Church Missionary Society in the Middle East and North Africa

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Church Missionary Society
Abbreviation CMS
Formation 12 April 1799
Founder Clapham Sect
Type Evangelical Anglicanism
Protestant missionary
British Commonwealth

The Church Missionary Society in the Middle East and North Africa, operated through branch organisations, such as the Mediterranean Mission (for countries bordering on the Mediterranean), with the mission extending to Palestine (Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Nazareth, Nablus and Transjordan), Iran (Persia), Iraq, Egypt, Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and the Sudan. The missions were financed by the CMS with the local organisation of a mission usually being under the oversight of the Bishop of the Anglican diocese in which the CMS mission operated. The CMS made an important contribution to the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

The Church Mission Society (CMS), was founded in Britain in 1799 under the name the Society for Missions to Africa and the East;[1] as a mission society working with the Anglican Communion, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians around the world. In 1812, the organization was renamed the Church Missionary Society,[2] and later the Church Mission Society.

The Ottoman Empire (Turkey)

In 1815, The Reverend William Jowett was appointed to commence the Mediterranean Mission, however the CMS was not able to establish missions in Ottoman Turkey in 1819-21 as the result of resistance to the Christian faith by the Turkish authorities.[2] Following the Crimean War (1853-1856) the Sultan of Turkey was forced to issue a decree to secure religious liberty throughout the Ottoman Empire. The CMS sent two missionaries in 1862 to open a mission station in Constantinople.[3] However, the continued opposition by the Turkish authorities to evangelism resulted in the failure of the mission, which closed in 1877.[2]

Egypt and Ethiopia (Abyssinia)

Five missionaries were sent to Egypt in 1825. The CMS concentrated the Mediterranean Mission on the Coptic Church and in 1830 to its daughter Ethiopian Church, which included the creation of a translation of the Bible in Amharic at the instigation of William Jowett, as well as the posting of two missionaries to Ethiopia (Abyssinia), Samuel Gobat (later the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem) and Christian Kugler arrived in that country in 1827.[2][4] The missionaries were expelled from Abyssinia in 1844 following the Siege of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon.[3] The Egyptian Mission was abandoned by the CMS in 1862.

The Egyptian Mission was revived in 1882 by the Revd Frederick Augustus Klein.[3] The number of converts to the Anglican Church in Egypt was small because CMS decided not to proselytise among members of the Coptic or Evangelical churches, as the intention of the mission was the evangelisation of non-Christian people.[2] In Cairo the CMS established schools for boys and girls. In 1899, Dr Frank Harpur established the Old Cairo Hospital. In 1905, Douglas M. Thornton and W. H. Temple Gairdner established a book depot in Cairo, which also published the Orient and Occident magazine in Arabic which published articles on religious and general subjects.[2]

The Ottoman Empire (Palestine)

Christ Church in Nazareth, built 1871

The CMS sent missionaries to Palestine (Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Nazareth, Nablus and Transjordan), which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. The Revd Frederick Augustus Klein arrived in Nazareth in 1851 where he lived for 5–6 years, then he moved to Jerusalem until 1877. Klein discovered the Moabite Stone, and assisted with the translation of the Book of Common Prayer into Arabic.[5][6][7][8]

Former CMS missionary Samuel Gobat became the second bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem, and in 1855 invited the CMS to make Palestine a mission field. In 1855 the Revd John Zeller was sent to Nablus. In 1857 he moved to Nazareth, where he stayed for the next 20 years, then he moved to Jerusalem.[2][3]

Over the years many missionaries were sent to Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Nazareth, Nablus and Transjordan, by 1899 there were 59 missionaries in Palestine.[2] The missionaries included John Zeller, who exercised a great influence on the development of Nazareth and founded Christ Church, Nazareth, the first Protestant church in the Galilee, which was consecrated by Gobat in 1871.[9]

The CMS established hospitals at Gaza and Jaffa. Schools were established in Jerusalem including the Bishop Gobat School for boys, the Jerusalem Girls' College and the Newman School of Missions, which was established for the study of languages and Islamic studies for missionaries.[2]

Iran (Persia)

The Revd Henry Martyn visited Persia (Iran) in 1811, however a CMS mission was not established until 1869 when the Revd Robert Bruce established a mission station at Julfa in Ispahan.[10][11] The mission in Persia expanded to include Kerman, Yezd (1893) and Shiraz (1900). The Persian mission operated hospitals and schools.[2] After Bishop Edward Stuart resigned as the Bishop of Waiapu in New Zealand, he then served as a missionary in Julfa from 1894 to 1911.[12] In 1940 government action forced the missionaries to end their activities.[2]

The Ottoman Empire (Iraq)

The CMS sent missionaries to the Ottoman Empire, to what is now Iraq. The CMS established a mission in Baghdad in 1883, with a hospital was also established in Bagdad in 1896. The CMS also established a hospital in Mosul in 1901. Following the outbreak of the First World War the mission workers were interned by the Turkish authorities, then expelled to Egypt where they worked during the war years. In 1919 the CMS decided not to resume the mission.[2]


North Sudan

Llewellyn Gwynne, Archibald Shaw and Dr Frank Harpur established mission stations in North Sudan at Omdurman (1899) and Khartoum (1900). A hospital was established at Omdurman. Later schools were established in Omdurman, Atbara (1908) and Wad Madani (1916). At the request of the government the CMS established schools in the Nuba Mountains at Salara (1935) and Katcha in (1939). In 1959 the government took over the operation of the schools.[2]

South Sudan

The first station in South Sudan was established by Archibald Shaw in the land of the Dinka people at Malek, near Bor, South Sudan (1905), then later at Akot. The CSM also worked among the Nuer people at Ler and Zeraf Island, the Zande people at Yambio and Maridi and the Bari people at Juba, Yei, Loka and Kajo Keji (Kajokaji).[2] The CMS operated elementary schools and the Nugent Secondary School, which was started at Juba in 1920, then in 1929 it was moved to Loka.[2]

CMS activities in the 20th Century

J. Spencer Trimingham served with the CMS in the Sudan, Egypt, and West Africa (1937–53).

See also


  1. ^ Mounstephen, Philip (2015). "Teapots and DNA: The Foundations of CMS". Intermission. 22.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Keen, Rosemary. "Church Missionary Society Archive". Adam Matthew Publications. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Church Missionary Atlas (Middle East)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 67–76. Retrieved 19 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
  4. ^ Donald Crummey, Priests and Politicians, 1972, Oxford University Press (reprinted Hollywood: Tsehai, 2007), pp. 12, 29f. For an account of the society's Amharic translation, see Edward Ullendorff, Ethiopia and the Bible (Oxford: University Press for the British Academy, 1968), pp. 62–67 and the sources cited there.
  5. ^ Murray, Jocelyn (1985). Proclaim the Good News: A Short History of the Church Missionary Society.
  6. ^ Stock, Eugene (1899). History of the Church Missionary Society.
  7. ^ "Frederick Augustus Klein". Dictionary of African Christian Biography. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  8. ^ Anderson, Gerald (1998). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  9. ^ Miller, Duane Alexander (October 2012). "Christ Church (Anglican) in Nazareth: a brief history with photographs" (PDF). St Francis Magazine. 8 (5). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-08.
  10. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, May 1876". The New Mission to Persia. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
  11. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, February 1877". From London to Ispahan. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 24 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
  12. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (Persia)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 78–80. Retrieved 19 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
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