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CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY ARCHIVE
Section IV: Africa Missions

Part 7: Sudan, 1905-1949

CMS work in Sudan began at Omdurman in 1899 and Khartoum in 1900. Llewellyn Gwynne, Dr Frank Harpur and Archibald Shaw were members of the pioneer party which aimed to reach the pagan areas of the south, but it was not until 1905 that they were allowed to enter the area. Funds that had been collected in memory of General Gordon were used for the mission and the first station, Malek was opened in 1906.

As far as the development of the church was concerned the Sudan mission was considered by CMS as two distinctly different areas. The Northern Sudan mission was closely linked to Egypt and remained in the diocese of Egypt and the Sudan from its inauguration in 1920 until Sudan was made a diocese in its own right in 1945. But in 1920 the Southern Sudan mission was placed by CMS under the episcopal oversight of the bishop of Uganda and became part of the CMS Elgon mission. Six years later Bishop Leonard Kitching was consecrated first bishop of the Upper Nile diocese, whose jurisdiction covered the whole Elgon mission area. It was not until his death in 1935 that the Southern Sudan was restored to the diocese of Egypt and the Sudan.

The difference between the north and south of the country is also reflected in the ways in which the missionaries worked and in the results of their evangelism. In the north the work was mainly among Muslims, missionary activity was restricted and the church was small in numbers and largely identified with a few missionary institutions. Medical work centred on the hospital at Omdurman, though from 1926 there was also a dispensary in the north of the city at Abu Rof. In the 1930s there was added a baby welfare clinic, children's home and girls' elementary school. There were also girls' schools in Omdurman itself, Atbara (where work had begun in 1908) and, from 1916, in Wad Medani. In the 1930s the government asked CMS to open schools in the Nuba Mountains and they chose two centres, Salara in 1935 and Katcha in 1939. These schools were taken over by the Sudanese government in 1959.

In the south of the country there was a similar emphasis on education and medicine but the work was among the tribal peoples. Missionaries worked among the Dinka at Malek and Akot, the Nuer at Ler and Zeraf Island, the Zande at Yambio and Maridi and the Bari at Yei, Loka, Juba and Kajokaji.

The mission suffered from a shortage of staff and money in the 1920s and 1930s and found it difficult to fulfil some of the government's requests regarding education. All the stations had elementary vernacular schools for boys and girls but there was only one secondary school. This was the Nugent school, which was begun at Juba in 1920 and moved to Loka in 1929. The best pupils from all the mission schools were sent to Nugent either to the school itself or to its technical department.

By the late 1930s the mission and church were growing. The Revival spread from Uganda to the south of Sudan and by 1941 there were approximately 18,000 Christians. In that year the first ordinations took place, one of the ordinands being Daniel Deng who in 1955 was to become the first Sudanese Anglican bishop.

Part 7 contains the papers of the Sudan Mission, 1905-1949, the Northern Sudan Mission, 1931-1949 and the Upper Nile Mission, 1926-1949. For easy reference the catalogue to the Sudan mission has been filmed on the first reel of Part 7.

First to be covered are the papers of the Sudan Mission for 1905-1934. They consist of Letter Books for 1905-1934, Original Papers for 1905-1933 and a Precis Book for 1905-1934. CMS work began in Sudan at Omdurman in 1899 and Khartoum in 1900. In 1905 a new mission was started in the south and the first station, Malek, was opened in 1906. Until 1905 all the Sudan work was administered from Egypt and Khartoum and it continued in this way until 1931 when it became part of the Northern Sudan Mission. The Sudan mission had as its principal centres of work Malek, Yambio, Yei, Juba, Lui, Opari and Maridi,

The Letter Books, 1905-1934 contain copies of outgoing correspondence from the Secretary in London to the missionaries. Subjects covered include: instructions to missionaries going out to the Gordon Memorial Soudan Mission; circulars re financial difficulties and a memorandum re language schools. The books have name indexes.

The Original Papers covering 1905-1934 are all the incoming papers sent by the mission to the Secretary in London. The material consists of: monthly letters from the missionaries regarding the state of work; learning the local language; travelling to other areas; information on local tribes; the arrival of new missionaries; health; settlement of missionaries in other parts of the mission; information on conferences; lists of plants and tools required for the mission; information on reading books and religious matter translated into Dinka; Minutes of Council meetings, of the Translation Committee, the Finance Committee and the Medical Committee; progress reports on the mission and requests for more women missionaries; letters re the safe arrival of new missionaries; annual letters of missionaries; lists of household goods, clothes and tools which missionaries should take out with them - the list includes a vegetable strainer, serviettes and a dinner jacket!; estimates for a new mission house; details of the Constitution of the Eastern Sudan Evangelical Mission; instructions regarding the opening of schools in Sudan.

The Precis Book for 1905-1934 contains a precis of all incoming papers. This precis was prepared for the meeting of the Group Committee. It gives the date, writer, date received, summary of contents, proposals for committee action to be taken and/or the Secretary’s remarks.

The papers of the Northern Sudan Mission for 1931-1934 are covered next. They consist of a Letter Book, Original Papers and a Precis Book for 1931-1934. Work in the Northern Sudan was organised as part of the Egypt mission until 1 January 1931 when it was set up as a separate administrative unit. Links with Egypt were however kept until 1 July 1933. The main centres of work were Omdurman, Khartoum, Atbara and Wad Medani.

The Letter Book for 1931-1934 contains copies of outgoing correspondence from the Secretary in London to the missionaries and sometimes copies of correspondence and papers from others concerned with the mission’s affairs in Britain and overseas.

The Original Papers comprise all incoming papers from the mission secretary to the Group Committee in London. They consist of letters, journals and minutes of local CMS committees. Material to be found includes: a report from a missionary on a visit to North Sudan; Medical Board notes on the state of health of the missionaries; notes on the future of the leper colony; commencement of the church service in Arabic; recruitment of new missionaries; need for a new hospital sister in the hospital at Omdurman due to the ill health of the nursing sister even after six weeks holiday and the imminent nervous breakdown of the other sister due to overwork; proposals for a new girls school; Minutes of the Standing Committee; notes on the constitution of the mission.

The papers for the Upper Nile Mission, 1926-1934 are filmed next. They include a Letter Book for 1926-1934, Original Papers for 1927-1934 and a Precis Book for 1927-1934. Work in the districts of Bukedi, Kitgum. Gulu, Lango and Teso was separated from the CMS Uganda Mission in September 1926 and came under the new mission of the Upper Nile.

The Letter Book, 1926-1934 contains copies of outgoing correspondence from the Secretary in London to the missionaries.

The Original Papers, 1927-1934 comprise all the incoming papers sent from the mission secretary to London. They contain a mixture of material: annual conference notes; Minutes of the Standing Committee of the Upper Nile mission; letters re shortage of staff in the mission; mission accounts; issues of the local CMS newspaper – "The Upper Nile Diocesan Gazette"; forms for missionaries on probation; plus some interesting letters between the Secretary and a missionary regarding his staying out too late and playing sports on Sunday- he finally resigned.

The papers for the period 1935-1949 are covered next. The files are included for Southern Sudan Mission, Northern Sudan Mission and Upper Nile Mission. The mission files come first, then the dioceses, education, general and medical. The mission files include: Conferences, Committees and the Church Association. The dioceses files contain correspondence re the setting up of the diocese. Education covers reports on the schools in the different areas of the mission. General files contain miscellaneous information on the different centres in the mission and Medical covers hospital and medical mission information. The appropriate pages of the Overseas Division Catalogue for 1935-1949 are filmed on Reel 117 of Part 7. They give full details of the contents.

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