McClure, William Donald

Sudan , Ethiopia

William Donald McClure was an American Presbyterian missionary in Africa. Born in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, McClure began teaching in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1928 after graduating from Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Returning for study at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, he and his wife, Lyda (Boyd), went back to Sudan in 1934 to evangelize among the Shulla people at Doleib Hill. In 1938 he initiated a new mission to the Anuak people at Akobo on the Sudan-Ethiopia border. The Anuak project was designed to employ a large missionary staff for a limited period. Thus a team of specialists in education, agriculture, medicine, and evangelism expected to work for 15 years to foster a self-sustaining, self-governing, self-propagating Anuak church. Interrupted by World War II, the Akobo mission became so successfully established that in 1950 the McClures were able to open new work among the Anuaks of Ethiopia at Pokwo (“Village of life”). After 1960 he directed the Gilo River station while living in Addis Ababa and was serving as general secretary of the American (Presbyterian) Mission when the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, requested a replication of his Anuak project on the Somali border. At Gode, McClure was shot to death by guerrillas. McClure’s half-century in Africa spanned dugout canoes to jet boats. Geographically, his relentless missionary pilgrimage covered a 1,250-mile arc through Sudan and Ethiopia.

Charles Partee


Charles Partee, Adventure in Africa: The Story of Don McClure (1990).

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.