and Jerusalem (1833), and the ABCFM in Beirut (1824), Istanbul (1831), Izmir (1834) and various other places in Lebanon and central and eastern Turkey, as well as in Iran (Urmia 1834). Except for the abortive attempt by James Lyman Merrick in Persia (1835-42) and LJS work among Jews, these mission posts directed their activities mostly to the members of the Eastern churches, among which the Armenians of Turkey and the members of the Church of the East in Persia were particularly receptive. In fact, initial successes led some of the missionaries to believe that reform from within the Eastern churches was not only possible and desirable, but also attainable in the short term.

Early Protestant successes became one of the factors that stimulated Roman Catholic orders, such as the newly re-established Jesuits and the Lazarists (established by St Vincent de Paul), to start new missions in the Middle East in the 1830s and 1840s. Long-established mission work in the Middle East, like that of the Franciscans and Carmelites in Palestine and of the Dominicans and Capuchins in Mesopotamia and Persia, was taken up again with new fervour. From the 1860s onwards, the Roman Catholic missions experienced the largest growth in their history. A new element was the entrance of female congregations, the first of which were the Filles de la Charite who started work in Beirut in the late 1840s and later worked also in Persia and Egypt. Other important congregations were those of the SÅ“urs de Saint-Joseph de l'Apparition (Syria, Egypt) and the Dames de Nazareth (Palestine). The Catholic orders focused primarily on the strengthening of the existing Uniate churches, but the ultimate aim of uniting all eastern churches to the Roman Catholic Church and the conversion of Muslims to Christianity was never abandoned.3

In the early 1840s, owing perhaps partly to Catholic influence, but also to changes within the Eastern churches themselves, opposition against Protestant interference grew, leading to the excommunications of those sympathising with the Protestants and the ensuing establishment of separate Protestant congregations in Istanbul in 1846 and Beirut in 1848. In this period, a few smaller missions also found their way into the Middle East. These included Anglican and Episcopalian missions to eastern Turkey and the beginnings of the Anglo-Prussian bishopric in Jerusalem, which was headed by Michael Solomon Alexander from 1842 to 1845 and explicitly limited its mission work to the Jewish community.

Under his successor, the former CMS missionary Samuel Gobat, work among the Jews was cut short and replaced by work among the Arabic Christians where he expected a more favourable response. For this the bishop

3 Verdeuil, 'Travailler a la renaissance', and Michel, 'Les mission latines en Orient'.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment