Saturday, 19 June 2010

Day 9 - The Moffat Mission

Today's matches -

Holland 1 v. Japan 0
Ghana 1 v. Australia 1
Cameroon 1 v. Denmark 2

The Kuruman Mission was established by the London Missionary Society (LMS) in 1816 at Maruping near Kuruman where a town of about 10 000 Batswana were resident. Robert Moffat, Scottish missionary and his wife Mary arrived in Kuruman from Scotland in 1820, and soon organised permission from Chief Mothibi to relocate to the present position at Seodin in the valley of the Kuruman River.

Not content with this he was at the same time working on what would be his greatest legacy: the Setswana Bible. He taught himself Setswana, developed the orthography and (with a broader team) translated the Bible. Once this was done, he then proceeded to print it on a hand press - being the first entire Bible printed in Africa. The press is still used for printing at the mission.

Moffat (1793 - 1887) laboured at the mission for 50 years. His period is considered the 'Golden Age' of missionary work, especially amongst the Batswana. He was a man of considerable talent and oversaw the building of staff houses, a school house, store rooms and the 'Cathedral of the Kalahari'. The great, fabled church at Moffat Mission, opened in 1838 was once the largest building on the high veld. David Livingstone saw the stone building when it was still new and said it was massive enough "to withstand a cannonading." The church was built by Robert Moffat and Robert Hamilton with a band of local men and could seat 800 people.
The mission is also well known as the first African home of Dr David Livingstone. He arrived as an LMS missionary in 1841 and remained in contact with the mission through his marriage to moffat's eldest daughter, Mary junior.
The remains of the almond tree under which Livingstone proposed to Mary Moffat can still be seen in the homestead garden. Moffat retired in 1870, at around the time that diamonds were discovered in Kimberley, an event that changed the social and political landscape and the economy of the country forever. The methods and resources of the LMS in the area were forced to adapt to change.
While the mission struggled to fame Moffat brought to it, it continued its steadfast contribution to the mission work whose foundations were established in early times. The Mission suffered as a result of legislation such as the Group Areas Act during the apartheid period. With the development of written Setswana and the presence of a printing press, education became the central work of the mission. The mission school maintained an unbroken history for 126 years, and gave rise to the Moffat Institute and the reputable Tiger Kloof educational institute.
The mission fell into disrepair from 1960-70, but in 1981 the United Congregational Church (successor to the LMS) formed an Ecumenical Trust with the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian churches to revitalise the work of the mission. The historic buildings were restored and a conference centre built. The main buildings of the mission were declared a national monument in 1939. The historical buildings are open to the public. These include the Moffat church and homestead, the schoolroom housing the printing press, the Livingstone room, and a wagon house now used as the mission bookshop.
The Maphakela Centre provides accommodation for courses and meetings. It provides sleeping accommodation for 30 people, a hall, meeting rooms for small groups, a kitchen and dining room and meeting spaces outside.
For the last few years a week long 'school' for clergy has been held at the Moffat Mission. Funded by the Culham Trust based in Oxford (, this brings together trainers from the Oxford diocese with the clergy based in Kimberley and Kuruman to share in resource training and fellowship. It offers a rare opportunity for clergy to gather together and study away from their busy parishes.

We pray:
  • Giving thanks for all those who shared the good news of the gospel many years ago
  • For those who continue today serving God overseas and for missionaries in our own country and for the work of Bible translators
  • For those who work at the Moffat Mission providing hospitality to visitors
  • For the next Clergy School to be held in September, and for Olivia Graham and Michael Beasley who will be attending from Oxford
  • For continued opportunities for the scattered clergy in Kimberley and Kuruman to come together for study and refreshment.

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