Seven CMS Women Following in the Footsteps of Georgina Gollock

by Graham Kings

Date added: 28/07/2023

Seven CMS Women Following in the Footsteps of Georgina Gollock

by Graham Kings

Afterword in Ian Randall, Georgina Gollock: Pioneering Female Missiologist (Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide, 2023), pp. 115-121.


‘Hidden Figures’ is the Oscar-nominated 2016 film, based on real life, about three African-American female mathematicians who worked on the NASA space program: Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. I remember being very moved by it.

Georgina Gollock has been a hidden figure in the study of mission history and world Christianity and I am delighted that the historian Ian Randall has brought her life, writings and significance to light in his well-researched and deftly written book.

Georgina, through her writing and character, was a pioneer for change in the Young Women’s Christian Association (1884-1890) working with Jane Menzies, in the Church Missionary Society (1890-1911) with Eugene Stock, and in the International Review of Missions (1912-26) with J.H. Oldham. In her retirement she continued her influence through further books and the mentoring of people.

In chapter 2 Ian writes:

Her way of operating was characterised by imaginative initiatives, careful administration, personal warmth which enabled the forming of relationships, and effective communication.

In chapter 3 he states:

In the area of world mission, Georgina was now established as the most significant female thinker and speaker of her generation.

In this Afterword we shall be briefly considering seven women who served with the Church Missionary Society and followed in her footsteps as writers on mission and as people of influence.

Constance Padwick (1886-1968) was one of the leading British women missionaries in the twentieth century and, like Georgina, had a great love of nature and botany. She worked on the home staff of CMS from 1909 to 1916 (overlapping with Georgina for a time), editing the children’s magazine.  She made her way in the Middle East under her own steam, having been rejected on health grounds by CMS, and worked in Cairo with the Nile Mission Press till 1921. While on leave she studied Arabic and Arab folklore at the University of London. She worked under the auspices of CMS from 1923, returning to Egypt, and was an editor of the journal Orient and Occident. Later she worked in Palestine and in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, retiring in 1952. She was the biographer of Alexander Mackay (1918), Henry Martyn (1923), Temple Gairdner (1929), with whom she worked closely in Cairo, and Lilias Trotter (1938). Her most famous book is Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use (1961).[1]

Kenneth Cragg has written a perceptive chapter, ‘Constance E. Padwick: Through Liturgy to Islam’: in his Troubled by Truth:

Muslim Devotions covered almost forty years, more than half of these being its patient gathering, the rest its steady composition, the manuscript being much delayed and jeopardised, by the circumstances of war and travel. Its quality lies in the care and thoroughness with which it undertook the study of the vocabulary of Sufi liturgies and how their Islamic provenance might align with Christian parallels and contrasts.[2]

Florence Allshorn (1887-1950) was a CMS missionary in Uganda from 1920 to 1925, teaching in the girls’ school at Iganga, Busoga. Then, on leave she suffered from tuberculosis for two years before running the CMS women’s training college. Like Georgina, she was very concerned for missionary preparation and for the spiritual and mental health of single women missionaries. She founded the St Julian’s Community in Sussex as a retreat centre for women on leave. The other link with Georgina is J.H. Oldham, who wrote her fine biography.[3] Ian Randall has written an important article on the Fulcrum websiteon Florence, drawing on the archive of her papers in the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (CCCW), which include a book based on her notebooks.[4]

Max Warren, General Secretary of CMS 1942-63, was Chair of St Julian’s from 1954-74. In his autobiography, he wrote that Florence was ‘one of this century’s most remarkable women’ and on St Julian’s commented:

Here was a place where you could let quietness and peace do its healing work. No one would ever intrude upon your stillness. But always available was the little ‘Society’, part of whose serious responsibility was to keep mentally alert, widely read, in touch with the wider world, and so be ready to meet the troubled and perplexed should they ask for guidance.[5]

Louise Pirouet (1928-2012) was born of missionary parents in Cape Town, South Africa and read English at Westfield College, University of London. She taught at a girls’ school in Chertsey, Surrrey. She served as a CMS missionary at a girls’ school in Kenya and then studied for a PhD at the University of Makerere, Uganda. Her thesis was published as Black Evangelists: The Spread of Christianity in Uganda (1891-1914).[6]It was a pioneering and prophetic book concerning the agency of African evangelists and catechists in mission. She collected archives and compiled slide collections. She later taught at the University of Nairobi, arranging conferences, and from 1978-89 was Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Homerton College, Cambridge. Her later books were Christianity Worldwide: 1800 onwards (1989), Historical Dictionary of Uganda (1995) and Whatever happened to asylum in Britain? A tale of two walls (2001).[7] She wrote 13 articles for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ranging from pioneer missionaries to Idi Amin. 

