KNOXVILLE — After 70 years in operation, Missions Services has decided that it is in the best interest of the organization to merge with International Conference On Missions.
Missions Services was started when Harrold McFarland, who had been serving in World War II as a chaplain, came home to find out he had been replaced as the minister of his church.
Reggie Hundley has served as the executive director of Missions Services for the past 20 years, being their longest served executive director.
“Harrold and Adele, his wife were really visionaries,” Hundley said. “Prior to that time the Christian churches and the restoration movement had some emphasis in missions but we were not the force that this group of churches is now in world missions.”
Harrold created a magazine called Horizons to encourage the missionaries who were serving around the world. The magazine recently stopped publication.
Hundley said that Missions Services had a slightly difficult beginning.
“The goal in the beginning was a little bit undefined,” Hundley said. “But, over the next five years it became evident the role that we needed to fill was to help missionaries communicate with supporters back home.”
Hundley said that Missions Services has worked to stay up to date technology.
“About five years ago, we created a website, a podcast, and an app called The Missions Network,” Hundley said. “About 90% of what we do now has to do with electronic communication.”
Hundley said that there is some difficulty in communicating all of the work that Missions Services has done.
He quoted one missionary to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Zilden Nutt, to explain.
“’Unless someone is deeply involved and interested in world missions, it is impossible for someone to understand the impact that Missions Services had both from the recruiting end to the encouraging end,’” Hundley said.
In August 2016, Hundley announced that he accepted a request from the Christian Churches Pension Plan to become the new CEO starting in July 2017.
“The board took that opportunity to say ‘what is the best way for the work of Mission Services to be done,’” Hundley said. “’What is the best way for it to fit into the Kingdom?’”.
Hundley said the board questioned whether they should find a new executive director or join their efforts with another ministry.
“The director of ICOM and many of their board members said they would love to have the opportunity to continue the work of Missions Network and what we do,” Hundley said.
Hundley said that Harrold McFarland was very involved in helping with the first missionary convention that ICOM held and now their organization will be helping Missions Services.
“As of July 1, [ICOM] will not only be doing the electronic part of Missions Network, the podcasts and the app, but they will also be doing the printing of the newsletters,” Hundley said.
Missions Services is also selling their building that sits on E. Magnolia street.
“The work that we do is not going to stop,” Hundley said. “So, while the name Missions Services won’t exist, the work will continue through the ICOM.”