Stanley Edwin Buckley

Stanley Edwin Buckley

1888-1946

Reverend Stanley Edwin Buckley was born in Scarborough, England, April 1888.  As a youth, he apprenticed as a “joiner” (carpenter) and attended the School of Technology in Manchester, England.  He began studies at Hartley Victoria College, Manchester in 1910.   Set on being a missionary and acquiring additional skills, he spent one summer at a bricks work factory learning to make bricks.

Rev. Buckley entered the Primitive Methodist Ministry in 1913 and, in that same year, traveled to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) to begin service as a missionary with the Primitive Methodist Missionary Society (PMMS).  He would continue there for the next 17 years, primarily at the Kanchindu Mission, located in the inhospitable and remote Gwembe Valley.  Rev. Buckley was responsible for cutting a needed 150 mile wagon road to reach the railroad line in Livingstone, setting up a brick work and supervising the making of ½ million bricks used to construct mission buildings, and assisting in providing medical care.  It would later be reported: “A skilled carpenter he taught the natives the art of building, and laboured with his own hands in the erection of churches and schools.”  Rev. and Mrs. Buckley’s son was born in Zambia in 1917.

Rev. Buckley returned to England 1930.  He served as a Methodist Minister at a number of churches including the Seahouses Church, North Sunderland until his death in March 1946 at the relatively young age of 58.  His early death may have been caused, in part, by serious bouts of blackwater fever (complication of malaria infection) suffered while in Zambia.  Among his other interests, Rev. Buckley was an avid stamp collector.

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Tillman A. Houser

Tillman A. Houser

(1922 – 2014)

Rev. Tillman Houser received a BA degree in Biblical Studies in 1947 from Seattle Pacific University and a Masters Degree in Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1978.  Rev. Tillman and his wife, Gwen, served as missionaries to Africa for 35 years with the Free Methodist Church (FMC), arriving in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1948.  He founded and built Dumisa Mission and managed up to 30 primary schools over a 100 by 100 mile square area in a remote region of the country.  Within this area he planted churches, and had oversight of church districts.

After returning from furlough, the Houser’s traveled through-out rural Zimbabwe in the 1960’s, living in a Volkswagen van they had converted into a camper.  He later served a short time as principal and teacher at Lundi Bible School.  And based on his knowledge of the Hlengwe and Shona languages, Rev. Houser edited and published translations of the FMC standard of faith.

The Housers retired from missionary service in 1981.  Tillman later published his life story, “Let Me Tell You … A Memoir,” which describes incidents that formed his character and life service as a missionary.  He also authored “Free Methodist and Other Missions in Zimbabwe.”

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Peter Falk

Peter Falk

Gwelo

Peter Falk immigrated from Germany to Pietersburg, South Africa in 1892 with his wife Agnes. In 1894 he moved to Gwelo where he eventually opened a florist and nursery business.

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Maurice E Persons

Maurice E Persons

1912-2004

Rev. Maurice Eugene Persons was born January 14, 1912 in Ruebens, Idaho.  He grew up in Spokane, Washington and attended the Chicago Evangelistic Institute (now Vernard College).  In 1936, he travel to Africa to serve as Secretary to Bishop John Springer based at Old Umtali, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  Springer had just been elected bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church’s activities in Africa.  For the next two years, Mr. Persons traveled extensively through out Africa with Bishop Springer, often corresponding with his mother back in Spokane.

He married Frances Lois Jessop in 1941.   After graduating from Willamette University, Oregon, Maurice and Lois returned to Africa as missionaries serving with the United Methodists Church.

Mr. Persons served in a number of capacities between 1947 and 1968, including as Principal of a United Methodist High School in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, legal representative of the Methodist church to the Belgian and Congolese government and inspector for the church schools in the Katanga Provence, Congo and President of the College of West Africa in Monrovia, Liberia.  He then served with the Methodist General Board of Global Ministries in New York, returning to the Congo in 1977 until his retirement in 1980.

Mr. Persons died 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Reference

  • Obituary, The Arizona Republic, July 23, 2004.
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Grace Clark

Grace Clark

1888-1979

 

Grace Clark was born 1888 and grew up in Corning, Iowa graduating from Shenandoah High School.  Her mother died when she was young.  Her father, Willis H. Clark, was cashier of the Corning State Savings Bank.  After high school, She moved with her father to Belgrade, Montana where she attended and graduated in 1911 from the Agricultural College of the State of Montana (now Montana State University) in Bozeman.

Upon graduation, Clark joined the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  She had to apply for a waiver of the WFMS requirement that she be at least 25 years of age (she was then 23).  She arrived at Old Umtali Mission in Southern Rhodesia (Old Mutare Mission, Zimbabwe) 1912 as a teacher at the Fairfield Girls School.  After being “on the field” for only Five weeks, Clark reported, “I have taken charge of a part of the industrial work of the school.  I teach laundering and Basketry four days in the week, also a class in conversational English each day.”

In March 1924, Clark was appointed to the Nyadiri Mission, Southern Rhodesia, to help “open the woman’s work.”  Nyadiri had been established one year earlier.  “With temporary buildings for the schoolgirls to live in, they opened school and by 1925, there were seventy-two girls in residence.”

By 1936 Clark was directress of the Nyadire girl’s school.  As of 1939, she was assigned to the Girl’s Boarding School at Mutambara Mission.  And as of 1942, she was with WFMS’ African Girl’s Hostel in Umtali (Mutare).

Clark retired from the WFMS and had returned from Africa by 1944, serving as a missionary for over 31 years.

