Churches of Christ Missionary Committee

Reference code(s): GB 0102 CoC
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Churches of Christ Missionary Committee
Date(s) of contents: c.1890-2000s
Level of description: Collection
Extent and medium: 49 boxes & 2 oversize items


Name of creator(s): Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland | Missionary Committee

Administrative/Biographical history:

The first conference of Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland was held in Edinburgh in 1842, and from 1847 to 1981 such Conferences were held annually with the exception of 1940. The churches were distinguished by a commitment to the restoration of New Testament Christianity, and were influenced by the writings of Alexander Campbell, who took a leading part in the formation of the group known as Christian Churches or Disciples of Christ in the USA. Each congregation was autonomous, ministry being exercised by elders and deacons, elected from within, but ministers, who had undergone a period of training were placed with churches or groups of churches as time went by. In 1981 the majority of the Churches of Christ in Great Britain became part of the United Reformed Church; and the records of the Association are deposited with the United Reformed Church History Society at Westminster College, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0AA.

Advocacy for foreign missions began in the mid-1880s, with a committee being appointed in 1892. The first field was among the Talaing people at Ye, in Burma [Myanmar] (1892), staffed by Robert Halliday and A E Hudson. From Burma work developed across the border in Siam [Thailand], where another group, the Mons, spoke the same language as the Talaings. Percy and Mary Clark were recruited for the work there, at Phrapatom, and Halliday worked independently in Burma. After the Boer War, co-operation with the Australian Churches of Christ, resulted in personnel being sent to South Africa to churches established by emigrants from the UK and Australia. From these bases a mission was established in Nyasaland [Malawi], initially at Chikunda and Zomba (1909). The Chilembwe uprising of 1915 obliged the missionaries (George Hollis, Henry and Etta Philpott and Mary Bannister) to leave, the work not being supervised by Europeans again until 1928. Meanwhile work in India had been developing at Daltonganj in Palamau under G P Pittman (1909) and at Dudhi (1914) under A C Watters.

The work in Thailand was handed over to the Disciples of Christ in the USA after the Second World War, and the churches subsequently became part of the Church of Christ in Thailand. The churches in India became part of the Church of North India in 1970. Churches of Christ in Malawi continue as an independent group, but are now members of the Council for World Mission.

Custodial history:

Material was for some time held at the Selly Oak Orchard Learning Centre, Birmingham, c.1980s-2001, where they were listed by a former Churches of Christ missionary to Malawi, Eileen Sewell, until the Centre was taken over by the University of Birmingham and collections were transferred to the University's Special Collections department. The collection was later transferred to the custody of the United Reformed Church History Society, c.2009, and stored at Westminster College Cambridge until May 2015. During this time further material was added by Margaret Thompson of the URC History Society, and amendments made to the listing.

Immediate source of acquisition: The collection was deposited at SOAS Library by the United Reformed Church History Society in May 2015.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to the mission fields of the British Churches of Christ, with work in India, Thailand and Malawi, c.1890-1980. The records include minute books, correspondence, publications, and the papers of four individuals who worked in Nyasaland [Malawi] - Ernest Gray (Nyasaland 1930-1956), Mary Bannister (Nyasaland 1912-1915; 1928-1935), Edward Terry (Nyasaland 1945-1968) and Henry Philpott (Nyasaland 1914-1916; India 1916-1926; Secretary to Missionary Committee, 1932-1947).

System of arrangement: The original arrangement and box numbering has been retained.


Language: English, Chichewa [Chinyanja], Thai, Chinese

Conditions governing access: A number of missionary medical records relating to individuals still living have been closed under the Data Protection Act.

Conditions governing reproduction: United Reformed Church. Please apply to SOAS Archives & Special Collections in the first instance.

Finding aids:



Date(s) of descriptions: 14 July 2015

Indigenous populations
Missionary societies
Missionary work

Personal names
Bannister | Mary | fl 1912-1935 | 1912-1935 | missionary in Malawi
Gray | Ernest | fl 1930-1956 | missionary in Malawi
Philpott | Henry | fl 1914-1947 | missionary in Malawi and India
Terry | Edward | fl 1945-1968 | missionary in Malawi

Corporate names
Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland | Missionary Committee

South Asia
South East Asia