Letter

Scope and Content

This is a 1977 response to John Roberts' request for information about the Van Mission from a man named Harry. Harry's address is a parsonage so it's possible he is clergy of some kind. He writes that he was involved with the Van Mission and was intimate with Spedding, and offers some anecdotes which Roberts 'may not get from elsewhere'. He goes on to give information about Bertram Talbot, the first full-time missioner along with Spedding, stating that he was a bachelor who hated women and was responsible for dealing with private enquiries to the Mission and for distributing literature. Harry claims that the support of the BFUA for the Mission was 'lukewarm', and that the Unitarian movement in general wasn't overly enthusiastic about it. He states that the ending of the Mission broke Spedding's heart. Harry preached for the Mission in London, and gives an anecdote about being approached by Fundamentalist Christians who lingered after the meeting was over to 'correct' the views of the Unitarians to the crowd. He expresses his belief that the Mission was useful for spreading knowledge about Unitarianism but says that it wasn't particularly useful for creating converts, as Unitarians are unsuited to such work. In support of this claim he gives an example of a meeting where the first speaker claimed allegiance to Jesus, while the speaker who followed him told the crowd that Jesus did not exist.