A history of the New Zealand Baptist missionary society, 1885-1947
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society is today a comparatively complex organisation, with its superior administration in New Zealand and doing specific work in two districts of East Bengal (Dominion of Pakistan) and in Tripura State (Dominion of India. The purpose of this present study is to discuss the origins and development of this work. The roots of the Society are deeply embedded in history, for the story is essentially tiny segment of the total history of the expansion of Christianity. Consequently, it is essential to indicate the relation of the Society to that wider movement. The attempting of this present task was inspired by the study of Professor K. S. Latourette’s “History of the Expansion of Christianity”. It was observed that Dr. Latourette’s only knowledge of the work of New Zealand Baptism was derived from a single article in “The Chronicle”. That article, though good in itself, was far from being an adequate source of information, being frankly an uncritical and popular sketch which omitted a full valuation of the work done. The N.Z.B.M.S. has published three quasi-historical sketches; the best of which is certainly H. H. Driver’s “These Forty Years”. But there has been no endeavour up to the present to write a formal history of the Society. The Primary and secondary sources of information are fully listed in the bibliography. While manuscripts have been few in number it has been the habit of the Society to publish a great wealth of material in the official periodicals. In fact, so much has been published that it would almost be possible to write brief bibliographies of the individual missionaries without seeking other source material! The most difficult problem of condensation occurred in relation to Chapters 5 and 6. In the former of these chapters it has been necessary to omit many details which the source material supplies, and in particular to ignore extremely valuable and faithful work done by individual missionaries. In full justice to the persons concerned it is to be hoped that someone will undertake that more detailed story. There was also a difficult problem in regard to chapter 4, and the crisis which developed in the work and administration of the Society. While the story of the origin was common knowledge at the time, the generation which knew the truth has nearly disappeared. The quasi-historical publications of the Society discretely (or indiscreetly) side-stepped the subject. However, a careful study of all the published records, and inquiry from some whose memory of events is good including contact with three who were intimately concerned, create the conviction that the explanation offered in chapter 4 is the correct explanation. It should be stated that the Mission has again reached a transitional period in its history. In November, 1948, it is planned to send a Commission to the Indian Field to report upon the whole work, and to recommend to the appropriate authorities the type of readjustments which may seem desirable. This Commission is to be comprised of the Rev. P. F. Lanyon, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of New Zealand and of the N.Z.B.M.S., and Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Nees. The question of the spelling of Bengali names is a perplexing problem. At different stages and by different people the spellings have varied greatly. As a general rule, the spelling adopted in regard to the New Zealand Field is that now in current use, but that adopted in regard to the neighbouring Australian Fields has been that which was the accepted usage at the time.