Biographical entry: Metcalfe, John R. (1889 - 1970)

1 January 1970


John R. Metcalfe was born in Yorkshire in 1889 and served as a Methodist missionary in the Solomon Islands for thirty-seven years. He served as a home missionary in Great Britain before moving to Victoria in 1914. He became a candidate for the Methodist ministry in 1916 and after being ordained was appointed to the Solomon Islands, in 1920. After a brief period at Roviana, he was appointed to Choiseul as assistant to the Reverend V. Le C. Binêt, and then transferred to the Methodist mission at Sasamungga. Apart from four years at Teop, he remained on Choiseul until 1951. When Binêt was transferred to Senga, on the other side of the island, Metcalf remained in charge at Sasamungga. Apart from four years at Teop, he remained on Choiseul until 1951. One of his first jobs was to work with Binêt to try to settle a feud between the Vurulata and Senga peoples. The success of Methodist efforts came in 1921 when members of the two groups made peace.

Metcalfe was transferred to Bougainville from 1929 to 1934. Metcalf did not believe that the Japanese would reach the Solomons in the Second World War, and did not leave until 1943. He returned to Choiseul after the war and in 1951 achieved his ambition of becoming Chairman of the Methodist Mission in the Solomons, succeeding Rev. John Goldie (q.v.). He held the position until he retired to Australia in 1957. Metcalf continued to take an active interest in the Methodist Mission and its changes to become part of the United Church of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon islands until his death on 1 January 1970. (PAMBU catalogue; NS 31 Jan. 1970; Parker 1994; Carter 1973b; Zoleveke 1980; McDonald 2010; Lynne McDonald, personal communication, 20 Sept. 2011)

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Published resources


  • Carter, George G., A Family Affiar: A Brief Survey of New Zealand Methodism's Involvement in Missions Overseas, 1822-1972, Institute Press, Auckland, 1973b. Details
  • Parker, R., Maekera: The Life Story of Hereditary Chief Nathan Kera and the Sakile Community of Solomon Islands, Solomonesia Productions, n.p., 1994. Details
  • Zoleveke, Gideon, Zoleveke: A Man from Choiseul, John Chick, Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva, 1980. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details


  • McDonald, Lynne, 'Choiseul and the Missionaries: The Methodist Mission on Choiseul, Solomon Islands, 1905-1941', MPhil, Massey University, 2010. Details