Neill, Stephen Charles

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Anglican missionary bishop, missiology and ecumenist, b. Edinburgh, 1900; d. 1984. Born into a missionary family, he experienced a conversion while in college and followed his missionary parents to India, where he was ordained a deacon. Later, his dissertation at Trinity College, Cambridge, compared Plotinus' writings with those of Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzen, a work which served as his introduction to Hindu monism. He left the academic life and became a member of the Church Missionary Society in India, where he served for 22 years, evangelizing, traveling, and teaching Indian students in the Tamil language. He eventually learned 14 languages and was a pioneer in teaching theology in the vernacular, both in India and later in Africa. In 1939, he was made bishop of Tinnevelly, India, and remained there through World War II, but after a psychological breakdown in 1945, Neill left the country.

From his early years Neill strove toward reconciliation among Christians, first in a united Church in South India, as the associate general secretary at the International Missionary Council and World Council of Churches from 1948 to 1951, and as general editor of World Christian Books for the next ten years. His gift for speaking and writing often appealed to a variety of Protestant groups. Neill was appointed professor of missions and ecumenical theology at the University of Hamburg (19621967) and professor of religious studies at the University of Nairobi (19291973). He was a prolific writer with over 100 works he edited or authored, many of them related to ecumenism and mission.

Bibliography: s. neill and r. rouse, eds., The History of the Ecumenical Movement 15171948 (London 1954). s. neill, Christian Faith and Other Faiths (London 1961). s. neill, A History of the Christian Missions (London 1964). g. h. anderson, j. goodwin, and s. neill, eds., Dictionary of World Mission (London 1970). e. jackson, God's Apprentice: The Autobiography of Bishop Stephen Neill (London 1991).

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