She was involved in the founding of the African Studies Centre, University of Cambridge and I greatly appreciated her friendship and wisdom as a key member of the library committee of the Henry Martyn Centre, now the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide. As well as being an Africanist, educator, and historian of mission she was also a social activist who campaigned vigorously for justice for asylum seekers in her retirement. She lodged her PhD thesis and her personal papers at the CCCW, which include material concerning the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwun of Uganda.[8] They are a gold mine for a future PhD student.

Jocelyn Murray (1929 - 2001) was a missionary, Africanist, mission historian, and indexer. She was born in New Zealand and trained as a teacher at Victoria University College. In 1954 she started as a CMS missionary teacher (and later became headmistress) at Kahuhia Girls’ High School, and was director of adult literacy work at Weithaga, in central Kenya. In 1964 she set up a hostel for female workers in Thika and engaged in literature distribution with a Kikuyu colleague, James Kimani. She gained her PhD in 1974 at the University of California, on the FGM crisis in Kikuyuland in the late 1920s[9] and later worked with Andrew Walls at the University of Aberdeen, overlapping one memorable year with both Lamin Sanneh and Adrian Hastings. She contributed to the Journal for Religion in Africa, founded by Walls, as a writer, book reviewer, deputy editor and indexer of its volumes 1-26 (1967-96).[10]

She wrote a popular history of CMS, Proclaim the Good News (1985)[11] and I remember with fondness her visiting St Andrew’s College, Kabare in the late 1980s. She contributed a significant chapter, ‘The Role of Women in the Church Missionary Society, 1799-1917’ in the bicentenary history of CMS,[12] but did not mention Georgina – perhaps because she was not technically a missionary. As an independent scholar, living at the London Mennonite Centre, she edited a cultural atlas of Africa,[13] wrote key articles on women missionaries,[14] and was on the editorial advisory board of the magisterial Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions.[15]

Diana Witts (1936-2006) was the first female General Secretary of CMS, 1996-2000, in its 200 years of history. Georgina would have been delighted by her appointment. Throughout her life, she was a pioneer and an innovator, who loved travel, skiing and mountaineering.[16] She read Physics at the University of Bristol and after teaching at a London Girls’ school she taught at Highlands Girls’ High School, in Eldoret, Kenya, and Alliance Girls’ High School, near Nairobi. She was then Senior Mistress at Gordonstoun School, Scotland, during the schooldays of King Charles, and, in the face of considerable opposition, implemented the change to accept girls as well as boys. Gordonstoun thus became the first major British public school to be coeducational. When she left, in 1975, there were 130 girls at the school.

She joined CMS and founded a school for Masai girls at Meto on the Kenya and Tanzania border, 30 miles from a road. In 1980 she founded community development work for the Anglican church in north eastern Zaire and later became CMS representative in Nairobi. In 1985 she became Regional Secretary of CMS for West Africa, Sudan and Zaire for 10 years, travelling widely including in South Africa, and became an advocate for the church in Sudan.

As General Secretary, from 1996, she followed four bishops in that role and visited churches in China, South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East. She also laid the preparations for the bicentenary celebrations of CMS in 1999. These included her return to Sudan, to Yambio Cathedral, where she was greeted with joy and processed with 10 Sudanese bishops, the major event on Clapham Common and her sending off the ‘Oxford to Cambridge with a Camel’ charity walk from Radcliffe Square, Oxford, in June.[17]

As General Secretary she continued the regular CMS Newsletters of her predecessors and in her final illness published her autobiography, Springs of Hope.[18]

Cathy Ross (1961-), like Jocelyn Murray, was born in Aotearoa/New Zealand. She is a leading missiologist and prolific author and is currently head of Pioneer training for the CMS in Oxford and, since 2018, Canon Theologian of Leicester Cathedral.[19]

Cathy graduated from the University of Auckland in 1985 and was a teacher of French and German before, in 1991, serving with CMS New Zealand as a mission partner in Zaire, Uganda and Rwanda. In 1998 she gained a BD at Melbourne College of Divinity, then taught at the Bible College of New Zealand and in 2004 completed her PhD at the University of Auckland.

In 2005 she moved to Oxford to work with CMS in exchange and scholarship programmes, then taught at the London School of Theology before working again with CMS and also teaching in contextual theology at Ripon College Cuddesdon and Regent’s Park College, Oxford. From 2008 to 2016 she served as General Secretary of the International Association for Mission Studies.

