Today the church remembers John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia, and his Companions, Martyrs, 1871.All the Christian world was shocked to learn of the murder of Bishop John Patteson by the people of the Island of Nukapu in the South Pacific. Educated at Eton and at Oxford University, Patteson had rejected a promising and comfortable career in England and had given himself utterly to the task of civilizing and Christianizing the people of Polynesia and Melanesia. For nearly twenty years he had served patiently and unselfishly, founding schools, hospitals, and churches; teaching, preaching, and giving the sacraments to the natives of those lands. He also sought out and ministered to British settlers in those areas. He once presented the entire population of Pitcairn Island for confirmation, following the reconciliation of the Bounty mutineers with the British government. He was concerned about the wanton practice of slave raiding that went on in the islands and was working vigorously to stop it. Nukapu had recently been victimized by such raiders and that is why Patteson's missionary ship, The Southern Cross, anchored off that island on this day in 1871, and the bishop went ashore. He was killed that night by some of those whom he was trying to serve. Give us courage to regard our call to serve about our own safety and comfort. Amen.
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Almighty God, you called your faithful servant John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labors and sufferings raised up a people for your own possession: Pour out your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, your holy Name may be glorified and your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.