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.


  • Mark Loomis