Glasgow City Mission: Pioneer of the Urban Rescue Movement
By Graeme Clark, Former
Executive Director, Glasgow City Mission
Mission was the world’s first rescue mission. Established in
1826, it was an interdenominational lay movement. The mission, founded
at a time of great poverty and distress in Glasgow, practiced and
proclaimed the gospel among the city’s poorest. The mission also devised
creative partnerships with churches and civic agencies to provide
spiritual and practical care for youth, offenders, and the sick and
The latter part of the twentieth century saw a
decline in the mission’s fortunes as it became increasingly tied to
quasi-church tradition. By 1992, the decline was potentially terminal.
In the early 1990s, Glasgow City Mission was
revitalized. A new strategy document was adopted in 1992, taking the
original vision and applying it to modern city issues, leading
A biblical/theological approach to urban needs
New leadership with professional and management
New standards of quality in care and
Training at all levels of the organization
Development of a healthy new public image
This recovery of values and practices led to great
improvements. Resources and income increased fourfold, and the mission’s
workers had a renewed commitment to the ministry.
mission’s caring work is now regarded by many as exemplary. People’s
lives are being transformed, and public and charitable resources are
being better directed to meet the needs of the neediest.
We believe God led us to that point. With a
continuing commitment to change, mission leaders pursued establishing a
multi-disciplinary care center in Glasgow’s city center, adding new
staff members, establishing a residential crisis care center, and
increasing the emphasis on our educational role.
church faces a crisis of confidence within Europe. Our experience in
Glasgow suggests that a revitalized city mission motivates and
encourages local churches to reach their cities effectively with the
gospel of Jesus Christ.
This article was first
published in the Summer 1995 issue of City Voices and adapted for
www.agrm.org. Used with permission of International Urban