I Heard Him Call: The Story of Neville Langford-Smith

Margaret Thornton


Seen by some as ‘always controversial’ and by others as ‘humble’ and ‘most caring’, Neville Langford-Smith lived among African peoples in Tanganyika and Kenya for over four decades, sharing their friendship, joys and sorrows. Beginning in 1932 aged 22 years of age, he first served in Uha, midway between Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika, setting up mission stations and schools in strategic places. He became a teacher, headmaster and teacher trainer and in 1937 was ordained priest in Sydney, marrying fellow missionary and kindergarten teacher, Vera Dobson shortly after. Together they shared in the development and encouragement of an indigenous church in Tanganyika and Kenya, experiencing the difficult war years, the East African Revival and the turbulent years of the birth and growth of Kenya as a nation.

Queenslander Margaret Thornton spent eight of her thirty-one years’ experience as a CMS missionary in Kenya as the Bishop Neville’s secretary and diocesan bookkeeper, working closely with him and his wife Vera. Her leadership roles in Africa encompassed Sunday Schools, Lay Training, Theological Education by Extension, writing and publishing, enabling her to witness the remarkable growth of the church in Kenya and Tanzania.

Small of stature, inclined to shyness and a very real love of ordinary people.

Bishop Neville Chynoweth, Redhill, ACT, Australia

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