Dandeson Coates Crowther was a West African church leader. Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Crowther was the youngest son of Anglican Bishop Samuel Adaji Crowther. Ordained by his father in 1870, Crowther joined the Niger Mission of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) the following year and became archdeacon of the Niger Delta in 1876. He was indefatigable organizer and inspirational leader; it was mainly due to his enthusiasm and evangelistic zeal that a mass movement toward Christianity grew in the Niger Delta during the 1870s and 1880s. However, the Niger crisis of the early 1890s (which produced racial conflict, high-handed reform by the CMS missionaries, and rebellion of the national leadership) marked a turning point in his career. Among other things, European agency was introduced into the hitherto all-African Delta Mission, ultimately causing the Niger Delta to secede from the CMS. This revolt was spearheaded by Crowther. Then, in April 1892 he launched the Niger Delta Pastorate. This experience of independence lasted for only six years, but it represented one of the first significant, wholly African attempts to establish a self-supporting, self-governing church in western Africa. As its prime mover, Crowther deserves special recognition in the study of Christian missions.
Jehu J. Hanciles
J. F. A. Ajayi, Christian Missions in Nigeria, 1841-1891: The Making of a New Elite (1965): W. O. Ajayi, “A History of Niger and Northern Nigeria Missions, 1854-1914” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Bristol, 1963); E. A. Ayandele, The Missionary Impact on Modern Nigeria, 1842-1914 (1966); E. M. T. Epelle, The Church in the Niger Delta (1955); Jehu J. Hanciles, “Dandeson Coates Crowther and the Niger Delta Pastorate: Blazing Torch or Flickering Flame?” IBMR 18, no. 4 (1994): 166-172; G. O. M. (1978). The CMS archives, Univ. of Birmingham, contain Crowther material.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.