It was in 1908 that Ernest Davies, the association’s first supported student, completed his training at St. Augustine College, Canterbury, and set off to serve in the mission field in Dogura, Papua New Guinea. Since its foundation in 1904 the aim of RMSA has been to provide grants for Readers, or their equivalent, to train for ordained ministry in the Anglican Church overseas. The first students were principally Readers from Great Britain who would serve the Church in distant lands, but very soon students were being trained in colleges overseas. Today we invariably make grants to Reader ordinands in less affluent lands. Because of the poverty of many overseas dioceses our grants often provide the life-line to ordination training and are key in the provision of much needed priests. September 2009 saw the inauguration of the Diocese of Newala, Tanzania; RMSA is now actively supporting the training of ordinands to support the growth of the new diocese.
Applications for grants are received together with the recommendation of the applicant’s Bishop or College Principal and supported by a copy of the Readers’ Licence or Admission Certificate. We endeavour to correspond with those we support throughout the year. The total number of students that RMSA has assisted in training for ordination currently stands at 534 covering almost 50 different countries.
Regularly in recent years the association has had to decline large numbers of applications for grants due to lack of available funds. In the past we have normally supported candidates for up to three years of their course, in the current economic climate applicants are told that new grants can only made for the current year with the promise of consideration for further grants subject to available finances. For the year ending 31 March 2015 our grant level was reduced to £400 due to lack of funds, this however still represents a significant proportion of College fees in the third world and the steady flow of new applications continues. The level and number of grants made is agreed by the Annual General Meeting each year.
Our principal income derives from Diocesan Readers Boards, and Deanery Associations, Parochial Church Councils of parishes appreciative of the services of their Readers, and from the personal gifts of Readers and others. Many of these gifts are made regularly and donors authorise the Association to re-claim Income Tax from the Government through the Gift Aid Scheme.