Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In 200-year tradition, most Christian missionaries are American

SALEM, Massachusetts (Reuters) - At a church on the New England coast 200 years ago, five young men became ordained as Congregational missionaries and set off on cargo ships to India as the first organized group of American missionaries to travel overseas.

Their departure signaled the start of the U.S. missionary movement, and today the United States sends more Christian missionaries abroad than any other country, experts say.

The United States sent out 127,000 of the world's estimated 400,000 missionaries abroad in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

In distant second place is Brazil, which sent 34,000 missionaries abroad in 2010, he said.

The United States receives the most missionaries as well, with 32,400 in 2010, he said. Many are Brazilians - Catholic, Protestants and Pentecostals - who largely work in Brazilian communities in the Northeast, Johnson said.


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