Cathy is the author, and collaborative editor, of many significant books: Women with a Mission: Rediscovering Missionary Wives in Early New Zealand (2006); Mission in the Twenty-First Century: Exploring the Five Marks of Global Mission (2008); Life-Widening Mission: Global Anglican Perspectives (2012); The Pioneering Gift (2014); Pioneering Spirituality (2015); Mission on the Road to Emmaus: Constants, Context and Prophetic Dialogue (2015); Missional Conversations: A Dialogue between Theory and Praxis in World Mission (2018); and Imagining Mission with John V. Taylor (2020).[20]

She wrote a fascinatingly perceptive chapter, ‘A Fellowship of the Unlike: An Aspiration for Theological Education’ in the book Ian Randall and I edited on the life and vision of Simon Barrington-Ward, and typically suggested her friend, Kenyan theologian and activist, Linda Ochola-Adolwa, could also contribute a chapter.[21]

Emma Wild-Wood (1968 - ) taught theology as a CMS mission partner in Bunia,  DR Congo, and also in Uganda, and is currently Professor of African Religions and World Christianity, and co-director of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, at the University of Edinburgh. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Emma gained her PhD in African History from the University of Edinburgh and was Director of the Henry Martyn Centre for the study of mission and world Christianity in the Cambridge Theological Federation, and affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, from 2009 to 2015. In 2014 she moved the Henry Martyn Centre from the library of Westminster College, Cambridge to better facilities, in part of the newly refurbished Principal’s lodge of the college and renamed it the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide.[22] From 2015 to 2017 she was seconded to the Faculty of Divinity of the University as a Lecturer in  World Christianities, while Joel Cabrita was on study leave, and took up her post of Director again at the CCCW for a year. In 2018 she moved to be a Senior Lecturer in African Christianity in the University of Edinburgh and became a professor there in 2022. She is co-editor of the book series Religion in Transforming Africa, published by James Currey.  

Her PhD thesis was published as Migration and Christian Identity in the Congo (2008)and she has co-edited books with Kevin Ward, The East Africa Revival (2010); with Peniel Rajkumar, Foundations for Mission (2013), with Joel Cabrita and David Maxwell, Relocating World Christianity (2017), and with Alexander Chow, Ecumenism and Independency in World Christianity (2020).[23] Her two most recent books are The Mission of Apolo Kivebulaya (2020) and, with George Mpanga, she edited and translated The Archive of a Ugandan Missionary: Writings by and about Revd Apolo Kivebulaya 1890s-1950s (2022).[24]

In the light of the Apostles’ Creed, I believe firmly in the Communion of Saints and that the lives of all these seven women, who served with CMS, delight the heart of Georgina Gollock, the hidden figure who pioneered the way for their varied practice, manifest joy in relationships across cultures, and wisdom in their writings on mission and world Christianity.



1. Constance E. Padwick, Mackay of the Great Lake (Humphrey Milford, 1918); Henry Martyn: Confessor of the Faith (SCM Press, 1922); Temple Gairdner of Cairo (SPCK, 1929); The Master of the Impossible: Sayings, for the most part, in Parable, from the Letters and Journals of Lilias Trotter of Algiers (SPCK, 1938); Muslim Devotions: A Study of Prayer-Manuals in Common Use (SPCK, 1961 and One World, 1996).

2. Kenneth Cragg, Troubled by Truth: Life-Studies in Inter-Faith Concern (Pentland Press, 1992), p. 58. See also Catriona Laing, ‘Print, Prayer and Presence: Constance Padwick’s model for Christian encounter with Islam’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 2012, and Catriona Laing, ‘Anglican Mission amongst Muslims, 1900-1940’ in William L. Sachs (ed.), The Oxford History of Anglicanism, Vol. V: Global Anglicanism, c.1910-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 367-390.

3. J.H. Oldham, Florence Allshorn and the Story of St Julian’s (SCM Press, 1951).

4. Ian Randall, ‘Florence Allshorn (1887-1950) and St Julian’s’, Fulcrum 4 Oct 2021 . The Notebooks of Florence Allshorn, selected and arranged by a member of the St Julian’s Community (SCM Press, 1957).

