Our History

History of a Mission Agency

From 1904 To The Present Day

From Sudan and Nigeria, our heartland as a missions organisation, to the ongoing heartbeat of our mission to the rest of the world, we are building on everything that has gone before and the faithful missionaries who have served so sacrificially in the years gone by.

From the Sudan United Mission and Action Partners to Pioneers UK today, a Christian mission agency sending missionaries to Africa and also worldwide, one thing remains constant – the Father’s heart for the least-reached peoples. That is central to the Great Commission: to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We approach this work with a passion for God and an ethos of grace.


A Brief History of Pioneers UK

1904The Sudan United Mission (SUM) was started by Dr Karl Kumm. In July that year, the first 4 SUM missionaries set sail for Nigeria to establish a church through evangelism, education and medical work. Dr Karl Kumm was a young German doctor, who prompted by the Holy Spirit and filled with a passion to reach unreached people with the gospel, commenced a series of survey trips through the vast regions of North Central Africa. His primary goal? To believe God for the establishment of an unending chain of churches across the continent, stemming the southward advance of Islam. In 1904, Dr Kumm and three English nurses pioneered this fledgling new work.

The Lord blessed the work, and in time, mobilisation bases for what became the Sudan United Mission were established around the world, including in the USA, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, South Africa, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Today, the story of the church planting movements that have arisen out of the work of SUM could only be described as staggering in their scope and breadth. In spite of intense hardship and persecution, the gospel spread in remarkable ways. Today, over fifteen million men and women meet to worship the Saviour in churches spawned from the work of SUM. And the work continues.

1977The Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) was given full autonomy.

1989The name was changed to Action Partners to reflect the desire for partnerships with churches in Chad, Egypt, Ghana, the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the UK.

1994Action Partners turned full circle as it welcomed Nigerian missionaries to serve in UK inner cities, alongside British staff.

2007Action Partners changed its working name to Action Partners-Pioneers to reflect becoming the UK/Western Europe mobilisation office for Pioneers, thus enabling workers to join teams worldwide.

2009Action Partners-Pioneers changed its working name to Pioneers UK to reflect its independence as a UK mission agency mobilisation base under the banner of Pioneers International.


Brief history of Pioneers International

1976Ted Fletcher left his position as national sales manager for the Wall Street Journal. With the backing of their local church (Faith Bible Church, Sterling, Virginia) he and his wife, Peggy, stepped out in faith and founded Pioneers.

1979 The first Pioneers missionary, Ruth Wright, left for the field in Nigeria.

1980 The first Pioneers team was commissioned to Papua New Guinea.

1987A Pioneers family began reaching ‘close’ Mongolian students in Budapest.

1988Pioneers’ board of directors appoint John Fletcher as executive director.

1990A Pioneers team entered Mongolia. The first workers were appointed to 2 million Bosnian Muslims.

1991 A Pioneers team leader worked with Kurdish refugees in camps on the Turkey/Iraq border. In Indonesia, twenty thousand copies of a minority language Christian magazine were sold and distributed in Indonesia in a matter of days. Each magazine was estimated to reach 62 people.

1992Pioneers move from Sterling, Virginia to Orlando, Florida. Pioneers workers were instrumental in establishing an international church in Ankara, Turkey.

1994World Outreach Fellowship merged with Pioneers. The organisation also established mobilisation bases in Canada and Africa.

1997Asia Pacific Christian Mission and South Pacific Partners (formerly, South Sea Evangelical Mission) linked with Pioneers to become mobilisation bases in Australia and New Zealand.

1998The Woodyard family returned to Papua New Guinea to visit. One woman commented; ‘You lived with us during the hungry years.’ The Konia are now both physically and spiritually nourished.

1998Pioneers appointed missiologist Dr C. Douglas McConnell as its first international director.

1999Pioneers established mobilisation bases in Singapore and Europe.

2001Action Partners, an Australian mission agency, joined the Pioneers family, and a new mobilisation base was opened in Brazil.

2007Action Partners, a UK mission agency, joined the Pioneers family.


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