Thoburn United Methodist Church
is dedicated to the memory of
brother and sister 
James and Isabella Thoburn
whose rich legacy is deeply rooted 
in Belmont County.

While it is not unusual for 

such distinctions to be made
by churches and congregations, 
the Thoburn’s contributions
were extraordinary.

James and his sister were born in

1836 and 1840 respectively 
on a farm east of St. Clairsville.
These two remarkable people 

had equally remarkable parents
who instilled in them a strong character,
dedication to and responsibility for 
their fellow man.
From her mother, Isabella learned

what she would later call 
“the law of service” 
which, simply stated, was
"we are all on earth to serve, 
not to be served."
Isabella walked that path all her life.

James Thoburn was a man of

incredible abilities 
and strong contrasts.
An evangelist, his entire life

was dedicated to preaching 
the gospel of Jesus Christ.

After graduating from college, 

he left for India in 1859 
where he would serve nearly 
50 years as missionary and bishop 
of India and Malaysia,
the first chosen for that 

sub-continent, in 1888.

A man of great vision, 

James had the rare gift of 
inspiring others to follow 
his leadership.

It was James who first opened

the possibility of Isabella 
coming to India.
He envisioned a promising future

for India which included 
educating women and girls,
but finances did not exist 

for a school in every village 
where there were Christians.

Without much thought, 

he one day penned a letter 
to Isabella, asking if she would 
like to teach in India.
Drawn by the “law of service” 

from her youth,
Isabella accepted without hesitation.

 She was the first 

Methodist woman missionary 
to be sent on her own 
to the mission field,
sponsored by the 

Women’s Foreign 
Missionary Society 
which would later become 
The United Methodist Women.

Isabella’s work grew rapidly
 from a one room school in 1870 
to the stately and respected 
Isabella Thoburn College 
20 years later
It carries on her work

 to this day.

Thoburn United Methodist Church

stands in tribute to
James and Isabella Thoburn;
 its congregation linked inseparably

with the early history of Methodism
in the mission field.

Isabella Thoburn College

“The purpose of Isabella Thoburn College is to provide higher education, primarily to Christian women, which will include the imparting of sound learning, the building of character and the knowledge of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, to present to these young women the message of Jesus Christ through regular Bible study, Christian testimony and example, witness and worship in accordance with Christian belief and doctrines and to extend the facilities and opportunities to young women
of other faiths and communities who voluntarily wish to receive education in Christian environment”

To contribute to the future of

Isabella Thoburn College
Master’s and Post-Graduate Programs