Egypt Mission

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Eqypt Mission

The Egypt Mission was the internal use name for the American Mission to Egypt of the United Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. The first UP missionaries arrived to work in Egypt in 1854, starting in Cairo. By the turn of the 19th century, the majority of Americans living in Egypt were attached to the American Mission, the term which both Egyptians and other residents of the country used referring to the Presbyterians.

Association Meeting

The Egypt Mission governed itself and administered its work in Egypt by entering into covenant together in an Association. The Egypt Mission Association functioned with a constitution, elected leadership, responsibility for the full variety of Mission educational and medical institutions, with a budget largely supplied by the American UP congregations through the Board of Foreign Missions. Further, the Association provided the missionaries of the Egypt Mission with a communal context of strong fellowship that supported their mutual efforts in the Mission’s work. The Association met twice a year to determine direction and make decisions on matters of staffing, policy and development. Committees and subcommittees met and reported, resolutions and overtures were discussed and voted, budgets debated. Voting members of Association were career missionaries, men and women alike. All missionaries of the Mission, including short termers, had voice on the floor during debate, and all missionaries served on one or more of the constituent committees—Nominating, Property, Education, Medical, Budget etc. The gathering lasted approximately 7 days, with time made for worship, study and entertainment. Winter Association was held in January at Assiut College. Summer Association was held at the Mission vacation camp at Sidi Bishr, a mile northeast of the Schutz property.

Association Minutes

The reports made by each committee to the Association as a whole, together with the decisions taken, were recorded in the Minutes, printed and published for the record in Egypt and in the United States, and brought to the annual General Assembly of the denomination. The Association Minutes for the Egypt Mission are kept by the Presbyterian Historical Society, and available for research at 425 Lombard St., Philadelphia, PA 19147

Assiut College

Founded as a training school in the early 1870s, Assiut College became a full secondary school in 1890. In 1904, property was bought for a campus west of the city of Assiut. Even while under construction at the turn of the century, the College provided education for men, Muslim as well as Protestant. An agricultural extension of the College developed improved strains of dairy cattle. In 1940, Schutz students and staff evacuated from Alexandria to Assiut as the Italian bombing of the city came close to the campus. Schutz School occupied one building on Assiut Campus with both classrooms and boarding facilities. The school closed when the American Mission personnel were evacuated as Egypt became a center of WWII fighting. In 1946, the Schutz School reopened in Assiut, and remained located on the campus of Assiut College until 1956, when the school moved back to Alexandria.

Assiut Hospital

The first of the two hospitals founded by the UPNA in Egypt, Assiut Hospital began as a clinic in 1891 with one physician. In 1906, the hospital had three American Mission doctors. In the early 1920s, Assiut Hospital began developing an emphasis on diagnostics, with growing resources in medical technology. A great many Schutz boarders came to school from Assiut, owing to their parents’ medical and educational work in that city.

General Treasurer

An appointed position, the General Treasurer of the Mission kept the books and oversaw the funds and budgets for each institution and every missionary on the field of the Egypt Mission, being accountable not only to the Mission but also to the Board of Foreign Missions in the United States. The General Treasurer lived in Alexandria and was charged with meeting those missionaries arriving or leaving the country by boat, being the contact person between the Egypt Mission and the Egyptian government and Alexandria port authority.

Schutz School Committee

Formed in 1923 to study and develop the prospect of founding a boarding school for the children of the Egypt Mission, the Schutz School Committee became the governing body for the school. Membership was assigned and elected yearly at Association meetings. The Schutz School Committee included the head administrator of the school, several parents of school aged children, and several members of the Egypt Mission with experience in relations with local Egyptian government offices. When Schutz School became an inter-Mission school in the mid-1950s, representatives from the other constituent Missions were appointed to the Committee. The School Committee’s work included forming a constitution and budget for the school, and handling travel arrangements, staffing, school calendar, curriculum, boarding facilities, access to medical care, parental concerns and more.

Sidi Bishr

A tract of sandy land about a mile from the beach and eight miles east of the Alexandria Harbor, the Sidi Bishr compound was purchased after the First World War from the British Army by the Egypt Mission for its members’ summertime use. The property was desirable for its proximity a mile or so north of the Schutz compound, and more so because the British Army had put in iron pipes to bring out water from Alexandria. The camp consisted of rows of primitive houses on stilts, with walls made of matting, rising only 2/3rds of the way to the roof. The construction served better air circulation throughout. Mission wives and children usually arrived at Sidi Bishr at the start of the summer’s heat, the children coming straight from Schutz at the end of school. The average summer temperatures in Assiut range between 110 and 120 degrees, and in Cairo regularly above 90 degrees. In Alexandria temperatures ranged from 80 F in May to 86 F in August, but the sea breezes cool the air considerably, making the city and environs a healthy alternative to conditions upcountry. Mission husbands came for their month-long vacations and more frequently if they could leave their work, and almost always for a week or two in July, when all the members of the Egypt Mission gathered for the summer Association meeting. The children ran around the several-acre compound, supervised equally by all the parents on hand, consistently entertaining themselves all day long.

Tanta Hospital

The second of two hospitals founded by the Egypt Mission, Tanta Hospital opened in December of 1896 with the arrival of Dr. Anna B. Watson and Dr. Caroline Lawrence, fully qualified female physicians sent out by the Women’s Board of Missions, in response to the Egypt Mission’s request in 1894, to meet the great medical needs of Egyptian women. The Egypt Mission acquired land in 1900 for new buildings which became the plant for the current Tanta Hospital. Throughout most of the 20th century, Schutz students included children of Mission personnel at Tanta Hospital.

Records show Schutz boarders being taken to Tanta Hospital for necessary treatment beyond the skills of housemothers and matrons on campus.