THE NESTORIANS - LETTER
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir,-In The Times of January 1 Mr. J. C. M’Coan, referring to the appeal of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for funds in aid, of a mission to “this interesting remnant of the ancient Syrian Church,” accuses the society of an ungenerous omission in “not making mention of what has beea and is being done for them by the American missionaries.”
Mr. M’Coan is evidently not aware of the existing state of things. He says, "Since the mission was transferred in 1870 to the (American) Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, it has been conducted on the old lines.” In this he is mistaken. The present missionaries, in a joint letter to to the Archbishop of Canterbury, dated January 1, 1877, admit an entire change of policy. They say:-
“This mission wae undertaken with the hope of purifying the worship of the ancient Nestorian Church, and reviving its spirit of piety and missionary zeal through the existing ecclesiastical organization. This hope was not abandoned until, after many years of labour, its realization was found impossible. Patient and persevering efforts were made to enlist the Patriarch and priesthood in the work of elevating and educating the people, until at length the fact was recognized that in religion, as well as politics, the thing to be reformed is seldom a useful ally in the work of reformation. The work has since been carried on directly with the people.”,
I waa there in 1876, and can testify that the way in which the American missionaries are carrying on the work with the people is by trying to set up separatist congregations on dissenting principles outside the Nestorian Church ; and I can testify that the work is not a auccessful one. The American missionaries never had any hold of the mountain tribes, the main strength of the Nestorian people. Their work has been chiefly among the people of the plain of Oroomiah, where in past years they did good work, whose traces still remain. But the Nestorians are strongly attached to their ancient Church, and hold to Church principles with great tenacity, and this change of policy has alienated even the old disciples of the American mission.
Under these circumstances I think the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was not “ungenerous” in omitting all allusion to the Americans, and grounding its
appeal on the broad facts that “this interesting remnant" of a once powerful branch of the Church has repeatedly and earnestly asked help from the Church of England, and
that the Upper House of Convocation in the last session declared it to be its unanimous opinion that the appeal from this body of Eastern Christians was “particularly urgent,” and commended it to the sympathies of. the Church of England.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
EDWARD L. CUTTS.
Vicarage, Haverstock-hill, N.W., Jan. 6.