October 3: John Raleigh Mott, Evangelist and Ecumenical Pioneer, 1955

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1910 - from (1910-08) "The Edinburgh Conference- A Forward Look." The American Review of Reviews XLII. New York- The Review of Reviews Co.

About this commemoration

John Mott was born in Livingston Manor, New York in 1865, and moved with family to Iowa in September of that same year. After graduating from Cornell University in 1888, Mott became student secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA and chairman of the executive committee of the Student Volunteer Movement. In 1895 he became General Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation, and in1901 he was appointed the Assistant General Secretary of the YMCA.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him to the National War Work Council, for which he received the Distinguished Service Medal.

His ecumenical work was rooted in the missionary slogan “The Evangelization of the World in this Generation.” Convinced of the need for better cooperation among Christian communions in the global mission field, he served as chairman of the committee that organized the International Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910, over which he also presided. Considered to be the broadest gathering of Christians up to that point, it is from this Conference that the modern ecumenical movement began. Speaking before that Conference, Mott summed up his view of Christian missions: “It is a startling and solemnizing fact that even as late as the twentieth century, the Great Command of Jesus Christ to carry the Gospel to all mankind is still so largely unfulfilled … The church is confronted today, as in no preceding generation, with a literally worldwide opportunity to make Christ known.”

Mott continued his involvement in the developing ecumenical movement, participating in the Faith and Order Conference at Lausanne in 1927, and was Vice-President of the Second World Conference on Faith and Order in Edinburgh (1937). He also served as Chairman of the Life and Work Conference in Oxford, also held in 1937.

In 1946 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in establishing and strengthening international organizations which worked for peace. The World Council of Churches, the founding of which was largely driven by Mott’s efforts, elected him its life-long Honorary President in 1948. Mott died in 1955.


I  O God, the shepherd of all, we offer thanks for the lifelong commitment of thy servant John Raleigh Mott to the Christian nurture of students in many parts of the world; and we pray that, after his example, we may strive for the weaving together of all peoples in friendship, fellowship and cooperation, and while life lasts be evangelists for Jesus Christ, in whom alone is our peace; and who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  O God, the shepherd of all, we give you thanks for the lifelong commitment of your servant John Raleigh Mott to the Christian nurture of students in many parts of the world; and we pray that, after his example, we may strive for the weaving together of all peoples in friendship, fellowship and cooperation, and while life lasts be evangelists for Jesus Christ, in whom alone is our peace; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Psalm 71:17-24

Lessons:  Isaiah 60:1–5, 1 John 2:12–14, and Luke 7:11–17

Preface of All Saints

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

Also of interest

Link to Nobel Prize website with his biography, Nobel Lecture, and acceptance speech


We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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5 thoughts on “October 3: John Raleigh Mott, Evangelist and Ecumenical Pioneer, 1955

  1. Gospel: It doesn’t seem to me that the story of the widow of Nain fits the commemoration?

    Bio. He needs a ‘who he is’ and ‘why is he important’ statement.
    But, he does have a ‘He died in 1955.” statement! 🙂

  2. The bio and the collect seem good. In the collect I question three words that seem so patently self-evident that their presence is distracting and puerile, “and WHILE LIFE LASTS be evangelists.” When else would people be evangelists? What other option is there?

  3. When we’re commemorating someone for his ecumenical work, it obviously makes no sense to insist that he be an Episcopalian, but the fact that he was acknowledged by the Episcopal Church in his lifetime by being made an honorary canon of the National Cathedral might be worth noting, as a way of helping some to connect with what otherwise might seem a bit abstract.

  4. We should show Mott”s birth date (May 25), not just the year of his birth.

    One understands that the day on which he departed this world (Jan. 31) is slated to have two other commemorations, but why October 3? I could guess that this might be the date on which his Nobel Prize was announced, but a limited search online didn’t resolve the issue. I believe the SCLM should indicate the reason for the choice of date. The date of his death, not just the year, should definirdtely be shown.

    The sentence beginning “Considered” in line 6 of the third paragraph is bad journalese, or at best sloppy English. [The opening clause does not agree with the subject (it) when we eventually come to it.] The sentence could be recast into better English in some such way as this: “Considered to be the broadest gathering of Christians up to that point, the Conference marked the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement.”

  5. It us a witness to our Anglican insularity that I had never heard of someone who has done so much in fields in which I am greatly interested.
    I thank he would be a good addition to te calendar, although I suspect it will not be uniiversally observed for the same reasons that I knew nothin of his life and work

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