It all began in 1941 with Harry Ironside who said, “Give us a home mission organization that will compare to foreign missions.” He suggestion was for an organization comparable to the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association organized in 1917, which was an association of missions with specific requirements for its membership. 

HOW WE BEGAN: …The Mountain Gospel Fellowship

Mountain Gospel Fellowship 1934

At this time there were many groups of missionaries and Christian workers meeting for fellowship around the US. The Mountain Gospel Fellowship (MGF) in the Kentucky mountains was such a group. They met for the first time in 1932 in the home of Elmer Wagler, founder of Southern Highland Evangel Mission. Elmer, in a letter written in 1975 to NHMF, commented how this fellowship came about:
“There was no fellowship among Christian workers. Somehow, we sensed that and had a desire to correct it if possible. In January 1932 we invited as many as we knew by name to our home […]. One couple came more than 100 miles. ‘Let’s do it again’ seemed to be our sentiments and Mountain Gospel Fellowship was organized. […] It was so enjoyable that for some years we had fellowship conferences twice a year.”

INITIAL ORGANIZATION: National Home Missions Fellowship

First Home Missions Fellowship 1942

Later, as the group grew to more than 100, they met at Camp Nathaniel of the Scripture Memory Mountain Mission (SMMM). Garland Franklin, the founder of the SMMM and president of the MGF, was one who heard Ironside’s challenge for a national mission organization. He, with several mission leaders and pastors, organized the National Home Missions Fellowship (NHMF) at Moody Memorial Church in 1942. The NHMF continued for more than thirty years hold annual meetings for fellowship of missionaries in conjunction with the Home Missions Conference of Moody Church. 

In July 1949 four goals of NHMF were identified as:

  • To strengthen our bonds of fellowship and to help each other to serve Christ more effectively.
  • To interest pastors and awaken them to God’s urgent need of reaching rural America with the Gospel.
  • To reach and train young people for worldwide missionary service.
  • To stimulate interest of new workers in neglected areas.

Originally, NHMF was a fellowship of individual missionaries. By 1955, organizations as well as individuals were encouraged to become part of the NHMF. As a numerous organizations joined as “Constituent Member Organizations”.

In 1972 Moody Church discontinued its Home Missions Rally. NHMF had to leave Moody Church and changed location.

As the Association grew, regions were established beginning with the Appalachian Regional in 1947. Over time other regions were developed to include Ozark, Great Lakes, South East, and South West.

RENAMED: Association of North American Missions

In 1980 it was determined that the organization switch from being a fellowship of missionaries and become primarily an association of missions as Ironside had originally suggested. As a result, the name of the fellowship was changed to the Association of North American Missions (ANAM). The organization focus changed from primarily fellowship to highlighting accreditation and strengthening of member organizations. Member missions now are required to adhere to strict guidelines to maintain their accreditation, and every five years each mission is reviewed to determine that it is indeed fulfilling its purpose statement. In addition, Canada and Mexico were added to our field of ministry.

Our four goals were refined and established as:

  1. To give North American Missions Credibility
  2. To give North American Missions Visibility
  3. To promote greater unity and cooperation among member mission organizations
  4. To collect, organize, and distribute information relating to North American missionary work.

In 1987 Cedine Bible Mission volunteered to have the first ANAM 5 Year Review. Jack Rood and Dr. Bill Hungerpiller represented ANAM.

In 2009 the boundaries of the Appalachian Regional were adjusted to include all those easts of the Mississippi, and discussions began that led to the development of the Elisha Initiative