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How St Philips Began/ A vision for the church in Tanzania

Posted by St Philips Theological College on November 22, 2011 at 9:55 PM

T.B.R. Westgate: Huron University College’s connection to St. Philip’s Theology College The Rev. Dr. Thomas Buchanan Reginald Westgate (1872-1951) graduated from Huron College, London, Ontario in 1896. He was then ordained Deacon (1896) and later Priest (1897) by the Huron Diocese. After a short period of deputation work in the Diocese of Huron he began work as a missionary, first in Paraguay (1898-1901) under the South American Missionary Society, then in German East Africa (now Tanzania) (1902-1917) with the Church Missionary Society and finally in Canada (1917-1943). When serving in German East Africa, T.B.R. recognized the need to build a African theological college which would train native teachers. The staff of the Mission could not meet the demand for teachers from the local people. T.B.R. also believed that although European missionaries were necessary in the evangelization of the African Church, they should stand to one side or pass out of sight altogether and let the Africans go on to build their own Church. Accepting a post on the Deputation Staff of the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, T.B.R. returned to Canada in March 1913 for three months. As the MSCC was raising support for its own Missions in Asia, T.B.R. was not permitted to publicly appeal for the building or operational funds required for his proposed training college in Africa. According to T.B.R. Westgate: A Canadian Missionary on Three Continents the alumni of Huron College undertook a private fund raising on T.B.R.’s behalf in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the College (1913). Owing to the generosity of the alumni and the Rural Deanery of East and West Middlesex in Ontario, the bulk of the money needed for the African based training college was raised. This publication was put together by Westgate’s son, R.I. Wilfred Westgate (a classics professor from Harvard), and daughters, Maureen (Westgate) Carter and Dorothy (Westgate) Leach. It is based on T.B.R.’s diaries, professional reports, essays and correspondence. James Talman’s, Huron College 1863-1963 and the Huron College Council Minutes report Huron College marked its Golden Jubilee (1913) by awarding the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity on T.B.R. in recognition of his service in missionary work in South America and German East Africa. As was the arrangement at the time, the University of Western Ontario conferred the degree. Neither Talman’s, Huron College 1863-1963 or the Huron College Council Minutes for meetings held in 1913 and 1914 mention the African college or the alumni’s fund raising efforts on T.B.R.’s behalf. This may be due to the necessary private nature of the fundraising campaign. T.B.R. named the African theological college, ‘Huron College’, in honor of his alma mater in London, Ontario. The first classes were held January 12, 1914 with two hundred students. The college has since grown and been renamed St. Philip’s Theological College. A plaque on the building still identifies it as the original “Huron House” of 1914. It is located at Kongwa in the Diocese of Mpwapwa, Tanzania.

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