Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 May 2022
Overall, American Protestants have demonstrated a strong commitment to global missions and missionary work throughout their history, urging the importance of converting others to Protestant Christianity. This emphasis began during the early days of American settlement by Europeans, with mission efforts among Native Americans, those of African descent, and eventually overseas groups. American Protestant mission efforts peaked during the modern missionary movement of the nineteenth century, with thousands of missionaries – including women and students – serving around the world with strong support from churches and mission boards. During the twentieth century, support for missions among mainline Protestants declined because of secularism and religious pluralism, while evangelical Protestants undertook innovative new forms of missions. Throughout the centuries, a commitment to missions has both reflected and shaped American Protestant self-understanding.
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