Deesiders remember missionary in Nigeria

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Members of the congregation at Banchory Ternan West Church visited Nigeria to coincide with the centenary of the death of Mary Slessor.

Banchory Ternan West Church established a link with an urban parish in Aba southern Nigeria in 2002.

The congregation has since raised funds totalling around £65,000 to help upgrade primary health care and maternity services in the community of Aba. This has involved working with the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria to build a very basic primary health care and maternity clinic, which provides for a very poor population in a large slum area with no accessible healthcare.

West Church members Jenny Smith, Helen MacGregor and Jenny McQueen made the long journey from Banchory to the Nigerian parish to attend the official opening of the new clinic last week, which took the form of a traditional African ceremony.

The project was praised by the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria for the integrity of the governors of the clinic and the accountability of all the funds spent.

While they were there, the three Deesiders attended celebrations in Calabar, a city in southeastern Nigeria, to mark the centenary of local missionary Mary Slessor’s death.

The achievements of the crusading Aberdeen-born missionary, who has been hailed as “Aberdeen’s greatest daughter,” were also honoured in a service in the Granite City on January 10.

Aged 28, Mary Slessor went out to Nigeria to work as a missionary spreading Christianity and promoting women’s rights.

After spending much of her early life working in the jute mills of Dundee, Mary Slessor went on to work for 40 years with the United Presbyterian Church in Nigeria.

During her time in Africa Miss Slessor gained recognition for dispelling tribal superstition that the birth of twins was considered a curse.

Her interventions saved the lives of many twins, adopting some of the babies as her own family.

The service , held at a monument named in her memory in Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens, was well attended by city and shire residents.