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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20

Sixth Annual Report of Mission Committee For 1872

Sixth Annual Report of Mission Committee For 1872.

The operations of your Committee have been somemwat hindered in consequence of the changes that have taken place in the Convenership of the Synod's Mission Committee during the past year; firtt, by the appointment of Mr. Kirkland in room of Dr. Copland, who had from the beginning of the mission scheme so ably filled the convenership; and, secondly, by the translation of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland to another Church.

By the transference of Mr. Blake from the Mission to the ordinary field of the Church's work, your Committee has been constrained to content itself with a somewhat circumscribed sphere of labour. No successor has been found to take Mr. Blake's place, and do the work that was done by him among the native population of the Province. All that the Committee have been able to do has been to continue the arrangement sanctioned by the Synod, of employing the native Bartholomew, who has rsgularly held divine service at the Heads. Your Committee would recommend to the Synod that the Dunedin Presbytery be instructed to make arrangements whereby Mr. Blake may be enabled to visit the Heads once a month.

Though unable in respect of the Maori Mission to report progress, your Committee have abundant cause for thankfulness to Almighty God in the continued success that has followed the Synod's operations in its other Mission fields.

New Hebrides Mission.

Mr. Milne, ably seconded by his devoted wife, continues faithfully at his post, in Nguna, manfully breasting the difficulties of his position, and labouring with unabated zeal to make known the glad tidings of salvation to the savage heathen among whom his lot has been cast. In the words of a recent communication from Mr. Inglis, the devoted missioanry of Aneityum, and who recently visited this Church, "Mr. and Mrs. Milne are working hard, anh fast establishing a strong position for Christianity in the midst of the darkest heathenism. Mr. and Mrs. Milne are indeed fully meriting your sympathy and support." To be certified thus in reference to the Synod's Missionary by one himself a successful servant of the Lord amid a like heathenism, cannot be less gratifying to the Synod than encouraging to Mr. and Mrs. Milne. Already Mr. Milne has so mastered the language of Nguna, as to have prepared a small primer and hymn book, to further his work among the natives both young and old, in regard to whom in his letters to the Committee he speaks not without hope. Though the evils to a large degree still exist that have seriously interfered with the work of the Missionaries, through the unchristian labour traffic page 26 that has prevailed among the islands of the Pacific, it is with much satisfaction your Committee have learned the determination of the British Government to put an end to the traffic so wickedly and cruelly conducted.

The minutes of the annual Conference of Missionaries (hereafter to be designated the New Hebrides Mission Synod), held at Anelgauhat, Aneityum, June 4th, 1872, have been received, and are laid upon the Synod's table. These minutes furnish abundant reason for thankfulness to God, especially for the large addition that has been made to the Missionary staff, in the arrival of four new Missionaries and their presence at the Conference. These have been sent by the several churches which with ourselves are engaged in gathering into the pale of Christianity these distant isles. The conduct of these churches should prove an incentive to ourselves to provide a second Missionary, an object for which as you are aware a liberal friend presented to the Church the sum of £50, which lies still unavailable for the purpose intended. The satisfaction afforded by this largo accession to the New Hebrides Missionary staff is, however, clouded by the calamity that has befallen the Mission in the murder of Mr. Gordon, of Erromanga, who with a martyr's heroism had raised the standard of the cross that had dropped from the hands of a brother who also bad fallen a martyr to savage superstition and cruelty; and by the further very great loss the Mission has sustained since the meeting of Conference, in the decease of Dr. Geddie, the father of the Mission;—events both of them calling for the expression of the Synod's sympathy with the Missionary brethren.

Several matters have been brought by the Conference under the notice of the Committee, which require some deliverance on the part of the Synod. A memorial unanimously adopted by the Conference has been received, and now lies on the table of the Synod, expressing the desire of the Missionaries to be placed by their various Churches on the same footing as the agents of the London Missionary Society in the neighbouring islands, as to salary and the meeting of the necessary expenses of the Mission. What the amount of salary is that is given by that Society the memorial does not show, and your Committee have not yet been able to learn. The Conference does not wish that this matter should be determined at once by us, but rather that in regard to it we should put ourselves into communication with the other Churches connected with the Mission, that whatever be resolved upon there may be simultaneous and harmonious action on the part of all the Churches, placing all the Missionaries on the same footing. Your Committee would suggest that the Committee be authorised to communicate on the subject with the Churches, and to agree to such salary and arrangements as to Mission expenses as may be agreed to by them.

The Conference has also called the attention of the Committee to the necessity for the different Churches providing for themselves collecting cards, and the annual report of the Dayspring. These have hitherto been printed and issued by the Mission Agent in Melbourne, at an expense to the Dayspring Fund of £120 per annum, a large sum withdrawn from its special object, and which the Conference thinks may be avoided by the various Churches undertaking to provide at their own cost what of these may be required for their own use.

Changes have been made by the Conference in regard both to the Mission Agency and the head-quarters of the Dayspring. The Mission Agency has been transferred from Melbourne to Sydney, and placed in the hands of Dr. Steel, of that city, in room of Dr. Macdonald, of Emerald Hill, Melbourne, who has for many years ably and with large success conducted the Agency. The headquarters of the Dayspring have been fixed at Sydney instead of Melbourne, on the ground that Sydney is more suitable in consequence of two voyages between the colonies and the islands being required each year, to meet the increasing demands of the Mission. Your Committee are not in a position to give an opinion as to whether it rests with the Conference to make these changes, and as to whether they are calculated to be profitable to the working of the Mission.

Chinese Mission.

Your Missionary Paul Ah Chin has throughout the past year pursued his labours among his fellow-countrymen with his wonted faithfulness, zeal, and diligence. He has preached each Sabbath day to about 15 to 20 at Lawrence. Prayer meetings have been held by him each Sabbath morning at the Chinese camp, and on a week-day evening at Wetherstones. He has continued in almost daily intercourse with the converts, who are ever needing his help and en- page 27 couragement. These now number six, three having been baptised during the past year, two by Mr. Kirkland, and one by Mr. Cameron, of Lawrence. All the Converts continue to give satisfactory proof of their stedfastness. It is known to your Committee that there are others besides those who have made a public confession of Christianity who have been greatly influenced by the labours of the Missionary, and are favourably inclined to receive the truth. Two of the converts have settled at Adam's Flat, where they continue to encourage and strengthen each other and to exercise an influence for good upon others of their countrymen. Paul Ah Chin hopes that the circumstances of the converts may speedily enable him to extend his labours beyond Lawrence and its neighbourhood, to which from necessity they have been hitherto chiefly confined. On the whole, your Committee have reason to thank God for the measure of success that has attended this branch of our Missionary operations.

Wm. Bannerman

, Interim Convener.