Before the official beginning of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, children were involved in the support of the work. The movement began in 1812 when Joseph Blake heard a very inspiring sermon about missionary work. He returned to his village of Wandsworth, Surrey and started to encourage the children in his Sunday school class to contribute ½d (half a penny) a week for this work. Other teachers copied the idea and started to write down the names of the children in their classes and collect ½d from them each week. After a few weeks Blake noticed a drop in attendance and an investigation found that some children could not afford ½d and so would not attend
From the very beginning, children have been encouraged to learn about the work of God through the world, and to make prayer a regular activity. In 1841 Mr Blake produced a children's paper entitled ' Juvenile Offerings' where, through prayers and articles, children could begin to learn of God's work and become part of it. Education, prayer and service were the threefold aims of the Association, and were later incorporated into the JMA promise. In 1991 this became 'I promise to learn, pray and serve with the worldwide church of Jesus Christ'.
In 1841, JMA became an integral part of the Methodist Church throughout Britain, but the proportions of the money raised to support work 'at home' and ‘overseas' varied from place to place, until in 1932 when the Methodist Uniting Conference laid down that:
'In every Circuit of Great Britain, and where possible, in every local church, there should be a Juvenile Missionary Association (later changed to Junior Mission for All), the members of which shall be taught to regard the missionary activity of the Church, as one whole, irrespective of geographical position. They shall collect for Mission, simply so denominated, and the amounts so collected ... shall be divided between the Methodist Missionary Society and the Home Mission Fund in the proportion of four-fifths and one-fifth respectively.'
Today JMA income is still divided in this way - £1 out of every £5 used for 'Mission in Britain' and the remaining £4 for work in other parts of the World Church. (In Ireland it is split half and half).