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Collection 276 Records of Christ's Mission

Identifier: CN 276

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, reports, minutes of meetings, personnel files, manuscripts, pamphlets, audits and other records which document the work of Christ's Mission, which provided support to priests who wished to leave the Roman Catholic Church. The mission also sponsored lectures, conferences and publications on perceived errors in Catholic theology and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in American society.


  • Created: 1894-1984

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Historical Information

Founded: 1883 (Various publications and letters of the mission give various dates for its founding: 1879, 1880, 1881, 1887. In the later years of the mission, 1883 is usually given as the date and it is the date from which most anniversaries were calculated.)

Headquarters Location:

1879-1891: Rev. James A. O'Connor held meetings in various buildings around New York City, especially the Masonic Temple at the corner of 6th Avenue and 23rd Street

1891-1907?: 142 West 21st Street, New York, New York

1907-1923?: 331 West 57th Street, New York, NY

1923?: 330 West 55th Street, New York, NY

1925-1930: Meetings of the mission held in various locations because there was no permanent building

1930-1937: Rented offices and auditorium in the Mecca Temple on West 55th Street, New York, NY

1937-1948?: 229 West 48th Street, New York, NY

1948-?: 756 7th Avenue, New York 19, NY

ca. 1950s: The Converted Catholic published at 160 Fifth Avenue, New York 10, NY

ca 1950s: The Converted Catholic published at 27 East 22nd Street, New York, NY

ca 1950s-1960s?: Editorial offices for The Converted Catholic and administrative offices were at 250 West 57th Street, New York, NY

1952-1964: 369 Carpenter Avenue, Sea Cliff, New York; this was also the home for ex-priests. At the end of 1964, Christ's Mission became a New Jersey corporation. The New York corporation remained in existence but was inactive.

1964 to 1980s?: 275 State Street, Hackensack, New Jersey 07602

Executive Officers

1881-1911: James A. O'Connor, director (the head of the mission was usually also the editor of the magazine)

1911-1916: Manuel Ferrando, director

1916-1918: Eli M. Ericksen, director

1918-1920: Harry B. Morgan, director

1921-1923: Sefrano Testa, (acting) superintendent

1923-1926: Aristide Malinverni, superintendent

1927-1928: Thomas Charles Marshall, director

1930-193?: Terance Magowan, director

1937-1948: Anthony Caliandro, director

1948-1950: Leo Herbert Lehman, director

1950-1951: H. Clay Mitchell, (acting) director

1951-1958: Walter M. Montano, executive director

1958-1960: Walter M. Montano, Stuart Garver; co-executive directors

1960-1977: Stuart P. Garver, executive director

1978-1984: Royal L. Peck, executive director (in 1982 the title was changed to president)

1984: Larry Green, executive director

Other Significant Officers

circa. 1950s-1960s: R. G. Hawley, Business Manager

circa 1960s: Angelo Lovallo, director of extension services

1978?-1984: Miriam Pain, assistant to the executive director

Significant Events in Organizational History

1878: Rev. John A O'Connor, an ex-Catholic priest who had become a Protestant minister, moved to New York City with his family

1879: O'Connor began preaching at various spots around New York City and formed the Independent Catholic Church. He was especially concerned to reach and help Catholics who were dissatisfied with the doctrines of their church.

1881: O'Connor began a mission with the purpose of providing spiritual and practical support for ex-Catholic priests

1883: The first issue of the mission's magazine, The Converted Catholic, was published

June 23, 1887: The mission was incorporated as Christ's Mission

October 11, 1891: First permanent headquarters of the mission dedicated and opened

1928: The Converted Catholic was merged with the magazine The Protestant, published in Washington, DC. The mission still continued to print tracts and other publications.

1940: Leo H. Lehman revived the magazine The Converted Catholic for the mission

1952: Mission established a home where ex-priests can live while they are starting their new life. The mission had provided practical support for ex-priests since its founding, but this was the first permanent home.

March 1958: The missions's magazine was renamed Christian Heritage

April 19-21, 1960: Conference, sponsored by the mission and led by Stuart Garver, of several leading Fundamentalist and Evangelical Protestant theologians, writers and church leaders to critique Roman Catholic theology and practice.

February 1978: Last issue of Christian Heritage. The mission continued to publish a newsletter.

1980s: Mission began to send teams to Italy to evangelize and plant churches. The groups were called Centurions.

