TMS Global Celebrates 40 Years

By Jenifer Jones

In November 1983, the Christian missions organization began when 34 United Methodist pastors and mission-minded individuals gathered in St. Louis. They had watched the decline in the number of United Methodist missionaries over the years. Their hearts’ cry was to see more cross-cultural workers sent who would proclaim the message and love of Christ even to the least-reached places of the world. After much prayer, they committed to start a new global missions agency. What would be named The Mission Society for United Methodists was officially incorporated on January 6th, 1984.

The 40th anniversary celebration year kicked off at a January 5-7 event in Atlanta. About 230 guests and staff and 46 children attended the busiest day of the event.

“It was clear to everyone that God has been with TMS Global for the entire 40 years,” said the Rev. Max Wilkins, TMS Global President. “He has been working in and through us in power, protection, provision, and perhaps most of all, in presence. There was a sense that God was the one being praised and glorified in this celebration.”

Special guests included the adult children of the founding president and his wife, the late H.T. and Alice Maclin. Also in attendance were two of TMS Global’s former presidents, the Revs. Al Vom Steeg and Dick McClain.

McClain said it was a blessing to see 40 years of God’s faithfulness unfold during the event. “As you actually live it out,” he said, “you see little moments of God doing something remarkable, but that is just one moment. When you look at the scope of 40 years of faithfulness, boy, what a blessing that is.”

For Vom Steeg, the constant equipping of workers by TMS Global stands out. “It’s not train them once. It’s a continued nature of renewal,” he says.

Kids attended their own special programming during the 40th anniversary event. “Our goals were to have fun, create community, and help the children see ways they can be part of God’s big story of reaching the world,” said Kerry Davidson, coordinator of TCK (third-culture kid) care at TMS Global.

Participants in the children’s program heard from TCKs around the world, ate snacks from those places, and prayed for the TCKs they met. “We thought it was important to offer a children’s program because children are important to TMS Global,” Davidson said. “Having whole families participate together in celebrating the 40th anniversary creates deeper community and gives a shared language and vision for partnering with Jesus in His mission.”

As TMS Global moves into its next decade of ministry, President-elect Dr. Jim Ramsay is looking toward global partnerships. He said, “I am hopeful that the depth and breadth of our international partnerships will grow so that we can play an important role in helping local churches in the United States connect in effective and healthy ways with the global church for the sake of the mission of God.”

Jenifer Jones is a communicator for TMS Global (

About TMS Global: TMS Global originally launched as The Mission Society for United Methodists. Now interdenominational (and subsequently renamed), TMS Global sends people around the world to spread the love and message of Jesus. Since 1984, it has trained, mobilized, and served hundreds of cross-cultural witnesses. Currently, 143 serve in 29 countries around the world. Thousands of people have been introduced to Jesus and discipled in their faith. Churches in the US and abroad have embraced God’s plan for their congregations and reached out to their communities, nation, and the world with the hope of Christ.  


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