Thursday, October 7, 2010

William Howard Doane & OMSC

Not many of us have heard of William Howard Doane, but if you were to look through the hymnals in your church you would find his name appearing again and again as he had composed many of the hymns that we sing every Sunday. He has also worked with Fanny Crosby on many others in their life time. He is the father of two daughters, Marguerite and Ida Doane.

OMSC owes her existence to the vision of the two Doane sisters, Marguerite and Ida who conceived the idea of "Houses of Fellowship" for missionaries returning home on furlough. They saw the needs of the missionaries and founded a place to house them.

These houses provided a welcoming rest for tired missionaries who often do not have a place to call their own. The "Houses of Fellowship" started in 1922 in Ventnor by the the Sea, on Absecon Island, New Jersey. For many years it served the returning missionaries, providing a place of rest and hospitality.

It was later renamed Overseas Ministries Study Center in 1967 to reflect a change in their goals. Now, besides providing rest and hospitality, it included a series of classes and lectures on biblical, theological and cross-cultural topics in their programs. It moved to New Haven, Connecticut in 1987 as a result of a survey among the returning missionaries who indicated that they were pursuing advanced educational degrees during their furloughs. After much deliberation, New Haven, Connecticut was chosen as it was near Yale University Divinity School's Day Missions Library. It is now located at 490 Prospect St. New Haven, Connecticut. The full content of the history of OMSC in PDF format can be downloaded here.

Having said that, we are reminded of the legacy and contribution by William Howard Doane in the music and hymns that we sing. We cannot help but be amazed by the richness of the theology and the music that was written. I have been singing "To God be the Glory", "I am thine O Lord", "Pass me not O gentle Savior" and "Near the Cross" for as long as I can remember but it did not occur to me to look up the author for the lyrics or the music! And now I am benefiting from the legacy of the Doanes on my furlough here in OMSC.

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