Monday, July 13, 2020

African American Methodist Missionary and Mission Personnel Biographies

Today's post is by UM & Global blogmaster Dr. David W. Scott, Mission Theologian at the General Board of Global Ministries. The opinions and analysis expressed here are Dr. Scott's own and do not reflect in any way the official position of Global Ministries.

As this blog has observed, African Americans are underrepresented within missiology, and there are significant gaps in the literature on African Americans in mission. Nevertheless, there have been numerous African Americans who have served in mission and continue to do so.

For the bicentennial of American Methodist mission last year, I helped compile a collection of short biographical sketches of missionaries and mission agency personnel who served in the United Methodist tradition (the current United Methodist Church plus predecessor denominations and associated figures).

Within this collection are the stories of two dozen African American Methodists in mission. Their stories include services as foreign missionaries, short-term missionaries, mission agency personnel, leaders in women's missionary organizations, and bishops. They engaged in forms of mission ranging from evangelism to education to social justice to agriculture to medicine. Many of them served in the United States and in Liberia, but there are also individuals who served in Angola, India, China, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

These twenty-four individuals are just some of the many African Americans who have been part of God's mission, but this list is the beginning of an attempt to say the names of these often under-recognized historical figures. Here they are:

John Stewart (1785-1823), Founder of the First Permanent Methodist Episcopal Mission Among the Native Americans:

Amanda Berry Smith (1837-1915), African American Holiness Evangelist and Missionary:

Susan Angeline Collins (1851-1940), Missionary Worker in Angola:

Sallie Sawyer (1853-1918), Co-Founder of Bethlehem Centers of Nashville:

John Wesley Edward Bowen (1855-1933), Educator and Theologian:

Hester Williams (c1862 - ??), Pioneer in Establishing Schools for Women and Girls:

Alexander Priestly Camphor (1865-1919), African-American Missionary Bishop for Liberia:

John Wesley Gilbert (1865-1923), CME Pioneer of MECS Congo Mission:

Anna E. Hall (1870-1964), Long-Time African-American Missionary Educator in Liberia:

Martha Drummer (1871-1937), Medical Work and Care for Orphans in Angola:

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), Worker for Education and Equality:

Sallie Crenshaw (1900-1986), First Ordained African-American Methodist Woman and Missionary to Appalachia:

Charles Franklin Golden (1912-1984), Advocate of Integration in Methodism:

Thomas (1912-2000) and Jennie (1915-1999) Harris, Missionaries to the Iban People of Sarawak:

Ulysses Samuel (U.S.) Gray (1913-2009), Methodist Missionary to Gbarnga, Liberia:

Lillian Warrick Pope (1914 - ??), Mission Leader within Segregated Methodism:

Nettie Alice Green (1915-1993), Leader in Mission, Integration:

Vivienne Newton Gray (1917-1988), Educational Missionary in Liberia and Beyond:

James S. Thomas (1919-201), Educator and Leader for Abolishing the Central Jurisdiction:

Mai Gray (1922-2019), A Methodist and an Activist:

Theressa Hoover (1925–2013), First African-American Woman Mission Executive:

James M. Lawson Jr. (1928 - ), Civil Rights Leader and Short-Term Missionary to India:

Felton May (1935-2017), Advocate of Holy Boldness:

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