- Pacific Anglicanism: Online Bibliographical Resources
In this brief report, I put forward the range of bibliographical resources about Pacific Anglican church history currently available, especially online. (The Internet addresses [urls] for the websites mentioned in this report are summarized in the appendix.) My relationship has been primarily with the Anglican Church of Melanesia (previously known as the Melanesian Mission, the Diocese of Melanesia, and the Church of Melanesia), with dioceses in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu/New Caledonia. However, the report also speaks to bibliographical resources concerning the Anglican Church in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Sāmoa, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn Island, and Hawai‘i.
When I first came to Solomon Islands to teach at Bishop Patteson Theological Centre in 1975, I used resources available in the college library and briefly overlapped as staff with John Pinson, a priest-librarian-archivist who was working on a bibliography of publications of the Melanesian Mission Press and its heirs from 1855 to 1975. That bibliography, titled “How Can You Sing the Lord’s Song without a Book”—is now online at http://anglicanhistory.org/oceania/pinson_bibliography.pdf. It and Sally Edridge’s Solomon Islands Bibliography to 1980 (1985) are invaluable resources for Solomon Islands history.
After fifteen years in Canada, I returned to Solomon Islands in 1996 as Anglican bishop of Malaita. In preparation for writing the chapter on the history of liturgy in the Anglican Church of Melanesia for the Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer: A Worldwide Survey (Hefling and Shattuck 2006), I returned to the college library only to discover that many of the books and pamphlets I had previously used were missing. Some of these I found in the archives of the Church of Melanesia (material up to 1975; John Pinson had also organized this collection), which [End Page 342] were on deposit in the National Archives of Solomon Islands in Honiara. I also discovered some material on the Anglican history website, Project Canterbury (www.anglicanhistory.org), which had been operating for a few years under the direction of its founder, a young Episcopal lay scholar, Richard Mammana. I wrote him, and we decided to develop an Oceania directory on the site.
The result, about seven years later, is “Anglicanism in Oceania”—an extensive array of online resources on the Anglican Church in Solomon Islands, New Hebrides/Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Sāmoa, Tonga, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn Island, and Hawai‘i (http://anglicanhistory.org/oceania/). The site includes many primary resources that are difficult to find in libraries as well as modern scholarly work such as doctoral dissertations by anthropologists working in Anglican communities in the Pacific. The whole Project Canterbury site continues to grow, is worldwide in scope, and tries to include all eras and theological traditions of Anglican/Episcopal practice, from Evangelical to Catholic. The site is very popular and has somewhere between 6 and 7 million hits per year. I am both an Episcopal patron and a contributing director, the latter in recognition of the sometimes tedious work of scanning fragile pages to make sure they endure and are widely available. US copyright law means that anything published before 1923 can be put online without restriction, but later material requires the permission of author and/or publisher. We have especially tried to include research by local Anglican scholars and private memoirs of Anglican missionaries, whether published or unpublished.
However, the story does not quite end there. As I used the Church of Melanesia archives, I discovered that the finding guide did not correspond well with what was there. I had the frequent experience of asking archives staff for one item in the guide only to be told it was missing; then the next week, when I asked for something else, the missing item would surface. As I was moving toward retirement as diocesan bishop in August 2008, I proposed to the Council of Bishops that I stay on as a volunteer archivist for the Church of Melanesia, with a special focus on the pre-1975 collection. The bishops agreed for me to stay on for four years, 2009–2012. I then approached the director of the Solomon...