Scope and Contents
The collection consists of: annual reports written by Baxter (1956-1958); circular letters sent by the Baxters to friends and supporters (1955-1969); notebooks and diary entries written by Baxter describing his visits to congregations and village churches around Mulanje (1961-1962); general correspondence including a copy of a letter written by John Moir (1895, 1955-1960s); material relating to the United Church Lay Training Centre in Chilema (1965-1968); papers, articles and reports on Malawi and mission work including papers from a 1993 conference on the Malawi crisis of 1964 (1960-1993); and photographs of Malawi and church and mission work (1950s-1960s).
Biographical / Historical
Richard Fraser Baxter, Church of Scotland missionary in Malawi, was born in Glasgow on 25 February 1925. He was educated at Glasgow High School then, from 1943, at Glasgow University and Trinity College from where he graduated M.A. (1946) and B.D. (1951). Between 1944 and 1946 he served with the Royal Marines and from 1950 to 1951 he was an assistant minister at St Enoch's-Hogganfield, Glasgow. After completing his course at Trinity, Baxter worked as Scottish Secretary of the Student Christian Movement in Schools until 1954 when he was ordained. In the same year Baxter and his new wife Julie Renate (Ray, born 1927) left for Malawi (Nyasaland) where they worked as missionaries with the Church of Scotland until 1969. They were first based in Zomba where Baxter was district missionary and responsible for the mission schools. His educational work continued when he moved to Blantyre in 1958 to be Education Secretary of Blantyre Synod. After a period of leave the Baxters were stationed, from 1960, at Mulanje and Richard Baxter spent the next four years travelling between villages visiting congregations, schools and churches and training elders. In 1964 he was appointed minister of St Michael's and All Angels Church, Blantyre then a year later became the first Warden of the United (Anglican / Presbyterian) Lay Training Centre at Chilema. The Baxters left Malawi in 1969 and Richard Baxter took a post as Warden of Scottish Churches House, Dunblane which he held until 1974. From 1975 to 1982 he was minister at Kirkmahoe, Dumfries then between 1983 and 1995 acted as assistant minister at churches in Edinburgh with a spell in 1990 as interim Director of the Church of Scotland Centre, Tiberias, Israel. Baxter retired from active work in 1995 having served on a number of Church of Scotland committees. A keen singer and artist his interest in African music continued and a number of his illustrations and cartoons have appeared in publications. He was awarded an OBE in 1964.