A Donation from St. Augustine’s College

The library collection at the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide is in the process of a significant expansion, thanks to a donation from a well-known mission library.

Earlier this year, the library received over 1300 books from the collection at St. Augustine’s College, the former missionary college of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury. The St. Augustine’s College Foundation was looking for a new home for parts of its collection and thought of the CCCW library as an excellent, active research library that would benefit from the donation.

“Probably two-thirds of this collection is new to us,” says Ruth MacLean, CCCW’s Librarian. “This donation fills in gaps in our collection we wouldn’t otherwise be able to fill.”

It is not a simple matter to integrate such a large donation. Ruth has been organizing volunteers who have been organizing books, checking for duplicates, and preparing them to be catalogued. That final step, of ensuring that each book is correctly added to Cambridge University’s electronic library system is most intensive, but also the most important. By being searchable in the catalogue, the books will be available to students and researchers from across the university.


Jesse Zink, the Centre’s director, teaches a course in the Cambridge Theological Federation on the study of Christian mission. He was particularly pleased to find in the donation a large amount of material relating to debates over mission in the mid-twentieth century.

“These aren’t just arcane matters of history,” he said. “The term missio Dei—so important in current understandings of mission—came into widespread use in the 1950s. It’s important that we understand where it came from so we can understand how it informs our own understanding of mission as we seek to live faithfully to Christ in the 21st century.”

The St. Augustine’s donation complements CCCW’s existing 7500 volume collection, which has particular strengths in the history, theology, and practice of Christianity in the non-western world, the study of mission, and ecumenism. Researchers are regularly welcomed from around the world.

A 1948 resolution of the Lambeth Conference commended St. Augustine’s College for being “a centre in which people from all parts of the Anglican Communion could meet each other, and in fellowship and guided discussion learn something of the life and ways of the wider Church.”

The CCCW is an ecumenical organization, not bound by a single denomination, but it sees its role in a similar spirit as St. Augustine’s did, making the donation a particularly apt addition to the collection.