blood), the Holy Office in Rome had condemned the Atlantic slave trade. Despite this condemnation, the trade continued, with ruinous effects for the Catholic missions until well into the early nineteenth century. When the famed Scottish missionary David Livingstone reached Angola in 1854 on his trek across the continent, he found only the ruins of Jesuit and Capuchin churches and Christianity reduced to a folk memory. The recovery of the Catholic missions would come, but only after the close of our period.
A new beginning: The Protestant missions in West Africa
In time, the antislavery note that had been sounded for so long, and with so little effect, in Rome became a dominant theme in the renewal of the worldwide missionary movement in a Protestant Christianity that for the most part rejected mission as a Roman Catholic preserve. The first such Protestant organization, the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), was founded in London in 1698. Its stated purpose was 'to promote religion and learning in the Plantations abroad and to propagate Christian knowledge at home', and it decided to allow, as a spin-off activity, the formation of a missionary arm called the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) with the goal of sending out and maintaining missionaries. A Royal Charter in 1701 established the SPG on that basis. But even such early signs of commitment to mission among Protestants remained largely ad hoc and contingent, and often derivative from the work of others. The SPCK's educational and publishing work, however, had a significant impact at home and on the work that others were doing in the mission field. In particular, by 1720 there was an extensive programme of Bible translation. The SPCK had by that date produced 10,000 Arabic New Testaments, 6,000 Psalters, and 5,000 Catechetical Instructions. The targets were communities in the Ottoman dominions, and in Russia, Persia and India. The SPCK began a mission to the Scilly Isles in 1765 that lasted until 1841.
Direct SPG involvement in Africa was prompted by the needs of British trading concerns. Accordingly, between 1752 and 1824 the SPG sent out at the request of the Royal African Company (RAC) English clergymen who were commissioned as chaplains at Cape Coast in the then Gold Coast. One of these clergymen, Thomas Thompson, served for five years and recorded his impressions in a journal entitled, An Account of Two Missionary Voyages, which he published in 1758. Reflecting the prevailing opinions of the RAC, Thompson took the view that slavery was not an evil, and he wrote approvingly of
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