The Society had its beginnings in the1880s when the Bishop of the newly established Anglican mission in Korea asked Fr Herbert Hamilton Kelly to train men for work in his diocese.
The work rapidly expanded and developed into a theological college for Anglican ordinands, particularly those who would not otherwise have the opportunity, the means or the educational qualifications to train for the priesthood.
In 1893 Fr Kelly and two others were admitted as novices of the new community of the Society of the Sacred Mission, and before long many others joined.
For much of its history the main work of the Society was running theological colleges, first at Kelham and later in Australia. The members have always been involved in other ministries as well.
In 1902 the Society began working in South Africa and was extensively engaged in pastoral, educational and mission work there and in Lesotho.
From 1903 until 1973 the College was located at Kelham, near Newark in Nottinghamshire, when the changing patterns of theological education resulted in its closure.
The Society has continued engaging in the sacred mission in a wide variety of ways, seeking always for any new opportunities for glorifying God that he may give.
Late 70's to Current Day
During the late 1970s the Society was very much involved in chaplaincy work in Lancaster, both at the University and at St Martin’s College, and at Sheffield University.
In the 1980s it took on the task of providing pre-theological training for would-be ordinands in Durham who lacked the necessary background to go into the selection process. St Antony’s then developed into an Ecumenical Spirituality Centre, until more recently it was decided once again to establish a residential praying community there.
Also, in the 1970s, the Society began work at Willen in Milton Keynes invited to provide a “still centre on the edge of a new city”. Over time that grew into St Michael’s Priory, which offered various opportunities for education, training and prayer.