THE PRIMATE AND THE ASSYRIAN CHRISTIANS.
Thee annual meeting in support of the Archbishop’s Mission to the Assyrian Christians was held yesterday afternoon in the library of Lambeth Palace, and was largely attended. The ARCHBISHOP of CANTERBURY presided.
The annual report described the accession a year ago of the new Patriarch, who had been brought up under the auspices of the mission, and was showing wonderful wisdom and firmness. Desperate attempts had been made by the disloyal to distract the people, but the Sultan's official recognition had now arrived, in the shape of a decoration and salary, and more than a hope of progress seemed now secure.
There was some feeling that the Archbisbop's Mission was not whole-hearted in supporting the Syrian Church ; and this could not be got rid of till the Syrians were ready to desert the relics of unsound teaching retained by them. There was also an immense difficulty in getting the right class of men and boys to the mission’s high schools, so as to secure a more satisfactory set of clergy. As to political
affairs, on the Persian side of the frontier the Government had proved itself weaker than ever. In Tabriz a series of disturbances culminated in an attack on the Crown Prince’s Palace, and on all buildings connected with the Customs and with the Russians. The state of Tergawar was far more serious ; a dozen men were burnt alive, three villages were destroyed, and the crops remained unsown or unreaped throughout the district. Some of the Christians were partly to blame, by encouraging Knrds to attack villages with which they themselves had quarrels.
THE PRIMATE said that the mission had been started 18 years ago by Archbishop Benson to bring guidance-educational, spiritual, medical–to the Christians among the mountains of Kurdistan. These people had shown, by their perseverance in Christianity through long centuries of misrule and wrong, that they deserved such help. The mission had now reached a perilous age, having lost something of the interest of novelty without having yet got into an atmosphere of permanence. The difficulty of getting the necessary £3,000 a year had therefore increased, just when more money was really required. It was quite certain that no thoughtful man who tested the value of the work done could doubt that it far exceeded what might reasonably have been expected 18 years ago. The was a great contrast between the clergy then and now in the matter of education ; between the churches then and now in the matter of their appointments and the intelligent character of their services and between the general standard of education in 1886 and to-day in the villages where the mission had its hundred or more schools. This being so, it would be simply a disaster if we had to tell the Syrians that the work must be curtailed or abandoned. If it were to go forward, however, the Archbishop must be able to count on more assured annual support. The prospect of the mission was brimful of hope.
The REV. F. N. HEAZELL, of the mission staff, said the change in the people effected by the mission had been quite phenomenal. The work had been started to save a Christian church from falling into the hands of the Roman Catholics on one side or of the Presbyterians on another, or, far worse, from ceasing to resist the temptation to embrace Islam. These people had to pay double taxes because they were Christians, and could not get justice in the Courts because a case must never be given against a Mussulman. The, Syrians had suffered from massacres as cruel as the Armenians had undergone, but these things hardly ever found their way to the European papers. From a humanitarian point of view the mission was emphatically worth helping. When he was in Qudshanis last winter every Syrian village but one in the neighbourhood was raided of all their sheep by Kurds, and to these pastoral Syrians the sheep were everything. The sparing of one village was due, according to the Syrians, to the presence of two Englishmen.
CANON WIGRAM also addressed the meeting, which was followed by a service in the Palace citadel.