The International Conference on Missions exists to Encourage, Equip and Enlist workers for the Harvest.
Known as the National Missionary Convention until 2011, the International Conference On Missions has been serving missionaries and the Great Commission since 1948. In March of 1948, J. Russell Morse was in the home of John T. Chase for dinner, and asked, “Why isn’t there a gathering for missionaries?” He went on to express the need for a time where missionaries can talk shop, fellowship and encourage each other. So in 1948, the day prior to the NACC started, a few dozen missionaries got together. That practice continued for several years growing to a few hundred people. Then in 1954, the National Missionary Convention was formed, as it’s own conference.
The NMC grew from several hundred to sometimes a few thousand. It became big enough that, after many years with volunteer presidents, in 1966 Walter Birney was designated the first director while preaching in Copeland, Kansas. Mr. Birney would stay in this role for 43 years. Walter and his wife, Iva Lou, worked tirelessly while planning conventions all over the country. Iva Lou retired in 2008 while Walter retired in 2009.
In 1998, David Empson became a volunteer student director, while maintaining a full-time youth ministry at the Hazelwood Christian Church in Clayton, Indiana. The Windows of the World teen convention was created to meet inside the National Missionary Convention, drawing from the strengths of the adult program while offering “hands-on programming” for students. In 2001, David joined the NMC staff full-time from an office graciously made available by Hazelwood Christian Church.
In 2007, during the transition time, Jim Chamberlin was hired to succeed David as the student director. Other staff members have since joined to what makes up the current staff members.
In 2010, Fran Anderson was hired to help determine the advantages of changing the name of the National Missionary Convention. The NMC had grown over the past several years close to 11,000 attendees in Indianapolis in 2006. It was felt that the name no longer described what the NMC had grown to become for the following reasons:
- It was no longer “national” since there were twenty plus countries represented every year. It had become international.
- The word “convention” gives the idea that there would be delegates and issues to vote on with some kind of authority to make decisions. That has never been the case. We are a conference.
- It was very apparent that this was no longer a gathering for “only” missionaries; rather, the conference had become for those who love being on mission.
International + conference + on mission = ICOM.
After holding nine focus groups, it was decided to change the name and was announced in Atlanta, 2011, during the last National Missionary Convention, that the NMC would be called the “International Conference On Missions”. The name change was well received.