Metropolitan designs and colonial realitites : a comparison of the work of the Church Missionary Society and the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in the West Indies and Sierra Leone, 1785-1835.
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Welty, Kyle L.
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This dissertation examines the work of two missionary societies in two fields and explores how these missions differed from the visions formulated in London. The Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society and Church Missionary Society were British Evangelical missionary organizations with origins in the late eighteenth century, and they expanded their work throughout the nineteenth century. The societies’ objectives were nearly identical: they hoped to convert “the heathen” and improve the lives of foreign peoples through education. Despite their shared aims and use of similar means, the resulting missions were each unique. Moreover, this was true even of two missions operated by the same society. Particular attention is devoted to the power of West Indian slave societies, which exerted great force on the missionaries operating in the Caribbean. In the context of Sierra Leone abolitionist efforts were prominent, and the campaigns to end the slave trade and slavery shaped the missionary enterprise in West Africa. Through examination of missionary correspondence from the field, this study will document the challenges that diverse colonial contexts presented and examine how missionaries themselves could alter the course of their society’s work in a particular setting. Drawing upon extensive evidence from missionaries’ letters, this dissertation argues that these missions were hybrid ventures, retaining distinctives from the metropolitan center while taking on colonial adaptations.