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Restoring the “Pure Gospel” to Europe: Mission Efforts of Churches of Christ in Europe Following World War II

Author: R. Allen Diles
Published: 2023

MD 14

Article Type: Text Article

Many religious bodies anticipated that the end of World War II would present unprecedented missions opportunities. Leaders in Churches of Christ also recognized the opportunity for mission work in the war-ravaged nations of Europe, and this brought about a dramatic and exciting shift in their missions efforts. This article highlights some of the initial church planting efforts in Europe undertaken by missionaries from Churches of Christ during the postwar period and then focuses on the missionaries’ expectations and attitudes, the motivations that propelled their work, and the preparation, strategy, and methods employed by these missionaries.

Even before World War II ended, religious bodies in the United States and beyond knew that the war’s conclusion would present unprecedented missions opportunities. Baptist military chaplain Dudley T. Pomeroy wrote, “The greatest opportunity in Christian Missionary History will be presented to the Church with the Coming of V-Day. . . . Just as American Industry has led the world at war, American Christians must take the lead in Christian Enterprizes [sic] in the post-war world.”1 By October 1946, various denominations had raised or were in the process of raising millions of dollars for missions and physical relief in the wake of the war.2 In July 1947, the International Missionary Council hosted a missionary conference in Whitby, Ontario, that was attended by over one hundred representatives of forty nations “to discuss the Christian World Missions in the light of post-war realities,” inspiring Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor H. C. Goerner to proclaim that the world had entered a “New Day for Christian Missions.”3 Unsurprisingly, Churches of Christ4 also recognized and responded to the new opportunities.

Prior to World War II, Churches of Christ had been involved in limited ways in foreign missions, primarily with a few missionaries working in what would have been considered “pagan” areas (Africa or Asia) of the world.5 World War II brought a dramatic and exciting shift in mission work in Churches of Christ, as church leaders quickly recognized the opportunity for mission work in the war-ravaged nations of Europe. As with other faith fellowships,6 members of Churches of Christ who had served in the armed forces in Europe returned with reports of the great need in Europe for missionaries. One young soldier wrote back, “Germany needs the gospel about as much as any other place that I have been. . . . In my last talk with a German whom I know he said, ‘You need to send good Christian soldiers over to help us.’ ”7 Harold Paden, who had served in the Tenth Mountain Division fighting in Italy during the war, recalled, “It took time and the experiences of WWII for God to get my attention and make me understand His need for me in Italy. . . . Who would go teach the Italians?”8 Optimism ran high regarding such opportunities. L. R. Wilson wrote, “Today the opportunities for spreading the gospel are greater than at any time in our past history. As a result of the many contacts which have been made and our increased methods of transportation and communication, we now have the opportunities of carrying the gospel to every nook and corner of the earth, which would have been exceedingly difficult before the war.”9 Churches of Christ mobilized for the challenge of taking the gospel to Europe. Less than five years after the close of the war, missionaries from Churches of Christ had established churches in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and France.10

This article highlights some of the initial church planting efforts in Europe undertaken by American missionaries11 from Churches of Christ during the postwar period before focusing on three major components of this flurry of missionary activity: (1) the missionaries’ expectations and attitudes; (2) the motivations that propelled the work; (3) the preparation, strategy, and methods employed by the missionaries.

Initial Church Planting Efforts

The Netherlands was the first nation in Europe that Churches of Christ entered after the war. In the summer of 1946, seventy-one-year-old Jacob C. Vandervis and Bill L. and Bonnie Phillips arrived in Holland and began their work.12 It was almost a year before they had their first converts, establishing the first congregation in Haarlem. Converts in Amsterdam had traveled to Haarlem for worship on Sundays, and the first family to be baptized was the H. Bakvis family, residents of Amsterdam. The Bakvis family hosted weekly Bible studies in their home, leading to the baptisms of four others and the establishment of a congregation in Amsterdam. By 1950 the missionaries reported twenty-eight members in two congregations.13

Switzerland was not initially targeted for mission work by Churches of Christ. Rather, missionaries planning to work in Germany would first go to Zurich to await permission to enter Germany. Under the leadership of Delmar Bunn, who had arrived in Switzerland in the summer of 1946, they rented a room for worship services, hosted an evangelistic campaign and weekly Bible studies, and were able to establish a small church with the first conversion in 1948.14

Before the arrival of full-time missionaries in Germany, US military personnel had begun a congregation in Munich and baptized about fifty Germans. However, according to Bob Hare, the vast majority fell away “because they were converted to loaves and fishes instead of to Christ and because of inadequate teaching.”15 The most well-known pioneer of mission work in Europe from Churches of Christ was Otis Gatewood (1911–1999). In June 1945, the elders and deacons of the Broadway church in Lubbock, Texas, met with Gatewood and his wife, Alma, and decided to send them to (West) Germany as missionaries. On June 17, 1946, Gatewood and Paul Sherrod, one of the leaders of the Broadway church, left the United States to conduct a two-month survey trip to several European countries, ultimately choosing Frankfurt, Germany, as the city where the work would begin. On May 16, 1947, the Gatewoods and Roy and Jaxie Palmer left the United States to begin mission work in Germany. Lieutenant General Lucius Clay had permitted two missionaries from Churches of Christ to enter Germany for permanent mission work; these were the first permits granted to any American religious group to send missionaries into Germany. Leaving their families behind in Zurich, Gatewood and Palmer entered Germany on June 6, 1947. They immediately secured a hall for worship services, and on the first Sunday, June 15, twenty-two people came for the English worship service, thirteen of whom were Germans. In late 1947, additional permits were granted, and Gatewood and Palmer were soon joined by their families, the Loyd Colliers, Bunn, Herman Ziegert, and Kathryn Patton. The work grew steadily, and in 1950 Churches of Christ in Germany claimed over one thousand members in nine congregations.16

The initial catalyst for beginning work in Italy was Harold Paden and his experience serving in Italy during the war. Harold convinced his brother Cline of the need, and together they began planning for their mission work.17 In 1947 and 1948, Cline Paden and Bill Hatcher took a six-week survey trip to Italy, visiting Genoa, Milan, Rome, Naples, and other cities. As a result of that trip, interested individuals selected Rome as the city where the mission work should begin.18 In 1948, Gordon Linscott, who had also fought in Italy and spoke Italian, and his wife, Peggy, arrived in Italy to begin the work and to prepare for the arrival of others.19 In January 1949, a team consisting of Cline and Jo Paden, Harold and Bettye Paden, Wyndal Hudson, Bill and Peggy Hatcher, Jack and Rosetta McPherson, K. D. (Dale) and Tillie Pittman, and Joe R. Chisholm sailed from New York to join the Linscotts in Frascati, about twelve miles southeast of Rome.20 The group rejoiced in the first baptisms by March; by June, the Frascati church had over fifty members.21 In 1950, Carl Mitchell and Howard Bybee joined the work in Milan.22 Despite various forms of opposition and persecution ranging from heckling, slander, assaults, stonings, attempted bombings, legal threats, and imprisonment, the missionaries soon established congregations in Rome, Milan, Florence, and several other cities.23 In Frascati, the missionaries established an orphans’ home “not only to care for homeless youngsters but ultimately to develop gospel preachers.”24 By 1950 these efforts had resulted in over two hundred converts.25

