About Us

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations® (CMDA) is made up of the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and the Christian Dental Association (CDA). CMDA provides resources, networking opportunities, education and a public voice for Christian healthcare professionals and students.

Founded in 1931, CMDA provides programs and services supporting its mission to "change hearts in healthcare" with a current membership of over 13,000 healthcare professionals. CMDA promotes positions and addresses policies on healthcare issues; conducts overseas medical education and evangelism projects; coordinates a network of Christian healthcare professionals for fellowship and professional growth; sponsors student ministries in medical dental, PA, and other healthcare training schools; distributes educational and inspirational resources; hosts marriage and family conferences; provides developing world missionary healthcare professionals with continuing education resources; and conducts academic exchange programs overseas. By being the "hands of Jesus" to needy people, CMDA seeks to fulfill His Great Commandment (Matthew 22:39; 25:36) and His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19).

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations® is a 501(c)3 and is governed by a Board of Trustees and House of Delegates. Policies of CMDA are interpreted and applied by the Board of Trustees, which also establishes the guidelines for the executive director and his staff. An elected House of Delegates assists the board with recommendations on courses of action. The House of Delegates is composed of graduate, student, resident and missionary members who are elected for three-year terms by district and meets annually at the CMDA National Convention. Approximately 75 employees currently make up the staff of CMDA in the national office and U.S. field offices.

Our History

1930s

1931 | George Peterson and Kenneth Gieser met at Northwestern University in Chicago, and the organization was born.


In 1965, Dr. George Peterson (left) and Dr. Kenneth Gieser revisited the John Timothy Stone Chapel where CMS was originally founded.

The vision for the present day Christian Medical & Dental Associations began in 1931 in the dorm room of George Peterson, a first year medical student at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois. George was having difficulty coping with being both a country boy from Wisconsin and one of the few Christians on campus. One day during his second semester, second year medical student Kenneth Gieser decided to introduce himself to several of the first year students on the third floor of his Phi Beta Pi House. When he came to George’s room, he noticed a devotional book, Streams in the Desert, on the desk. “You’re my kind of a man, George,” he said, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

Both men had been experiencing a sense of loneliness in their Christian walk at Northwestern. The two quickly began meeting regularly for prayer and Scripture reading. The small John Timothy Stone Chapel in Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue became their special sanctuary every Saturday afternoon. Soon other medical students joined the two men, and the Christian Medical Society (CMS) was born.

The following year, CMS moved a few blocks south to the Lawson YMCA. Within three years, a group of medical students had also started meeting at the University of Illinois Medical School. During the 1934-35 school year, CMS became an official organization. The first officers were elected—President Franklin A. Olson and Vice President Henry Schweinfurth—and a constitution was written that stated these objectives of the society:

“To provide and foster Christian fellowship among the members of the medical schools and the profession through weekly meetings for reading and discussion of the Bible and for prayer, to be supplemented by outside speakers, and to present a positive witness of God our Father and our Savior Jesus Christ to the medical profession.”

1930s

1940s

1947 | The society held its first national convention.

1948 | First Executive Secretary, Dr. Emmett Harring, took office. CMS had a budget of $350.

1949 | The first domestic mission opened, and the first issue of the CMS Journal was published.


Central Gospel Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the site of the first CMS mission clinic.

In the 1940s, groups were established in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. During 1941-1942, the society was recognized as a national organization. After World War II, expansion efforts were underway for CMS. They rented a post office box, obtained a permit and sent cards to incoming freshmen medical students at the Northwestern and University of Illinois medical schools.

Reports were coming in about similar Christian groups meeting in other parts of the country. Society members began praying that these groups could one day interact and fellowship with each other. As the members became graduate physicians, the growth and interest in CMS continued. There were 25 local chapters by 1949.

1940s

1950s

1952 | One of CMS’ first family conferences was held at Bear Trap Ranch in Colorado.

1954 | The first shipment of drugs was donated to CMS. This led to the development of MAP, which eventually became its own organization.