5. Max Warren, Crowded Canvas: Some Experiences of a Life-time (Hodder and Stoughton, 1974), p. 222.

6. Louise Pirouet, Black Evangelists: The Spread of Christianity in Uganda (1891-1914) (Rex Collins, 1978).

7. Louise Pirouet, Christianity Worldwide: 1800 onwards (SPCK, 1989); Historical Dictionary of Uganda (Scarecrow Press, 1995); Whatever Happened to Asylum in Britain? A Tale of Two Walls (Berghahn Books, 2001). See also The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (37.3) (2013), p. 147


9. Jocelyn Murray, ‘The Female Circumcision Controversy, with Special Reference to the Church Missionary Society’s Sphere of Influence’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of California, 1974. See also, Jocelyn Murray, ‘The Church Missionary Society and the “Female Circumcision” Issue in Kenya, 1929-1932’, Journal for Religion in Africa (8.2) (1976), pp. 92-104.

10. Kevin Ward, ‘Jocelyn M. Murray’, Journal for Religion in Africa (31.3) (2001), pp. 251-253.

11. Jocelyn Murray, Proclaim the Good News: A Short History of the Church Missionary Society (Hodder & Stoughton, 1985).

12. Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley (eds), The Church Mission Society and World Christianity, 1799-1999 (Eerdmans, 2000), pp. 66-90.

13. Jocelyn Murray (ed.), Cultural Atlas of Africa, (Time Life Books, 1991).

14. Jocelyn Murray, ‘Anglican and Protestant Missionary Societies in Great Britain: Their Use of Women as Missionaries From the Late Eighteenth to the Late Nineteenth Centuries’, Exchange 21(1) (1992), pp. 1–28 and ‘British Women in Mission in the Nineteenth Century: A Survey of the Literature’, Mission Studies 11(2) (1994), pp. 254–8.

15. Gerald H. Anderson (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions (Simon & Schuster Macmillan,

16. ‘Diana Witts, innovative General Secretary of the Church Mission Society’, The Times obituary, 19 April 2006.


18. Diana Witts, Springs of Hope (Memoir Club, 2005).


20. Cathy Ross, Women with a Mission: Rediscovering Missionary Wives in Early New Zealand (Penguin, 2006); Andrew Walls and Cathy Ross (eds), Mission in the Twenty-First Century: Exploring the Five Marks of Global Mission (Orbis, 2008); Cathy Ross (ed.), Life-Widening Mission: Global Anglican Perspectives (Regnum Press, 2012 and Fortress Press, 2020); Cathy Ross and Jonny Baker (eds), The Pioneer Gift: Explorations in Mission (Canterbury Press, 2014); Cathy Ross and Jonny Baker (eds), Pioneering Spirituality: Resources for Reflection and Practice (Canterbury Press, 2015); Cathy Ross and Steven B. Bevans (eds), Mission on the Road to Emmaus: Constants, Context and Prophetic Dialogue (SCM Press, 2015); Cathy Ross and Colin Smith (eds), Missional Conversations: A Dialogue between Theory and Praxis in World Mission (SCM Press, 2018); Jonny Baker and Cathy Ross, Imagining Mission with John V. Taylor (SCM Press, 2020).

21. Cathy Ross, ‘A Fellowship of the Unlike: An Aspiration for Theological Education’ and Linda Ochola-Adolwa, ‘Ibribina and the Isoko Tribe Revisited: The Emergence of Women’s Leadership in Times of Social Change’ in Graham Kings and Ian Randall (eds), Exchange of Gifts: The Vision of Simon Barrington-Ward (Ekklesia, 2020), pp. 104-115 and pp. 117-124.

22. See Ian Randall, Muthuraj Swamy and Graham Kings (eds), From Henry Martyn to World Christianity: Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide (Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide, 2022), pp 98-106.

23. Emma Wild-Wood, Migration and Christian Identity in the Congo (Brill, 2008); Kevin Ward and Emma Wild-Wood (eds), The East Africa Revival: History and Legacies (Fountain Publishers, 2010 and Routledge, 2012); Emma Wild-Wood and Peniel Rajkumar(eds), Foundations for Mission (Regnum Press, 2013); Joel Cabrita, David Maxwell, and Emma Wild-Wood (eds), Relocating World Christianity: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Universal and Local Expressions of the Christian Faith (Brill, 2017); Alexander Chow and Emma Wild-Wood (eds), Ecumenism and Independency in World Christianity: Historical Studies in Honour of Brian Stanley (Brill, 2020), Emma Wild-Wood, The Mission of Apolo Kivebulaya: Religious Change in the African Great Lakes, c. 1870-1835 (James Currey, 2020).

24. Emma Wild-Wood and George Mpanga (eds and translators), The Archive of a Ugandan Missionary: Writings by and about Revd Apolo Kivebulaya 1890s-1950s (OUP/British Academy, 2022).
















Graham Kings

Graham Kings


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A bronze

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