The Road to Delhi: Bishop Pickett Remembered 1890-1981

by Arthur G. McPhee

The Road to Delhi: Bishop Pickett Remembered 1890-1981 is the fruit of Arthur McPhee’s doctoral dissertation at Asbury Theological Seminary.

SAIACS Press, PO Box 7747, Kothanur, Bangalore, 2005, 394 pages, Rs. 200.

Reviewed by Jamie Bean, executive secretary, Rethinking Forum

The Road to Delhi: Bishop Pickett Remembered 1890-1981 is the fruit of Arthur McPhee’s doctoral dissertation at Asbury Theological Seminary. The book chronicles the life of Jarrell Waskom Pickett, a pioneer in developing missionary strategy from social science research with a focus on group conversion. In his forty-six years of service with the Methodists in India, Pickett served as a pastor, evangelist, researcher and administrator. He left his mark through: research that stimulated a greater concern for people group thinking; initiatives in service to the poor and needy; relationships that ranged from the homeless to presidents; perseverance in poor health and occupational hazards; fundraising endeavors and speaking engagements; and his writings.

The book is broken down into sections marked by time and placement: The Early Years (1890-1909), The Settling Down Years (1910-1915), The Arrah Years (1916-1924), The Lucknow Years (1925-1935), The Bombay Years (1936-1944) and the Delhi Years (1945-1956).

Each section addresses family experiences, health issues, ministry responsibilities and the political climate of the day. Noteworthy early on is Pickett’s calling, which was rooted in the Student Volunteer Movement, as well as his lifelong friendship with E. Stanley Jones. A thread that runs throughout is Pickett’s work with mass movements. As a missiologist, he was interested in “Indianizing the Church,” “naturalizing Christianity” and a holistic approach to mission service.

Pickett’s mass movement study is prominent in several chapters, and his book Christian Mass Movements in India led many mission boards to rethink mission priorities and strategies. Numerous sections describe the relationship between Pickett and his protégé Donald McGavran (church growth missiologist). McPhee describes the relationship as, “without Pickett’s ideas, we might never have known McGavran; but without McGavran, Pickett’s ideas might never have met their potential.”

The issues that confronted Pickett are some of the same issues that mission workers encounter today. This thorough study can be commended to those with an interest in: the history of mission in south Asia, mass movements for Christ, serving among Hindus and the mark of the Methodist Church in India in the twentieth century.


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