Raicakacaka : 'walking the road' from colonial to post-colonial mission : the life, work and thought of the Reverend Dr. Alan Richard Tippett, Methodist missionary in Fiji, anthropologist and missiologist, 1911-1988
KeywordsAlan Richard Tippett
Fuller Theological Seminary
Institute of Church Growth
School of World Mission
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AbstractThis thesis contributes to the literature on the history of the transition from colonial to post-colonial in the Pacific. It explores the contribution of an individual to this transition, Rev. Dr. Alan Richard Tippett, as a focus for illuminating the struggles in the transitions and the development of post-colonial theory for mission. Alan Richard Tippet sailed to Fiji as an ordained Methodist missionary in 1941. He was a product of a Methodist parsonage and heir to the evangelical and revival tendencies of the Cornish Methodism of his family. He began his missionary career steeped in the colonial visions of the mission enterprise fostered by the Board of Missions of his church. He was eager to study anthropology but was given no chance to do so before he left Australia. He pursued his study of anthropology and history in Fiji and began to question the paternalism of colonial theory. Early in his time in Fiji he made the decision to join with those who sought change and the death of colonial mission. In his work as a circuit minister, theological educator, writer and administrator he worked to this end. He developed his talent for writing and research, encouraging the Fijian church to take pride in its past achievements. He became alienated from the administrators of the Australasian Methodist Board of Missions and could find no place in the Australian church. In 1961 he left Fiji and began a course of study at the newly formed Institute of Church Growth in Eugene, Oregon. This led him into the orbit of Donald McGavran and the newly emerging church growth theory of Christian mission. Although his desire was to enhance the study of post-colonial mission in Australia he could not find a position to support him even after he gained a PhD in anthropology from the University of Oregon. After research in the Solomon Islands he returned to the USA to assist Donald McGavran in the formation of the now famous School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. While at Fuller he exercised considerable influence in the development of missiological theory and especially the application of anthropological studies in post-colonial mission. Although he contributed to both the ecumenical and evangelical debates on mission, he found himself caught up in the bitter debates of the 1960s and 1970s between them and, despite all efforts to maintain links, lost contact with the ecumenical wing. Retiring to Australia in 1977 he found that his world reputation was not recognised in his native land. He continued his work apace, although he was deeply saddened by the ignorance he found in Australia and by his continued rejection. He finally donated his library to St. Mark’s National Theological Centre. He died in 1988 in Canberra.