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London City Mission > About Us > History

Our History

The London City Mission was founded on 16 May 1835, through the pioneering efforts of a young Scotsman called David Nasmith. He had produced a blueprint for Christian ministry in a big city, based on experience gained in Glasgow under the influence of Thomas Chalmers, one of the first Christian leaders to experiment with new styles of ministry in the slums and tenements of the industrial revolution.

The approach of the new Mission was summed up in the ‘Instruction to Missionaries’: ‘Go to the people of the District assigned to you, for the purpose of bringing them to an acquaintance with salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and of doing them good by every means in your power.’  Something we still strive to do today.
“The history of the London City Mission is remarkable for several reasons.
First, its dedication to urban mission was far ahead of its time…
Second, its unchanging devotion to the priority of evangelism is singular, almost unique. …
Third, its commitment to the poor, to immigrants – and to all other groups who could be called ‘the least of these’ – is deeply impressive…
How is it possible for such a large agency to have stayed so stedfastly committed to its vision for so long?...
The LCM faces exciting but daunting new challenges in the 21st century. But despite the inevitable changes that will come, as it holds on to its core value of urban neighbour evangelism, it will continue to play a major, effective, strategic role in the work of the kingdom for years to come. London is one of the three or four most influential urban centres in the world today. I am profoundly grateful that the London City Mission continues to be an anchor for gospel witness in that great city."

Rev Dr Timothy Keller, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City (from  the Preface to “Streets Paved with Gold”, 2003)
Streets paved with Gold cover

Streets Paved with Gold, by Irene Howat and John Nicholls, tells the story of the LCM from its foundation in 1835 through to 2003.  More details

A new brochure outlining our history was produced for our 175th anniversary in 2010.

View a copy here.

A small pamphlet, called Mission to London, which traced the formation and early days of the London City Mission was published some years ago. This is now out of print. This link shows a scan of the original pamphlet, including illustrations, may be obtained by following this link: Mission to London by Peter Trainer. A text only version may be found here: Mission to London (Text Only).   

History of the LCM HQ Site