Church Collections

Reference code(s): GB 1835 JEC
Held at: Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (formerly known as the Henry Martyn Centre)
Domain: archival
Title: Church Collections
Date(s) of contents: 1923-1989
Level of description: Collection
Extent and medium: *


Name of creator(s): John E Church

Administrative/Biographical history:
John Edward Church (1899-1989) qualified at St Batholomew's Hospital, London, and joined the Church Missionary Society Ruanda Mission in 1927. He spent five months at Kabale in Uganda, learning the Lunyaruanda language, before moving in June 1928 to the new station at Gahini, almost on the equator. His immediate preoccupations were the horrors of a severe famine, and building work - laying bricks and finding roofing timbers. Late the following year Blasio Kigozi, "a rich young fellow", arrived at Gahini to supervise the small boys' school, and in September 1929 Church spent two days with Kigozi's brother-in-law Simeoni Nsibambi at Namirembe, discovering a deep fellowship.
By 1931 Kigozi and a young convert, Yosiya Kinuka, were making "team witness" expeditions to neighbouring settlements, and in December of that year the first "convention" was held at Gahini. Church identified the 1933 convention as "the beginnings of revival at Gahini". In 1935 the Ruanda mission opened stations in Burundi, and shortly afterwards, despite the death of Blasio Kigozi, the Abaka ("those on fire" or "those who glow") began to make a stir further afield. The revival spread to Kenya in 1937-8, Sudan and Tanganyika in 1939. Church was particularly effective in organizing and leading teams into new territories - Europe 1947-1949, Malawi 1951, Angola 1952, the United States 1953, India and Ethiopia 1954, and South America 1959. In that year the Mwami of Rwanda died, violent unrest followed, and Church and his family were obliged to leave Gahini in August 1961. Until 1964, when he officially retired, he was based at Kabarole Hospital, and thereafter at Kampala. He quit Uganda in 1972.
In May 1930 Joe Church married Decie - Dr Decima Mary Tracey (1904-1991, "my wife-doctor-housewife-station accountant – in fact everything”)1 - at Namirembe. They had five children. He edited his diaries for the autobiographical Quest for the Highest in 1981.

1 Church Collection, JECP A/31. Reference given in Terry Baringer's paper at the "East African Revival: History and Legacies" conference, Cambridge 26 April 2008 (British and Irish Association for Mission Studies).

Custodial history:
The items date from c.1926 and were collected and preserved by Dr Joe Church, his wife, Dr Decie Church and members of their family and fellow missionaries during their time in Africa. On their return in 1972 the material was brought back to England and stored in their house at Great Shelford near Cambridge. Joe Church continued adding to and arranging the collections until his death in 1989. In latter years the collection was housed by Judith Church (the widow of David, a son of Joe and Decie Church) in her house in Richmond, Surrey. Judith also undertook some arrangement of the collection and added certain items.

In the light of the strong connexions of Joe Church with Cambridge (he was brought up near Cambridge and attended Emmanuel College), the family decided that the collection should be housed in the Henry Martin Centre and it was brought to Cambridge in May 2006. Cataloguing was completed in April 2008.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Scope and content/abstract: 43 boxes, some 200 printed books, including bibles, approximately 200 pamphlets and tracts, 50 CD roms (transferred from cassettes and reel to reel tapes), approximately 100 photographic prints and 650 slides.

System of arrangement: JEC Documents
Section A.
Papers arranged and filed in box files by Joe Church.
Labelling follows JEC’s own usage. Where appropriate, some related material has been added from other parts of the collection by HMC archivists.

History (1) – Conventions and Missions
Correspondence, diaries etc. 1936 - 1949
History (2) – Conventions and Missions
Correspondence, diaries etc. 1951-1966
History (3) – Conventions and Missions
Correspondence, diaries etc. 1935-1946
History (4) – Conventions and Problems
Correspondence, diaries etc. 1942-1989
Letters (5).
Revival Correspondence. 1930-1970
Man and His Message
Unpublished Material. 1953-1985
Mss or research for New Books. 1963-1976
Mss of yet unpublished book: ‘Grace Abounding’ and ‘How are you Getting Along?’ The story of Simeon Nsibambi. 1941-1983
Research Projects on East African Revival. 1924-1988
JEC 10
Research Projects on the East African Revival 1938-2003
JEC 11
Policy. 1935-1988
JEC 12
Festo Kivengere. 1958-1989
JEC 13
Newspaper Cuttings and Articles. 1943-1989

Sections B-G
These are the papers that JEC had not yet sorted or put into particular boxes but there is evidence of some organisation of these papers into certain categories and the archivists have tried to follow this pattern and to use the category labels as suggested by JEC.

Section B
JEC 14
JEC’s Bibles, Devotional Works and Influences.

Section C
Correspondence, articles, cuttings etc. in loose folders. Arranged by HMC Archivists.

JEC 15
Correspondence of Joe and Decie Church. 1934-1989
JEC 16
1. ‘Lweza’ Conference , Kampala. 1961-1969
2. ‘The Awakening Faction’ - Divisions and Reconciliation. 1966-1975
JEC 17
Leaders of the Revival
1. William Nagenda, 1937-1938
2. Blasio Kigozi. 1927-1936
3. Erica Sabiti. 1988-1989
4. Algie Stanley Smith and Leonard Sharp. 1975-1976
5. Kenneth Moynagh. 1957-1972
JEC 18
Church, State and Society in East Africa. 1972-1984

Section D
Duplicate Letter Books
JEC 19
Duplicate Letter Books. 1938-1970

Section E
Ruanda Mission Publications, Correspondence and Other Papers
JEC 20
Ruanda Notes - A quarterly account of the work of the Ruanda Medical Mission. (C.M.S.) 1923- 1981
Bound volumes
These consist chiefly of letters written from Africa to the ‘Friends of the Ruanda Mission’ but they also include notes, minutes of meetings, financial statements, photographs etc. These are all printed except Vol. I which is typed. Includes a copy of ‘Call to Prayer’ by JEC 30 April 1936.
JEC 21
Ruanda Mission C.M.S.
Council minutes, agendas and papers. 1968-1981

JEC 22
Ruanda Mission C.M.S.
Council minutes, agendas and papers. 1981-1989
JEC 23
1. Correspondence of JEC with other members of Ruanda Mission Council. 1952-1989
2. Ruanda Mission Council Quarterly Prayer Papers. October 1968 – April 1973
JEC 24
1-3 Miscellaneous assortment of newsletters and magazines. 1976-1985. [Collected by Judith Church for compilation of the Uganda Church Association Newsletter of which she was editor]
4. African Evangelistic Enterprise. 1970-1984

Section F
JEC 25
Master Set of Joe Church Publications
Numbering follows Bibliography of the Writings of Dr Joe Church of the Ruanda Mission CMS by Judith Church
JEC 26 - 29
Papers Associated with the publications of JEC. 1937-1986
JEC 30
Motto Cards, Visual Aids and Artefacts. 1947-1975
JEC 31
Unpublished Articles and Books. 1950-1976

Section G
JEC 32
Words and Music: Hymns and Choruses

JEC 33

Audio Cassettes and CD Roms



Books and Pamphlets
From the library of JEC


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Contact repository for details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: A handlist is available.



Date(s) of descriptions: June 2008

Missionary work
Religious activities
Religious organizations

Personal names
Church | Decie
Church | John E x Church | Joe
Church | Judith
Nsibambi | Simeon | 1941-1983

Corporate names
Church Missionary Society
Ruanda Medical Mission C.M.S.
Ruanda Mission C.M.S.
Uganda Church Association

East Africa