Yvonne Noel was the first convert in Belgium.26 Through her work and the efforts of Jacob Vandervis, who would travel from Holland, at least sixteen Belgians had been converted before the first full-time missionaries, S. F. Timmerman Jr. and his wife Maxine, arrived on September 19, 1948.27 Noel assisted Timmerman in the early days, and though she eventually fell away, Timmerman credited God with using her to begin the work in Belgium.28 After preaching only his second sermon, Timmerman baptized his first convert in Pepinster on September 26.29 Timmerman also discovered about twelve Polish people who designated themselves as the “Church of Jesus Christ.” After ascertaining their beliefs, Timmerman invited the Poles to be united with his Belgian body of believers, and the Poles accepted.30 By 1950, Timmerman reported congregations meeting in Pepinster, Liege, and Verviers. Eventually, the Timmermans also started a congregation in Brussels.31

As in Germany, US military personnel in France started some temporary English-speaking congregations during the war years, but no permanent congregations were established until the postwar arrival of full-time missionaries.32 The first missionaries to France from Churches of Christ were Melvin Anderson and Maurice Hall and their families, arriving in Paris in November 1949. Hall had served as a captain in the army in the occupation zone of Germany and had been influenced by the work of Gatewood and Palmer in Frankfurt. He had also visited France during his military service.33 Several Christians studying or working in Paris agreed to assist the missionaries in the early phases of the work.34 Within a week of their arrival, the missionaries began worship services in homes. For about six months, services were conducted in English until the missionaries learned French well enough to have services in French.35 One early breakthrough in France came in the summer of 1950, when the missionaries conducted several gospel meetings. Timmerman came from Belgium to conduct a revival in Paris, and a French Pentecostal evangelist named Hubert Knevals attended. After several discussions with him, the missionaries decided they agreed on the major doctrinal points, and Knevals consented to work with them, thus providing a boost to their early efforts. Three others were baptized at the conclusion of the meetings.36 By late 1950, the church in Paris reported nineteen conversions. In addition, Anderson was making regular preaching trips to northern France, where a few others were converted.37

Thus, by the end of 1950, the first congregations of Churches of Christ had been established in at least six nations—the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, (West) Germany, and France. There were no fewer than twenty congregations and perhaps twelve hundred or more members.38 The bulk of these were in Germany.

Expectations and Attitudes

The sense of optimism that characterized the United States following the victories of World War II was shared by Churches of Christ, and this optimism was reflected in the expectations regarding the new mission efforts to Europe.39 Though occasionally tempered by the realization that things might not go as well as expected,40 in general, the missionaries and their supporters had high goals and grand visions of what they believed could be accomplished in Europe. They were not simply thinking about quick successes but imagined what results their efforts could bring over the years. “I began to visualize Germany as we hope it to be ten to fifty years from now,” wrote Kathryn Patton in a letter from Frankfurt.41 Paul Sherrod predicted “that the church is on the eve of a globe-encircling expansion, perhaps as great as any time in history” and suggested that it was “not unreasonable to work and expect to have several thousand missionaries out supported by churches in America.”42 B. Sherrod anticipated, “When we get to Europe, I hope we can get churches started and have 1,000 to 2,000 members, and they will be strong enough to start their own mission work.”43

Each missionary saw his or her particular field as one in which great things would be accomplished. The elders of the Sherman Street congregation in Denver, Colorado, wrote of the work in Belgium, “We think that there is no field in the world today that offers a richer opportunity for preaching the gospel than the little nation of Belgium.”44 Expectations were especially high for Germany and Italy. Of Germany, Carl Spain wrote, “The Lord is adding to the church daily such as are being saved, and the situation promises to be very much like it was in Jerusalem in the time of Paul.”45 Almost from the start, missionaries in Germany planned to build an auditorium that could seat between five hundred and a thousand people. Gatewood said, “We are greatly worried because we are nearing the seating capacity of the largest auditorium available to us in the city. . . . The greatest problem is the erection of a church building.”46 Gatewood also stated, “We believe that before many years have passed Frankfurt, Germany, will not only be a radiating center for the gospel in Germany, but into other parts of Europe and the world.”47 Cline Paden articulated the expectations for the work starting in Italy in a front-page headline in the August 30, 1950 issue of the Christian Chronicle: “Prospects of Becoming Largest Non-Catholic Group in Italy in the Next Ten Years Not Unlikely.” Just two weeks earlier, Carl Mitchell said he believed “there can be a church of several hundred here in two or three years’ time.”48 Those who ran the orphans’ home in Frascati believed there would be “no limit to the growth of the church of Christ in Italy when these boys leave” the home.49

These lofty expectations were intimately related to the ideals of Churches of Christ as a restoration of the New Testament Church. The movement’s historical tension between the plea for unity and the plea to restore “the ancient order of things” can be seen in the writings of the missionaries to Europe.50 These missionaries expressed interest in establishing unity with other religious groups in Europe and actively sought out groups with whom they might join forces, but they gave greater emphasis to the restoration ideal. Thus, unity could only be achieved when these groups accepted the missionaries’ concept of truth. Missionaries in France discovered an indigenous group in Strasburg, whom Maurice Hall described as “very close to the truth in most points of doctrine and life.” They referred to themselves simply as “Christians” and desired “to restore the church of Christ.” However, he was concerned that they differed from American Churches of Christ “mainly in the matter of music and the Lord’s Supper.” In addition, the missionaries found it necessary to teach the Strasburg group their understanding of baptism by immersion.51 The missionaries and the French evangelist Hubert Knevals disagreed on “one or two minor points,” but when the Frenchman accepted the American position, the Americans accepted him as a coworker.52

Regarding Timmerman’s discovery of the Polish group in Liege, Belgium, he discovered that “they were opposed to all forms of sectarianism, that they believe in holding conscientiously to the Scriptures, that they teach and practice the truth on baptism, that they hold no particular notions regarding the Holy Spirit and his work, that they follow a simple New Testament pattern of worship, etc.” He went on to report that “there was only one point on which their former practice and the New Testament did not agree.” The Polish believers were not in the practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week. When they accepted Timmerman’s understanding of weekly communion, unity was achieved.53 The missionaries in Italy denied reports that they were fellowshipping a conservative group of Italian “Brethren,” pointing out that the “group’s use of instrumental music in worship and other denominational forms . . . made it impossible to fellowship them.” They did express hope, however, that they could “bring these people in line with New Testament doctrine and practice.”54 Regarding “restorationist” type groups in Germany and elsewhere, Bob Hare cautioned, “By far the majority of the groups whom we have contacted . . . have proven to be of little value as far as being able to lead them to the truth is concerned.”55

If the efforts toward Christian unity were limited, the efforts toward restoring New Testament Christianity in Europe were front and center. Roy Palmer declared, “It is our purpose to plant the plea for a restoration of New Testament Christianity firmly and steadfastly in Germany.”56 In the view of the first missionaries to Italy, the church had fallen into apostasy at Rome, and Churches of Christ now had the opportunity to bring a restored church in all its purity back to Rome and the rest of Europe. Bill Hatcher claimed that in “about the year 325 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church reared its ugly head in Italy and the apostacy [sic] from the truth of Jesus Christ began.” He was convinced that Italy was “desolate as far as a known member of the body of Christ is concerned” and believed that if missionaries preached the same gospel in Italy that Paul had preached, missionaries would “reap the same harvest today—simple New Testament Christians, and churches of Christ.”57 Cline Paden suggested that “shortly after the days of the Apostles, Italy had known nothing but Catholicism,” but “now for the first time since the Apostasy is an effort being made to bring the Church back to the very scene of its departure.”58 He wrote of the vision, “We believe that it is fitting and proper that we start in the very place where the church had its falling away,” and he spoke of plans to convert a “family to simple New Testament Christianity.”59 Otis Gatewood issued the challenge for evangelizing Italy, “Here we go, Brethren, into a country that has resisted the reformation movement and has not come in contact with the restoration movement.”60 He also wrote, “Here in our generation the pure gospel of Christ was returning to a nation that had heard the preaching of the apostles.”61 While sailing for Paris, Hall wrote that he and Anderson were about “to become the first preachers of the simple gospel to that land in nearly two thousand years.”62

