Creoles and Catholics in Freetown, 1864-1896

James William Dunne, Fordham University


The missionaries of the "Great Century" as revealed in their achievement in Freetown in the period 1864-1896, were operating within the very definite theological context of ecclesiologies which had been fashioned by the events of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation of sixteenth century Europe as well as by the Evangelical Revival of eighteenth century Britain. Their missiologies of the nineteenth century were founded on this new and recently developed sense of ecclesial identity and thus, placed the objective of missionary endeavor on the extension of the individual church. By locating the objective and raison d'etre of the missionary apostolate in an extension of individual churches, the missionaries were diverted from their primary task of the inculturation of the Christian gospel among a new culture and people. The challenge of indigenization was thus "side-tracked" and thwarted by what was, in effect, this distortion of the primary purpose of mission. The "importation" of European models of church and patterns of ministry saw, as a direct result of this mission policy, the emergence of a series of "dependent" churches which witnessed primarily to the divided Christian ecclesial groups of Europe rather than to the development of the African character of the young Church of Sierra Leone. By situating the work of the missionaries of the "Great Century" within the broader history of the Christian story of Sierra Leone, it can be seen that a model of mission existed there which predated those adopted by the European missionaries. The model of the Exodus Story, which was the original model adopted by the Nova Scotians, was a model which was founded on the theme of independence and whose primary objective was the inculturation of the Christian message in a specifically African way in the new local of the Sierra Leone of its day. The model of the Exodus Story is appropriate for today because of its incarnational character which demands the transformation and renewal of the society of Sierra Leone.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious history|African history

Recommended Citation

Dunne, James William, "Creoles and Catholics in Freetown, 1864-1896" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9313760.