The Relevance of Transnational Networking in the Global Ministry of Fredrik Franson

Hans Ulrich Reifler, Christof Sauer


Fredrik Franson lived from 1852 to 1908, was born in Sweden, emigrated to the USA and operated from there as international evangelist, founder of churches, church federations and mission societies, visiting more than fifty countries.

The importance of Franson for mission history stems from the fact that in the span of only 22 years thirteen faith missions, numerous churches and six free church federations emerged as a result of his ministry. His eschatology led to an urgency for Christian mission. Franson also developed new methods of missionary work: follow up meetings in Europe and evangelisation courses across social classes as an instrument of recruitment of new missionaries for Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Franson’s life and work are presented here in the light of the prevailing trans­national connec­tions in politics, economy, international traffic and religion. Modern industrialization was gathering momentum, railways and navigation by sea were expanding, and Christian networks such as the Evangelical Alliance, the Holiness Movement and the Sunday School Union and the faith missions experienced considerable growth in which Franson participated.

The key question of this article is: what effect did the enhancing factors of transnational infrastructure and Christian networking have on the ministry of Franson?

In historical research about faith missions, transnationalism has hardly been considered as an important aspect of their expansion. Yet the question is justified, in which way the political, economic and social development of Europe after 1871, as a time of peace, enhanced Christian mission. In which sense is there a vital connection between eased travel, facilitated by the growing worldwide network of railway lines and modern steamship routes, accelerated forms of community

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