Closely related to the restoration plea was the emphasis on maintaining doctrinal purity.63 At the first Lubbock Lectures, Robert Alexander insisted that the “first thing” that needed to be considered was that the work “must be done definitely in harmony with the New Testament pattern of teaching and practice” and that any missionary who “gets out of line with that pattern” should be called into account.64 One eldership reported that it would “take a fighting stand against any premillennialist or premillennialist sympathizer who would go to Belgium,” and the elders expected their missionary not to fellowship any coworker who might have premillennialist sympathies.65 At the second Lubbock Lectures, Roy Palmer insisted that “young men must be trained to preach the simple gospel of Christ in its purity.”66

Missionaries spoke of the “pure gospel of Christ”67 and “pure Christianity,”68 which was finally being brought to Europe, “where the church went into apostasy,”69 and where the fields were “fouled up with other false doctrines, but false religions have been uprooted.”70 Gatewood believed he and his co-workers were enjoying success in Germany because they were “teaching [the Germans] the Word of the Lord instead of the philosophies of men which they have been so accustomed to hearing in the churches.”71 The missionaries perceived Protestantism to be a poor substitute for what they were offering.72 Likewise, Gatewood expressed that many Italians who had rejected Roman Catholicism were prepared to accept “the truth.”73 Timmerman reported that a “very intelligent” young Yugoslav woman raised in a Catholic institution “came to see the abuses and errors of that religion and finally found the right way.”74 The common sentiment was expressed in statements that, in many places, one could “not find a single church of our Lord, nor one true member of His body.”75

Additionally, the missionaries evinced a strong anti-Catholic sentiment. Raymond Kenney suggested that in Germany, areas that were less influenced by Catholicism “might be more receptive of the Gospel.”76 Gatewood blamed Catholicism for ignorance and poverty and denounced it as a “corrupt institution.”77 Hatcher wrote of Roman Catholicism’s “rear[ing] its ugly head” and accused the Roman Catholic Church of “spread[ing] its erroneous doctrines abroad.”78 Linscott, who was involved in extensive relief work in Italy, considered relief work done by the Catholic Church to be no more than political stunts.79 Cline Paden referred to the “Catholic propaganda machine” that had built barriers against Protestantism,80 and he expressed his opinion that Catholics were “idol worshippers” who “seemed to worship mechanically.”81 He recommended, “Let us work and pray that Catholicism will not last for 36 more popes.”82 Of course, this attitude is not surprising. It was simply a reflection of the common attitudes of Churches of Christ (and Protestants in general) in America at the time.83 These attitudes were reinforced by the persecution the missionaries in Italy faced in the early years of their work.


We can identify at least several major ideas which either motivated missionaries and church leaders or which they used to motivate others to become missionaries in Europe in the period following World War II.

First and foremost, leaders and missionaries from Churches of Christ perceived the Great Commission as a command to be obeyed. Maurice Hall declared, “Jesus said for us to ‘Go’; we MUST go!”84 Bybee wrote, “I felt that foreign mission work was imperative because the Lord said to go into all the world.”85 Others pointed out that while Churches of Christ had emphasized the “baptizing and teaching” part of the Commission, they had not obeyed the “going into all the world” part, and the time had come to obey all of the Great Commission.86

These early missionaries to Europe truly believed the world was lost, and it was up to Churches of Christ to take the saving message of the gospel to the world. Hall called attention to “40,000,000 lost Frenchmen,”87 and Hatcher challenged, “Think of it, brethren, forty-five million people [in Italy] starving without the Bread of Life . . . [are] facing a never ending eternity.”88 Keith Coleman declared, “[O]ur mission is primarily to save souls.”89 Sherrod summarized the thinking: “There are perhaps two billion people in the world today eternally lost. . . . [T]hose who have not heard of Christ are lost and without hope in the world, and also Christ is depending on us to take the word to them.”90

Although it was always secondary to people’s spiritual needs,91 missionaries were motivated by the great physical needs of the people of Europe. Otis Gatewood called attention to the obligation of Christians “to bind up the wounds” of the German people: “Isn’t it the duty of the Christian to love his enemy; feed him when he is hungry; clothe him when he is naked?”92 Indeed, as discussed below, the missionaries were active in various forms of humanitarian work.

Sometimes shame and comparison to others were employed as motivating factors. According to Hatcher, “One of the greatest shames that will ever be brought against the body of our Lord is that we have made no greater effort to take the gospel into all the world as the Lord commanded us to do.” Churches of Christ had condemned Catholicism but had not “lifted our little finger to tell these people” about the true gospel.93 Hall referred to the warning of Ezekiel 33 about the watchman who failed to warn the people.94 Gatewood challenged his American brethren, “If they [Mormons] think that it is worthwhile to send 125 missionaries there, do we not love the people of Denmark enough to send two evangelists to teach them the Truth.”95 Sherrod exclaimed, “How puny have been our efforts to bring the gospel to the WHOLE world.” He pointed out that if members of the Churches of Christ were as zealous as Seventh Day Adventists, they would send thousands of missionaries to the fields.96 Gatewood warned, “Every denomination will be going and we’re going to have to compete with them.”97

The opportunity was immediate. People in Europe were in need, and they were apparently receptive to the message of the gospel. Writers sensed that Churches of Christ had never had such a wonderful opportunity in Europe, and it would probably never be repeated. Palmer suggested that the time presented “Our Greatest Opportunity.”98 Sherrod insisted that “the fields are white unto harvest. . . . When grain gets ripe, it may fall and be ruined if the harvest is delayed.” He continued, “The church may never again have such wonderful opportunities as now.”99 The idea was to strike while the iron was hot.

Although it is not often mentioned, Sherrod called attention to the motivation of God’s love for all: “Christ died for all—white man, red skin, yellow, black. . . . ‘But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Rom. 5:8).”100 Carl Mitchell mentioned love for lost souls as an important motivation and quoted Joe Gibbs, who insisted, “The very basic motivation was concern for, a love for lost souls.”101

An interesting motivation was that by bringing the gospel to Europe, the church could potentially prevent future wars and open a pathway to lasting peace. For example, Wilson suggested that “the best way to prevent [the conquered nations] from attempting war upon us in the future is to convert them to the Lord Jesus Christ. If we can make Christians out of any appreciable number in the next generation, it will go a long way towards cementing us together in love and brotherhood. . . . In no other way can we hope to put an end to carnal warfare.”102

Preparation, Strategy, and Methods

Up to the years immediately following World War II, little academic work in missiology had been done in Churches of Christ. Missionaries from Churches of Christ generally had little training in areas such as cultural adaptation or contextualization of a message.103 According to Phillip Elkins, “most of the efforts were made by men who had no experience in foreign missions, and practically no one had any special training to provide the guidance that was needed.”104 It would be easy to view early missionaries as well-meaning but naïve. One should remember, however, that in many ways, these missionaries were pioneers, and they were paving the way for others to follow.