1959 | The first International Convention on Missionary Medicine was held at Wheaton College in Illinois.


Rev. Billy Graham speaks at the CMS National Convention in San Francisco, California in 1958.

In 1952, CMS moved its main offices to downtown Chicago. It was to this building that Art Larson, an employee with Scherring Company, shipped 11 tons of drugs worth $26,000. The society gladly accepted this gift and began a new outreach of CMS that became known as the Missionary Assistance Program (MAP), later called the Medical Assistance Program.

 

 

1950s

1960s

1963 | The first Congress of Christian Physicians (now known as the ICMDA) was held.

1968 | Medical Group Mission (MGM) sent its first team to the Dominican Republic.

1969 | The first Student Leadership Conference was held.


The growth of CMS kept gaining momentum, and the organization moved into its next home, a two-story building in Oak Park, Illinois in 1960. A warehouse for MAP’s supplies and donations was located one and a half blocks down the street in Forest Park, and the three-story building was already “bulging” after the move. The Field Department was also formed in 1960. The new field staff members worked to bring members together for fellowship and encouraged the growing number of student and graduate chapters. There were 12 regional CMS conferences throughout the United States in the fall of 1961.

By that same year, 12 countries had Christian Medical Society-like organizations. Working together, the first international meeting of Christian doctors was held in the Netherlands and the International Congress of Christian Physicians (ICCP) was formed to facilitate networking and to catalyze the start of more Chrisitan physician organizations in countries around the world. In 1986, the ICCP changed its name to the International Christian Medical & Dental Association (ICMDA) and the International Christian Medical & Dental Student Association (ICMDSA).

Due to its tremendous growth in outreach, MAP became a separate organization in 1965. In the late 1960s, CMS sent its first short-term mission teams to respond to the health needs of victims of a hurricane in the Caribbean and Medical Group Missions was born.

Toward the end of the 1960s, both CMS members and non-members alike began looking to the society for answers on moral issues. CMS, in cooperation with Christianity Today, held a symposium on the ethics of human reproduction in regard to medicine, psychiatry, law, sociology and theology. During the next year, CMS published its first major scholarly work entitled Birth Control and the Christian through Tyndale House.

1960s

1970s

1973 | The first commissions were set up to oversee special service opportunities and report to the House of Delegates.

1978 | The first continuing medical education program for missionary doctors was held in Liberia.

1979 | CMS moved from Chicago, Illinois to Richardson, Texas.


Under the excellent leadership of Executive Director Dr. Haddon Robinson, CMS outgrew its office space in Oak Park. Dr. Robinson was living in the Dallas, Texas area and teaching part-time at Dallas Theological Seminary. Major medical centers, a lower cost of operations and a major airport nearby were added attractions to the area. In 1979, the board decided to build a one-story CMS headquarters on Gateway Boulevard in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas. They felt the new location was a “Gateway to Growth.”

That same year, under the leadership of Dr. David Stewart, a former missionary to Burundi, CMS held its first continuing medical and dental education conference for healthcare missionaries in Liberia. It was a huge success by offering continuing education, networking with other missionary doctors and spiritual renewal.

1970s

1980s

1981 | The James S. Westra Memorial Fund was established to provide scholarships for students to do rotations in mission hospitals.

1985 | The Medical Scan was launched for healthcare missionaries.

1988 | CMS changed its name to CMDS.


During the 1980s, the new headquarters were based in Richardson, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

In 1985, recognizing the unmet health needs of the poor in the United States, a task force was created to foster domestic mission outreach by CMS members.

Another major change came in 1988 when the House of Delegates changed the name of CMS to more correctly identify and include those who the society represented—medical and dental professionals. The name was changed to the Christian Medical & Dental Society (CMDS).

1980s

1990s

1991 | The Paul Tournier Institute was established.

1995 | CMDS moved from Dallas, Texas to Bristol, Tennessee.

1999 | CMDS established an office in Washington, DC.


