Shepherd’s Voice (1897-1898) now available online

Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce seven issues of a rare early twentieth-century periodical, The Shepherd’s Voice, are now available online for full-text browsing and download.

In September 1897 the Churches of Christ mission to Japan was just a few years old.  W. K. Azbill and John Moody McCaleb, joined by Eugenese Snodgrass, arrived in 1892.  Snodgrass had been in Japan since 1888 under the auspices of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society.  The McCaleb mission, however, was supported only by local Churches of Christ and individuals in the United States apart from missionary societies or missions boards.  After a separation from Azbill, Snodgrass and McCaleb, along with Carme Hostetter, whose work is described in the first issue here, pioneered the independent missionary presence of the Stone-Campbell movement in Japan.  The Shepherd’s Voice is one of the earliest, if not the earliest extant, periodicals to document and raise awareness and support for this independent missionary work.  As such it contains a trove of information about the mission activities, offering primary source material unavailable elsewhere.  For example, the first issue contains a nice portrait of Hostetter and a photograph of her school along with a series of “inductive Bible lessons’ that reveal the kind of teaching the mission conducted.

“The Shepherd’s Voice, writes the Editor, “besides recording current Eastern religious, literary, and social news, is the only magazine in Japan devoted especially to studying and teaching the Bible.”*  Subscribers in Japan paid 50 sen per year; subscribers outside Japan paid one dollar.  While subscriptions were available to readers in the United States, presumably especially the Americans who supported the mission, the paper is primarily directed to a Japanese readership.  Significant portions of the articles in the 1898 issues are in Japanese and the 1898 issues reproduce portions of a debate Snodgrass held with a Japanese man.

The Shepherd’s Voice, volume 6, number 9, September 1897, front cover. Center for Restoration Studies, Special Collections and Archives, Abilene Christian University.

Readers of these few issues of this scarce periodical will find several more similar comments, plus items of news and notes about happenings among Churches of Christ in Japan.  Historians of missions and missiology, students of intellectual and social history, and anyone interested in the history of Churches of Christ will find these issues of The Shepherd’s Voice a welcome addition to their palette of source material.  We thank The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York for partnering with us to make these rare issues available online.  Burke holds the original issues. The Shepherd’s Voice, with one issue from volume 6 (September 1897) and six issues from 1898, is the newest addition to our growing collection of digitized print materials pertaining to Churches of Christ, currently with over 500 books, tracts, pamphlets from across the Stone-Campbell movement available online.  Additional materials on DigitalCommons.acu.edu about this mission include The History of the Kamitomizaka Church of Christ in Tokyo, Japan by Yunosuke Hiratsuka and Bunkicki Iwahashi, Once Traveled Roads, and On The Trail of the Missionaries both by J.M.McCaleb.


*[Eugenese Snodgrass], [Editorial note] The Shepherd’s Voice, 6(9), September 1897, [first page].

Foldered & Finished: Rees Odeil and Patti Mattox Bryant Papers

The Rees Odeil and Patti Mattox Bryant Papers are ready for researchers. The finding aid for the papers is now available on DigitalCommons@ACU and the digitized selections are also available on DigitalCommons@ACU.

Photograph of the Bryant family, Box 2, Folder Photographs (5 of 5), Rees Odeil and Patti Mattox Bryant Papers, 1957-2007. Center for Restoration Studies MS #486. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

These papers document the Bryant’s involvement in missions in Nigeria through correspondence, newsletters, financial documents, and photographs. There are also board minutes and information about the African Christian Hospitals Foundation and other organizations the Bryants either founded or supported throughout Africa.

Rees Odeil Bryant and Patti Mattox Bryant were missionaries in Nigeria from 1958-1967. Their involvement in Nigeria and other ministry continued long after they left the Nigerian mission field.

Letter from Patti Mattox Bryant to F. W. and Mildred Mattox dated 7 April 1960, Box 1, Folder 1960, Rees Odeil and Patti Mattox Bryant Papers, 1957-2007. Center for Restoration Studies MS #486. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Rees Odeil Bryant was born to Emmett and Nell Bryant in 1930 in Memphis, Tennessee. Patti Mattox Bryant was born to F. W. and Mildred Mattox on 8 April 1933 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They both felt a call to world missions at an early age and met at Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, and were married the day of graduation.

Rees was the first graduate of Mars Hill Bible School in Florence, Alabama and graduated from Harding College with Bachelors and Masters degrees. He earned another Masters degree and a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Photograph of Rees Odeil Bryant and Bible Training College students, Box 2, Folder Photographs (5 of 5), Rees Odeil and Patti Mattox Bryant Papers, 1957-2007. Center for Restoration Studies MS #486. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

After serving congregations in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Alabama the Bryant family arrived in Nigeria in early 1958 along with their two young children, Sara Jo and William. The Bryants quickly identified the need for healthcare and eventually started the Nigerian Christian Hospital near the Bible Training College. The couple had two other children, David and Rebecca, while serving as missionaries. The Bryant’s third tour of Nigeria ended in 1967 before the start of the Biafran Civil War. The couple continued to be involved with the Nigerian Christian Hospital Foundation which is now known as the International Health Care Foundation.

Newsletter No. 4 dated 1 June 1958, Box 1, Folder 1958, Rees Odeil and Patti Mattox Bryant Papers, 1957-2007. Center for Restoration Studies MS #486. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

Rees taught at Lubbock Christian College, Pepperdine University, and Lincoln Christian College. Patti worked as a teacher and secretary and later in life went on to earn her Masters in Theology and Philosophy.


Selected additional Africa mission resources from ACU Special Collections and Archives: