Our History

Mocomoco, BoliviaWe began our life together in 1891, as the American Board of the Santal Mission. The American Board was sister to a Norwegian Board established in 1867 and a Danish Board established a few years later. The American Board sent its first missionaries from Minneapolis in 1904, to join a Scandinavian work already in progress among the Santal people in northern India.

The South American Mission Prayer League was founded in Minneapolis in 1937 — our direct predecessor organization. Its first missionaries were sent that very year — by year’s end, John Carlsen and Ernest Weinhardt were on their way to Bolivia.

A sister organization emerged from this same sending fellowship. The Lutheran World Crusade functioned alongside the Prayer League for a few years in the 1940’s. These two communities were formally merged in 1945 and incorporated in the State of Minnesota as the World Mission Prayer League. The American Board of the Santal Mission was merged into the Prayer League in 1972.

In 2012 we celebrated the 75th anniversary of our founding as a “Prayer League,” marked by the departure of Weinhardt and Carlsen for Bolivia.

In 2017 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Santal Mission, marked by the laying of the Ebenezer stone in Benagaria, India.

For more on the stories that make up the history of our fellowship, read The Spirit of God Was Moving and Food from Ravens.