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london city mission, evangelism and philanthropy

London City Mission [LCM] was founded in 1835  by David Nasmith and two friends. Nasmith had been involved in various religious improvement schemes and the establishment of city missions in Glasgow, Paris and New York. London City Mission began in a small terraced house by the canal in Hoxton. It was intended to be interdenominational, but there were difficulties with the Anglican church linked to David Nasmith's tendency to over-extend himself via the formation of different associations and groups. The aim was to work among the largely non-church-going populations of inner-city areas who had been neglected by churches. London City Mission quickly attracted support, and developed into one of the largest and most successful missions in the UK. Amongst other things, it pioneered and financed evangelists (usually linked with particular congregations, but sometimes ministering to particular groups such as dockers). The first paid missionary was Lindsay Burfoot in the Spitalfields neighbourhood (receiving £1 per week for his services). By 1885 it had some 460 staff.

As an evangelical organization London City Mission had a significant philanthropic element. This continued even when others withdrew from this role. It was involved in the formation of ragged schools (including giving them their name). Working in the poorest districts, teachers (who were often local working people) used such buildings as could be afforded - stables, lofts, railway arches. There was an emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic - and on bible study (the 4 ‘R’s!). They were important forerunners of youth work. LCM was also involved in providing coffee stores and the formation of mothers' meetings (see Bible women). London City Mission remains a large and active organization combining the same mix of evangelism and social service. It moved to its then new headquarters on Tower Bridge Road in the 1970s.

Reference: Thompson, P. (1985) To the Heart of the City. The story of London City Mission, London: Hodder and Stoughton.
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