The main emphasis of The Melanesian Mission (UK) is on supporting the Church in Solomon Islands,Vanuatu and New Caledonia in prayer and with regular grants. Some of these are for various projects for which local resources are not enough,especially after the frequest natural disasters. The Mission also arranges training of different kinds in the United Kingdom for clergy,teachers, members of the Religous Orders,and others when that is requested by the Church authorities in Melanesia, as well as welcoming Melanesians who come from time to time to the UK to share their understanding of the Gospel of Christ with people in our islands.
The Melanesian Mission was founded by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn,first Bishop of New Zealand, in 1849 as a mission of the Churches in New Zealand and Australia to bring the Gospel to those islands in his diocese lying north of New Zealand and east of Australia, known as “Melanesia”. With this in mind,the Australasian Board of Missions was established in 1850,and later developed into Boards in each country. It was significant that this was an initiative by Churches overseas to forward evangelistic work themselves,and to use their own resources as far as possible. Those resources were however limited,and Bishop Selwyn’s friends in England came to his aid in many ways,both by volunteering to serve under his leadership in New Zealand and the islands of Melanesia,and by providing funds for a ship and other needs. That led to the establishment of a trust in England,also called the Melanesian Mission,which undertook to encourage prayer for the work,to send people to serve, and to provide finance to support them.One of the volunteers,John Coleridge Patteson, became the first Bishop of Melanesia,and he was martyred in the outer eastern Solomon Islands in 1871. Selwyn College in Cambridge was founded in memory of Bishop Selwyn.
In 1975 what had been one diocese attached to the Church in New Zealand since 1861 became the self-governing Anglican Church of Melanesia with its own Archbishop and diocesan bishops,who are now all Melanesians. This Province is remarkable for the numbers of local clergy and of Anglican Brothers and Sisters in Religious Orders who serve the Church in various ways,and for the strength of the local Mothers’ Union.