Gray, Sidney Douglas, MBE

WM missionary, born in Liverpool on 28 December 1883 and appointed in 1910 to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In 1913 he was sent to take up the work in North Western Rhodesia (now Zambia), north of the Zambezi. He was a true pioneer at heart and in fact, breaking new ground by opening up missionary work in remote and untouched places, but also in the nature of the large central mission station at Chipembi. Here, in addition to the church, day schools and clinic, there was an institute for training evangelists and a farm institute to demonstrate appropriate sustainable methods of agriculture. He wrote about his early work in a book Frontiers of the Kingdom and by the time he was 40, his church was speaking of him as 'our modern Livingstone in Africa'.

In 1924 he founded Chipembi Boarding School for girls, almost unthinkable in Northern Rhodesia in the 1920s, because he believed that 'as no stream can rise higher than its source, so no people can rise higher than the level of their women'. Founded with a handful of village girls, it became Zambia's premier educational establishment for girls, with a staff of missionary teachers and hundreds of students. Some of these were the first to go on to universities in Southern Rhodesia and Britain, returning to take their places as key figures in the newly independent Zambia. To support his work he set about writing down the language of the local Bene Mukuni people. He compiled a dictionary of 5000 words, a primer and spelling books for schools, a church Service book including hymns and a catechism for use by evangelists and preachers. Finally he began the translation of the four Gospels and Acts, published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.

In 1934 he left Chipembi to reopen Nambala mission station and was then moved to develop evangelist training at Kafue mission. However he was finally forced by his deteriorating health to return to the line of rail, where he faithfully served the congregations in Broken Hill and Chingola. In 1946 he represented African interests in the Legislative Assembly and before his retirement he received the MBE for 'outstanding contributions to the territory'. He retired to Knysna on the coast in South Africa, continuing to work tirelessly on the Mukuni translation of the New Testament until his death on 8 April 1963.