Hopkins, Arthur Joseph, OBE
1883-1965; e.m. 1908

A third generation UM minister, born in Birmingham on 11 May 1883, the son of John George Hopkins (1851-1906). With short interruptions due to ill-health, he served in Kenya from 1918 until 1950. He was recalled from England in 1932 to become Chairman of the Kenya District on the sudden death of R.T. Worthington. He played a notable part in encouraging inter-denominational co-operation and preparing for an autonomous African-led Church. In 1944 the Christian Council of Kenya, with full African participation, was set up. Hopkins chaired the meeting which wound up the Kenya Missionary Council, but only secured the resolution by giving an assurance to the Africa Inland Mission that the new body would never be used to promote Church Union. He had mastered the art of compromise when in the 1930s the subjects of female initiation, involving genital mutilation, and polygamy were hotly debated. Although missionaries condemned degrading and barbarous customs and passed resolutions requiring all members to shun them, Hopkins argued that issues of African custom were best resolved by African Christians.

The Meru people called him Mwigithania, the 'Reconciler', and he was widely known as 'Hoppy'. He served on several of the colonial government's boards and committees, and though he sometimes clashed with the authorities he was awarded the OBE. He worked diligently for thirty years with African collaborators at translating the Bible into Kimeru; the NT was published in 1952, two years after his retirement, and on his eightieth birthday he dispatched the final proofs of the OT to the Bible Society. He died on 20 May 1965.

  • A.J. Hopkins, Trail Blazers and Road Makers (UM Publishing House 1928)
  • Methodist Recorder, 2 November 2012