Author Archives: Cindy S-F

Lectionary Commentary – Sunday/Ordinary 19A; Proper 14A (August 7-August 13)

The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Series I: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 see also By the Well podcast on this text and Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b

Series II: NT to be updated when available

Matthew 14:22-33 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Romans 10:5-15

 

Lectionary Commentary – Sunday/Ordinary 18A; Proper 13A (July 31-August 6)

The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Series I: Genesis 32:22-31 see also By the Well podcast on this text and Psalm 17 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Series II: NT to be updated when available

Matthew 14:13-21 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Romans 9:1-5

Lectionary Commentary – Sunday/Ordinary 17A; Proper 12A (July 24-July 30)

The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Series I: Genesis 29:15-28 see also By the Well podcast on this text and Psalm 105:1-11, 45b

Series II: NT to be updated when available

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Romans 8:26-39 see also By the Well podcast on this text

January 28 – Thomas Aquinas

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Thomas Aquinas, Christian thinker

Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest philosophers and theologians in the history of the Church. Born around the year 1225, he lived at a critical juncture in the flowering of Christian life and theology.

At the age of five, he was admitted into the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino where his studies began. Diligent in study, his teachers quickly noticed his meditative disposition and devotion to prayer. Indeed, even at this tender age, he would frequently ask his teachers “What is God?”

In his adolescence, he was transferred by his family to the University of Naples where he come into contact with the fledgling new religious movement of friars who combined the contemplative life of the monks with the active life of teachers and pastors. In particular, he was drawn to the life of the Order of Preachers, an order of friars recently established by St. Dominic. Over the protests of his family, he decided to commit himself to a life of prayer, study, preaching and teaching in the Order of St. Dominic.

His formation and study in the Order saw him come under the tutelage of St. Albert the Great whose interest in the re-emergence of the philosophy of Aristotle in the Latin West quickly rubbed off on his student. In these classes, Thomas’ humble silence was misinterpreted as dullness so much so that he was called the “dumb ox”. Albert, however, could see the genius of his student and proclaimed that one day the entire world will hear the bellowing of his teaching.

Having achieved his bachelors and raised to the priesthood, Aquinas began his tireless work of prayer, preaching, teaching and writing. Appointed to the Dominican house in Paris, Aquinas would twice occupy the chair of theology at the most prestigious of medieval universities, the University of Paris. Indeed, the university system itself as well as the friars movement were Church responses to the increased urbanisation of medieval Europe where more and more people sought a living in the merchant trade of the cities. During his teaching career, Aquinas became great friends with a shining light of the recently founded Franciscan Order, St. Bonaventure. Though they would have their academic differences, the two remained life-long friends.

Thomas’ writings over the course of his life were prodigious. Though he lived less than fifty years, he composed more than sixty works on Sacred Scripture, theology, ethics, politics, catechesis and spirituality. His greatest was the Summa Theologiae or ‘summary of theology’ wherein he treated of salvation history as the great unfolding of God’s truth and love in creation and its return through the grace of redemption wrought by Jesus Christ.

However, following a sublime mystical encounter in prayer, Thomas could see that human words were incapable of grasping the greatness of the truth, beauty and goodness of God. One must ultimately fall silent before the majesty of the divine. He put his pen down, the Summa remained unfinished and God called him to Himself a year later in 1274.

Brother Thomas Azzi

January 17 – Anthony of Egypt

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Anthony of Egypt, reformer of the Church & First Desert Father

There are few more important figures in the history of early Christianity than Anthony of Egypt. By his actions as a desert anchorite he paved the way for the practice of Christian life to develop a genuine monastic ideal. Alone in his cell on Mt Colzim in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, inland from the Nile, he refined asceticism to the point where it became the template for all of monasticism in both Europe and Greece.

Born into a farming family on the Nile in 251 AD, in a village called Coma, Anthony embraced the ascetic life after an early encounter in his local church with a Gospel text that urged him to break with his material ways. “If you be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Matt. 19:21). He received the calling and acted accordingly. At the age of 20, he chose to become a solitary living in a hut outside his village.

Thus began one of the most revolutionary lives in the history of Christianity. No man before Anthony has set such store in the practice of anchoresis (solitary life) and in metanoia (repentance or a turning-about). These became the touchstones of his life as an anchorite, firstly outside his village, later inside an Egyptian tomb for 25 years, and finally as a hermit on Mt Colzim for a period of more than 50 years. He ate little, slept even less and, over the years, turned himself into a ‘metanoic’ man.

