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Turnbull, A.F. Parkinson
1875 - 1954; e.m.1900

Missionary to Haiti in the Jamaica District. After training at Richmond College, he arrived in Haiti in January 1901. Soon afterwards he survived a bout of yellow fever and later on several of malaria. His first years were spent mainly in gaining a command of French. His opportunity to show his powers of leadership came in 1908 when the town of Petit Goave was attacked and destroyed by fire, seriously damaging the Methodist work there. He succeeded in raising funds back in Britain to restore the mission premises. As a dominant figure in Haiti he showed great energy and thoroughness, not only in the work of the Mission, but in representing the interests of British traders there and of the American Army during its occupation of the country (1915-34). But he was a headstrong figure, antagonising others.

He was married in 1912 to the daughter of a local French-speaking family. A period of weak leadership by his senior colleague Thomas Picot encouraged him to assert his influence and enter into disputes with his fellow missionaries, e.g. over a newly built manse which he claimed for himself. In 1916 the Haitian Synod found him guilty of a ‘serious breach of discipline’ and ‘grave irregularity in his handling of matters’. Haiti Methodists found themselves divided into rival camps, and a ‘Free Methodist Church of Haiti’ existed until the breach was healed in 1928. Turnbull withdrew from the British ministry at that time and was head of this independent church, but was received back into the fold in 1929 and served on until retiring in 1948. He died on 13 February 1954.

Sources

  • Leslie Griffiths, A History of Methodism in Haiti (1991)

Category: Person

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