions groups that actually established resident missionary efforts.
(Alphabetically with abbreviation as used in The Siemsen Directory of Missionaries)
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission (ABCFM) --
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission was from the Congregational tradition. Missionaries Doremus Scudder and Wallace Taylor (missionaries in Japan who were prospecting Korea for their mission) arrived with the Appenzellers and Underwoods landing on Easter, April 5, 1885 in Chemulpo (Incheon). They left after assessing the field and returned to Japan with no mission work established. Had they remained their names would be known more widely.
American Bible Society (ABS)
Three missionaries served with the American Bible Society in Korea. One, Alexander Albert Pieters (born Itzhak Frumkin), a Jewish convert to Christianity, would join the Northern Presbyterian work in 1904.
Anglican Church (Church of England) (ANG)
Anglican Church – Community of St. Peter (ANG-CSP)
Anglican Church – English Church Mission ANG-ECM
Anglican Church – Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (ANG-SPG)
Anglican Church – Society of St. John the Evangelist ANG-SSJE
Anglican Church – Society of the Sacred Mission ANG-SSM
Australian Presbyterian Mission (AP)
British Evangelistic Mission (BEM)
The British and Foreign Bible Society BFBS
China Inland Mission CIM
One missionary with the China Inland Mission, China missionary Arthur William Douthwaite, visited Korea in 1883 and 1884.
Methodist Church, Canada (CM)
One missionary with the Methodist church in Canada came intermittently in 1920s.
Christian and Missionary Alliance CMA
Church of Christ in Korea COC
Church of Christ Mission COCM
Corean Union Mission CU
Ella Thing Memorial Mission ETMM
Japanese Evangelistic Band (JEB)
London Missionary Society (LMS)
Methodist Church (MC) (start date in Korea May 10, 1939 with merger)
The Methodist Church came into existence with the merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Northern Methodist) and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (Southern Methodist) on May 10, 1939. Those missionaries in Korea at that date became Methodist Church missionaries.
Methodist Episcopal Church [Northern Methodist (NM)]
The Methodist Episcopal Church traces its origin in Korea to the prospecting efforts of Robert Samuel Maclay who in 1884 opened up the field for the arrival of the first Northern Methodist missionaries, Henry Gerhard Appenzeller and Ella Jane Dodge Appenzeller who set foot in Fusan (Busan) on April 2, 1885. Note: The Appenzellers then proceeded to Chemulpo (Incheon) where the Appenzellers, Horace Grant Underwood (Northern Presbyterian), and American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission missionaries Doremus Scudder and Wallace Taylor (missionaries in Japan who were prospecting Korea for their mission) landed on Easter, April 5, 1885.
Methodist Episcopal Church, South [Southern Methodist (SM)]
National Bible Society of Scotland (NBSS)
Oriental Missionary Society (OMS)
Plymouth Brethren (PB)
Presbyterian Church in Canada [Canadian Presbyterian Mission (CP)]
The majority of Canadian missionaries in Korea were Presbyterians and served with the Presbyterian Church in Canada prior to the formation of the United Church in Canada in 1925.
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. [Northern Presbyterian (NP)]
Presbyterian Church, U.S. [Southern Presbyterian (SP)]
Pyeng Yang Foreign School (PYFS )
PYFS was primarily a Northern Presbyterian school in Pyongyang but employed at various times contracted teachers, teachers from other missionary groups, and occasionally teachers from the non-missionary community who resided in Korea. A famous graduate of the school was Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, whose parents were missionaries in China.
Roman Catholic (RC)
The Roman Catholic missionaries were the first to arrive in Korea. Their various groups arrived at different times in Korea. The various groups were:
Benediktinerkongregation von St. Ottilien (RC-OSB)
Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (RC-CFMS Roman Catholic – (Maryknoll))
les Sœurs de Saint-Paul de Chartres (RC-SPDC)
Missionary Society of St. Columban (RC-SSC)
Missions-Benediktinerinnen von Tutzing (RC-MBS)
Missions étrangères de Paris (RC-MEP)
Russian Orthodox (RO)
The Salvation Army (SA)
Salvation Army missionaries were comprised of the widest array of nationalities of any of the missionary groups with many British (mostly English) and Swedish missionaries in their midst. Australia, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland and the United States were also represented.
The Seventh-day Adventist Mission (SDA)
The Seventh-day Adventist mission along with those of the Catholics were the least coöperative with other mission groups in Korea. However, as is the case on any mission field, the level of coöperation varied by individual.
Severance Hospital (Sev)
While not its own mission agency, contracted workers not associated with a particular mission otherwise served with Severance.
Seoul Foreign School Association (SFA)
The Oriental Missionary Society (OMS)
UCC United Church of Canada (formed 6/10/1925)
Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA)
A surprising level of coöperation existed between the main Protestant missionary groups. One example of their coöperation was the Comity Agreement. An agreement between the Methodist and Presbyterian groups the Comity Agreement gave exclusive access to certain mission groups to avoid competition. Some areas and churches that had been one denomination became another overnight. Cities over a certain size such as Seoul were not subject to the Comity agreement. Some denominations did not participate. See the map to the left.
Various union efforts were undertaken by the major Protestant mission groups. Bible translation, revivals held by Presbyterian and Methodist evangelists, seminary education, and joint missionary worship services were just some examples of the esprit de corps of the early missionaries.
To understand the early Protestant missionaries to Korea the researcher must understand that most of the missionaries held to evangelical convictions. This is how many of the missionaries viewed themselves and how outsiders viewed them. They believed in the authority of Scripture, the divine nature of Christ and the need for salvation through Christ alone. This evangelical bent curiously has served as a stumbling block of sorts for the researcher who makes hasty assumptions about what evangelicals are against. Contrary to some common understandings being an evangelical missionary did not mean that the missionary was not concerned with social issues or unappreciative of Korean culture. Quite the opposite. The evangelical missionaries proved in the end to be great advocates of justice, social work and the preservation of Korean culture.
Mission groups in Korea were based in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Russia, The United Kingdom (UK) and The United States of America (USA). The nationalities of the missionaries themselves, however, varied even more broadly than those countries. For example, many Swedish missionaries with the Salvation Army were amongst the ranks of the early missionaries. For the Korean research it might be helpful to note that many missionaries from the UK identified not as missionaries from the UK per se but their individual country as they defined it, e.g. England, Scotland or Wales.
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