History of the Melanesian Brotherhood


George Augustus Selwyn was born in Hampshire and educated at Eton and Cambridge. He was ordained to the ministry in 1833 and was recommended by the Episcopal Council at Lambeth for the appointment of Bishop of New Zealand in 1841. He sailed for New Zealand on the 'Tomatin' in December 1841.

In 1848 Bishop Selwyn, acting as temporary chaplain of H.M.S. 'Dido', visited the islands of Melanesia as a preliminary to establishing a mission there.

In 1854, at Selwyn's recommendation, Melanesia was created a separate "See" and the schooner the 'Southern Cross' was given to him by friends of the mission. Click here for the story and pictures of The Southern Crosses.

Selwyn made only one voyage in the 'Southern Cross', visiting sixty-six of the islands in 1857.

In 1855, John Coleridge Patteson heard Bishop George Selwyn of New Zealand call for volunteers to go the South Pacific to preach the Gospel. He went there, and founded a school for the education of native Christian workers. He was adept at languages, and learned twenty-three of the languages spoken in the Polynesian and Melanesian Islands of the South Pacific. In 1861 he was consecrated Bishop of Melanesia. Click here for a picture of John Coleridge Patteson.

The slave-trade was technically illegal in the South Pacific at that time, but the laws were only laxly enforced and in fact slave-raiding was a flourishing business. Patteson was actively engaged in the effort to stamp it out. However, injured men do not always distinguish friends from foes. After slave-raiders had attacked the island of Nakapu, in the Santa Cruz group, Patteson and several companions visited the area. They were assumed to be connected with the raiders, and Patteson's body was floated back to his ship with five hatchet wounds in the chest, one for each native who had been killed in the earlier raid. The death of Bishop Patteson caused an uproar back in England, and stimulated the government there to take firm measures to stamp out slavery and the slave trade in its Pacific territories. It was also the seed of a strong and vigorous Church in Melanesia today. Patteson and his companions died on 20 September 1871.

Charles Elliot Fox, British missionary in Melanesia, was born in Stalbridge, Dorset, England in 1878. He was educated in New Zealand and graduated from the University of New Zealand in 1901. In 1902 he received a degree in theology from St. John's College in Aukland. He joined the staff of the Anglican Melanesian Mission in 1903 and was ordained the same year. During his more than seventy years of service as a missionary and teacher, Fox lived and worked in most of the islands of the Solomon chain, on the Banks, and in the New Hebrides. Click here for a picture of Charles Elliot Fox .

The Melanesian Brotherhood was founded by a remarkable man named Ini Kopuria, a Solomon Islander on the Island of Guadalcanal in 1900. After being educated at the Anglican church schools of Pamua and later in Norfolk Island he joined the British Protectorate's native armed police force. But in 1924, when he was recovering in hospital from a leg injury, he received an experience of Christ, which was to change his life. He believed that Christ spoke to him and told him that he was not doing the work that Christ wanted him to do. He began, with the encouragement of Bishop John Manwaring Steward, to realize God was calling him to start a community of native Solomon Island men who would take the Gospel of Christ to all who had not received it. Click here for a picture of Brother Ini. or Click here for a picture of Bishop John Manwaring Steward.

Much of the population of the Solomon Islands lived on remote islands, villages high up in the hills and bush or coastal villages with no easy access either by sea or land. Ini Kopuria believed the Gospel was for all people and just as he had visited remote villages as a policeman, now he would visit as a missionary. On St. Simon and St. Jude's day, October 28, 1925, he made his promises renouncing possessions, marriage and freedom of action. He gave away all his property and a large area of his family's land to the Brotherhood. The following year the first six brothers joined him. Click here for a picture of Some of the early Brothers.

In 1932 Charles Elliot Fox declined an offer of the post of Bishop of the Melanesian Missionary Church. In the same year he was admitted as the only white member to the Melanesian Brotherhood

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