Legacy Stories

Martha Drummer: Love in Action in Angola

Martha Drummer: Love in Action in Angola
Martha Drummer

Martha Drummer was an African-American Methodist deaconess sent as a missionary to Angola in 1906 by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society. She served an orphanage in Quessua that was 85 miles away from the nearest railroad. Born into poverty in 1871 in Barnesville, Georgia, the third of eight children, her father, a local Methodist pastor, died when she was 15 years old. Her determined mother moved the family to Griffin, Georgia, for school, and Drummer worked her way through Clark College, today’s United Methodist Women-supported Clark Atlanta University, and onto the Methodist Women's Training School for Deaconesses in Boston. She then spent three more years in a nurse training course.

In Quessua, in addition to helping run an orphanage of 40 girls, Drummer also provided nursing care and health education and instruction. She was also a popular preacher, according to Florence Hooper, a mission secretary who had been responsible for sending Drummer’s monthly pension, who wrote in World Outlook in 1952 that “her arrival in a village heralded by the beating drums, ordered by the chief, so that all the people might gather to hear her preach.” Her Quessua Mission still exists today, as Quessua Mission Boarding School, supported by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. Drummer’s example of love in action lives on through today’s deaconesses and through United Methodist Women members whose Mission Giving supports her alma mater and women around the world and whose prayers fulfill her request: “Say Africa when you pray.”

Compiled from “Martha Drummer: A Study in Achievement” by Florence Hooper in World Outlook, July 1952; “Martha Drummer: Missionary to Angola” by Christie House for New World Outlook and the Methodist Mission Bicentennial; and “Address to Mission Forward Symposium April 19, 2010, St. Louis, Missouri” by Dana L. Robert.

Posted or updated: 6/5/2019 12:00:00 AM

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