Seventh-Day Adventist Church: Plainfield Mission

Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Plainfield Mission

Plainfield Mission was established in Southern Cholo, by The Seventh Day Baptist Church of Plainfield, United States. On 30th January, 1899, Joseph Booth, who after long interviews with the Seventh-Day Baptists, incorporated the Sabbath Evangelizing and Industrial Association with a capital of $20,000. On 19th April, 1899, Booth and his family left New York to establish a mission in Africa that was to be of an industrial nature.

Between May and September of 1900, the American Seventh-Day Baptists purchased 2,000 acres of land from a German coffee planter. the mission station had been established. The coffee-growing industrial mission was not economically viable for a variety of reasons, one of which was a precipitous drop in coffee prices, and soon failed.

Booth soon returned to the United States and became a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). In 1902, the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists purchased Plainfield Mission from the Seventh-Day Baptists. The SDA sponsored Booth’s return to British Central Africa and to work at the Plainfield Mission.

With Booth, the SDA also sent Thomas H. Branch (an African American). His daughter Mabel became the first SDA teacher in British Central Africa. Branch had difficulties with the British Colonials due to the colour of his skin and the impact of ‘Independent Africans’ on the local Africans. By February, 1903 the relationship between Booth and Branch had broken down. Booth left for South Africa and never returned.

Branch and his daughter opened a school in 1903, with Mabel as its only teacher.  So popular was the school that in 1904 it had 66 students, 24 of them borders. By 1904, the mission was surrounded by five or six villages. Branch excelled in agriculture and the mission was successfully harvesting maize, cotton, cattle and poultry – manual labor on the farm was required of all students.

In 1907, J. C. Rogers was sent to the mission and it’s name was changed to Malamulo Mission. ‘Malamulo’ originates from the Chichewa word for “laws” or “the commandments.”  This was in contrast to when Booth and Branch arrived and the Africans had been influenced by ‘no law’ or ‘changed law’ by other missionaries.

References

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis
  • James Gavin