The highest decision-making body of Mission 21 is the Mission Synod. Its delegates from four continents, appointed on a parity basis, decide once a year on the direction of the international work. Every June, the Mission House in Basel or a host location in Switzerland becomes the international meeting place for delegates and guests of the international network of Mission 21. The Mission Synod decides on the strategic direction, longer-term goals and financial planning of Mission 21. In addition, it approves the annual report and annual financial statements and decides on the framework budget for the following year. And the Mission Synod is a place of encounter and exchange. The Mission Synod strives for gender parity and adequate youth representation. The deliberations are simultaneously translated into English and German.
Founded in 2001 by several mission agencies, Mission 21 is today supported by three agencies: the Basel Mission (BM), the Herrnhut Mission and the Evangelical Mission in the Kwango (EMIK).
The Basel Mission is the largest supporting organization of Mission 21. It was founded in 1815 and opened the mission seminary in Basel one year later. In 1821, the Basel Mission sent out the first seminarians: to the Caucasus. In 1828 the mission began work in Ghana, in 1834 in South India and in 1847 in South China. In 1860, the large mission house was built in Basel, which continues to be owned by the Basel Mission. Today it is the headquarters of Mission 21, and the Basel Mission also operates the "Odelya" Hotel in the building. The construction of the mission house was financed at the time primarily by the pietist merchant Christoph Merian-Burckhardt.
From its approximately two hundred years of work in Africa and Asia and its involvement in Latin America since the 1970s, the Basel Mission brings numerous relationships to Mission 21. The Basel Mission supports the work of Mission 21. Part of this support is earmarked for the scientific care and processing of the archive of the Basel Mission. Mission 21 continues to maintain the extensive archive of the Basel Mission. It includes a wealth of historical text, audio and photographic sources as well as historical maps.
The Basel Mission was an institution with strong German participation. In 1954, the Basel Mission German Branch, e.V. (BMDZ) was constituted in Stuttgart. Since then, cooperation has renewed and deepened, now between BMDZ and Basel Mission as well as Mission 21.
As a work of the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine, the mission came into being in 1732 under Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. The mission areas became independent church areas (provinces) of the "Brüder-Unität". Today, the churches of the Brüdergemeine are committed to helping people on the margins of society, in cooperation with Mission 21. In Switzerland, the Herrnhut congregations, called societies, stand behind this work together with a large circle of readers of the Watchwords and other friends. Through Mission 21, the Herrnhut Mission maintains relationships especially with Tanzania, Palestine and South Africa.
Evangelical Mission in the Kwango
The Evangelical Mission in the Kwango (EMIK), founded in 1956, began its activities in "Belgian Congo" in the 1950s. After the independence of the former colony and the foundation of the Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo, EMIK and its partner church Communauté Evangélique du Kwango (CEK) worked together. From 1989, the 50th year of the CEK's existence, the goal was to hand over all projects and leadership tasks to local leaders. A goal that has been achieved for some years now. The concrete project work of the CEK covers a wide spectrum. It ranges from health care, promotion of women's professional activities, agriculture and education to church development and Bible school.
In Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, the partners of Mission 21 organize themselves in the Continental Assemblies (CAs). All four CTs are full members of Mission 21 and send delegates to the Mission Synod. This South-North exchange is complemented by regular South-South meetings: The continental assemblies of Africa, Asia and Latin America hold a large conference every three years, in which all partner churches and organizations may participate with up to three delegates. Here they can exchange information about program and project work as well as current challenges of the individual partners. Women's organizations and youth representatives discuss common problems and possible solutions in a preliminary conference.
The African Continental Assembly is called the Africa Continental Assembly (ACA). It was founded as the first Continental Assembly in Cameroon in 2004. The members of the ACA:
- Ghana: Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG)
- Cameroon: Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC)
- Congo: Communauté Evangélique au Kwango (CEK), Université Protestante au Congo (UPC)
- Nigeria: Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN)
- South Sudan: Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS)
- Tanzania: Moravian Church in Tanzania, Southwest and Southern Province
The continental meetings are held regularly in one of the member countries.
The Asian continental assembly is the Asian Fellowship of Mission 21 Partners (ASF). It includes many churches and organizations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong:
- Hong Kong: Tsung Tsin Mission
- India: Church of South India (CSI)
- Indonesia: Evangelical Reformed Church in Kalimantan (GKE), Evangelical Reformed Church in Papua (GKI), Evangelical Reformed Sunda Church (GKP), Gospel Outreach Church (GKPI), Minahasa Evangelical Reformed Church (GMIM), Sangihe-Talaud Reformed Church (GMIST), Regional Synod of the Indonesian Reformed Church Federation in North and Central Sulawesi (SAG), Talaud Evangelical Reformed Church (Germita).
- Japan: United Christian of Church in Japan (UCCJ)
- Malaysia: Basel Christian Church of Malaysia (BCCM) and Protestant Church in Sabah (PCS)
- South Korea: Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK)
- Taiwan: Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)
The continental meetings are held regularly in one of the member countries
The Latin American Continental Assembly is called the Asamblea Continental Latinoamericana (ACLA). Its members are a large number of churches and non-governmental organizations:
- Bolivia: Foundation for Holistic Health Education (FUNDAPIM), Center for Education and Training for Civic Participation (FOCAPACI), Machaqa Amawta Foundation (FMA).
- Chile: Methodist Church of Chile (IMECH), Conspirando Women's Collective, Comunidad Teológica Evangélica de Chile (CTE).
- Costa Rica: Ecumenical Research Institute (DEI), Biblical University of Latin America (UBL).
- Peru: Audiovisual Media of Peru (ADEP), Literacy and Literature in Peru (ALFALIT), Ecumental Center for Social Promotion and Action (CEDEPAS), Center for Spirituality (EMAÚS), Surandino Institute for Research and Community (ISAIAS), Faculty of Theology and Religion (AETE), Institute for the Study of Andean Cultures (IDECA).
- Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias - Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), based in Ecuador
The Continental Assembly Europe (CEC) was founded in 2013. Its members are the Reformed churches in German-speaking Switzerland, Alsace, southwestern Germany and Austria. As a European counterpart to the Continental Assemblies of the South, the CVE strengthens the partnership exchange between churches of the North and South. It holds its annual assembly shortly before each mission synod.
At the annual meeting 2018, in June, the statutes were amended with the aim of rejuvenating the body: now each member church can send three delegates instead of two. This third delegate should be a young person.
In June 2021, a major change took place: after eight years of dedicated service as president, Daniel Frei-Weber (Parish Office for World Church BL/BS) resigned from the board. Youth coordinator Magdalena Rieder (SO, 2018) also stepped down. Ueli Burkhalter (Kantonalkirche BeJuSo, on the board since 2019) was elected as the new president. Three members were newly elected to the board.
At the 2022 annual meeting, which was also held there on the occasion of the mission synod in Davos, the resignation of Elisabeth Pausz (Evangelical Church in Austria) was announced; otherwise the board remains unchanged.
In addition to Ueli Burkhalter, the current members of the board are (church, year of entry): Vice President Klaus Rieth (Württemberg Regional Church, 2013), Pascal Bazzell (SG, 2018), Barbara Hirsbrunner (GR, 2018), Janine Schweizer (BeJuSo, 2020), Salome Hengartner (AI/AR, 2021, new youth coordinator) and Niggi Ullrich (BL, 2021).