His encounter with the mystical impulse was fulsome and unremitting. As St Athanasius, his great chronicler, remarked, he was capable of “going out of himself” and remaining in a state of ecstatic trance for long periods. At other times he experienced challenging battles with demons, which gave us the iconic motif of the so-called “Temptations of Saint Anthony” as depicted in so much of European art. Somehow he was able to overcome these bouts of accidie (spiritual boredom), which themselves were probably the remnants of the psychological taboos of the old Pharaonic religion of his time, in order to become a man of truly luminous statue in the eyes of his contemporaries.

His example made it possible for other men to embrace the anchoritic life. In the years following his death in 256 AD, thousands of men took to the desert up and down the Nile. These actions alone undermined Roman exploitation (through taxes) of Egypt, and the now outmoded Classical ideal then still in vogue in Alexandria. His simple premise that a man could lead an autarchic life in the middle of urban existence set the scene for the great monasteries of Europe to emerge as the founding ideal of early medievalism.

Great saints, such as Francis of Assisi, Ignatius, and much later Simone Weil in the 20th century, sought guidance from his actions. Christ’s life now possessed a practical expression not so much in the value of good works, but in the search for a mystical alignment between a man and his God. Jesus was the intercessionary figure in this respect; but Anthony was his exemplar. Out of this man’s life a new society was born: one that owed its allegiance to no man save he who was prepared to dedicate himself to cultivating what Novalis called “the blue flower” of ascesis.

James Cowan

January 2 – Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa & Gregory of Nazianzus

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa & Gregory of Nazianzus, Christian thinkers

The Cappadocian Fathers – Basil, brother Gregory Nyssen and friend, Gregory Nazianzen – dominated much of theological debate in the Eastern church in the latter part of the 4th century. Basil was the somewhat ruthless church politician and organiser of much monastic life in the East, his brother Nyssen a second-rate bishop but possessing possibly the finest theological mind of them all, and the somewhat hapless Nazianzen making perhaps the most significant contributions to Trinitarian thought in the fourth century, at least as recognised at the time. The younger sister of Basil and Gregory, Macrina, was also a recognised theologian and is sometimes thought of as the fourth Cappadocian.

Basil (c.329-379) was born into a wealthy Cappadocian family. Though not himself drawn to the solitary life, he embraced the communal one and established guidelines for this based on prayer and manual labour. Basil attended the Council of Constantinople in 360 after which he became a fervent supporter of the Creed of Nicaea (325). While not as highly regarded as his friend as a theologian, his On the Holy Spirit and Contra Eunomium are read widely even today. He was an inveterate letter writer and three hundred of these are extant, indicating the esteem in which he and his writings were held.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.329-390) was a trained orator. His family were wealthy landowners and his father, a convert, became bishop of Nazianzus. While the son preferred the quiet and contemplative life, his father (and later Basil) preferred to employ him for their own ecclesiastical purposes. Basil ordained him in 372, against his will, as bishop of Sasima, a small but strategically well placed town; he spent little time there and soon returned home to Nazianzus to assist his dying father. In 375 he withdrew to a monastery for a time. In 379 a synod at Antioch asked him to go to Constantinople to aid the Nicene cause there. In 380 he became bishop of that imperial city. After the death of the Meletius, bishop of Antioch, he was elected to preside over the famous 381 council. His influence on the language of its great Creed is acknowledged. Towards its end, however, he came under attack from those who challenged his episcopate and resigned. He returned to Nazianzus and later to the solitude of Arianzum. He wrote much and was known in antiquity as ‘The Theologian’. His Five Theological Orations, particularly the Fifth on the Holy Spirit, are masterpieces of erudition and continue to be influential into the modern era.

Gregory Nyssen (c. 335-395), bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376, was not a manager and organiser like his elder brother, but in modern times his value as a first-rate thinker is firmly established. Like Nazianzen, he was quiet and reserved, a scholar by nature. He worked early on as a rhetorician but came into ecclesiastical preferment under the guidance and direction of his brother. He was an original thinker influenced by both Origen and Plotinus the Neoplatonist. His work shows the influence of the latter tradition much more than does that of his two more illustrious [in his time] brother and friend. His very originality is what makes him so acceptable to modern eyes. His primary works, such as the Contra Eunomium – written against Eunomius of Cyzicus – and That there are not three Gods bear close reading even today.

