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William and Louisa Anderson
Part III - Old Calabar Period, 1849-1889, & Closing Years, 1889-1895
Chapter 19

A New Church on the Mission Hill

Mr. Anderson's Journal during the early part of 1868 is chiefly given to the describing of the erection of the new church on the Mission Hill:—

Sabbath, Jan. 5, 1868.—The year has opened on our work promisingly, though the vexation of the king and several of the gentlemen about the steps taken by me for the protection of life does not seem at all abated.

Monday 6.—Glad to see the Moultau on her way up the river, seeing that she brings with her our long-desired and needed new church.

Thursday, 9.—Very busy day getting up new church from ship to hill. All the river gentlemen exceedingly kind and obliging in the loan of longboats and Krumen.

Wednesday, 29.—Laying the foundation of our new church. Captain White presided at the ceremony, and placed one of the corner pillars in proper position. Mr. Lewis and I both engaged in prayer—I before the placing of the pillar, and Mr. L. afterward.

Monday, Feb. 10.—The roof of the new church finished at four p.m. Felt thankful when I saw the last carpenter reach the ground in safety.

Tuesday, Feb. 11.—Glad to learn that the twenty puncheons have been duly paid to the Consul by the natives. This is one of the best lessons they have ever got.

Saturday, 29.—The work begun on January 29th was finished a week ago; the new church was erected; all that remained was the finishing of the painting. That was finished in the beginning of the week, and all is dry now, and all is quite ready to receive a congregation tomorrow. One kind river gentleman lends us seats for about 100, and we have put planks in such a way as will accommodate as many more. We all feel deeply indebted to river gentlemen for the loan of Krumen, carpenters, and painters. We are under very special obligations to Captain White for his daily superintendence and labour during the whole time of the erection of the. building. But for his deep interest and unceasing vigilance, the work would not have been completed either so speedily or so well. For all kind friends who have aided us in the work, I present the prayer of Paul for Onesiphorus: "The Lord grant that they may find mercy of the Lord in that day."

Sabbath, March 1.—A day to be remembered by us. Held the usual Efik service this morning in the old church —now to be designated the schoolhouse. Went to town and held usual meetings there. At 4.15 p.m. a large congregation—that is, for Duke Town—assembled in the new church. All the seats provided yesterday were occupied, and it was needful to extemporise a considerable number more. The floor also had its complement of squatters. I had sent a verbal message to our friend Bishop Crowther, at Bonny, intimating that I should be glad to have him preach the opening sermon; but he did not hear of my message (if he heard of it at all) till it was too late. I expressed to several friends my readiness to ask any brother in the Mission to preach on the occasion, should it be specially desired by members of the congregation; but the feeling was that I was the person on whom the service seemed naturally to devolve. I spoke a few words in Efik at the close. The collection, in English money, was upwards of £12. It was afterwards made up to about £13, 13s., besides 8 brass rods, about 100 black coppers, and 2 teaspoons.

The service was altogether a happy one. I was glad to learn that some of our oldest and most experienced members felt it to be the happiest they had ever attended in this country. Some of them felt that the Spirit of the Lord was with us of a truth, and that our earnest prayer, "Fill this house with Thy glory," had been heard and answered. All our river friends, as well as natives, are delighted with the appearance and the accommodation of the edifice. The only drawback, both to appearance and comfort, is the want of glass in the window-sashes. That privation will not be so much felt, however, while the dry weather continues. We all feel a deep debt of gratitude to the Mission Board for their great kindness in procuring for us and^ forwarding to us our much-prized sanctuary.

Sabbath, 8.— Our first Communion in our new church. We had a very comfortable season. Remembered that John Sago was with us at our last Communion. That was his last Sabbath in the sanctuary below. We have confidence that he is now drinking new wine in the kingdom of our Father.

Who can tell whether our small company of thirty-one shall ever all again on earth surround the holy table!

