Our History

National Benevolent Association

A Legacy of Caring Since 1887

The legacy and history of the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is filled with the healing care and faithful commitment to service by many “clouds of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Our beginnings as a ministry of outreach and care and our historic foundations as an organization are grounded in the Disciples of Christ denomination.

As the general ministry for health and social services of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the NBA serves in collaborative partnerships with local congregations, regions, and other general ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Disciples-related nonprofits. From the start, the NBA has responded to God’s call to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40).

In 1886, the story goes, “six women gathered in a prayer circle at a Disciples of Christ church in St. Louis…” Throughout our history, the NBA has been led, guided, and supported by leaders and congregations within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Our collaborative partnerships today are deeply connected with members, leaders, and faith communities within the Disciples church.

Over the past 130 years, the NBA has always been a ministry that responds to the health, social service, and justice needs of the day. From the humble beginnings in a prayer circle, Disciples churches and leaders helped to build an expansive network of direct-service providers and residential facilities. Today, the NBA continues in this founding vision of “creating communities of compassion and care” through peer networks, issue-based affinity groups, support for emerging ministries, and a service-learning residency program for young adults.

During this commemorative time and beyond, we are striving to build a “living history”—one that incorporates a variety of voices from across our Disciples ministry partners and the denomination, deepens NBA’s relationships throughout the life of the church, and continues to connect our foundation to our future.

We invite you to join us on a journey through history!

Explore our Living History microsite, including an interactive timeline, content library, and collection of memories where you can share your own NBA stories. Read the centennial history (1887-1987) of NBA, Inasmuch, in flipbook form below.