For the Relief of Human Suffering: The Methodist Committee on Overseas Relief in the Context of Cold War Initiatives in Development, 1940-1968

Benjamin L. Hartley


The Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief (MCOR) was one of the first and largest denominational relief and development agencies in the nation from 1940 to 1968. Its ecumenical engagement was robust from the start; it was one of the largest donors to United China Relief, Church World Service, and other ecumenical overseas relief organizations during this time. This article provides a decade by decade assessment of MCOR’s work with particular attention to (1) its ecumenical engagement in relief and development efforts; (2) the relationship of MCOR’s work to the wider context of overseas relief and development efforts by nongovernmental, bilateral, and multilateral agencies; (3) the stated theological justification of MCOR’s work as it related to the wider mission of the church and specifically the Methodist Board of Missions and Church Extension. The article concludes with reflections on the implications of this study for the future work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.


Methodist Committee on Overseas Relief; MCOR; UMCOR; Poverty; Relief; International Development; Methodist Church;

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