Church and mission leaders gathered in New York at the Christian Herald office, operated by The Bowery Mission, to establish the National Federation of Gospel Missions (NFGM). It was felt that such an organization was needed to bring accountability to this rapidly growing ministry genre in which some start-ups had questionable doctrine and practices and were accused of swindling the poor. The Salvation Army was originally part of the federation.
The International Union of Gospel Missions was organized on September 17, 1913, in New York City. Mr. Sidney Whittemore is credited as being the father of the body. (He was also the president of the National Federation of Gospel Mission in the years prior.)Thirty mission superintendents (including 10 from New York City) who were charter members petitioned the State of New York for a certificate of incorporation on October 9, 1913. The certificate was recognized and granted by Mitchell May, Secretary of State for New York, on October 14, 1913.
One of the earliest efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of rescue ministry through the International Union of Gospel Missions or IUGM (later AGRM) was the appointment of Field Secretary Peter Quartel of Dayton, Ohio. Quartel’s efforts bore fruit, but for varying reasons, he was forced to discontinue his services. Others who undertook the responsibility were I. L. Eldridge, J. Arthur Schlicter, E. R. MacKinney, and Harry H. Hadley. In 1948, Reverend Chauncey Berman was hired as full-time field secretary and served one year. ??In the mid 1950s, the executive committee (called the board as of 1983) was empowered to select an executive secretary. This person would maintain an office that would promote rescue missions and IUGM internationally. He would be employed on behalf of the IUGM members and work directly under the executive secretary’s committee, in full cooperation with the executive committee.
Reverend Ernest Tippett, who had served as treasurer of IUGM, became the first executive secretary in 1957. Ernest served five years, maintaining the international office in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Winona Lake, Indiana. Upon his resignation in 1962, Reverend Clifton E. Gregory, a former IUGM president, served on an interim basis while continuing to direct the City Mission in Cleveland, Ohio.
Reverend James B. Moellendick became executive secretary in the mid-1960s. He established, on a temporary basis, offices in Parkersburg, West Virginia. In 1966, James directed the move of the IUGM headquarters to Kansas City, Missouri, where City Union Mission provided office space. After five years of faithful service and great progress, James resigned.
A man with 15 years experience in rescue mission ministries, the Reverend Emile Leger became executive secretary in May 1970. Under his leadership, the IUGM purchased and moved into a permanent headquarters building in June 1971. Emile, whose main efforts were to gain dignity and stature for the office, and unify the members to substantially support IUGM, resigned the executive secretary’s position on August 1, 1974.
At the 1974 convention in Los Angeles, the delegates appointed Reverend William L. Wooley as executive secretary. William had served as superintendent of The Anchorage Mission(Albany, Ga.), as president of the IUGM Southeastern District, and secretary-treasurer of IUGM.
At the 1984 convention in Huntsville, Alabama, Lloyd Olson of Campus Crusade for Christ was commissioned to do a study of the rescue mission movement and to make recommendations for the future of rescue ministry and IUGM. Titled “New Perspective,” the report outlined a number of historic changes including restructuring the office of executive secretary (which became executive director in 1986), and creating a new track concept, membership system, and constitution and bylaws. The new concepts were adopted in Seattle in 1985 and the constitution and bylaw changes in Houston in 1986. ??The outcome was an organization that was better able to serve local ministries, and that was committed to expansion, education, training, and public awareness. Eight tracks (Urban Children & Youth Ministry, Development, Christian Addiction Rehabilitation Association, Employment and Education, and Women and Family Ministry, Association of Christian Thrift Stores, Chaplains, and Volunteer Tracks) served those in specialized ministries.??During William’s 15 years of outstanding service, the IUGM office staff increased from three to seven. The office was relocated from the basement of William’s home to an office complex, and the new concepts initiated by the Lloyd Olson study became a reality.
On August 1, 1989, Reverend Stephen E. Burger, Executive Director of the Union Gospel Mission, Seattle, Washington, and immediate past president, succeeded Reverend William Wooley, who was named executive director emeritus.
On August 31, 1990, IUGM purchased its new headquarters building in North Kansas City, with 4,000 square feet of office space, expanding its ability to service the membership. The staff moved in April 1, 1991.
On May 31, 2000, the delegates at the 87th Annual Convention changed the name of the International Union of Gospel Missions to the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). During Stephen Burger’s tenure, he continued to emphasize mission expansion and services that sought to build up the frontline mission worker, as well as developing a bold new program, Rescue College (now City Vision University), which began as an intern-training program. By 2006, it became fully accredited as a degree-conferring institution.
AGRM also provided oversight to an already established ministry, Alcoholics Victorious.??Stephen served as Executive Director of the IUGM/AGRM through June 30, 2007.
The AGRM board hired John Ashmen to be the new executive director of the association on July 1, 2007. John formerly served for 15 years as Vice President and COO at Christian Camp and Conference Association in Colorado Springs for 15 years.
John introduced numerous changes to the association, including dramatically increasing the number of member benefits, “polishing” publications, enhancing the Annual Conference and Exposition, revising education tracks, opening up numerous collaboration opportunities with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. John also introduced the concept of “radical hospitality” and helped member organizations embrace the idea of life transformation as their overall purpose. Foremost, John oversaw the rebranding of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions to Citygate Network. Under his leadership, membership increased by nearly one-third.
In 2009, John moved the AGRM headquarters to Colorado Springs, Colorado, home of more than 125 national and international Christian ministries. The association held a temporary office space downtown, then in the northern part of the city. from 2010 to 2018. In February 2018, Citygate Network purchased an office building on the west side of the town, located at 2153 Chuckwagon Road; the staff moved in August that same year.