The early 1990s brought challenges and opportunities. CMDS faced financial difficulties, the Executive Director resigned and Medical Group Mission broke off to become a separate organization. In mid-1994, Dr. David Stevens, a former medical missionary and Director of World Medical Missions, was asked to lead CMDS. Five months later, he invited Dr. Gene Rudd to come on board and major changes followed. King Pharmaceuticals, Inc., located in Bristol, Tennessee, had just acquired the previous facilities of Beecham Pharmaceuticals. Through a relationship with the Gregory family, the owners of King, CMDS was offered 24,000 square feet of office space at essentially no cost, markedly lowering the organization’s overhead. The Tri-Cities area also offered the organization a great workforce, a much lower cost of living, the majority of its membership within an eight-hour drive and a beautiful environment, not to mention quadruple the usable office space.

After much prayer, the Board of Trustees decided to make the move from Texas to Tennessee in 1995. Despite inducements, almost all the office staff didn’t make the move due to family situations, but by sending new staff to Dallas for training, the transition was pulled off seamlessly. Rapid expansion of programs, resources and services followed. Membership doubled over the next five years.

CMDS became the voice of Christian doctors as it conducted hundreds of radio, TV and print interviews each year. As the organization’s influence grew, a full-time staff member was placed in a new CDMS office in Washington, D.C. to influence Congress and the administration on bioethical and healthcare issues.

Global Health Outreach was established with an emphasis on evangelism, leadership and training, discipleship and partnering with local churches on the mission field. This short-term missions program had a huge impact as it focused on radically changing the lives of its participates through its 40 to 50 teams each year serving from Honduras to the Middle East.

1990s

2000s

2000 | The organization began training members to speak out to the media on bioethical issues.

2001 | CMDA’s first website was launched to provide free information and fast-breaking policy and ethics news.

2002 | CMDA moved into its new facility in Bristol, Tennessee.

2003 | The National Embryo Donation Center was started.

2004 | The American Academy of Medical Ethics was established to speak out in the non-Christian environment.

2009 | Freedom2Care coalition was established.

2013 | Global Health Relief took its first trip to provide healthcare relief to tsunami victims in the Philippines.


Foundational documents were revised, board training initiated and the first five- year strategic plan was approved and accomplished. Five Key Result areas of the ministry were clearly defined—Transformation, Service, Resources, Voice and Or- ganizational Capacity. CMDS was on it way to grow into more than 45 outreach- es. In 2000, the board changed the organization’s name to Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). The name change was to allow the organization to have two divisions—the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and the Christian Dental Association (CDA). CDA focused on enhancing resources and services to dental members. When the name CMA was used, it mitigated confusion in Washington, D.C. and the media when speaking out on bioethical issues.

CMDA moved into its new 52,000 square foot facility in Bristol, Tennessee in 2002.

By 2001, CMDA outgrew its space in the King building. The board authorized a $10 million capital campaign which allowed the purchase of 54 acres of land near Bristol and the construction of a new headquarters. The 52,000 square-foot facility includes a satellite link for national TV media interviews, complete video and audio production studios, warehouse storage for equipment and supplies for missions, a fully equipped conference hall for 250 people and ample room for future expansion. In 2002, the organization moved into its current headquarters. Working with a member in 2003, CMDA helped start the National Embryo Donation Center, which has saved the lives of the unborn and resulted in more pregnancies than any other embryo donation center in the world. In 2009, CMDA started the Freedom2Care website that has mobilized a coalition of 50 organizations to protect religious liberty.

2000s

Today

Today, CMDA continues to grow and expand. Physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals are now part of CMDA’s membership.

From a humble beginning, God has grown a worldwide movement. Today, CMDA disciples and resources around 30,000 students and graduate healthcare professionals, is at the hub of healthcare missions and is the most prominent Christian healthcare voice speaking to the church, government and media. God is helping us fulfill our vision of “Transformed Doctors, Transforming the World.”

Today