From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Christian Woman's Board of Missions (CWBM), Kentucky

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Long before the Christian Woman's Board of Missions (Disciples of Christ) was formed, the year 1819 was the beginning of woman's missionary work as a distinctive agency. The first organization was the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New York (source: Historical Sketch of the Christian Woman's Board of Missions by E. J. Dickinson; H. E. Moses). That particular organization ceased in 1861, though other efforts had been put into place over the 42 years and would eventually lead to the formation of the Christian Woman's Board of Missions (CWBM) in 1874. The CWBM's first work with Negroes was in 1881 in Jackson, MS, where Negroes were to get the same kind of help as the CWBM had given in Jamaica [p.40]. The work in Mississippi lasted for 13 months. In the late 1880s, there was work in Kentucky that fell under the heading of "extension in the home field" [p.41]. This was not necessarily work geared toward Negroes in Kentucky because a different avenue had been found for that work, partially due to the fact that the membership of the CWBM was whites only.  

 

Working around the restricted membership, it was in Kentucky in 1880 that the first black led organization was formed. A group of black women took the lead and formed the Kentucky Christian Woman's Board of Missions Convention [source: The Stone-Campbell Movement edited by D. N. Williams, D. A. Foster, and P. M. Blowers, p.49, see "The CWBM and Race"; and the NKAA entry Conventions of the Colored Christian Churches in Kentucky]. Also, in 1896, black women in Mississippi formed the Mississippi Women's Missionary Society. Both the Kentucky and the Mississippi organizations did work with the national CWBM, but the two groups operated independently of CWBM and of each other. The segregated groups would eventually be merged into CWBM. 

 

The first Negro branch of the national Christian Woman's Board of Missions (CWBM) was formed in Arkansas in 1896. The branch was organized by Sarah Lue Bostic who would go on to organize and lead other Negro branches. Another effort took place in 1889 when the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS) formed a Board of Negro Education and Evangelization in Louisville, KY [source: Journey Toward Wholeness by B. M. Cardwell and W. K. Fox]. The organization gave support to colored institutes in Mississippi, Alabama, and the Louisville Bible College in Kentucky [pp.49-50]. It was a struggle for the ACMS to maintain the institutes. The following year, the national CWBM formed their Negro education and evangelization board which took over the work with Negroes that had been attempted by the ACMS. The work with Negroes is mentioned throughout the CWBM historical sketch, as are efforts in Kentucky, and the contributions and efforts from persons and organizations in Kentucky. There was also a Negro CWBM worker who came to Kentucky, and did so by way of Mississippi and Liberia. The journey actually started with his teacher, Jacob Kenoly (1876-1911), a minister who was born in Laclede County, MO. Kenoly was an educated man, his education started in Missouri and culminated in Edwards, MS at the CWBM school Southern Christian Institute. Kenoly attended this particular school because he wanted to go to Africa as a missionary. One last stop for his training was in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. Once his education was completed and Jacob Kenoly had the money need for the voyage, he left the United States and arrived in Monrovia, Liberia as a Disciples missionary on July 26, 1905. He did good work until his death in 1911 due to a boating accident in Liberia.

 

Jacob Kenoly was the Disciples' second Negro foreign missionary sent to Liberia, Africa. The first had been a former slave named Alexander Cross who was from Kentucky [source: The Life and Work of Jacob Kenoly by C. C. Smith, pp.28-30]. Alexander Cross went to Monrovia in January of 1854, and died about a month after his arrival. When Jacob Kenoly arrived in Liberia 51 years later, he was told about Alexander Cross and he made it a point to talk with individuals in Monrovia who had known Alexander Cross. Jacob Kenoly was a minister and a school teacher in Liberia, and one of his students was James Isaiah Rundles, Sr. This was not the name Rundles was given at birth, but it was the name he was given when he started attending school. James Rundles may have been an orphan; when he sailed to the United States, on the passenger list he gave his father's name as George Washington Rundles [source: FamilySearch, Passenger List]. James I. Rundles, Sr. was an outstanding student, and Jacob Kenoly selected him to become the first Liberian student to go to the United States to study. Funding was solicited, and James I. Rundles, Sr. arrived at the Southern Christian Institute in Edwards, MS on November 2, 1909 [sources: C. C. Smith, "A Sketch of the life of Jacob Kenoly," The Missionary Review of the World, v.25 (new series), v.35 (old series), January-December 1912, pp.752-760 [online at Google Books]; and The Life and Work of Jacob Kenoly by C. C. Smith]. 

 

The plan was for James I. Rundles, Sr. to get his education and return to Liberia as a missionary to his people. But, Rundles remained in the U.S. He married Bertha B. King from Hermanville, MS [source: Church Street: the Sugar Hill of Jackson Mississippi by G. Sweet and B. Bradley]. The couple moved to Kentucky where in 1917, James I. Rundles, Sr. was doing missionary work in Crofton, KY, for the Christian Woman's Board of Missions [source: James I. Rundles' WWI Draft Registration Card]. It was also noted on his registration card that Rundles had served for 4 years as a sergeant in a militia. He was claiming "exempt" from military service in the U.S. because of his missionary work. The couple would return to Mississippi and in Jackson, James I. Rundles was a minister, principal of a school, a business owner, and a community leader [source: James "Jim" Rundles, Jr., "Up and down Farrish Street," @ insurancenews.net, 10/24/2014 [online]. James I. Rundles, Sr. was given the birth date of September 14, 1888. He was born in Schiffelin, Liberia, according to his WWI Draft Registration Card, and he died around 1930 after returning to Liberia, according to authors Sweet and Bradley. 

 

For more information see "Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in The Kentucky Encyclopedia edited by J. E. Kleber, pp.186-187; Negro Education: a study of the private and higher schools for colored people in the United States, v.1, by the U.S. Office of Education, T. J. Jones; and Christian Church Women by D. B. Hull. An early photo image of James I. Rundles, Sr. is in the January 17, 1918 issue of The Christian Century: a journal of religion, v.XXV, no.3 [available at Google Books]. The image caption is "Four of Jacob Kenoly's Boys from Liberia at Southern Christian Institute. Left to Right: Peter Dunson, James Rundles, Robert Gooden, and Jerome Freeman."

 

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Christian County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Crofton, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Conventions of the Colored Christian Churches in Kentucky
NKAA Entry: Cross, Alexander and Martha A.
NKAA Source: Historical sketch of the Christian Woman's Board of Missions 
NKAA Source: The Stone-Campbell movement: a global history
NKAA Source: Journey toward wholeness: a history of Black Disciples of Christ in the mission of the Christian Church
NKAA Source: The Life and work of Jacob Kenoly
NKAA Source: Church Street: the Sugar Hill of Jackson Mississippi
NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia
NKAA Source: Negro education: a study of the private and higher schools for colored people in the United States
NKAA Source: Christian church women: shapers of a movement
NKAA Source: The Missionary review of the world

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“Christian Woman's Board of Missions (CWBM), Kentucky,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 19, 2017, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/3188.

Last modified: 2017-10-11 01:17:22