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A Tribute to Reverend Gerald Clark

The Revd Gerald Clark, a former CMS missionary and then Council member, died on July 8, 2019. His missionary service and leadership role in NZCMS is acknowledged with gratitude to God in this tribute to the blessing he has been to this Society.

In 1958 the Dominion Monarch took over a month to convey Gerald Clark, his wife Noeline, and their infant son Paul to Capetown. The young family then waited ten days for another, much smaller, cargo ship to take them up the Eastern coast of Africa to Dar es Salaam, then the capital of Tanganyika, now modern day Tanzania. There they took a train for an overnight journey to their new home, Dodoma, to begin their service overseas as CMS missionaries. Gerald’s missionary interest began at a young age, attending the very first CMS Spring School in Christchurch in 1948 while still at High School. Gerald became a key figure in the early formation of the newly formed CMS League of Youth, assisting in running youth rallies and camps. It was during this time, in the early 1950s, that he and his soon to be wife, Noeline, began to discern the increasing sense of call from God for overseas mission service.

On a Sunday evening during a missionary service at St Martin’s Church, Maxwell Wiggins, Dean of Dodoma Cathedral, preached. During this sermon Maxwell read a letter from the Tanzanian Government approving the doubling in size of the Alliance School in Dodoma. This meant that they would need more teachers. Both Gerald and Noeline felt the call of God in this opportunity. In 1957, they met with the General Secretary of NZCMS, the Reverend Harry Thomson, who organized an interview with Bishop Alfred Stanway of Central Tanzania. It was soon decided they would be suitable to join the staff of the Alliance School and their application to NZCMS was accepted.

The Alliance Secondary School where Gerald would be teaching was situated in Kikuyu, a village about three kilometers out of Dodoma. Gerald was given classes to teach but found that he was surplus to teaching needs for the first six months until an additional stream of students increased the roll at the beginning of 1959. However, the only ordained man on staff was due to leave and there was no one to replace him. Gerald was encouraged to fill this need and he was ordained and became the Chaplain of the school. Though originally with no formal training in theological, he undertook study towards the New Zealand LTh each year, completing the qualification in 1967.

In mid 1961, Gerald was asked to be the headmaster of a new boys’ secondary boarding school to be opened in the extreme West of Tanzania at Kigoma. He was given the privilege of naming the new school and chose “Livingstone College” as, in the previous century, HM Stanley had found the missing David Livingstone only 10km away at Ujiji on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone College was the first secondary school in the Western Region of the country.

In 1962 the Clarks returned to New Zealand and spent most of 1963 undertaking further study and deputation work. Gerald recruited two other New Zealand teachers to join him. As the school in Kigoma continued to grow the staff took on a very international flavour, with teachers from Australia, Britain, USA, Sweden as well as from New Zealand and Tanzania. By 1966 the school had grown from seventy pupils and two staff in its first year to 280 pupils, with two classes of 35 in each of the four years, and twelve staff members.

Educational difficulties for their growing family together with government requirements in 1967 that every school must be run by an African headmaster lead to the Clarks finishing their time in Tanzania.

After a brief time handing over to his successor, Gerald and his family travelled to England and lived in Canterbury, Kent, for two years where Gerald did a research degree in History and taught in the local secondary schools while Noeline nursed at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. In 1969 they returned to New Zealand on the Southern Cross.

Following their return to New Zealand, Gerald was elected as a governing council member where he served for two full decades over the 1970-80s. He was later elected as Vice Chairman of the NZCMS Council.    

4 thoughts on “A Tribute to Reverend Gerald Clark

  1. This is a fine tribute to Gerald and a record of devoted service. It also enhances my own understanding since I didn’t meet Gerald till much later when he was Principal of Samuel Marsden Collegiate school in Karori, Wellington, where his humility, service, and Christian faith and values were clear to see in this very different context.

  2. Vale, to my fellow traveller of The Way, and well done, good and faithful servant. – Peter Hallinan.

    1. Phyllis and I praise the Lord for the life and ministry of Gerald Clark in Tanzania. We visited Livingstone College, when Gerald was headmaster and were impressed with an impressive school in delightful surroundings. Henry Paltridge, former NZCMS missionary in Tanzania and Kenya.,

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