Nothing more than the dawn
The Richmond College boards made a deep impression on the German Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who visited the college in October 1934. During the Nazi regime he ran a dissident seminary at Finkenwalde in Germany and was executed just before the end of the Second World War, having been accused of plotting to kill Adolf Hitler.
Bonhoeffer used to draw attention to the Richmond College boards 'to rally the pastors in Germany who were struggling against the state. "I am not asking you to do or suffer anything new,” he told them. “This has always been the way of the witness. What, over there in Richmond College there are boards with the names of the Methodist missionaries who died on the ﬁeld, and when one fell there was another to take his place."'*
The Richmond College boards now hang in the Richmond Room in Methodist Church House, London. In Nothing More than the Dawn we focus on 22 individuals who appear on the Richmond College boards who died within four years of entering college. What can we discover about them? We owe it to these young men who ’saw nothing more than the dawn’ to keep remembering and retelling their stories.
Philip J Richter is currently a Ministry Development Officer in the Connexional Team of the Methodist Church in Britain, based in London. He is a Methodist minister & sociologist of religion, who has served in higher education Chaplaincy and theological education, as well as circuit ministry.
* Birtwhistle, N A (1983) ‘Methodist Missions', in Davies, R, Raymond George, A, & Rupp, G,AHistory of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, Vol 3, Westminster: Epworth, p.19.
Alfred Clegg, one of the young missionaries commemorated on the Richmond College boards, has inspired an evocative song by folksinger, Claire Rakich. ‘The Chalk Cliffs of England’ was professionally recorded in June 2016 at the Endell Street recording studios in Covent Garden, part of the St Mungo’s homelessness charity. Producer: Matt Catlow, Guitar: Dave Webster