Palestine, Mission in
Palestine, Mission In.
The honor of having sent the first missionaries to Palestine belongs to America. On Oct. 31, 1819, the "Instructions from the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions" were delivered in the Old South Church, Boston, to the Rev. Levi Parsons and the Rev. Pliny Fisk (q.v.), missionaries designated for Palestine. On Feb. 17.1821, Mr. Parsons arrived at Jerusalem, while Mr. Fisk stayed at Smyrna. In the following year Mr. Fisk lost his companion, who on Feb. 10, 1822, left his earthly abode for the heavenly Jerusalem. The vacancy was soon filled in the person of the Rev. Jonas King, who, in company with Mr. Fisk and the famous missionary Joseph Wolff (q.v.), entered Jerusalem in the year 1823. Meanwhile another undertaking was started. The encouraging news sent to England by the Rev. Joseph Wolff induced the noble man Lewis Waye to undertake a journey to the East with the view of forming a mission there. In this undertaking he was accompanied by the Rev. W. B. Lewis. Mr. Waye rented a convent at Antunra, intending to make it a place where missionaries might prepare themselves, but ill-health forced him. to return home. In 1824 Dr. Dalton, a medical man, was sent out to aid Mr. Lewis in forming a settlement in Jerusalem, but the latter returned home that same autumn. Upon this Dr. Dalton made an arrangement with the two American missionaries, King and Pliny Fisk, to rent one of the small convents-for their establishment. Pliny Fisk, however, died in November, 1825, before the arrangement was completed, and Dr. Dalton was again left alone. It was to aid him that the Rev. Mr. Nicolayson († 1856) was sent to Palestine in December, 1825. But very soon after his arrival Dr. Dalton died, in January, 1826, of an illness caught on a tour to Bethlehem. Mr. Nicolayson returned to Beiruit, and studied the language more thoroughly during that winter. In the summer of the same year (1826) a rebellion broke out. and Mr. Nicolayson retired to Safed, and lived there till June, 1827, having much intercourse with the Jews.
The troubles that ensued in the following years made it necessary for Mr. Nicolayson to leave the country until the year 1832, when he returned and went to Beirut with his family, at the time when the pasha had nearly taken Acre. The country was now quite open. In company, with Mr. Calman, a converted Jew, Mr. Nicolayson undertook some journeys through the country, and on returning to Beirut they found that two American missionaries, Dr. Dodge and the Rev. W. M. Thomson, had arrived on their way to Jerusalem to labor among the native Christians. They also resolved to attempt the renting of a house in the Holy City. Accordingly, in the autumn of 1833, Mr. Nicolayson and family removed to Jerusalem, to a house on Mount Zion. In the spring of 1834 Mr. Thomson arrived, and about the same time the rebellion broke out. Mrs. Thomson died of brain fever, July 22, 1834, produced by the alarm and other circumstances. Mrs. Nicolason was ill for some weeks, and soon after Mr. Nicolayson fell ill, so that they had to leave for Beirut. In the spring of 1835 Dr. Dodge and Mr. Whiting, from the American Mission, arrived, but Dr. Dodge died in the same year he went out, June 28,1835. Other missionaries were sent by the American Board, but that particular field was soon abandoned by them. For an account of the American mission schools at Beirut and its vicinity, the Presbyterian missions at Damascus, the German colony at Jaffa, the Edinburgh dispensary at Nazareth, etc., SEE SYRIA, MISSIONS IN.
In 1835 the subject of a Hebrew church on Mount Zion was agitated in England, and in 1836 Mr. Nicolayson was called to England to consult regarding it. He returned in July, 1837. and labored alone in Jerusalem for a year. In the following year the purchase of mission premises was effected, and, to aid Mr. Nicolayson, Dr. Gerstmann, a medical missionary, was sent out. In the same year the plague visited Jerusalem, and this circumstance was the first germ of that most useful institution, the hospital at Jerusalem. The missionary work was meanwhile carried on with good results. In December, 1839, the digging of the foundations for the: church was commenced, and on Feb. 10, 1840, the foundation of the new buildings was laid. In the same year the famous, or infamous, Damascus persecution was inaugurated, and Mr. Pieritz, a converted Jew, went to Damascus, sent by Mr. Nicolayson to intercede in behalf of the persecuted Israelites (see his Statement respecting the Persecution of the Jews at Damascus, Lond. 1840). Passing over the troublesome political incidents of the year 1840, we come to the year 1841, which was signalized by an event in many respects the most remarkable in the annals of Jewish Missions. We allude to the establishment of the Jerusalem bishopric, an account of which is given in this Cyclopoedia, s.v. JERUSALEM, THE NEW SEE OF ST. JAMES IN. On Jan. 21, 1841, the newly elected bishop arrived at Jerusalem, accompanied by the Rev. G. Williams, his chaplain, the Rev. F. C. Ewald, a convert from Judaism († 1874), and Dr. Macgowan, a medical missionary. In the following year a college, or house for the reception of converts, was opened in the month of May (which, however, was closed in 1844), and on Dec. 12, 1844, a hospital was opened. In November, 1845, the mission was severely tried by the sudden removal from the scene of his earthly career of bishop Alexander. The sad event occurred in the wilderness between Canaan and Egypt, on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 23. Bishop Alexander was succeeded by the present bishop Gobat, formerly vice-president of the Malta Protestant College, who still occupies the see of St. James, and who arrived at Jerusalem Dec. 23, 1846. In 1847 the Palestine mission was enabled to record a public act of considerable consequence to the Church