People who sacrificed their lives to God

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Stephen Charles Neill

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Stephen Charles Neill (1900–1984), was an Anglican Missionary, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1900 to Charles Neill and Daisy Neill. He had two sisters, Marjorie and Isabel. He belonged to the third generation of missionaries from his family. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge where he mastered various European languages including Greek and Latin. He also learned a few Indian languages including Tamil. Neill started his career at Trinity College in 1924. In 1925, he moved to Dohnavur, is in Tirunelveli District, Southern district of India with his parents. While at Dohnavur, he learnt Tamil and was involved in teaching schoolboys.

Neill joined the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1928 and was ordained as a priest. After his ordination, he moved to Tirunelveli and later led Thomas Ragland's North Tirunelveli Itinerary evangelism program. He taught Tamil in CMS theological college in Palayamkottai where he served at its first Principal. There he became involved in negotiations for uniting the churches in South India for the formation of Church of South India. He believed that all churches should unite and no church should be left out as not being in communion. He was elected the Bishop at Tirunelveli in 1939. There he led the diocese together during the troubled times of the war, resisting encroachments by the state and initiating development projects in publishing, banking among other areas. In 1944 he was forced to resign because of ill health and allegations of scandal. After his return from India, he became the assistant bishop of Archbishop of Canterbury.

Neill worked for World Council of Churches from 1947 to 1954. He edited History of Ecumenical Movement 1517-1948 with Ruth Rouse. He edited World Christian series and co-edited Concise Dictionary of the Christian World Mission (1971). Some of his books include the Interpretation of the New Testament 1891 - 1961, Bhakti, Hindu and Christian and Christian Faith and Other Faiths. He also wrote some of the books regarding theology and church history (i.e) A History of Christianity in India: 1707-1858 (Vol 2), A History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to AD 1707 and A History of Christian Missions: Second Edition (History of the Church) (v. 6). In 1962 he went to the University of Hamburg as a professor of mission until 1967 and a professor of philosophy and religious studies in Nairobi between 1969 and 1973.

Neill retired to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford but still regularly visited America on preaching and lecture tours. It was at this time he authored his magnum opus History of Christianity in India among many other of his works. He could achieve this task since he suffered from insomnia which kept him awoken most of the night allowing him to write more.

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