George Brown

George Brown (1835-1917), Methodist missionary in New Britain from 1875-80 and General Secretary for Foreign Missions of the Australasian Board of Missions of the Methodist Church from 1887-1908. After 14 years of missionary work in Samoa Brown established a station on York Island, New Guinea, where he landed with a group of Samoan and Fijian teachers in 1875. Until the arrival of Rev. Benjamin Danks in 1878 he was the only European missionary in the region. Between 1875 and 1880 he established stations in the Duke of York Islands, the Gazelle Peninsula and New Ireland. In response to the killing of a Fijian minister and three teachers in 1878 he led a punitive expedition in which a number of the local (Tolai) people were killed and villages burnt down. Investigations of the incident by the church, the British and German authorities, and the Western Pacific High Commissioner, cleared him of criminal charges. In 1880 he rescued many of the survivors of the abortive settlement scheme of the Marquis de Rays in New Ireland. The first three local preachers in his area were appointed in 1880. From 1887 to 1908 he was based in Sydney, Australia, as the General Secretary of Missionsa body concerned with Methodist activity in the South Pacific.

In 1890 Brown visited PNG in response to a request from Administrator MacGregor for Methodists to undertake missionary work in Papua. He was a party to MacGregor’s scheme to divide Papua into missionary “spheres of influence”the London Missionary Society (LMS), the Anglicans and the Methodists. In 1891 he supervised the foundation of a mission at Dobu Island. During three further visits to Papua he guided Methodist mission expansion and discussed missionary activities with leaders of the LMS and Lutheran missions. An Autobiography, based on his anthropological and natural history observations as well as his missionary experiences, was published in 1908.

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