Many of these early missionaries did, however, enroll in Christian colleges to receive at least some training; one would presume that most of this would have consisted of training in biblical studies, though several also studied languages. Furthermore, many of these missionaries had extensive training and experience in ministry and evangelism before going to the mission field. Hall, who had previously assisted with mission work in the Philippines in 1945, and Anderson studied at Abilene Christian College, where part of their education included the study of French.105 Cline Paden studied at Abilene Christian, and Harold Paden studied at Pepperdine, while Hatcher studied at both of those schools, plus Harding College. All three served as ministers in US churches before going to Italy.106 Bybee ministered in congregations in California and had spent six months studying the Italian language before his departure.107 Gatewood had begun preaching at the age of fifteen, had studied at Abilene Christian, and had been a church planting domestic missionary in New Mexico and Utah. After deciding to do mission work in Germany, he went to Pepperdine, accompanied by Jacob Vandervis, to prepare for preaching the gospel as a foreign missionary.

Interestingly, at Pepperdine, Gatewood also taught personal evangelism and mission work and was one of Hatcher’s teachers.108 Alma Gatewood studied at Harding, Abilene Christian, and the University of Colorado.109 Timmerman had been preaching regularly from the time he was seventeen years old, studied at Harding College (where there were no missions classes), and had helped establish a church in Oak Ridge, TN, where he served for four years prior to his becoming a missionary.110 Coleman graduated from Harding and then studied for three years at Wheaton, taking courses in Greek, Hebrew, German, and “courses which would help him meet modern unbelief.” He preached and did mission work for several congregations in Arkansas and Illinois before moving to Zurich to continue his study of the German language.111

In order to gain information about the situation in Europe, several people took survey trips to Europe to “spy out the land” and to discover receptive areas. As mentioned, Gatewood and Sherrod toured several countries, and Cline Paden and Bill Hatcher toured Italy.112 Bunn spent thirteen months in Zurich, “taking advantage of learning opportunities there.”113

Although Elkins has claimed that “Most [missions] spokesmen [for Churches of Christ] assumed that physical identification is unnecessary,”114 these early missionaries did recognize the importance of learning the languages of the people with whom they worked.115 The challenge, which came from Switzerland, was, “Who will choose Switzerland as a field and come soon to begin preparing for the language.”116 As mentioned previously, Floyd reported that upon arrival in Switzerland and “preparatory to entering mission work in Germany,” Coleman would spend time studying the German language. Floyd also noted that Coleman had already studied German at Wheaton College.117 Lucian Bagnetto (who later did work in Germany) pointed out how silly it would be for someone using broken English to try to convert an American and that the same principle applied in Europe.118 Of Germany, Raymond Kenney wrote, “In order to reach the German people . . . one would need . . . to master their language.”119 Gatewood reported in July 1947 that he and Palmer “spend several hours each day studying German.”120 Gatewood reported that before the missionaries in Germany could speak fluently, they would write their sermons in English and, after having them translated, they would read them in German.121 However, by 1950, several missionaries were considered “well gifted and experienced in speaking the German language.”122 In Italy, Wyndal Hudson was so determined to learn the language that he moved away by himself to the town of Perugia, where he lived with an Italian family.123 S. F. Timmerman, who became fluent in French, emphasized the importance of learning the languages of the country where one worked: “If you can’t speak people’s language, you can’t know what they think.”124

Thus, although training in missiology was lacking among the early missionaries to Europe, many did have significant educational training, often at Christian institutions of higher learning, ministerial experience, and commitment to language learning.

The strategy of the missionaries to Europe tended to include four major components: (1) securing a physical location for meetings and ministry;125 (2) providing humanitarian aid; (3) engaging in evangelistic methods of outreach; (4) nurturing new converts and preparing future leaders.126

The earliest missionaries from Churches of Christ to Europe were convinced that buildings were essential to launching and sustaining their work. Several workers even delayed their departure for Italy until property had been purchased because they felt “that it would be inadvisable to try to make a beginning there without a meeting place, and other facilities almost essential to a successful start.”127 One cannot peruse the journal articles of the time without being struck by the number of references to the need for buildings.128 In Paris, Hall and Anderson sold their cars so they could pay the lease on a building they were trying to secure.129 One of the first things the missionaries in Frankfurt did upon their arrival was to rent an auditorium that would seat two hundred people. In 1948, after reporting that in Frankfurt, the missionaries were now renting an auditorium that would seat about six hundred, Otis Gatewood announced that “[w]e have promises that we can start erecting a new church building before too long.”130 Actual construction on a building in Frankfurt began on May 15, 1950.131 It appears that to the missionaries of that time, it was almost inconceivable that any work could be successful without a building.132

Because of the physical devastation of Europe, humanitarian work was a natural component of ministry.133 The missionaries shared Gatewood’s conviction “that it was impossible for us to do the work that we should do unless we did something to help [the people of Europe]. It is hard to tell hungry people about the love of Jesus when you have plenty of food and do nothing to try to feed them.”134 American members of Churches of Christ responded to pleas for aid and sent thousands of packages of food and clothing to the missionaries, who then distributed them to the poor.135 In Italy and Germany, orphan homes for boys were established to provide places where homeless boys could live and be taught the gospel.136 Some missionaries adopted orphans themselves.137

Humanitarian work set the stage for proclaiming the gospel.138 Gatewood reported of the Germans, “They have seen Christianity in action, and now they are anxious to hear about it. Our work in teaching and preaching so that they might hear has begun.”139

The missionaries used a variety of evangelistic methods to make contacts and to lead people to conversion, including the following: inviting people, especially those who had received packages of food and clothing, to church services,140 visiting their religious neighbors’ worship services,141 talking to people on the streets and in their homes,142 conducting Bible classes for non-Christians,143 holding large evangelistic meetings,144 practicing hospitality,145 providing Sunday school for children between the ages of four and twelve years and conducting vacation Bible school,146 translating and passing out tracts and handbills,147 using correspondence courses,148 preaching over the radio,149 putting religious articles in newspapers and circulating their own newspapers,150 and going house to house or visiting people who had shown particular interest at the large meetings and conducting personal studies with them.151

Beyond mere conversion, the early missionaries to Europe recognized and addressed the need for nurturing new converts and training future leaders.152 They held regular classes for new converts to be grounded in the faith and allowed some of the young men who had been converted to help with the classes and with church services.153 In addition to basic principles of Christian faith and life, classes in Germany, for example, also addressed such topics as the work and qualification of the elders, giving, and the responsibilities of church work.154 The major purpose of the Frascati Orphans’ Home was to train Italian boys to become leaders in the “New Testament” church in Italy, and in fact, some of them did.155 In Germany, the missionaries began a visitation program to get acquainted with the new members and ascertain their spiritual or physical needs.156 They also started a Bible Training School in which students were instructed in Old Testament, New Testament, Greek, personal evangelism, church history, and English. Especially for boys, they initiated a three-week Bible training program in the mountains.157 According to Bob Hare, “the chief aim of [the Bible Training School] was to develop teachers, preachers, and leaders for the church.”158 In France, a formal “Bible School of Paris” was established.159 Unfortunately, in many cases, actual leadership was never effectively transferred to nationals.160

Perhaps one of the most disturbing practices for training new converts was sending them to the United States to attend one of the Christian colleges.161 This practice was widely accepted as “the proper way to strengthen the work” in the various churches.162 Based on reports from brethren who had visited Germany, Switzerland, and Holland, Robert Alexander stated, “One of the best things they can do, as quickly as they convert good men and women is send them back here to the U.S. where the Cause of Christ is strong and educate them so they can go back.”163 Otis Gatewood urged a group of boys in France to move to the United States to study. As early as 1948, three young Germans, Helmut Proconow, Fred Casmir, and Dieter Alten, had been selected to attend David Lipscomb College in Nashville.164 By 1950, the plan was to send the three back to Germany and to recruit at least one more to come to Lipscomb for training.165

Concluding Observations

The years immediately following World War II saw American Churches of Christ engage in a flurry of missionary activity in Europe. For the first missionaries, two of the strongest motivations for going were a sense of obligation to fulfill a command coupled with a deep conviction that Europeans needed the true gospel.166 Inspired to restore the “pure gospel” in lands that had not received it since the days of “the apostasy,” these first missionaries set out with a sense of expectant urgency. Although they knew little about modern missiology, these missionaries did have significant prior ministry experience and enjoyed remarkable early success. However, despite rich historical precedent for restorationist-type movements in Europe,167 the restoration plea, as articulated by early missionaries from Churches of Christ, lost traction in the following decades, and the work stagnated.168

Though the results of mission work by Churches of Christ in Europe have been mixed, it should be emphasized that the need for the gospel in Europe remains. According to D. A. Carson, “Europe is by far the ‘darkest’ continent, as measured by the percentage of the population without evangelical faith—certainly under 3 percent.”169

Allen Diles served twelve years as a church planting missionary in Prague, Czech Republic, and while there, completed the ThD in Church History/Historical Theology at Charles University (2005). Stateside, he has served as an elder in two congregations, and in 2018 Allen was part of a team that launched the Living Way Church of Christ in Searcy, AR, where he leads the missions ministry team. He has been teaching at Harding University since 2005 in the areas of Biblical Text, Missions, and Church History. He has published several scholarly articles and book reviews and is the author of Let Truth Prevail: An Introduction to European Christian Renewal Movements (ACU Press, 2021). He and his wife Laurie have two sons.

1 Dudley T. Pomeroy, “The Church Aggressive,” The Review and Expositor 42, no. 3 (1945): 294. Pomeroy served with General Patton’s Third Army during the latter phases of the war (290).

2 Methodists had raised $25 million, the Presbyterian Church, USA, was in the process of raising $27 million dollars, Northern Baptists were engaged in raising $14 million, Lutherans had set a goal of $10 million, Episcopalians of $8 million dollars, and Southern Baptists were raising over $3.5 million. See Cornell Goerner, “Saving the World to Save America,” The Review and Expositor 43, no. 4 (1946): 422.

3 H. C. Goerner, “The New Day for Christian Missions,” The Review and Expositor 46, no. 1 (1949): 13.

4 Historically, this fellowship of churches was intended to be non-denominational (or undenominational) “Christians only” who eschewed any denominational identifiers and often referred to themselves with a lower-case “c”—churches of Christ–to indicate that they were merely churches that belong to Christ. Modern scholarly convention, however, uses an upper-case “C” to identify this fellowship.

5 Phillip Wayne Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions: An Evaluation of Churches of Christ (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation, 1974), 94–96, lists 143 missionaries from Churches of Christ between 1886 and 1939. Of these, eighty-four worked in Asia, twenty-four worked in Africa, seven in South America, seventeen in Mexico, four in Hawaii, three in the Mediterranean, two in the Caribbean, and two in Europe. Cf. C. Philip Slate, Lest We Forget: Mini-Biographies of Missionaries from a Bygone Generation (Winona, MS: J. C. Choate Publications, 2010). Of the seventy-one missionaries discussed by Slate, forty-three worked in Asia, eighteen in Africa, six in South America, and four in Hawaii.

6 See, e.g., the story of the Presbyterian Navy chaplain Robert P. Evans in Allen V. Koop, American Evangelical Missionaries in France 1945–1975 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986), 1–2, 7.

7 Raymond J. Kenny, “Germany as a Field for the Gospel,” Missionary Messenger 24 (1947): 5, 6; emphasis original.

8 Quoted in Carl Mitchell, “Italy: Fifty Years of Progress (1949–1999),” n.d., unpublished manuscript in the author’s possession. A copy of the manuscript may be found in the missions files housed in the Center for World Missions at Harding University.

9 L. R. Wilson, “Now That the War is Over,” Firm Foundation 62 no. 39 (1945): 2.

10 Few accounts focusing on the work of missionaries from Churches of Christ in the years immediately following World War II have been published. An important published account is that of Otis Gatewood, Preaching in the Footsteps of Hitler (Nashville, TN: Williams Printing, 1960). Examples of unpublished accounts include several masters theses, e.g. Robert Lee Hare, “Missionary Work by Churches of Christ in Germany, 1946–1955” (MA Thesis, Harding Graduate School of Religion, 1956); Joe Edward Gibbs, “Missionary Work of the Churches of Christ in Italy, 1949–1957, Viewed in the Light of the New Testament” (MA Thesis, Harding Graduate School of Religion, 1958); Maurice C. Hall, “History and Methods of Mission Work by Churches of Christ in France” (MA Thesis, Harding Graduate School of Religion, 1959); Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions, is an important published work, but his focus is primarily on the years 1957–67. Other than chapter 15 of Earl Irvin West, The Search for the Ancient Order, A History of the Restoration Movement 1919–1950, vol. 4 (Germantown, TN: Religious Book Service, 1987), several recent histories of Churches of Christ give little attention to mission work following World War II, and when they do, it is usually in the context of how the mission work related to the controversies of pre-millennialism and church cooperation. See e.g., Robert E. Hooper, A Distinct People: A History of the Churches of Christ in the 20th Century (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1993), 172–77, 207–9; Richard T. Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 233–38; David Edwin Harrell Jr., The Churches of Christ in the 20th Century: Homer Hailey’s Personal Journey of Faith (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2000), 80–86.

11 Congregations consisting of US military personnel were also established. For example, in a letter dated October 8, 1945, James W. Daniel mentioned that a congregation had been meeting in Paris for over a year (James W. Daniel, “Activities of the Church in Paris, France,” Firm Foundation 62, no. 46 [November 13, 1945]: 9), and another group met in Frankfurt for the first time on September 23, 1945 (Max Watson, “European Christian News,” Firm Foundation 62, no. 44 [Oct. 30, 1945]: 9). This paper focuses only on congregations that were established by missionaries working with European nationals.

12 Mac Lynn, ed., Churches of Christ Around the World (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1990), 126, 181. Vandervis was converted from Mormonism in Salt Lake City, Utah, by Otis Gatewood. See Otis Gatewood, “France,” The Lubbock Lectures on Mission Work, ed. M. Norvel Young (Lubbock, TX: Broadway Church of Christ, 1946), 52, and Gatewood, Footsteps, 244. William Richardson joined the work in Holland in 1947. See “Richardson on Way to Holland,” Christian Chronicle 5 (Aug. 13, 1947): 1.

13 L. Arnold Watson, “Holland to Have 2nd Congregation,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 793; The Gospel for Holland (tract printed in 1951), 1–9. This tract was located in 1992 in the Abilene Christian University Library Vertical Files for Missions. The files have since been rearranged. There is some discrepancy between pages 4 and 9 as to how many members there were in 1950. Page 4 states there were twenty-eight and page 9 states there were twenty-five.

14 Loyd Collier and Delmar Bunn, “The Work in Zurich, Switzerland,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 14; Gatewood, Footsteps, 35, 42; Otis Gatewood, “Oh Lord, Open our Eyes,” in The Second Lubbock Lectures, Germany for Christ, ed. M. Norvel Young (Lubbock, TX: Broadway Church of Christ, 1948), 7–8.

