The Australian Association for Mission Studies (AAMS) grew out of the former South Pacific Association for Mission Studies (SPAMS) at the Australian Missiology Conference in 2005 and was formed in 2006.
SPAMS arose out of a regular meeting of missiologists in Sydney in the early 1980s. Rev Dr Cyril Hally ssc had become aware that the South Pacific was the only region without its own missiological journal. He received strong support from Rev Dr Don Wodarz with his background in the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS) and the journal Missiology. In November 1984 Bishop Bede Heather, the Catholic Bishops’ representative on the National Missionary Council, sent a letter to church and mission leaders seeking support for the idea of a missiological journal for the South Pacific area and there was a good response. On 15 September 1986 the first meeting of the journal in formation was held and Don Wodarz was appointed as editor of the proposed new Journal of South Pacific Mission Studies (SPJMS).
A second meeting was held on 29 October 1986 at which the first editorial board, consisting of Sister Pamela Barker, Rev Dr John Brown, Rev Dr Jim Kime, Mrs Birgitta Sharpe, Prof Eric Sharpe, Rev Dr Donald Wodarz, Dr David Wetherell and Dr John Strehlan, was appointed and Mrs Birgitta Sharpe was appointed as Secretary/Treasurer. The board planned a pilot issue of the journal for mid 1987 and a public launching after Easter 1987. However, it took longer than anticipated to get the first issue of the journal produced and the public launch of the SPJMS was held at a Colloquium on Mission at Macquarie University on 28 July 1989.
The Editorial Board continued to meet regularly and produced an average of two issues per year. The death of Don Wodarz was a severe blow to the young journal. Cyril Hally was appointed as the second editor, a position he held until the end of 2006, before being honoured as Editor-in-Chief of the new Australian Journal of Mission Studies (AJMS), beginning in 2007, a position he held until his death in May 2010.
Production of the journal began at the Sydney Catholic Mission Office at Ashfield under the direction of Brian Cosgrove and continued at Turramurra, but later moved to Hong Kong where it was produced under the direction of Fr Jim Mulroney ssc. The themes of the issues have been:
1 Missiological Colloquium to launch the Journal 2-15 Various missiological themes 16 Australian Consultation on Mission 17 LMS Bicentenary 18 Ecology 19 Development & Mission 20 Spirituality & Mission 21 Globalisatiom 22 Pentecostalism 23 Multiculturalism 24 Partnership in mission 25 Short Term Misssion 26 Mission Under Scrutiny 27 Mission & Peace 28 Faith & Religious Practice 29 & 30 West Papua 31 & 32 Primal Religion 33 Training 34 Mission Leadership in the Sth Pacific 35 Welcoming the Stranger 36 Proclamation and Dialogue
The board established a Sydney chapter of SPAMS, affiliated with the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS) as the South Pacific chapter and sought to facilitate the establishment of chapters in the other states.
The Sydney chapter organised a number of significant meetings and seminars with visiting missiologists and church or mission leaders.
On 6 April 2005 the SPAMS Board decided to relocate the organisation to Melbourne by the end of the year. The reasons were:
(a) The Sydney chapter produced the journal for the first twenty years of its life. During most of that time the Columban Mission Institute at Turramurra was the headquarters for the association and the journal.
(b) The Chairman and Secretary were both seeking retirement and Turramurra was closing. Nor was there the strong support of an active group of missiologists in Sydney as there was when the journal was established.
(c) There was now a strong group of missiologists in Melbourne; the Victorian chapter of SPAMS (the Mission Studies Network) was functioning well, supported by several of the Melbourne theological colleges; and good secretarial support was available.
It was therefore proposed for discussion at the Australian Missiology Conference in September 2005, and agreed there, that:
SPAMS become an Australian Association for Mission Studies, with links to the Aotearoa New Zealand Association for Mission Studies (ANZAMS) and the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS).
The new association be run by a Melbourne-based organising committee with interstate corresponding members.
The South Pacific Journal of Mission Studies (SPJMS) continue in some form with a new editor and editorial board, and publication continuing in Hong Kong.
All those on the Australian Missiology Conference publicity list be invited to take part in the new association as members, committee members or editorial board members and to let others know of the association.
The Mission Studies Network in Melbourne take the initiative in forming the new association’s committee.
The first committee meeting of the new Australian Association for Mission Studies was held on 6 February 2006 and it was constituted on 17 August 2006.
This summary was written by Cyril Hally and Ross Langmead