The first British Methodist missionaries came to Upper Burma in 1887 and the last left in 1966. They were known as 'Wesleyans' before 1932 and afterwards as 'Methodists'. This book is a study of the ambitions, activities and achievements of Methodist missionaries in northern Burma from 1887-1966 and the expulsion of the last missionaries by Ne Win. Henry Venn, the impeccably evangelical Secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), was the most distinguished and inspiring of nineteenth-century mission administrators. Wesleyan missionaries often found property development more congenial than saving souls. In Pakokku in December 1905, a 'weak' American missionary from Myingyan and a couple of Baptist Burman government officials began 'totally immersing' Wesleyans. Proselytism was officially frowned upon in the Indian Empire. The Wesley high schools were extraordinarily successful during the early years of the twentieth century. The Colonial Government was investing heavily in education. A bamboo curtain descended on Upper Burma in May 1942. Wesley Church Mandalay was gutted during the bombing raids of April 1942 and the Japanese requisitioned the Mission House and the Girls High School soon afterwards. General Ne Win was ruthlessly radical in 1962. By April 1964 Bishop was the last 'front-line' Methodist missionary in Upper Burma and the last European of any sort in Monywa. The book pulls together the themes of conflict, politics and proselytisation in to a fascinating study of great breadth.
became the Methodists’ unofficial wartime headquarters, just as U Po Tun was their unofficial leader. 16 Wesley Church Mandalay had been gutted during the bombing raids of April 1942 and the Japanese requisitioned the Mission House and the Girls High School soon afterwards. The Methodists reopened a small school in Mahazayabon and they held weekly services in Saya Klaipo’s house. 17 The regular Burmese congregation was augmented from time to time by an eclectic mixture of Buddhists, ‘Burmese princes’ and
buildings crashing down. 13 On the other hand, Wesley Church Mandalay had been repaired, work had started on rebuilding the Monywa Mission House, the army had handed back the Mawlaik Mission House and some redundant village schools had been sold off. 14 Firth and Reed began to bombard the Missionary Society with requests for grants to repair and rerepair war-damaged buildings. Wesley Church Mandalay was a case in point. It had been gutted during the war, restored, reopened in April 1949, damaged again when government forces
’. Willans picked up only garbled snippets of news. He heard that Methodist ministers had defended church property against insurgents and that dacoits were ‘causing considerable trouble’. There were some hopeful signs in Rangoon by December 1950. Imported medicines and printing paper began to appear in shops and Christian Chin soldiers were hailed as heroes. Willans was told that most of the large towns were now in government hands and that Wesley Church Mandalay had ‘been nobly renovated’. 60 Notwithstanding Willans’s optimism
Ohn and Dr Jamaldin, for example, are leaders in the Mandalay Church today. 25 Several church members are employed in the District Office and the YMCA, and they live on land previously occupied by the Mandalay Girls and Boys Wesley High Schools. 26 U Tin Maung Htwe (1948–2009) is a notable exception. He was one of the few active politicians in the Church (Interview, 2007). A graduate civil engineer and treasurer of Wesley Church Mandalay, he was brave, astute
Church Mandalay; d. 1963. 12 SOAS/WMMS/Correspondence/FBN2/Walters–Goudie, 7 August 1924, Shepherd– Noble, 13 March 1924 and Synod Minutes, January 1924. Ma Chit was a Baptist who forged Po Tun’s signature in a post office savings book; the birth certificate proved that Maung Thein Maung was the father of her son. 13 Winston, Four Years in Upper Burma , pp. 228–229. 14 SOAS/WMMS/Minutes/FBN1/Pakokku Circuit Report, 31 December 1911
), Maung Maung Galay, Maung Soe, Saya U Myint, Maung Chein (‘everybody’s friend’), Saya Po Maung and U Po Min, an inmate in the Leper Home ‘for the past fifty years’, all died in 1941. 107 In December 1941 people crammed anxiously into Wesley Church Mandalay for the carol service. A tearful Christmas concert was held in the Girls High School. War swept towards Upper Burma and it signalled the end of an era. Notes 1 D.W. Bebbington, ‘Atonement, Sin and Empire, 1880–1914’, in The Imperial
people on the ground. For nationalist students the next few months were euphoric, but they were catastrophic as far as the Wesleyan missionaries were concerned. News that the Methodist schools were being attacked filtered into Wesley Church Mandalay where Synod was meeting in January 1939. The police were overstretched and Burmese newspapers had inflamed ‘the public with gross exaggeration’. The ‘formlessness of the unrest’ was perplexing because the protestors made no ‘formulated demands’. They seemed only to believe