Bingham, Rowland Victor
Rowland Victor Bingham was the cofounder and longtime director of the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM). Born in East Grinstead, Sussex, England, Bingham immigrated to Canada at age 16 and sailed for Africa in 1893 under the nascent SIM to open a way to the unreached people of the interior. Within a year, both of his colleagues, Walter Gowans and Thomas Kent, were dead from fever and he himself had returned to Canada in broken health. In 1898 SIM was reconstituted as the Africa Interior Mission, with Bingham serving as its director. After a second failed attempt in 1900, a third attempt in 1902 succeeded in establishing the mission’s first station at Patigi, Nigeria. In 1906 the mission returned to “Sudan Interior Mission” as its official name.
By the time of Bingham’s death, SIM had grown into what was arguably the largest Protestant presence in Africa-400 missionaries, with hundreds of churches established. Under Bingham, SIM became a somewhat unique representative of the faith missions movement, more open about the need for missionary support and more thoroughly internationalized than the British model of Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission, and more broadly evangelical and more socially involved than many American faith missions. Perhaps most outstanding among the missiological legacies Bingham left through SIM were his emphasis on teaching and promoting missions among the newly established churches of Africa, his utilization of thoroughly integrated international teams, and his holistic model of missions outreach, which addressed social concerns as part of the process of discipling believers into churches equipped to carry on Christ’s commission.
As editor of Evangelical Christian (Canada’s only trans-denominational evangelical magazine) from 1904 until his death, Bingham not only was an articulate spokesman regarding the pressing theological issues of his day but carried on a tireless campaign to promote mission and outreach organizations, both foreign and domestic. To the same ends he also established Evangelical Publishers (1912) and the Canadian Keswick Conference Center (1924). He received an honorary D.D. from Wheaton College in 1932. He died in Toronto.
Gary R. Corwin
Bingham’s Seven Sevens of Years (1943) is a largely autobiographical record of the Sudan Interior Mission during his ministry years. Other works by Bingham, in addition to his multitudinous writings in Evangelical Christian, include Matthew the Publican (n.d.) and The Bible and the Body (1921, 1952). James Hunter, A Flame of Fire (1961); Brian McKenzie, “Fundamentalism, Christian Unity, and Premillennialism in the Through of Rowland Victor Bingham (1872-1942): A Study of Anti-Modernism in Canada” (Ph.D. diss., Toronto School of Theology, 1985). A Ph.D. dissertation in process by Gary R. Corwin for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School examines the missiological contributions of Bingham and the work of the Sudan Interior Mission under his leadership in the context of the larger faith missions movement. Bingham’s papers, along with a full set of Evangelical Christian magazines, are part of the SIM archives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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.