Rev Dr David Rankin

December 8 – Richard Baxter

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Richard Baxter, faithful servant

Richard Baxter, born in Shropshire in England on 12 November 1615, was one of the most learned and well-read divines of the seventeenth century. His family’s impoverished circumstances saw him brought up by his maternal grandparents until the age of about ten. It is in his Reliquiae Baxteriannae, or Mr Richard Baxter’s narrative of the most memorable passages of his life and times published posthumously in 1696, that Baxter reflected upon his upbringing.

Baxter’s mother Beatrice had died when he was just 15, and he was greatly affected by his father, Richard Baxter’s ‘serious speeches of God and life to come’. His father encouraged him to read, especially the Bible, and so ‘without any means but Books’ Baxter’s spirituality developed, and God was ‘pleased to resolve me for himself’. Baxter’s education was indifferent, and yet his keen intellect and application saw him acquire a great knowledge and understanding of theological debates and controversies. A constant regret throughout his life, however, was his ‘wanting’ of ‘Academical Honours’ as he was persuaded at 16 against attending university. Yet his wide and voracious reading of books and pamphlets over his lifetime nourished his intellect and debating skills. He amassed a personal library at the time of his death of no fewer that 1400 books.

Although ordained a deacon on 23 December 1638 at Worcester, there is no record of any subsequent ordination, however it is assumed he did enter the ministry. His impressive oratory style of preaching demonstrated his ability to gather and built congregations of like-minded Christians around him.

It was in the early 1660s that Baxter met Margaret Charlton (1636-1681), and corresponded with her on spiritual matters. They were married on 10 September 1662. Margaret Baxter would prove to be a driving force in Baxter’s life and ministry. During the civil wars in the British Isles 1642-9, Baxter had sided with the Parliamentarians, and although refusing an offer made by Oliver Cromwell to be a Chaplain of his troop in the New Model Army, Baxter later would act as a Chaplain for Edward Walley’s regiment. Even after the Restoration (1660), when he was prosecuted for sedition and briefly imprisoned, he maintained his beliefs and continued preaching, and was supported and encouraged in all of this by Margaret.

These life experiences further developed Baxter’s emphasis on morals and grace within his ministry, as well as his desire to seek unity amongst Christians of differing persuasions. Baxter also took great spiritual enjoyment and comfort from psalm singing. He was an advocate for the composition of hymns to enable congregational singing, at a time when only psalms were set to music. In Saints Everlasting Rest (1650) Baxter considered that ‘a singular help to furthering of the work of Faith’ was ‘to call in our Senses to its assistance’. His poem ‘Ye holy angels bright’, from his text ‘A Psalm of Praise’ from Poetical Fragments (c1681) was set to the music of the 136th and 148th psalms respectively from the early eighteenth century onwards.

Baxter’s life-long ill-health, which on a number of occasions saw him ‘expecting to be so quickly in another World’, influenced both his evangelical approach to his preaching and his pastoral ministry. He not only joined in common prayer, but also preached at home to those in his household including his neighbours. 

Baxter published some 130 volumes on varying themes ranging from the art of writing and preaching sermons, and religious instruction, to the study of religion. He received no income from his prolific publications, preferring instead to receive free copies that he then gave away. Some of his works continue to be reprinted today. When Margret died aged 45 in 1681 Baxter wrote A Breviate of the Life of Margaret Baxter (1681), which was a moving tribute about her life. Baxter died ten years later on 8 December 1691, aged 76, and was buried, like his wife, in Christ Church Greyfriars, London.

Dolly MacKinnon

December 4 – Nicholas Ferrar

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Nicholas Ferrar, deacon and person of prayer

Who was Nicholas Ferrar?

Nicholas Ferrar led a spiritual household at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, England for two decades. They were turbulent times: the godly stability of the community in the midst of religious strife commended it to many. It centred around Nicholas’ extended family of some forty, from babes to his elderly mother Mary. His siblings, John and Susanna, continued the community with their families for two more decades after Nicholas’ death, surviving the Civil War.

Nicholas was an academic prodigy: by 18 he was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. In 1613 he left England as part of the retinue of Princess Elizabeth, James I’s daughter, who married the Elector Frederick V. Over the next five years he visited the Dutch Republic, Austria, Bohemia, Italy and Spain, learning Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish, undertaking medical studies at Padua. Meeting Anabaptists, Roman Catholics and Jews broadened his perspective on Christian life.

