The South American Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. (SAMS-USA), an evangelical association in only its third year of operation, has projected a hundred-fold increase in its original budget. That announcement, by board chairman Richard Kew, is indicative of the rapid growth of this tiny missionary society within the three-million-member Episcopal Church (U.S. total).
Founded in 1976 with a budget of $4,000, the society has placed three missionaries in South America; has two more doing deputation work in the United States; has purchased a building in Wantaugh, New York, for its national headquarters; and last month hired a second full-time home administrator to direct regional operations out of Charlestown, South Carolina.
“We’ve only tapped about 10 per cent of the dioceses in the country,” said Kew, who is assistant rector of Christ Church in Hamilton, Massachusetts. “In 1979 we’re projecting a budget of just under $400,000.”
The new missionary effort has functioned in harmony with the New York-based World Missions Executive Board of the Episcopal Church. “They’ve been very supportive of this evangelical effort,” Kew said.
SAMS-USA is the North American branch of an international society based primarily in Great Britain and Australia. Kew, himself a transplanted Briton, said that SAMS-UK and SAMS-Australia have approximately 150 missionaries in the field. The original society was founded in 1843, “but for some reason there never was a U.S. branch,” Kew said.
The idea for a U.S. branch grew from a meeting in fall, 1976, of the Fellowship of Witness, an evangelical association within the denomination, at Kew’s Christ Church. Urbana ’76, one of the triennial student missions conferences sponsored by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, also provided an impetus. A guiding force at both meetings was Elisabeth Elliot, the missionary-writer who is a member of Christ Church and the SAMS-USA board.
“Until July of 1978 we didn’t have a full-time home staff,” Kew said. “Now we have two full-time administrators, and three missionaries at work in the field.” Officials of the fledgling missions group hope to double their number of missionaries in the field by 1980. The executive director of SAMS-USA is Paul Walter, and Bill Kitchen is director of the South Carolina office.
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