The London Times3 February 1877

NESTORIANS - URMIA

THE NESTORIANS. The Rev. - James Davis, writing to us from the office of the Evangelical Alliance, 7, Adam-street, Strand, W.C., sends us the following extract from a letter just received from the Secretary of the Persian Branch of this Alliance. 'l'he writer is a missionary of long-standing among the Nestorians, and one of the many agents of the Ameican Board of Foreign Missions : " Oroomiah, Persia, Dec. 20, 1876. Allow me, on behalf of the American missionaries in Persia to address you on a subject causing much uneasiness in this district. Mar Shimoon, the Nestorian Patriarch, early in this month seized several native Nestorian preachers in the employment of the American missionaries. They were treated with marked indignities, robbed of a sum of money by the servants of the Patriarch, and theu expelled from the mountains where they were about to locate. The reason assigned for this unprecedented outrage on his part is that he has durinh the past summer placed himself and his people under the fostering care of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England, and he proposes in future to exclude all other preachers of the Gospel from his people. We intend forwarding as soon as possiblo to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury an address upon this grave issue of his late delegation to the Patriarch. Meanwhile we would request, if it meet with your approval, that this outrage upon religious liberty and the privileges we have enjoyed for so many years should be made known in England, in whoso name the deed is done. The address to the Archbishop, which has now been received, admits that the Patriarch did make an effort to recover the money stolen by his own men, almost upon his own premises, and that a portion of it was restored. The American mission was undertaken with the hope of purifying the worship of the ancient Nestorian Church and reviving its spirit of piety aud missionary zeal through the existing ecclesiastical organization. This hope was not abandoned until, after many years of labour, its realization abandoned until, after many years of labour, its realization was found impossible. Patient and perservering efforts were made to enlist, the Patriarch and priesthood in the work of educating and elevating the people, until at length the fact was recognized that in religion, as in politics, the thing to be reformed is seldom a useful ally in the work of reformation. The work has since been carried out directly with the people. The work accomplished and its results speak for themselves. For nearly half a century the missionaries from the American churches, at an average annual outlay of $25,000, have toiled to improve the condition, spiritual and temporal of the Nestorian people. From an English diplomatist in the East, the statement comes that the American mission has done more than all the foreign Embassies in the country to ameliorate the conditions of the people of Persia. While approving the correctness of this statement, the memorialists take the opportunity to make grateful acknowledgment to the promptness with which the representatives of Great Britain have almost uniformly seconded their efforts when they have asked their aid. Since 1835-67 adult missionaries have laboured at Oroomiah, l0 to 12 of these entirely or principally in the mountains, four being buried there. Flourishing male and female schools have been in operation from an early period. From the former about 150 preachers and teachers have been sent out. The numerous graduates of the latter are scarcely, if any, less useful in their own sphere. Five seIf-supporting churches have been organized, with 10 others partially self-supporting, and there are 46 congregations with helpers under the care of the missionaries. Three high schools and 60 villiage schools, partly supported by the missionaries, are in operation. Among the Nestorians of Persia, with a population of 25,000, there are very few villages of more than 20 houses in which the missionaries have not planted a school. The membership of the church was about 875-125 of whom were added during the past year, with the promise of a greater number the coming year, as a result of the work of grace now in progress in the Churches. Notable among the labour of the missionaries was the translation of the venerable Paschito veersion of the New Testament into the spoken tongue, which had not previously been reduced to writing, and the publication by the Mission Press of 21 million pages of a Christian literature in Syriac. Acommodious hospital aud a medical training class had been organized, and gratuitous medical services to the poor had always been a prominent feature of the mission work. The mountain field gives a less encouragin result, attributable in part to the physical obstacles it presents to successful missionary labour, and in part the wild and lawless character of the people themselves, together with the hostility of the Patriarch to all reforms whether from within or without his Church. There are several, bright spots, however, here, among them the Church at Hassan, in Bohtan, whose honoured pastor formerly a Bishop of the old Church. The memorialists ask whether there is room for another Mission. The new Mission do not expect to build except upon the foundations which had been laid. The new-comers could ohly expect to carry on their work by employing the men whom their predecessors had educated, paying them.higher wayges than they could give. In conclusion the memorialists suggest that a letter to Mar Shimoon, from the Archbishop, in accordance with the Catholic spirit in which they feel assured he will view the case, would be amply sufficient to prevent the Patriarch and his Church from construing the terms of their alliance with him in a sense adverse to their principles of religious liberty.



The London Times