Bringing the Chain of Missions Back to the Eastern Cape

Fiona Vernal

in The Farmerfield Mission

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199843404
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950546 | DOI:
Bringing the Chain of Missions Back to the Eastern Cape

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With a chain of six missions already established between the 1820s and 1830s, Methodist missionaries had no plans to create new settlements in the Cape Colony until war brought African refugees over the colonial border into Grahamstown. Chapter three shows how African initiatives and Methodist fear of denominational competition yielded a new phase in pioneer evangelism from both a strategic and an ideological standpoint. Farmerfield became a prototype for resolving the pioneer problems of nominal Christianity and incipient civilization. Missionaries screened the new population based on criteria such church membership, ownership of property like cattle, sheep or goat, a willingness to adopt square houses, contract monogamous marriages and follow other signposts of a civilized lifestyle. William Shaw, Farmerfield’s most powerful advocate, believed that Africans meeting these benchmarks held the key to launching an exclusive African peasant community as the embodiment of a vital African Christianity and mature civilization.

Keywords: Grahamstown; Eastern Cape; Cape Colony; Methodist; peasant; civilization; William Shaw; frontier; Klipheuvel

Chapter.  9998 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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