American and Foreign Christian Union

American and Foreign Christian Union a religious association of the United States, organized in the city of New York in May, 1849. It was formed by the fusion of three societies which had existed for several years, the Foreign Evangelical Society, the American Protestant Society, and the Philo-Italian Society. The Foreign Evangelical Society was organized in 1839 to advance the work of evangelization in papal countries generally. It had been preceded by the French Association, which was founded in 1834, in order to assist the evangelical efforts made by the French Protestants, and, in 1836, changed its name into that of Evangelical Association. The receipts of the French Association and the Evangelical Association were $19,759, those of the Foreign Evangelical Society during the ten years of its existence, $154,345. At the request of the French Association, Rev. Dr. Baird went, in 1835, for three years to Paris, for the purpose of learning what could be done by the American churches to aid their Protestant brethren in France, and later, at the request of the Foreign Evangelical Society, traveled for four more years extensively on the Continent in prosecution of the same work. In 1849 the society had missionaries in France, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, Hayti, and South America, besides having aided the work in Germany, Poland, Russia, and Italy. The American Protestant Society was formed in 1843 in consequence of the large immigration of Roman Catholics into the United States. Its objects were: To enlighten Protestants of this country in regard to the errors of Rome, and to convert and save the members of the Roman Church in the United States. A number of colporteurs and other missionaries were maintained, laboring mostly among the Irish and German immigrants. The total receipts from 1843 to 1849 were $92,160. The Philo-Italian Society, which later took the name of the Christian Alliance, was also founded in 1843. As the proceedings of this society were not published, little is known of it farther than that it employed an active agent, a Protestant Italian, for years on the confines of Italy. The American and Foreign Christian Union, which arose in 1849 out of a union of these three societies, undertook the work and assumed the responsibilities of them all combined. Its objects are "to diffuse and promote, by missions, colportage, the press, and other appropriate agencies, the principles of religious liberty, and a pure and evangelical Christianity, both at home and abroad, wherever a corrupted Christianity exists." In the first two years of its existence, 1850 and '51, it expended nearly $15,000 for the removal to Illinois of some 500 or 600 Portuguese exiles, who had been exiled from Madeira for having embraced Protestantism. The receipts from 1849 to 1859 have ranged from $45,000 to $80,000, making a total of over $600,000 in ten years. In 1863 they were $59,063; in 1864, $73,778. It publishes a monthly magazine of 32 pages, the "Christian World" (formerly the "Am. and For. Chr. Un."), which has a large circulation. The society has also published a Sabbath- school library, consisting of 21 volumes, mostly exposing the doctrines and usages of the Roman Church. The agents of the society in the home field preach the Gospel to Roman Catholics, viz., English, Irish, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Bohemian. In the foreign field, the society sustains missionaries itself, or supports the Protestant missions of other societies in Canada, Hayti, Mexico, South America, Ireland, Western or Azores Islands, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Piedmont, France. The number of laborers employed in the home field was, in 1859, 63; the number of teachers, male and female, 375; making a force of 438 persons endeavoring to counteract the influence of the papacy. Up to May, 1859, the association had brought 14,250 youths under evangelical influence, and had been the means of the conversion of 1404 persons from Roman Catholicism. In 1885 the publication of the Christian World was discontinued, and since that time the society has suspended active operations.

 
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