15 Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 45.

16 See Gatewood, Footsteps, 35-52; Otis Gatewood, “Church Begins in Frankfurt, Germany, with Twenty-Two Present,” Gospel Advocate 89 (July 17, 1947): 526; Otis Gatewood, “One Year in Germany,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 653; “Gatewood to Return to U.S.,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 12, 1950): 1; M. Norvel Young, “Large Audiences Hear Gatewood Speak; Gifts Swell Building Funds,” Christian Chronicle 8 (Nov. 1, 1950): 1–2; M. Norvel Young, “Admit two Missionaries to Germany,” Gospel Advocate 89 (May 22, 1947): 365; Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 47–54; Paul Sherrod, “The Field and the Need,” Gospel Advocate 89 (Oct. 2, 1947): 777.

17 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 4.

18 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 10–13; Cline R. Paden, “Plan for Work in Rome,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 287.

19 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 16; Mitchell, “Italy.”

20 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 19; Mitchell, “Italy.”

21 Mitchell, “Italy.”

22 “Bybee, Mitchell Leave Today for Milan, Italy,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 5, 1950): 1. Carl Mitchell, interview with author (April 22, 2009). Mitchell married his wife Frankie in 1953, and they began working in Florence.

23 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 29–179, details the opposition and persecutions of the early years; see also Mitchell, “Italy.”

24 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 24.

25 West, Search for the Ancient Order, 389.

26 Floyd H. Horton, “Work in Belgium,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 943.

27 “Timmermans Plan to Enter Belgium,” Christian Chronicle 6 (July 7, 1948): 1; Floyd H. Horton, “Horton Reports on Belgian Progress,” Christian Chronicle 6 (Oct. 13, 1948): 1.

28 S. F. Timmerman, interview with author (Nov. 27, 2007).

29 Horton, “Horton Reports,” 1.

30 S. F. Timmerman, “Polish Christians in Belgium Unite with Liege Church; Claim Thousands More Members in Poland and Russia,” Christian Chronicle 8 (Aug. 23, 1950): 1.

31 Daniel T. Ward, “More Baptisms, Another Church Begun in Belgium,” Christian Chronicle 8 (Aug. 23, 1950): 6; Timmerman, interview.

32 Hall, “History and Methods,” 17–18. For a detailed account of the early years of the work in France, see “History and Methods,” 15–71.

33 Ibid., 19.

34 Ibid., 23. These were J. Lee Roberts, William Green, and A. B. Clampitt and his wife and daughter, Margaret.

35 Ibid., 26. The first teaching in French was done in a children’s class taught by Margaret Clampitt (ibid., 28).

36 Timmerman, “Well Publicized Paris, France Meeting Results in 3 Baptisms, Prospects,” Christian Chronicle 8 (June 21, 1950): 1; Hall, “History and Methods,” 29. I have found Knevals’ name spelled various ways, and have chosen to follow Hall’s spelling.

37 Elton Swafford, “Another Worker Sought to Join Evangelistic Forces in France,” Christian Chronicle 8 (Oct. 4, 1950): 5. One of those conversions was Hubert Knevals, “the preacher who acknowledged error.” See also Hall, “History and Methods,” 29–30.

38 I arrived at these numbers by totaling the figures given above.

39 For the optimism within Churches of Christ, see Hooper, A Distinct People, 181–206. See also Harrell, Churches of Christ, 81.

40 As preparations were being made for Italy, Paden,“Plan for Work,” 287, had warned that the work in Italy had “all the ear marks of a disappointing work.”

41 Kathryn Patton, “My First Impression of German Work,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 490.

42 Paul Sherrod, “The Field and the Need,” (Oct. 2): 780; idem, “The Field and the Need,” Gospel Advocate 89 (Oct. 9, 1947): 794.

43 B. Sherrod, “Monday Afternoon Roundtable,” in Lubbock Lectures, 39.

44 Horton, “Work in Belgium,” 943.

45 Carl Spain, “Desperate Needs in Germany,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 893.

46 Gatewood, “Observations on the German Work,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 412.

47 Otis Gatewood, “Teaching is Major Aim . . . All Else A Means to This End,” in Second Lubbock Lectures, 58.

48 Carl Mitchell, “Mitchell Tells of Personal Work in Italy,” Christian Chronicle 8 (Aug. 16, 1950): 7.

49 Quoted from a pamphlet for the Frascati Orphans’ Home, printed ca. 1950. This pamphlet was once located in the Abilene Christian University Library’s vertical files for missions (located in the Center for Restoration Studies). Those files have gone missing.

50 For one historical example of this tension, see the discussion regarding Thomas and Alexander Campbells’ decision to adopt believers’ immersion, knowing that it would create barriers to unity between their followers and the paedobaptists whom they wished to win over, in Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 1897, 1898; reprint, Germantown, TN: Religious Book Service, n.d), 1:391–398. See also the discussion of this tension in Mark Weedman, “Assessing the Declaration and Address: Hermeneutics vs. Unity in Stone-Campbell Movement Theology,” Stone Campbell Journal 14 (Spring, 2011): 21–32.

51 Hall, “History and Methods,” 18; Otis Gatewood, “France, Monday Night—August 26, 1946,” in Lubbock Lectures, 56. Regarding the Lord’s Supper, the French group was using fermented wine and leavened bread, both of which were unacceptable to the Americans.

52 Timmerman, “Well Publicized,” 1. The “one or two minor points” of disagreement are not described.

53 Timmerman, “Polish Christians,” 1. Timmerman reported that “the leading man among them” had already reached the conclusion through his own private studies that weekly communion was the biblical practice. Likely, Timmerman’s support proved decisive in convincing the entire group.

54 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 73.

55 Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 29. See also the account of Gatewood and Sherrod’s attempts to find grounds for fellowship with British Churches of Christ, during which they discussed such doctrinal issues as the phrase “mutual ministry” and the word “Minister” with a capital “M.” They disagreed over the concepts of open communion and the emphasis on baptism or the need for re-baptism. In spite of such disagreements, however, they were able to accept one another as brethren (Gatewood, “Our Visits with the British Brethren,” in Lubbock Lectures, 14–21).

56 Roy Palmer, “Our Greatest Opportunity,” in Second Lubbock Lectures, 83.

57 William C. Hatcher “The Call of Italy,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 590.

58 Cline Paden, “Italy and Christianity,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 37.

59 Paden, “Plan for Work,” 287; quoted in Otis Gatewood, “Specific Problems of Doing Work in Germany,” in Lubbock Lectures, 117.

60 Otis Gatewood, “The First Worship in Italy,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 38.

61 Gatewood, “First Worship,” 31.

62 Hall, “History and Methods,” 25. Watson, “Holland to Have 2nd Congregation,” 793, noted that the establishment of a congregation in Amsterdam would give Holland “two congregations, New Testament in pattern.” Cf. Ellis McGaughey’s claim: “It is regretted that the Cause is very weak in Wales. I know of only one other place in Wales where loyal brethren meet besides Newport. In this section many large towns and cities . . . [are] all without a church of the New Testament pattern” (quoted in P. Sherrod, “Bro. McGaughey Reports from Wales,” Gospel Broadcast 8 [1948]: 758); Cf. also the comment that missionaries in Belfast, Ireland, called on “many people . . . who know little or nothing about simple churches of Christ in their effort to restore New Testament Christianity” (quoted in M. Norvel Young, “Seventy-three Baptized in Belfast,” Gospel Broadcast 8 [1948]: 804).

