Mott, John Raleigh
MOTT, JOHN RALEIGH
young men's christian association (ymca) official, evangelical missionary, and leader in the world council of churches (wcc); b. Livingston Manor, N.Y., May 25, 1865; d. Orlando, Fla., Jan. 31, 1955. He was the son of John S. and Elmira (Dodge) Mott. After graduating (1888) from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., he married (1891) Leila White and became chairman of the executive committee of the Student Volunteer Movement and student secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA. In 1895 he helped to organize the World Student Christian Federation to coordinate youth groups for Christian unity, and he was its general secretary (1895–1920) and chairman (1920–28). From 1900 to 1914 he repeatedly toured the world, especially the Far East, to organize Christian youth and student movements, becoming one of the chief proponents of ecumenical Christianity. After heading the first preparatory commission for the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference (1910), he was chairman of its continuing committee until 1920, when it became the International Missionary Council with him as chairman to 1942. Meanwhile he continued his work for the YMCA, becoming (1915) secretary of its International Committee and also of the National Council of the YMCA in the United States. During World War I he was general secretary for the National War Work Council of the YMCA and worked with the Allied armies and among prisoners of war in Europe. From 1926 to 1946 he was president of the YMCA's World's Committee and World's Alliance. He received France's Legion of Honor, America's Distinguished Service Medal, and Norway's Nobel Peace Prize (1946).
Mott exercised an important influence on the ecumenical movement of the early 20th century. According to C. Howard Hopkins, History of the Y.M.C.A. in North America (1951), "the most obvious contribution of the Y.M.C.A. to the world-wide movement that eventuated in the World Council of Churches was the person and influence of John R. Mott." He spent 50 years exemplifying the slogan adopted by the World's Alliance in 1881: that they may be one. His work with the International Missionary Council was permeated by this spirit and contributed to the formation of the World Council of Churches. In 1937 he presided over the first Faith and Order Conference at Oxford, England; a year later at Utrecht, Netherlands, he acted as vice chairman of the provisional committee to plan the projected world council. This project was delayed by war, but was crowned with success at Amsterdam in 1948, where he served as one of the presidents. Recognition of his enormous contribution to ecumenicism was given him there, when he was made lifetime honorary president of the WCC. His 16 books dealt mainly with world evangelism.
Bibliography: j. r. mott, Address and Papers, 6 v. (New York 1946–47). g. m. fisher, j. r. mott, Architect of Cooperation and Unity (New York 1952). c. h. hopkins, John R. Mott, 1865–1955: A Biography (Grand Rapids, Mich. 1980). r. mackie, Layman Extraordinary: John R. Mott 1865–1955 (New York 1955). b. matthews, John R. Mott. World Citizen (New York 1934).
[d. j. bowman]