The formation of the community came about in large part due to disillusionment with business and political life. His father supported the Virginia Company, which founded the American colony in 1607; Nicholas became involved in its administration on his return to London. In 1624 he was a Member of Parliament for Lymington, but a court case saw the Company lose its charter, and Nicholas’ brother John faced the threat of bankruptcy. The family decided to leave London and devote themselves to godly living.

In 1626 Nicholas and Mary purchased the manor in the deserted village of Little Gidding, as part of a deal to rescue John from debt, and were joined by others of the extended family. The abandoned church was cleaned and restored before the house! The renovated manor included an almshouse and dispensary. The Bishop of St David’s, William Laud (later Archbishop of Canterbury) ordained Nicholas deacon later that year.

There was no formal ‘rule’ (despite Puritan suspicions), but the household followed closely the provisions of the (1604) Book of Common Prayer. It processed daily to the church for Morning and Evening Prayer, led by Nicholas; hourly devotions were led by members in the house, based on the psalms and gospels. On Sundays local children were included, and taught psalms; preaching was by the local rector, and Holy Communion was celebrated monthly. In the afternoon, the family walked to Steeple Gidding for Evening Prayer.

The Little Gidding household lived a ‘full homely divinity’. It was active in educating and caring for local children, learning and practicing bookbinding. Harmonies of the Gospels were made by cutting up and pasting lines together, one being made for King Charles I. George Herbert, in his last days, sent Nicholas his poems collection, The Temple, telling him to publish it if he thought it might encourage “any dejected poor soul”: they are still in print, a spiritual literary treasure.

Nicholas died in 1637 on the day after Advent Sunday at 1am, the hour when he began his prayers. He was buried outside the church, leaving space for John to be buried inside, near the church door. (He is commemorated on 4 December, though he died on 2 December.)

S. Eliot honoured Nicholas Ferrar in the Four Quartets, naming one ‘Little Gidding’: its recurring motif, “if you came this way, it would always be the same”, evokes the sense of the eternal which its ‘homely divinity’ embodied amid the strains and stressed of the hectic world around.

The ‘Friends of Little Gidding’ was founded in 1946 with T. S. Eliot as patron, “to maintain and adorn the church at Little Gidding, and to honour the life of Nicholas Ferrar and his family and their life in the village.” The Friends organise an annual pilgrimage to his tomb each July, and celebrate Nicholas Ferrar Day on 4 December.

John’s descendants continued at Little Gidding manor for a century. When the line died out the manor was sold, and was demolished in the early 1800s. St John’s church continues to be in use for occasional services, and is open on weekends.

Resources for liturgical use

Service introduction

Nicholas Ferrar led a spiritual household at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire, England for two decades during the turbulent reign of Charles I. Well-educated and well-travelled, he became disillusioned with business and political life, and in 1626 moved with his extended family to a deserted village, restoring the manor and church. The household of around 40 led a “full homely divinity”, following the Book of Common Prayer closely. Hourly devotions went alongside educating local children, book-binding and writing, and ministering to those in need. Nicholas, ordained deacon by Bishop William Laud, led the household until his death in 1637.

Sentence

How good and how lovely it is, when brothers live together in unity. It is fragrant as oil upon the head that runs down over the beard; fragrant as oil upon the beard of Aaron, that ran down over the collar of his robe.
Psalm 133.1-2

Prayer of the Day

Heavenly Father,
after whom every household in heaven and earth is named,
we thank you for your servant Nicholas Ferrar,
and the members of the Little Gidding community.
We bless your holy Name for their discipline of prayer,
their delight in the psalter,
their concern for the well-being of others,
and the spiritual treasures of their writing.
Give us grace to follow their simple lifestyle,
that the communities in which we dwell
may know your generosity and practical compassion,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who though he was rich, yet became poor for our sake.
Amen.

Readings:      Proverbs 2.1-15
                        Psalm 15
                        Acts 2.44-47 or Titus 2
                        Matthew 5.1-15

by Charles Sherlock

November 22 – Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis, Christian thinker and apologist

S. Lewis is a well known Christian author, academic and apologist for the Christian Faith. He is best known for his fiction writing in which Christian themes and symbolic characters are part of the structure of the story. Charles Staples Lewis was born in 1898 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Though he later became an academic at Oxford and Cambridge he maintained his Irish identity throughout his life.