63 Doctrinal purity in this case did not refer so much to the great doctrines of Christianity, such as the oneness of God, the incarnation, or resurrection of Jesus, though they would have been assumed. Rather, these missionaries, reflecting concerns of the fellowship as a whole, believed that it was important to have the right understanding of such issues as premillennialism, the purpose of baptism, the frequency and the method of the Lord’s Supper, and titles given to preachers.

64 Robert Alexander in “Round Table Discussion, Tuesday Afternoon, August 28, 1946,” chaired by B. Sherrod, in Lubbock Lectures, 82.

65 Horton, “Work in Belgium,” 943. “Premillennialism,” which refers to a variety of systems of belief that hold that Jesus Christ will return to earth and establish a physical one thousand-year reign on earth, was hotly debated within Churches of Christ for several decades in the early to mid-twentieth century. For an overview of the controversy, see Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith, 137–67.

66 Palmer, “Our Greatest Opportunity,” 83.

67 Hatcher, “Call of Italy,” 590.

68 Otis Gatewood, “Opportunities in Italy,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 92.

69 Paul Sherrod, “Why We Have Not Done More Effective Mission Work in the Past,” in Lubbock Lectures, 37.

70 Sherrod, “The Field and the Need,” (Oct. 2): 780.

71 Gatewood, “Observations,” 412.

72 Gatewood, “Opportunities in Italy,” 92.

73 Gatewood, “Specific Problems,” 118.

74 Daniel T. Ward, “5 Nationalities Witness Baptism in Belgium City,” Christian Chronicle 8 (1950): 1.

75 Hatcher, “Call of Italy,” 590.

76 Raymond J. Kenney, “Germany as a Field for the Gospel,” Missionary Messenger 24 (1947): 5.

77 Gatewood, “Opportunities in Italy,” 92; Gatewood, “First Worship,” 38.

78 Hatcher, “Call of Italy,” 590.

79 Gordon Linscott, “Report from Italy,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 851.

80 Paden, “Plan for Work,” 287.

81 Paden, “Italy and Christianity,” 34.

82 Ibid., 37.

83 For Protestant/Evangelical attitudes toward Roman Catholicism in the first half of the twentieth century, see Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom, Is the Reformation Over: An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 37–40; 48–58.

84 Hall, “History and Methods,” 25.

85 Quoted in Carl G. Mitchell, “Preparation of Missionaries in Churches of Christ,” (M.A. Thesis, Pepperdine College, 1963), 3. In the sources, references to obedience to the Great Commission are numerous.

86 P. Sherrod, “The Field and the Need,” (Oct. 2): 777; Olan Hicks in “Round Table Discussion, Tuesday Afternoon,” 84.

87 Hall, “History and Methods,” 26.

88 Hatcher, “Call of Italy,” 590.

89 Keith Coleman, “Practical Answers to Interesting Questions,” in Second Lubbock Lectures, 76.

90 P. Sherrod, “The Field and the Need,” (Oct. 2): 777, italics in the original.

91 See, e.g., Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 24. According to Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 60, “Everything which was done in Germany was aimed at one objective: to get the gospel of Christ into the hearts and lives of those people.”

92 Gatewood, Footsteps, 13.

93 Hatcher, “Call of Italy,” 590.

94 Hall, “History and Methods,” 25.

95 Otis Gatewood, “Gatewood Says Denmark Offers Great Door for the Gospel, with Interested Persons Now in Field,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 19, 1950): 1.

96 P. Sherrod, “Why We Have Not,” 38; Paul Sherrod, “The Field and the Need,” (Oct. 9, 1947): 794.

97 Otis Gatewood, “Report on Germany,” in Lubbock Lectures, 102.

98 Palmer, “Our Greatest Opportunity,” 82.

99 Sherrod, “The Field and the Need,” (Oct. 2): 780, italics in the original. Furthermore, it was important to go before false doctrines solidified.

100 Ibid., 780.

101 Mitchell, “Preparation of Missionaries,” 7–8.

102 Wilson, “Now That the War is Over,” 2. See also Otis Gatewood, “Europe’s Need for the Gospel,” in Lubbock Lectures, 11–13.

103 E.g., Gary Holloway and Douglas A. Foster, Renewing God’s People: A Concise History of Churches of Christ (Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2006), 114, state, “These missionaries were zealous and courageous but generally untrained.” But see Chris Flanders, “The Beginning of Missionary Training in Churches of Christ (Part 1),” Restoration Quarterly 61, no. 1 (2019): 27–38, and idem, “The Beginning of Missionary Training in Churches of Christ (Part 2),” Restoration Quarterly 61, no. 2 (2019): 65–76, which describes some early attempts at academic missionary training in Churches of Christ while also pointing out the general lack of training prior to World War II. Cf. Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions, 57: “It should be recognized at the outset that most of the missionaries of churches of Christ went overseas without having made a study of methods for sharing Christ in another culture. They were therefore without any theory of missionary methods.”

104 Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions, 14.

105 Hall, “History and Methods,” 19–20. Hall also studied German at Abilene (see Gatewood, Footsteps, 243).

106 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 8.

107 “Bybee, Mitchell Leave,” 1.

108 Gatewood, Footsteps, 180–196, 244–45.

109 Ibid., 183. Alma Gatewood had also been a school teacher and had helped in establishing the first African-American congregation of Churches of Christ in Abilene.

110 “Celebrating the Life of S. F. Timmerman,” funeral program obituary, Jan. 2, 2010, (in my possession).

111 William Floyd, “Coleman Sails for European Work,” Gospel Broadcast, 8 (1948): 985.

112 See also Hall, “History and Methods,” 19, regarding survey trips.

113 Lloyd Collier, “German Boys to Lipscomb College,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 790.

114 Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions, 22.

115 The criticism of Holloway and Foster, Renewing God’s People, 114, that “[s]ome could hardly speak the language of the country when they arrived,” seems a bit harsh. It is common in many cases for missionaries to learn the local language after arriving on the field. But see Philip Slate, Lest We Forget, 33, who suggests language learning was “a practice many missionaries in the post-World War II era neglected.”

116 Collier and Bunn, “The Work in Zurich,” 14.

117 Floyd, “Coleman Sails,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 985.

118 Lucian Bagnetto, in “Monday Afternoon Round Table,” in Lubbock Lectures, 42.

119 Kenney, “Germany as a Field,” 6.

120 Gatewood, “Church Begins in Frankfurt,” 526.

121 Otis Gatewood, “Work in Germany Grows Rapidly,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 23.

122 “Fourteen Weeks of Meetings Planned in Germany; 9 Men to Do Preaching in Tent Series,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 5, 1950): 7.

123 Wyndal Hudson, “Marlin and DeHoff Visit Italy Work,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 12, 1950): 4.

124 S. F. Timmerman, interview.

125 Missiologist David J. Hesselgrave, Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: North America and Beyond, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000), 208, has remarked, “No doubt about it, the bottleneck in many an effort in church planting is the meeting place. . . . [M]ost of us who have been involved in pioneer efforts over a number of years will confess that an adequate building is usually a big boost to growth.”

126 The first two components were intended to contribute to the third.

127 Paden, “Plan for Work,” 294; italics added.

128 According to Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions, 19, “The most frequent appeal from missionaries in the church periodicals was for Americans to supply funds for church buildings.”

