Early Danish mission
The first Danish mission organisation was founded in 1821 to support mission work in India. Later in the 19th century several Danish mission organisations were established. They sent out missionaries to preach the Gospel and to undertake health and educational work in Asia and Africa. Gradually local Asian and African mission churches emerged from this work.
The mission churches were in the beginning, due to being new social bodies, dependent on their Danish and other overseas partners, especially in development work such as the running of health institutions and schools and community development activities. When it comes to spiritual matters, Christianity has later been applied and transformed by local people to become a rooted part of society.
Danish Mission Council and its Development Department
With the growing number of mission organisations in Denmark the need for coordination and cooperation increased. In 1912 the Danish Mission Council was formed as an umbrella organisation for many different organisations and denominations. In order to help the 32 members of the Danish Mission Council with development issues a special department was formed in 1986: Danish Mission Council Development Department (DMCDD).
The character of the mission partnerships in development work has changed over these more than 150 years, particularly with the independence of the former colonies. Mission churches became independent churches with a local or national leadership and with their own development agendas.
However, because of the poor economy and various priorities of the developing nations, the churches in the South have to some extent continued to rely on support from their Overseas Partners to continue their development work. The present strategy of DMCDD is through capacity development of the partnerships to strengthen the sustainability and the local ownership of the development efforts.
Popular foundation in South and North
Most of the partner churches and organisations in developing countries are characterised by having a popular foundation, particularly in the rural districts. Via their network of congregations and groups they often work in areas where national governments have difficulties to reach out.
Also the Danish partners, who are members of DMCDD have a popular foundation. When applying for support through DMCDD the Danish organisations and their Southern partners are encouraged to consider how they with their local network can make a difference - also in underprivileged areas. The Danish partners are encouraged to utilise their popular foundation in Denmark as a platform to undertake development education.
The Danish partners and their Southern partners have experience particularly within the sectors of health and education. They have good potentials to use their networks and associated groups such as women and youth groups to facilitate interventions that reach out to the local communities and/or other groups of civil society.
Via the long-lasting partnerships the Danish organisations have built up a distinct knowledge of the area where their Southern partners work. Often they have a base of skilled former employees who know the local language and culture well. These networks of people working in the North and in the South create a unique basis for sustainable development work.