A brief history of the Evangelical Mission Press
EMP is located in Bellville, a town on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, and it celebrated its 75th anniversary with a conference held in November 2006 at The Civic Centre in the town. It was attended by around 500 people from all over Africa and the day’s events included a history of the Press from Rodney Brown, a global world view of the need for missions by Andy Street (Echoes of Service), a missionary challenge message from Ron Cunningham, ministry of the word from Paul Grieve and Roy Hill and interesting reports of the work of some servants of the Lord who use EMP tracts and booklets in their outreach. It was a time of rich blessing and great encouragement for all who attended.
In 1922 Mr. W. J. Coleridge was commended by the assembly in Teignmouth, Devon, to the work of the Lord in the Transvaal area of South Africa. He spent some years there working in the mining communities and learning both the Zulu and Sesotha languages in order to be able to communicate effectively. He became exercised about the need for literature and set up a small printing press in his garage in Johannesburg in 1931, shortly after he moved there. Initially it was known as The Rand Press. Some of the tracts he wrote then are still printed and distributed today. In the early years of the Press he was assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Proudfoot, originally from England but then residing in Johannesburg. In 1935 brother Coleridge and his wife moved south to Cape Town and once again he set up the printing operation in his garage in the Mowbray area of the city. Over the years many others joined in helping the work including from 1955 Nellie and Lily Webb from Bristol, UK, and Alfred and Isabel Rich. In 1956 Ken and Charlotte Elliott were commended from assemblies in Belfast, N. Ireland, to help in the printing work and they arrived in the Cape in January 1957 and commenced work at EMP.
God blessed the work and it grew so that the garage was no longer suitable and new premises had to be found. Three plots of land in Northumberland Street, Bellville, became available and through the generosity of Mr. Dedman from Houston, Texas, USA they were purchased in 1960 and a building erected. Into this came more modern printing and finishing machinery and the work continued to grow. Other helpers came. Some stayed for many years and others for shorter periods and all contributed their skills and effort to the work. They included, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Scott from England, Kath Ripper from Tasmania (she was there for 29 years!), and Mr. and Mrs. Alan Chambers from Sydney, Australia. During the 1970s Mr. and Mrs. Harry Faulkener also helped in the work. The Bookshop work was started by brother Scott and named ‘Christian Publications’ with the aim of making available good quality Bibles, study helps and useful books at affordable prices.
In 1976 when the new premises also became too small a further building was erected on the site. This was financed by brother Henry Shelton of Johannesburg. He sold his business interests and used the money for the Lord. A few months later the Lord took him home. Mr. Coleridge went to be with the Lord in 1963 having been ill from 1959. Brother Coleridge lived to see the first of the new buildings in 1960 and from then on EMP was driven on by Ken Elliott. Kenneth Elliott was called home in 1999 after 42 years faithful service. His wife Charlotte continued the work until more permanent help arrived in October 2000 when Robin and Mary Rossouw, who joined the work being commended from Ebenezer Assembly in Worcester. They were followed in 2001 by Rodney and Joy Brown commended from Larne, N. Ireland, and in 2003 Robert and Ann Smith arrived, commended by the assemblies at Broomhedge, N. Ireland and Kilwinning, Scotland. *Charlotte Elliott still plays an active role in the work which she joined fifty years ago. Over the seventy-five years of the history of EMP they have printed 147 million tracts and 27 million other pieces of literature including calendars, booklets and Emmaus courses. These are sent in response to requests from all over Africa and some are now sent to other countries as well. The work and the workers are supported by the Lord through the generosity of His people and trusting Him alone EMP looks forward to many more years, if the Lord will, of continuing growth and being used by the Lord in bringing the Light to Africa, its nations and peoples.
*Charlotte Elliott continues to run the Press after Kenneth’s passing, as the various full-time workers, having served their time, were called to different pastures.
This is an adapted old article written in circa. 2006, by the then Chairman of Precious Seed: Roy Hill, Bristol, England.
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