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Papers of the RBMU concerning the Congo, India, Nepal and Peru from the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, New College, University of Edinburgh

Part 4: Regions Beyond, 1878-1981, and Horizons, 1981-1990

"The Regions Beyond Missionary Union, founded by the great nineteenth century millenarian, Henry Grattan-Guinness, D. D., is all but forgotten. The Guinness evangelical empire spanned the twentieth century and the world - Africa, Latin America, Asia. Moreover the mission survived through the turbulent era of decolonisation in the Belgian Congo, India and Asia, opening a whole new range of sources for those concerned with issues of colonialism and post-coloniality."
Professor David Dorward, Director, African Research Institute, La Trobe University, Australia

The Regions Beyond Missionary Union (RBMU) had its origins in the East End of London. Henry Grattan Guinness (1835-1910), whose uncle, Arthur Guinness, was the founder of the famous brewing empire, established the East London Training Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Stepney Green in 1873. The Institute moved to larger premises in Harley House in Bow later in that year. From the outset, the Institute was interdenominational and international, and sought to train missionaries for service with missions around the world. Its first student, Joshua Chowriappah, was from India, and by 1903 some 887 men and 281 women had been trained. Of these 215 left to work in Africa, 182 in Asia, 170 in the Americas and 26 in Australasia.

The name Regions Beyond Missionary Union was adopted in 1899 in recognition of the growing global outreach of the Institute. It was committed to working among the poor regions peripheral to and beyond the British Empire and had established its own missions in the Congo (1878), Peru (1897), and in Bihar and Orissa, India (1899). Later missions were established in Kalimantan (Borneo) (1948), Nepal (1954), and Irian Jaya (1957).

The archive includes the minute books of the Board of Directors, c17,000 letters from missionaries in different regions, books, pamphlets, journals and photographs. These records contain information about the socio-economic development, as well as the growth of Christianity in these areas. They are a valuable source for world history and will serve scholars in a variety of disciplines.

Part 4 covers the principal periodical published by the RBMU from its inception in 1878 as Regions Beyond to its closure in 1990 as Horizons. It is essential reading for any scholar trying to understand the work undertaken by RBMU as it draws together all of the strands of their work. It is also very well illustrated. It covers:

- the education of women missionaries at Doric Lodge
- the training of missionaries at Harley House in Bow - bringing together students from many different denominations and nationalities - many of whom went on to join other established missions or to start societies of their own
- Practical work in the East End of London - not all of RBMU's efforts were directed abroad
- Fund-raising - the training colleges existed on faith alone.
- Accounts of conferences, lectures and publications organised to make more people aware of the work of RBMU
- News from missionaries from all over the world - both from RBMU missions and from other large and small missionary groups at the fringes of Empire
- The establishment and progress of the Congo mission and the relationship of this to the endeavours of explorers and colonisers
- Accounts of their work in Peru, Argentina, Bihar, Kalimintan, Irian Jaya and Nepal
- The winding down of RBMU and the reallocation of mission work to other agencies

Issues for 1880 cover topics as diverse as a long letter from Mr Hare at Lake Tanganyika; an account of an evangelistic tour of Newfoundland; an article on the women of Stanley's expedition; tidings from Port Said; a letter from Mr Head in Jamaica; records of the Uganda chiefs in England; and descriptions of the Livingstone Inland Mission to the Congo. This diversity continues in later issues that feature articles on Our Brethren in China; Dr Mackay's success in Formosa; African memories of Livingstone; the villages of Bihar; Lucy and Gershom Guinness in Tasmania; and work in Korea and Nepal.

This archive was deposited at the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World in 1991 following the winding up of the RBMU. The papers were fully sorted and catalogued in 2001. This microfilm edition offers scholars around the world the first opportunity to explore this archive in detail. The records relating to the Congo, Peru, Argentina, India, Kalimintan, Irian Jaya and Nepal will be vital to scholars studying these regions, but the archive also tells us much about the relationship of missionary enterprise and empire.

Digital Guide
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