SAMS and Trinity: Training and Sending for 40 Years
In 1976, SAMS-USA was founded as the American branch of the South American Missionary Society, a British organization that goes back to 1844. Trinity School for Ministry was also founded in 1976 and the two organizations shared quite a few founding board members in common. It’s not surprising that many of the early SAMS missionaries were some of the first graduates from Trinity!
“The first missionaries sent through SAMS-USA were of amazing faith and confidence in the call of God” remembered Andrew Osmun one of the founding board members of the society. “They took the idea of a mission society and made it a reality. I was profoundly humbled by the faith in action I witnessed—it was clear that God was the motivating power in this organization.”
One of these missionaries was John Macdonald (MDiv 1986) who now serves on Trinity’s faculty and directs the Stanway Institute for World Mission and Evangelism. Reflecting on how he became a missionary, John said, “After completing my first year of seminary at Trinity College, Bristol, England, I returned to the US in the summer of 1980. I decided to work for a year before returning to Bristol and got a job at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge. While working for Trinity, I began to feel a nudge towards investigating the possibility of doing some missionary service. Paul Walter, the first Executive Director of SAMS, was visiting Trinity and I made an appointment to see him. My informal chat turned into a job offer from Paul: working as a part of the home staff in Union Mills, NC.”
After nine months on the home staff, John was given a short-term assignment in Honduras that led to meeting his future wife, Gail, and a two-year term of service there. “We left Honduras so that I could finish seminary. Instead of returning to England, I joined Trinity School for Ministry’s seventh entering class during a time when there were a number of SAMS missionaries and missionary candidates studying there. Their presence created a mission ethos that influenced the ministries of many of the students. This close relationship between SAMS and Trinity resulted in SAMS moving to Ambridge in 1987, a year after I graduated.”
Jeff Rawn, Chairman of the SAMS Board, remarked, “I have had opportunity to go to Central America, South America, and Uganda for short-term missions. Through these experiences, coupled with my training at Trinity, I’ve come to see missionaries as heroes of the faith. As an alumnus of Trinity, I strongly encourage all current and former students to get involved in serving through missions, whether it is right in your own hometown, or across the world.”
Today SAMS has missionaries all over the world. This is one reason why they changed their name in 2009 to the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders. Many of these missionaries are either graduates of Trinity or people with a strong connection to Trinity. Bishop Grant (Professor Emeritus of New Testament) and Dr. Wendy LeMarquand live and work in Ethiopia, strengthening the church by equipping leaders and transforming lives through health awareness training and the Gospel. A few years after their arrival they were joined by Johann (DMin 2012) and Louise Vanderbijl. Allen (MAR 1996) and Rachel (MAME 1999) Hill helped to found Saints Augustine Seminary in Peru. Ron (MDiv 2007) and Debby McKeon (MAR 2008) recently left for Brazil where Ron works as a priest and Debby writes Bible curricula and trains people to minister to children. Bryan (MDiv 2013) and Shakila Pyle are working with a church plant in the island country of Mauritius. Shaw (MDiv 1988, DMin 2004) and Julie Mudge are developing online theological training for the Church in Belize. And Deb Carr (DMin 2003) is a Missionary Bridger, taking short-term trips to Africa to train children’s ministers. Missionary Candidates include Stevan (MDiv 2015) and Kathryn Betcher, and Nate and Erika (current MAR student) Twichell.
“Since Trinity and the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders possess complementary missions and share common biblical values, our paths have linked together over and over again through the years, mutually striving in our Lord Jesus Christ to be faithful to his Great Commission,” commented Stewart Wicker, President and Mission Director of SAMS. “As both Trinity and SAMS have sought to serve the Church beginning here in North America and extending globally, God is graciously granting us growth. It is exciting to witness this growth as both Trinity and SAMS focus efforts outward seeking to equip the Church in Gospel proclamation not only in current contexts, but also across cultures and generations. Trinity has served as a valuable resource to the global Church in preparing missionaries for their callings and giving further tools to lifelong learning missionaries. It is our hope that SAMS has encouraged Trinity in its global vision. SAMS thanks God for this rich partnership with Trinity in making disciples of the nations.”