129 Malcom P. Hinckley, “Long Lease Taken on Choice Paris Building by Workers Who Sell Cars to Pay Cost,” Christian Chronicle 8 (1950): 1.

130 Gatewood, “Church Begins in Frankfurt, 526; Gatewood, “Work in Germany Grows,” 183.

131 Paul Sherrod, “Building Construction is Underway in Frankfurt,” Christian Chronicle 8 (May 31, 1950): 1. Initial construction was to provide an auditorium that would seat two hundred people, with plans to expand to an auditorium for up to one thousand people.

132 See Paul Sherrod, “Let us Build in Germany,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948): 77; The Gospel for Holland, 1, 5; Gatewood, “Observations,” 412; West, Search, 380–81.

133 Even before leaving the US, those who went to Italy devised a three-point strategy that began with humanitarian aid: (1) Build an orphanage; (2) distribute food and clothing; and (3) begin in Rome (Paden, “Plan for Work,” 287).

134 Gatewood, “Relief and Welfare Work,” Second Lubbock Lectures, 17.

135 Ibid., 14-27. M. Norvel Young, “An Opportunity in Germany,” Gospel Advocate 89 (Aug. 7, 1947): 591; John Allen Hudson, “The Situation in Great Britain,” Gospel Advocate 89 (Sept. 4, 1947): 675; Gatewood, “Church Begins in Frankfurt,” 526; Carl Spain, “Desperate Needs,” Gospel Broadcast 8 (1948); 893; Hall, “History and Methods,” 26; West, Search, 381–82.

136 Gibbs, “Missionary Work in Italy,” 24; Mitchell, “Italy;” Gatewood, Footsteps, 45-51; West, Search, 380-82, 389; Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 67–74.

137 Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 83.

138 Another form of community service consisted in offering English classes, which also provided evangelistic opportunities. Hall, “History and Methods,” 81; Gatewood, “Work in Germany Grows,” 183. Harold Paden, “5 Baptized by Harold Paden in Northern Italy,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 5, 1950): 8, reported that although missionaries in Milan had offered English lessons, “our students in these classes became so interested in the Bible that they soon abandoned the English classes to study the Word of God.”

139 Gatewood, “Church Begins in Frankfurt,” 526.

140 Otis Gatewood, “Paper Issued in Germany Stresses First Principles,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 5, 1950): 4.

141 Hall, “History and Methods,” 80–81. Hall referred to this as “going to the synagogues.”

142 Gatewood, “Church Begins in Frankfurt,” 526; Otis Gatewood, “Summer Meetings in Germany Will Carry Gospel into Many Cities During 14-Week Period,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 12, 1950): 5.

143 Paden, “5 Baptized,” 8.

144 Timmerman, “Well Publicized,” 1; Gatewood, “Summer Meetings,” 5. Hall, “History and Methods,” 80, notes that evangelistic meetings were often set at times that did not conflict with other religious groups’ services.

145 Hall, “History and Methods,” 81, 83. Hall mentions that one month his wife, Marie, had served seventy-five meals to visitors in their home.

146 Wyndal Hudson, “Marlin and DeHoff,” 4; Hall, “History and Methods,” 83; Collier, “German Boys,” 790, mentions that “some of our young Christian women teach these classes,” but it is unclear as to whether he is referring to American women or German converts. Given that on the same page he uses the phrase “the young men of the church” to refer to German converts, it is likely that the phrase, “young Christian women” also refers to Germans.

147 Keith Coleman, “Expanded Paper and Baptisms Mark German Work As Busy Summer Progresses,” Christian Chronicle 8 (July 5, 1950): 1; Hall, “History and Methods,” 89; “Fourteen Weeks,” 7.

148 Hall, “History and Methods,” 88.

149 Ibid., 89.

150 Coleman, “Expanded Paper,” 1; Gatewood, “Paper Issued,” 4; Wyndal Hudson, “Marlin and DeHoff,” 4, Hall, “History and Methods,” 84, 87

151 Mitchell, “Mitchell Tells,” 7; Gatewood, “Summer Meetings,” 5; Paden, “5 Baptized,” 8. For more on the methods missionaries used, see also Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 141–58, where he discusses the use of buildings, tents, correspondence courses, Bible and tracts, church publications, and radio programs.

152 As Edward R. Dayton and David A. Fraser, Planning Strategies for World Evangelization, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 217–18, have noted, “A strategy that calls for evangelism and does not call for adequate teaching will eventually fail. If our strategy brings people into relationship with Christ but does not help them to grow so they become propagators, we have failed.”

153 Collier, “German Boys,” 790. We have noted above, that it is likely that young German women were learning to teach children’s classes as well.

154 M. Norvel Young, “Summer Plans Call for Tent Meetings, Bible Classes for German Christians,” Christian Chronicle 8 (June 7, 1950): 6.

155 Gibbs “Missionary Work in Italy,” 24; Mitchell, “Italy.”

156 Collier, “German Boys,” 790.

157 Hare, “Missionary Work in Germany,” 74-82; Young, “Summer Plans,” 6.

158 Ibid., 74. The program was designed for a three-year course of study, though many students did not stay that long. The school was discontinued in 1955 (“Missionary Work in Germany,” 79, 81).

159 Hall, “History and Methods,” 86.

160 According to Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions, 20, prior to 1957 elders had been appointed in only one country that he researched.

161 See Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions, 20–21.

162 A. R. Holton, “Nashville Church Calls Meeting for Work in Germany,” Christian Chronicle 8 (May 31, 1950): 1.

163 Alexander in “Round Table Discussion, Tuesday Afternoon” 82.

164 Collier, “German Boys,” 790. Proconow had come from the boys’ home in Frankfurt, and both Casmir and Alten had been assisting the missionaries in the relief work.

165 Holton, “Nashville Church Calls Meeting,” 1. Hall, “History and Methods,” 35, 86, mentions that at least three young men from France were sent to study in the States. At the 1948 Lubbock Lectures, only Gatewood and Olan Hicks expressed a note of caution about bringing new converts to the States for training, fearing that they might never return to their home countries. Gatewood, “Practical Answers,” Second Lubbock Lectures, 72–74, proposed the idea that American churches could support new converts while the missionaries trained them in their home countries.

166 Neither of these factors appears to carry as much motivational weight today in our more ecumenical, pluralistic, and post-modern world. It remains to be seen whether a new and more compelling motivational factor for twenty-first-century missionaries will be found.

167 On various restorationist type movements in European history, see R. Allen Diles, Let Truth Prevail: An Introduction to European Christian Renewal Movements (Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2021).

168 By the end of the twentieth-century, Mac Lynn reported that Churches of Christ claimed only 3,586 members in the six nations of Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy. In Germany, which had nine congregations and over one thousand baptisms by 1950, Lynn reported only 1,035 members in sixty-four congregations, and thirty-two of these congregations were English-speaking and made up primarily of US military personnel. In the Netherlands over five hundred people had been converted through forty years of mission work, and yet in 1997, Churches of Christ claimed only 376 members. See Mac Lynn, ed., Churches of Christ Around the World (Nashville, TN: 21st Century Christian, 2003), 16-18, 376; Lynn, Churches of Christ (1990), 76, 181. Nevertheless, in the decades following World War II and then following the end of the Cold War, Churches of Christ have been successful in establishing congregations in almost every European nation, though the degree to which they thrive is uncertain.

169 D. A. Carson, “Conclusion: Ongoing Imperative for World Mission,” in Martin I. Lauber and Scott M Manetsch, eds., The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2008), 184.

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