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Mary Slessor “Mother of All the Peoples”

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Making a purchase a few years ago in a bookstore in St. Andrews, Scotland, I was given a ten-pound note as part of my change. I was amazed and pleased to see the face of Mary Slessor on the front and a map of her mission station in Calabar, now eastern Nigeria, on the back of the note.

Mary Slessor was born into a poor family in Aberdeen, Scotland in December 1848, the second of seven children. 1Mary’s father, a shoemaker, was an alcoholic. Seeking a new beginning, he moved the family to Dundee, where they lived in a tiny one-room house, with no water and of course no electricity. Mr. Slessor soon died, leaving his wife the task of supporting their large family. To help out, Mary became, at age eleven, a “mill-lassie.” She was a tough, street-smart girl, with striking blue eyes, red hair, and a flaming temper. For fifteen years, she worked fifty-eight hours a week in the mill. She also taught a Sunday school class, supported a youth club in her church, and soon had the unruly boys and girls of the club joining her in helping with the sick and elderly people around them. Years later, after Mary died, a member of her church wrote: “She sat down among the poor as one of themselves . . . She stooped very low. She became an angel of mercy in miserable homes.”. . .


David B. Calhoun

David B. Calhoun, (1937-2021) was Professor Emeritus of Church History at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.  A minister of the Presbyterian Church in America, he has taught at Covenant College, Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University), and Jamaica Bible College (where he was also principal).  Calhoun has served with Ministries in Action in the West Indies and in Europe and as dean of the Iona Centres for Theological Study.  He was a board member (and for some years president) of Presbyterian Mission International, a mission board that assists nationals who are Covenant Seminary graduates to return to their homelands for ministry.


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