References

  • Year Books of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Minutes of the Rhodesia Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Montana Butte Standard newspaper, August 1, 1937
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Alfred Theodore C. Sutton

Alfred Theodore C. Sutton

1888-1974

Alfred Theodore C Sutton was a District engineer for the Rhodesia Railways. A European man born in Baghdad, Sutton died in Umtali, 7th September, 1974.

He was married to Marcelle Sutton and had a son Peter Warren Sutton, a pilot for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He was killed on active service 25th February, 1945.

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Peter Prestage

Peter Prestage

1842 – 1907

Father Peter Prestage was born in London, England in 1842.  He was educated at Mount St. Mary’s College, the College at Liege and Stonyhurst College.  In 1860, he “took steps towards missionary work when he entered the Noviceship of the Society of Jesus at Beaumont.”  He completed his theological studies at St. Bueno’s College and was ordained in 1875.

Following ordination, Fr. Prestage joined the missionary work of the Jesuits in Africa, traveling to South Africa in 1877.   He taught at St. Aidan’s College in Grahamstown for five years, before joining the staff of the Zambezi Mission, first at Tati and then moving to Bulawayo in 1884.   He is credited with opening Empandeni Mission in 1887 – the oldest surviving Catholic mission in Zimbabwe.

Fr. Prestage was forced to withdraw from Zimbabwe due to lack of converts and political developments, but returned in 1890 as a part of the “Pioneer Column.”  He advocated for the overthrow of the Ndebele State, which he felt necessary to pave the way for Christianity.  The Ndebele kingdom was defeated (First Matabele War) in 1894, and Fr. Prestage returned to Empandeni Mission in 1896.  He would remain there until his death in April 1907.

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Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society

Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society

The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) was the earliest of several missionary societies that are now United Methodist Women.  Its origins lie in early missionary efforts of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) in India.  As the men worked at establishing churches, “the wives, unnamed and unconsidered in the conference, sought to reach the women who fled from the [male] missionary.  [They] saw the way to the evangelization of India through her helpless, degraded, unhappy women.” The men likewise began to recognize that single women missionaries were needed to work with Indian women.”

Based on the experience in India, a handful of women came together in 1869 in Boston and formed the WFMS  “for the purpose of engaging and uniting the efforts of the women of the Church in sending out and supporting female missionaries…” Despite opposition from some in the MEC male hierarchy, within only eight months WFMS had recruited and sent out two women missionaries to India.

Following the death of her missionary husband, Helen Emily Springer (later wife of Bishop John M. Springer) returned to Africa in 1901 as the first WFMS missionary in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  Stationed at MEC’s Old Umtali Mission (Old Mutare), Helen founded a girls’ boarding school.  WFMS would later open and operate girls’ schools/hostels in Mutare and at Mutambara, Mrewa and Nyadiri Missions.

When MEC North united with MEC South and the Methodist Protestant Church in 1939 to form the Methodist Church, WFMS joined other women’s groups to become the Woman’s Society of Christian Service.  In 1968, the Methodist Church became the United Methodist Church. 1972 the Women’s organizations in The United Methodist Church merge to form one inclusive organization with the name, “United Methodist Women.”

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Helen Emily Springer

Helen Emily Springer

(1868 – 1946)

Helen Emily Chapman Springer was a pioneer Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) missionary to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC).  Helen volunteered as a missionary after hearing Bishop William Taylor speak, and sailed for the Congo in 1891.  She married a Danish missionary, William Rasmussen, whom she met during the voyage.  The couple was forced to leave Africa due to malaria after 18 months.  They returned to the Congo with their son in 1894, but William soon died and Helen again “left the field.”

Helen returned to Africa a third time in 1901 following the death of her son as the first missionary with the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) in Zimbabwe.  Stationed at MEC’s Old Umtali Mission, Helen founded a girls’ boarding school.  She also wrote an important grammar/dictionary and translated Scripture and hymns into the Chikaraunga dialect of Shona.

In 1905, she married future MEC bishop John M. Springer.  Two years later, the couple trekked across Africa to scout out locations for mission stations.  For the remainder of her career, the Springers initiated and served at missions throughout DRC and Zimbabwe.

Helen authored “Snap Shots from Sunny Africa” and “Africa and Camp Fires in the Congo.”  She died August 1946 and is buried with her husband at the Mulungwishi Mission, DRC.

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John McKendree Springer

John McKendree Springer

(1873 – 1963)

John McKendree Springer, a pioneering missionary and bishop with the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC), was instrumental in developing Methodism in Africa. He graduated from Northwestern University (1895 and 1899) and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Garrett Biblical Institute (1901).

From 1901 to 1906, he was a missionary in Africa serving as superintendent of the Old Umtali Mission in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  Beginning 1907, he and his wife, fellow missionary Helen Emily Springer, journeyed across Africa scouting out sites for new missions.  Between 1910 and 1915, the Springers were stationed in the Belgium Congo (DRC) and Western Rhodesia (Zambia).  In 1921, Rev. Springer was transferred back to Zimbabwe to serve as superintendent at Mutambara Mission.  Another transfer occurred in 1924 when Springer joined the Congo Mission Conference a second time and was appointed superintendent.

In 1936 Springer was elected Missionary Bishop for Africa (including Zimbabwe) and began travels throughout the continent.  He retired in 1944 and returned to the United States in 1950.  Following the death of his wife in 1949, Bishop Springer wrote “I Love the Trail; A Sketch of the Life of Helen Emily Springer.”

He died in December 1963 and is buried at the Methodist mission station in Mulungwishi, DRC.

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