Missions to the Philippines

  • Overseas
  • 1901

The American missionary movement reached its peak influence in the late 1800s, when thousands of Christians funded by donors and churches back home were in service overseas. After the U.S. annexed the Philippines in 1898 as a consequence of the Spanish-American War, leaders of the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches met in New York to discuss how they could best aid the indigenous populations of those islands. The Spaniards had imposed Catholicism as a state religion, and as that was ended U.S. missionaries in the Philippines created an Evangelical Union in 1901 to allocate regions of responsibility to specific denominations and mission groups. More than 200 Protestant groups were active in the islands at one point. Most of the population remained Catholic, but Protestant missionaries founded many of the schools, universities, and hospitals in the country, and cultivated a new generation of leaders, including many who ultimately led the nationalist movement that brought the Philippines independence in 1946.