|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in one series arranged by material type.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains the extensive correspondence kept by Banninga and his colleagues around the world, including church leaders in India, England, Sweden, and the United States. Particularly frequent correspondents include the Bishops of Madras, Dornakal, Bombay, Calcutta, Columbo, Tinnevelly, and Gloucester, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Metropolitan of India, J.H. Maclean, W.E. Tomlinson, H. Gulliford, W.J. Noble, W.I. Chamberlain, F.J. Western, J.S.M. Hooper, L. Hodgson, W. Paton, H.V. Martin, M. Warren, J.E.L. Newbigin, F.W. Tomkins, and S. Eddy. The bulk of the letters deal with the creation of the Church Union, although a few discuss other professional and personal matters. These letters contain essential information concerning the stance and arguments of various individuals and denominations involved in the negotiations on the Church Union. This collection also contains documents on Church Union History including conference statements, reports, proposals, minutes, memoranda, and resolutions related to the Church Union; clippings from the Guardian, Madras Mail, The Christian Century, Dnyanodaya, and Church Times; documents on Lay Celebration consisting primarily of responses to letters sent by Banninga on the question of allowing laymen to administer communion in the absence of an ordained minister; CSI/Lutheran Joint Commission documents including reports on the meetings of the Church of South India (CSI) with representatives from the Lutheran and Baptist churches to discuss a possible union; Banninga's notes, personal memoranda of events related to World War II from 1941 – 1942, a description of his trip back to the United States in 1942, an exam, and other documents; as well as notes, drafts, correspondence, and certificates of Bengt Sundkler, a Swedish missionary who wrote the book Church of South India: The Movement Towards Union, 1900 – 1947.
Burke Library record group:
William Adams Brown Ecumenical Library Archives
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
The following boxes are located offsite: Box 1-6. Please note that requests for use of boxes held in offsite storage must be made three business days in advance.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, WAB: John J. Banninga Papers, 1883-1959, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL3: American Madura Mission records, circa 1900-1944, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
This collection is part of the William Adams Brown Ecumenical Library Archives, which was founded in 1945 by the Union Theological Seminary Board of Directors.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The exact provenance of this collection is unknown.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-08-05. Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Newspaper clippings were copied onto acidfree paper. Other acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. The collection was originally processed in 1985 to the item level according to the date on the record. Original order could not be discerned during reprocessing, therefore order was imposed. The finding aid was created by Leanora Lange in 2012 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.
2022-01-11 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
John J. Banninga was born on December 9, 1875 in Muskegon, Michigan to Jan Banninga and Elizabeth Hekelburg, immigrants from the Netherlands. John graduated from Hope College in 1898 with a Bachelor's degree, and received his Master's degree from Western Theological Seminary in 1901. He later received an honorary D.D. degree from Hope College in 1917. Banninga married Sophia Maria Damson on August 29, 1901. In December of the same year, the couple went to India as missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM) of the Congregational church. Banninga served as a missionary in India from 1901 until his retirement in 1942, after which he returned to the United States. During his time as a missionary in India, he held a multitude of positions including the Secretary of the American Madura Mission, Secretary and later President of the South India United Church (SIUC), a member and eventual Chairman of the SIUC Committee on Church Union, a member and eventual Secretary of the Joint Committee on Church Union, Principal of the Union Theological Seminary in Pasumalai, Editor of the SIUC Herald and the Church Union News and Views, and Chairman of the Madura Church Council. He was also a member for the Madras Representative Christian Council, the National Christian Council, the Lindsay Commission, the Continuation Committee on Church Union, and the National Christian Endeavor Union. In all of these positions, he devoted himself to the creation of a Church Union in South India. The idea of a church union among the SIUC, Anglican, Wesleyan, and Lutheran churches first arose at the Tranquebar Conference in May 1919. Banninga, secretary of the SIUC at the time of Tranquebar, became deeply involved in the negotiations of a church union for many years to come. He wrote numerous letters, articles, and reports on the subject, and presented the cause of the Church Union at the World Conference on Faith and Order at Lausanne in August 1927, which garnered interest in the Church Union from around the world. Points of negotiation included the equality of ministers, the consecration of bishops, the celebration of communion, and intercommunion. The SIUC (Presbyterian and Congregationalist), the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon (Anglican), and the Methodist Church in South India officially united to form the Church of South India (CSI) on September 27, 1947 in Madras, South India. After returning to the United States in 1942, Banninga lived and practiced ministry in Michigan, Florida, and eventually Claremont, California. He kept in contact with colleagues regarding the formation of a Church Union in India during this time. He died in 1963.