Archdeacon William Portman of Regina has donated his theological library to the Airahu Rural Training Centre, at the diocese of Malaita, Church of Melanesia in the South Pacific.
“I’ve been thinking about sending these (books) to some place in the Third World for quite some time now,” said Mr. Portman, who is retired, referring to about 300 books in the collection, which were sent recently with financial assistance from the partnerships department of the Anglican Church of Canada.
As book editor of Anglican Journal for 11 years (he retired from the newspaper in May 2001), Mr. Portman said he had acquired much unsolicited material, some of which he had already donated to Saskatoon’s College of Emmanuel and St. Chad. “I was getting 600 copies a year,” he said.
The collection includes “enough good material that would be useful to someone,” including a 12-volume Interpreter’s Bible, reference books on various topics including worship and sacraments, materials about the Anglican Communion and contemporary issues, said Mr. Portman.
Mr. Portman said he contacted Bishop Terry Brown of Malaita and offered him the books. “I asked him if they could use it there and he said yes,” said Mr. Portman. “My son and I catalogued the books, which filled 38 pages, and sent a copy to Terry and he marked the ones they wanted, which was most of them.” (Bishop Brown is a former mission co-ordinator for Asia and the Pacific with the partnerships department of the Anglican Church of Canada.)
The retired priest expressed hope that more people would donate their books. “There’s an awful lot of books out there that still have value for Third World seminarians who are desperate for material,” he said.
Mr. Portman said that while he knew of retired priests who have donated their books to their old seminaries, many more materials have either ended up in landfills or are languishing in church basements.