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Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions

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Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions is a small, independent Presbyterian mission agency, which early in its history became the missions board of the Bible Presbyterian Church. Founded in 1933 by J. Gresham Machen, the IBPFM played a significant role in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy within the Presbyterian Church. After Machen’s untimely death in 1937, the IBPFM came under the control of Carl McIntire, the founder of the Bible Presbyterian Church.

In 2009, the Board supported about twenty missionaries or missionary couples, more non-North Americans than North Americans, with a majority of the former being South Koreans.[1]


In 1932 the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions took an ambiguous position in regard to a theologically liberal report on missions, a decision that provided conservatives in the denomination further ammunition when one of the denomination's most prominent missionaries, the author Pearl Buck, endorsed the document as "masterly statement" and labeled traditional notions of salvation "superstitious." The following year, Gresham Machen, a theologically conservative intellectual, was most instrumental in creating the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Interpreting the existence of the new board as a direct challenge to its denominational authority, the Presbyterian church brought the members of its board to trial—although Machen was never given the opportunity to defend his actions. In March 1935, the members of the Independent Board were found guilty and suspended from the ministry.[2] In 1936, fundamentalists less concerned than Machen with the Board's Presbyterian identity, ousted Machen as president and installed "a minister of a nondenominational church."[3]


  1. IBPFM website
  2. D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), 147-156.
  3. Hart, 163.
  • David O. Beale, In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850 (Greenville, S.C.: Bob Jones University Press, 1986), 317-19.
  • Bradley J. Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and Moderates (Oxford University Press, 1993).

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