August 1, 1984: Christ's Mission was absorbed by International Crusades, which changed its name to International Teams

Ministry Emphasis

The mission was started to provide support for Catholic priests who wished to leave the priesthood (often to become Protestant ministers). It also had a strong secondary emphasis (which as time went by appeared to become its primary emphasis) of providing speakers and publications on ways that the Catholic church departed from basic Christian beliefs and the power and influence of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States. In the last years of the mission's separate exist, it shifted its emphasis almost entirely to evangelistic work in Italy.

Geographical Emphasis

The work of the mission was almost for most of its history within the United States, although it did support several ex-priests from South America and the Philippines and supported church planting and evangelistic work in the Philippines, at least.


The missions' magazine, The Converted Catholic was merged with The Protestant in 1928. In 1940 the mission resumed publishing the magazine. In 1984, the personnel and assets of the mission were absorbed by International Crusades

Other Significant Information

Clyde Taylor, Louis King, Louis Hutchins were on the board of trustees at various times


24.99 Cubic Feet (55 Boxes (DC), Audio Tapes, Films, Oversize Materials, Phonograph Records, Photographs, Videos)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Arrangement section, the notation "folder 2-5" means "Box 2, Folder 5"]

Scope and Content Series: Executive director's files

Arrangement: Files are arranged by director, then alphabetically by folder title, based on the significant word in the title. For example, "Winter Appeal, 1977" would be filed under "A", with the other appeal files. The materials were received by the Archives in a somewhat disordered state and the files were alphabetized by the archivist, because this appeared to reflect the original order. Most of the folder titles are original, a few were assigned by the archivist.

Date Range: 1894-1984

Volume: 8.4 cubic feet Boxes: 1-20, 46

Geographic coverage: United States, Italy, a very few from other countries such as the Philippines

Type of documents: Correspondence, manuscripts of articles and conference speeches, reports, pamphlets

Subjects: Activities of the mission, critiques of Roman Catholic theology and practice from a Protestant perspective, influence and power of the Roman Catholic Church in American society

Notes: The collection contains only the files of the last two executive directors, although a few folders contain materials from Walter Montano, who preceded Garver.


Series: Executive Director's Files

Subseries A: Stuart P. Garver

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title, based on the significant word in the title

Date Range: 1894-1978 (most of the documents are from 1950-1978)

Volume: 6.6 cubic feet Boxes: 1-16

Geographic Coverage: United States, Philippines Correspondents: Howard Ferrin, James K. Montgomery, Kenneth Opperman

Notes: Garver's files are especially concerned with the production of the mission's magazine, fund-raising, the scheduling of speakers at churches and conferences, the production of films, pamphlets and other means of carrying the mission's message.

There are several topical folders of material (usually containing only one or two items) about the Roman Catholic Church and its relations to Protestants.

Boxes 2 through 9 contain Garver's general correspondence and give a good idea of the work of the mission. The correspondence tends to be in several sets of folders, covering a chronological period. These sets were kept together and arranged chronologically.

Exceptional items: Folders 2-3 through 2-6 contain materials from the April 1960 Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania conference. At this meeting, which was organized by Christ's Mission, several leading Fundamentalist and Evangelical Protestants got together to discuss Roman Catholic doctrine and the influence of the Catholic Church in the United States. Among the participants were Donald G. Barnhouse Sr., Louis H. Benes, Geoffrey W. Bromley, Terrelle B. Crum, Harry Denman, Frank E. Gaebelein, James Leo Garrett Jr, Stuart Garver, Carl Henry, Oswald C. J. Hoffman, John H. Kromminga, John Alexander Mackay, Harold John Ockenga, Bernard L. Ramm, Harold Paul Sloan, Clyde W. Taylor. The files contain transcripts of the discussion, as a well as an article about the conference that appeared in Christianity Today magazine. See also audio tapes T3-T8 and film F3.

Folders 9-8 through 9-12 contain scripts, correspondence, and other materials relating to production of Christ Missions's films, including The Hidden Power, Menacing Shadows, The One True Church, and 95.

Folder 13-9 contains a few clippings relating to questions of some Protestant churchmen as to whether a Catholic president could resist the influence of the Catholic Church hierarchy.

Folder 13-11 contains a report by Kenneth Opperman on his meeting with Pope Paul VI. The historical materials file (folder 10-1) contains a wide range of miscellaneous material on the mission's history, including several early pamphlets about the work of James A O'Connor, information about the celebration of various anniversaries, and notes, apparently for use in the magazine or in a history of mission, on the lives of the men who served as directors of the mission.

