Biographical entry: Wood, Cecil John (1874 - 1957)
Cecil John Wood was the fourth Bishop of Melanesia. Born in 1874 in London, son of barrister Charles Wood, he was educated at St. Paul's School in London and at Peterhouse at the University of Cambridge, where he received B.A. and M.A. degrees (1896-1901). He was ordained in 1897 and became a curate in Kent and London (1897-1906). In 1906, he became Principal of the Wimbledon Clergy House, and then Bishop of the Diocese of Melanesia from 1912 to 1918. He came with three preconceived views on how the Anglican Church should operate, derived from nineteenth-century English mission theology: self-government, self-support and self-extension. Today, we would call this 'localisation'. Wood introduced church councils for the indigenous clergy and teachers, which were to take charge of raising funds for indigenous staff in a region. He also encouraged missionary outreach and improved training facilities, and established the Melanesian Mission's (q.v.) first theological college at Maravovo and the first girls' school at Boromoli on Nggela. Against the wishes of many of the clergy, in 1916 he altered the language of instruction from Mota to English, acknowledging the change in the geographic nature of the Mission's activities as more bases were established in the islands. This change failed, and after a two-year trial period all schools reverted to Mota (the final change not made until 1930). During his tenure the shifting of the headquarters from Norfolk was again debated, but that move was not made until the episcopate of his successor, John Steward (q.v.).
Wood resigned in 1918 after a Mission conference voted its lack of confidence in him. Rev. Charles Fox (q.v.), who served with the Mission from 1902 until 1967, assessed Wood as unbending and having made the fatal error of treating Melanesians 'all as children'. Nonetheless, Wood did make a useful contribution by localising the mission. He married Marjorie Bell in 1919 when he returned to England, and spent the remainder of his career as a rector, Assistant Bishop and Rural Dean (1919-1941). Wood died in 1957. (Bain BDACP; Fox 1958, 55-63; Hilliard 1978a, 302; the Times, 28 Feb. 1912, 6)
- Fox, Charles E., Lord of the Southern Isles: Being the Story of the Anglican Mission in Melanesia, 1849-1949, Mowbray, London, 1958. Details
- Hilliard, David, God's Gentleman: A History of the Melanesian Mission, 1849-1942, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1978a. Details
- Blain, Michael, The Blain Biographical Directory of Anglican Clergy in the South Pacific, Project Canterbury http://anglicanhistory.org/nz/blain_directory/, 2012. Details
- Anglican Bishops Cecil Wilson, J.C. Patteson, C.J. Wood, G.A. Selwyn, J.R. Selwyn, L.M. Steward and F.M. Molyneux.
- Bishop Cecil Wood, Anglican Church