I concluded the service by repeating most of that fine production of one who went to glory at an early age— Rev. Mr. Lyte—beginning:

"Abide with me; fast falls the eventide."

Sabbath, 22.—Our fourth Sabbath in our new church. Several of our great men made their first appearance in it this afternoon. Adam Archibong, Yellow Duke, and several of their friends were with us—I can scarcely say "worshipped with us." It is so far good that they now know the way to church. The attendance has hitherto been larger than ever it was, or indeed could be, in the old church.

Saturday, April 18.—In usual turn round town to-day, found Yellow Duke in great distress on account of the death of his first (his earliest) wife. She died rather suddenly last Saturday, while he was at a distant market. She was coffined and put into the grave on Sabbath, but the grave was left unfilled till Yellow Duke should come home. He arrived on Wednesday evening, sent at once to one of the hulks for the magnificent brass coffin which he had got prepared for himself, had the body raised and transferred to the new coffin ; and the funeral rites were proceeded with in the usual way.

Sabbath, 19.—After morning service in church went to Yellow Duke's, where I found a large congregation, to whom I spoke of death, judgment, and eternity. Mrs. Sutherland had also large assemblies of women in Yellow Duke's different yards. Public services well attended to-day.

Friday, 24.—Mrs. Anderson able to be out in verandah to-day for the first time since Wednesday week. She had continuous fever for nearly eight days. We have no medical man in Mission or river. It is matter for gratitude that there has been no very urgent necessity as yet for professional aid; still, it is satisfactory to have someone within reach on whom one can fall back in any case of emergency. Mrs. Anderson is very much prostrated, but is in fair way of recovery.

Sabbath, June 14.—Our church benches arrived last week, and were brought up and fixed in their places. This gave the church quite a home-appearance to-day. It was an additional gratification that the benches were pretty well filled.

Friday, 19.—Gave school children their midsummer holidays.

Monday, July 6.—Used to devote a day once in six months, during our school vacation, to a friendly call on board each ship in the river. Have scarcely been on board a single ship for eighteen months, finding my work to be chiefly with the people of the town. Went round the shipping to-day, however; was kindly received, and had a little pleasant and, I trust, profitable intercourse with captains, supercargoes, and others. Distributed among them a number of illuminated Scripture cards, kindly supplied by Miss Hood, a Berwickshire friend.

Tuesday, 7.—Resumed school labours this morning. The youngsters all as glad to resume their labours as I am to be again at work among them.

Sabbath, 19.—Mr. Goldie with us to-day, and preached in Efik in forenoon, and in English in afternoon. Excellent discourses both. Our only regret was that, owing partly to Egbo being out, and partly to rain, the attendance was much smaller than usual.

Sabbath, Aug: 16.—While God's work was being carried on in one part of the town, Satan's was being carried on in another. King Archibong had a runaway slave tied to a stake in the creek during the forenoon. His death by the flood-tide was slow enough, but sure.

Friday, Sept. 4.—The house of our constant friend, George Duke, was accidentally burnt down last night. Visited him to-day. Finding him sitting among the ruins, but very composed, and acknowledging the hand of God in the matter. George's bearing under the calamity reminds us very much of the demeanour of that remarkable man, King Eyo II., under a similar affliction.

Friday, 11.—Conversed to-day with ten candidates for Communion, and had much satisfaction in regard to all. Some of them would like to acknowledge themselves as on the Lord's side by being baptized, although they do not consider themselves fully prepared as yet for partaking of the Lord's Supper. My idea is, that the same moral and spiritual conditions are requisite for both ordinances; that nothing less is required to qualify an adult for baptism than faith in Christ and love to Him, and that nothing more is necessary in order to qualify for the Communion table. At the same time, I think that if an intelligent individual feels himself impelled to crave baptism, whilst he would like a little time for further consideration and self-examination ere he take his place at the Lord's table, his desire may be properly and safely complied with.


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