and mission at Jerusalem. The British ambassador at Constantinople, lord Cowley, had succeeded in obtaining a firman recognising the Protestant subjects of the Porte as a separate Church and community. In the year 1848, Dec. 21, the House of Industry was opened, which, up to the present day, is found an excellent adjunct to the mission. The seventh anniversary of the entry. of the first Protestant bishop into the Holy City was selected for the consecration of the first Protestant church ever built there the first church, after many centuries, dedicated to the pure and scriptural service of almighty God. The sermon preached on this occasion by the bishop was on the text, "Mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." This took place Jan. 21,1849. In the year 1851 it 'was thought necessary to examine afresh into the wants and condition of the mission. It was resolved to invite Mr. Nicolayson to visit England for personal conference, the Rev. J. C. Reichardt having kindly undertaken temporarily to supply his place. The latter accordingly left England in the month of October, intrusted with a special mission, partly, as has been said, to act for Mr. Nicolayson, and partly to co-operate with the local committee on the spot, which it had been deemed expedient to form in the year 1849, "in order to place the mission on a more effective and satisfactory footing, with such assistance as might be found available." Such plans were greatly facilitated when the committee was afterwards providentially enabled to accomplish what it had often desired, viz. to associate with the work on Mount Zion an English clergyman of some experience and standing at home. This was brought about when the Rev. H. C. Crawford offered his services to the society for missionary labor in Syria. He arrived in the Holy City on Feb. 21, 1852. The cause of Christ's Gospel in Palestine was not only strengthened from this, but from other sources also. The Church Missionary Society deemed it expedient to send a laborer to Palestine, and the late king of Prussia also appointed a minister whose cure was to comprise the German members of the Protestant community. For this latter office the Rev. F. P. Valentiner was selected, who at once expressed his earnest desire to co-operate with those who had preceded him in the work for the salvation of souls, and who has since proved of the utmost value to the cause. Another valuable addition was in the same year made to the medical department by the establishment of the Deaconesses' Institution. During a period of sickness the want of proper nurses had been severely felt. In order to remedy this evil, bishop Gobat wrote to the Rev. Theodor Fliedner, asking him to send two of the pious deaconesses of Kaiserswerth. In April, 1851, Mr. Fliedner himself brought four deaconesses. In the year 1854 a movement of a general character was set on foot in order to counteract the growing influence of the mission. Mr. Cohen was deputed by baron Rothschild and other Jews of influence to visit the Israelites in the East, especially in Jerusalem, with a view to the improvement of their circumstances. But what was intended to be a blow to the mission only proved a means of making it better known. In the year 1856 it pleased God to call to his rest the Rev. Mr. Nicolayson, and the Rev. H. C. Crawford was placed at the head of the mission. On Feb. 5, 1860, Dr. Macgowan was called to his rest, and a few months previously, Nov. 22, 1859. Miss Cooper, who at her own cost had established the Institution for Jewesses, was also called away. Ill health soon after compelled Mr. Crawford to leave Jerusalem permanently, and his place was occupied by the Rev. J. Barclay.
Looking at the present status of the mission at Jerusalem, we may record the following from the latest report. Besides the bishop, there are employed twenty-one persons: viz. three ordained missionaries, two unordained missionaries and superior lay agents, eight colporteurs, Scripture readers, depositaries, and assistants, and eight school masters and mistresses, all employed by the London Jews' Society, partly engaged in direct missionary work, the Hospital, House of Industry, Jewess's Institution, and Boys' School. It is also a fact worthy to be noticed that until the arrival of bishop Gobat there was not one school. Now there are more than thirteen schools, with more than 500 children, under his care. All denominations are represented there — Mohammedans, Greeks, Latins, Armenians, Druses, Abyssinians, etc. We may also notice the Orphan Asylum of the bishop before the Jaffa gate, under the care of two Germans, Palmer and Baldensperger. At Nablus, the ancient Sichem, the missionary Fallscheer works in the service of the bishop; Gruhler at Jaffa, and others in other places. To defray the expenses of all these institutions, the Bishop Gobat's Fund for Missions in Abyssinia, Egypt, Syria, and Chaldcea, has' been formted. The Common Church Missionary Society has also a station in Jerusalem, Nazareth, etc. In the latter place there exists a small Arabic congregation, where Dr. Zeller, son-in-law of the bishop, is building an evangelical church, which promises to be one of the handsomest evangelical churches in the country. The centre of all missionary operation is and will be Jerusalem, and from this centre, under the indefatigable bishop, a net of stations, schools, and institutions is laid out throughout Palestine, which promises great things for the future. Comp. the Annual Reports and Monthly Proceedings of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews; Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland (Edinb. 1859); Anderson, Oriental Churches (Boston, 1873), vol. 1; Dalton, Reisebilder aus dem Orient (St. Petersburg, 1871); Kalkar, Israel und die Kirche (Hamburg, 1869), p. 164 sq.; Steger, Die evangelische M.ission unter Heiden und Juden (Halle, 1857). (B. P.)