In 1940, with the world at war, the Canadian government set up foreign exchange controls which prevented funds from being sent out of the country that might harm the Allied war effort. This new system required permits even when the funds were being sent for the support of missionaries.
At this point, most of the Canadian missionaries being sent out (“commended”) from Plymouth Brethren local churches (commonly called “assemblies”) for international work were not affiliated with an established mission board. Without a mission board to advocate on their behalf, these new foreign exchange restrictions threatened to cut off their support.
Elders from some of these assemblies in the Toronto area arranged a meeting of all the assemblies in the area to present the problem at hand and seek a solution. As a result of this meeting, a group of men was selected to meet the Foreign Exchange Control Board, who informed them that the intent of these controls was never to prevent the support of missionaries serving outside Canada, and outlined the process for acquiring permits for exporting funds.
The Missionary Service Committee, circa 1961.
Seeking to follow this process, a committee was formed to act on behalf of all the assemblies to apply for permits and forward funds directly to missionaries. This committee was called the Missionary Service Committee and immediately began to function as a government-recognized conduit for the forwarding of funds to commended missionaries. Very soon after, it was realized that service charges and handling costs could be minimized by collecting funds and sending them out monthly rather than as a multitude of individual amounts.
As a result of these unexpected efficiencies, when the Second World War drew to a close in 1945, it was decided that the Missionary Service Committee should continue providing this service for the missionaries and those who support them. From the beginning, the Missionary Service Committee was recognized by Revenue Canada as a charity, however it was incorporated in 1959 and became a registered charity in 1967.
The Missionary Service Committee Inc was legally renamed MSC Canada in 1993 and these days, we often get asked what MSC stands for. You can read more about that here.
To this day, every dollar sent to a mission worker through MSC is sent in full to that mission worker, with no administration fees or deductions of any kind. Support of any amount, whether to a missionary or to MSC for its operations, is eligible for an income tax receipt.
MSC Canada Board, Officers & Regional Representatives, 2017.