Steph Cottam has recently been exploring the CMJ archives* held at Bodleian Library in Oxford. Today, she begins her history reading adventure:

After been “sworn in” as a member of the Bodleian Library (all very exciting!), I made my way to the Reading room where I could collect the boxes of manuscripts ordered in advance.

I love delving into history, but right here in my hands were actual handwritten documents by Earl Shaftsbury himself (who has really nice writing!) – one of those incredible men, used by God and synonymous with CMJ’s beginning – relating to the advancement of the mission of CMJ into Warsaw and Romania, among other things.

It was interesting reading about the political difficulties the Warsaw Mission had before the war, in the 1930’s, and to follow (albeit briefly – there’s only so much reading I can do in 5 hours!!) the situation as the staff watched the rise of Nazi Germany and its effect on Poland and neighbouring Russia. The Anglican Church established a “CMJ Church” in Warsaw, and held many Baptisms and weddings, but these were not legally recognised by the Polish Government, meaning married couples weren’t accepted as such.

The stance against the CMJ Mission appeared to deteriorate quickly throughout 1938, as documented through letters between Rev Carpenter based in Warsaw and Rev Gill in the UK… there was much communication between the British Embassy and British Bishops as well as the CMJ team and at one stage, the King of Russia. It was felt that the Polish Government refusal to recognise the Anglican Church and our work among Jewish people was an attempt to “humiliate” them. The work temporarily closed in September 1939; but following the loss of CMJ staff who were murdered in the Concentration Camps, managed to return to the UK or who escaped to Romania, the work never re-opened after WWII.

Posted by Steph Gutmann on .