The Missionary Outreach of the West Indian Church: Jamaican Baptist Missions to West Africa in the Nineteenth Century

Article excerpt

The Missionary Outreach of the West Indian Church: Jamaican Baptist Missions to West Africa in the Nineteenth Century. By Horace O. Russell. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. (Research in Religion and Family: Black Perspectives Vol. 3.) Pp. xx, 323. $38.95.

Horace Russell of Eastern Baptist Seminary, Philadelphia, is a Jamaican Baptist with an unrivaled knowledge of Jamaican Baptist history. This book is a revision of his Oxford University D.Phil. thesis presented in the mid-1970s. It is a welcome addition to an expanding literature on the Baptist churches of the Caribbean, and the first published work devoted to telling the story of how, in the aftermath of emancipation, the Jamaican Baptist community initiated the West African mission of the Baptist Missionary Society.

Russell's account contains two themes of wide significance. One, which he mentions only in passing, is the character of the spirituality of the Jamaican churches. The synthesis between an evangelicalism mediated from the southern states of America and West African religious traditions produced-a century before Azusa Street-a "Pentecostal" variety of Christianity, marked by glossolalia, the seeing of visions, and experiences of being possessed by the Spirit. …