For more information on the early history of the mission, see folders 10-2, 13-12, 19-8. Folders through 16-8 contain hundreds of press releases statements and other documents from the Vatican press office relating to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, popularly known as Vatican II. These are statements from the Vatican about the various activities and subgroups of the council, as well as speeches and statements by Pope John XXIII and various cardinals and bishops. The documents cover sessions of the council in 1962, 1963 and 1964.

There are also statements from the Federal Protestant Council of Italy and a few articles about the Vatican Council. These are good records for the day-to-day activities of the Vatican II. Apparently Christ's Mission had someone there as a press representative or asked someone on the Federal Protestant Council to send materials.


Series: Executive Director's Files Subseries: B. Royal L. Peck

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1954-1984 (almost all the documents are from 1978-1984)

Volume: 1.8 cubic feet

Boxes: 17-20, 46

Geographic Coverage: United States, Italy

Correspondents: Clyde Taylor

Notes: The files for Royal L. Peck are many concerned with staff policy, fund-raising, and a shift in emphasis from work within the United States to sending teams to evangelize and plant churches in the Latin area of Europe, especially Italy. The files contain very little on the final dissolution of the mission. There are also newsletters from other Evangelical organizations and related groups which Peck apparently kept for reference.

Exceptional Items: Folder 19-8 contains material on the history of the mission

Folders 17-23 through 18-4 and 19-12 through 20-2 contain a great deal of information on the development of the Centurion project, which was to send teams of short-term missionaries to the Latin area of Europe (Italy, France, Spain) to evangelize and start churches. This had developed out of Peck's experiences on similar teams in Italy in the mid-1970s. The documents in the files trace the origins of the project and contain many of the team members prayer letters to supporters, describing their activities.

Folder 20-10 contains information on Peck's ministry in Italy before he came to Christ's Mission.

Folder 18-5 contains the letter set out to CM supporters when the magazine Christian Heritage was discontinued.

Folder 19-6 contains fund raising letters and ideas which Peck had gathered from other Evangelical organizations.

Folder 46-6 contains the paper Peck gave at the 1980 Consultation on World Evangelization on "Reaching Nominal Christians Among Roman Catholics." (Folder 46-15 and 46-16 contains some Lausanne newsletters, as well as newsletters of World Evangelical fellowship).

Folder 46-9 contains the secretary's notebook which, lays out the rules for handling various significant events in the life of Christ's Mission, such as the annual banquet and the board of trustees meeting.

Folder 46-13 has articles and memos about the impact of political terrorism on missionary work.


Series: Ex-Priest Files

Arrangement: First few files in box 20 are on the work with ex-priest in general and are arranged alphabetically. The rest of the files are arranged alphabetically by the name of the individual.

Date Range: 1921-1977

Volume: 10.2 cubic feet

Boxes: 20-45

Geographic Coverage: United States, Europe, South America

Type of Documents: Correspondence, memos

Notes: Files consist almost entirely of files of correspondence and other materials from individual ex-priests (and in a few case, ex-nuns), dealing with the kind of help and counseling Christ's Mission could provide.

There are a few general folders (in box 20) on policies and arrangements for providing assistance to ex-priests. In some cases, the mission helped the ex-priests immigrate to the United States. Some of the ex-priests became Protestant ministers and speakers for the mission, in which case their files often have some information about their speaking engagements.

Many files contain autobiographical statements or testimonies both as to the individual's reasons for leaving the Catholic Church and a description of his faith in Jesus Christ. Many articles also contain articles by or about the individual of the folder. Exceptional items: Folder 38-7 contains a friendly letter from a priest who is definitely not leaving the church and who gives a sympathetic critique of the mission's work.


Series: Board of Directors Files

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title. (The minutes and accompanying reports which were originally kept in blue notebooks were removed by the archivist and placed in files labeled "Minutes and materials")

Date Range: 1933-1984

Volume: 3.8 cubic feet

Boxes: 47-55 Geographic coverage: United States, Italy

Type of Documents: Minutes, reports, audits, correspondence Subjects: History, programs, governance and finance of Christ's Mission Notes: These files consist of material relating to the governing board of the mission, apparently kept together by Royal Peck. Besides minutes of meetings and reports of the executive director and other staff members, there are financial records such as budgets and audits; correspondence with board members; reports on the activities of ex-priests sponsored by the mission; reports on properties owned by the mission.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives by International Teams in September 1984.

Accession: 84-112

September 13, 2005

Bob Shuster

J. Aernie

B. Brollier

K. Hayward

J. Wells

Collection 276 Records of Christ's Mission
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US