As a young man he abandoned his childhood Christian faith and became an atheist. However in 1929 he read George MacDonald’s book Phantastes and said it “baptized his imagination” and gave him a deep sense of the holy. In 1931 he became a Christian after a long discussion with two Christian friends, JRR Tolkien and Hugo Dyson. Lewis describes his experience the following day in his book “Surprised by Joy”.

“When we (Warnie and Jack) set out by motorcycle to the Whipsnade Zoo, I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.” He had resisted conversion vigorously and in the same book he noted that he was brought to faith like a prodigal, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.” After his conversion he became a member of the Church of England.

His major vocation was as a Professor of English Language and Literature at the Universities of Oxford and then at Cambridge.

He was a prolific author during his lifetime, with many of his books becoming bestsellers. During the 1940’s he wrote and published in newspapers and for radio with many of those writings later published as books.

In 1950 the first book in the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published. It became very popular and is one of his most enduring and endearing books. The series contains Christian ideas intended to be easily accessible to young readers. In addition to Christian themes, Lewis also borrows characters from Greek and Roman mythology, as well as traditional British and Irish fairy tales.

Best known among his other writings, all of which explore various themes of Christian belief are Mere Christianity, Surprised by Joy, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters and The Four Loves. Following the death of his wife Joy Davidman Gresham after a relatively brief marriage, he wrote the moving book A Grief Observed.

S. Lewis is commemorated as a Christian Apologist. Not one who argued about Christian theology directly, but who was able to present Christian belief both rationally and imaginatively. His attempts to respond to common objections to Christian faith in his time gave him wide appeal to a popular audience.

November 20 – John Williams & Thomas Baker

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

John Williams & Thomas Baker, Christian pioneers

Rev. John Williams

Older members of the Uniting Church who attended a Congregational Sunday School remember collecting money for the missionary ship of the London Missionary Society called the John Williams. There was a whole series of ships over the years bearing the name of John Williams. The Rev. John Williams was not only one of the great missionaries of the Pacific but he also made a significant contribution to the development of the Christian faith in Australia.

John Williams was born in Tottenham High Cross in London 27 June 1796.  His father John was one of the many generations who had been Baptists. His mother had been influenced by Calvinistic Methodism and John Williams became a Congregationalist. He was apprenticed to an ironmonger at age 14 and soon after was entrusted with the management of the business. It was an indication of his ability, managerial skills and boundless energy. These were characteristics he displayed during his highly significant missionary work in the South Pacific.

In 1814 he underwent an evangelical conversion and became a member of the Tabernacle Church (Calvinistic Methodist) and in 1816 he volunteered for missionary service with the London Missionary Society. He was accepted and was ordained a Congregational Minister at Surrey Chapel on 3 September 1816. On 29 October that same year he married Mary Chauner of Deraton Hall, near Choadley in Staffordshire. Williams was accompanied to Tahiti by other mission staff. The Rev. Lancelot Threlkold whose work later in the central coast of NSW with aboriginal people was significant, joined the party at Rio de Janeiro. The group arrived in Hobart Town in March 1817 and John Williams conducted the first Evangelical service in Van Diemans Land. Williams defied the Anglican Chaplain and preached in the open air. The group moved on to Sydney where already there was an itinerant Evangelistic ministry. Governor Lachlan Macquarie was impressed by the group and their enthusiasm.

While not unique to the London Missionary Society there were certain principles that their missionaries were meant to follow. They were encouraged to relate to the administering authority. Not only was Governor Macquarie impressed with the calibre of these missionaries to the South Pacific but Samuel Marsden was very impressed with John William’s ability. There was a bond between John Williams and the Rev. Samuel Leigh, the pioneer Methodist minister in Australia.

Another principle was to encourage economic enterprise both to help the people and to assist the mission to become self-supporting. When John Williams and his wife came to Sydney in 1821, he recruited Thomas Scott to teach the people of Raiatea (the island where the mission was established) how to grow sugarcane and tobacco. Williams also bought a ship to ply between Raiatea and Sydney knowing that if any economic development was to happen it would need a bigger market. The Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane was so impressed by Williams that he gave him a gift of animals and gave him magisterial authority for the islands.

The London Missionary Society encouraged churches that had been established and people who had come to faith to evangelise other communities. So Tahitians went to the Cook Islands, Cook Islanders went to New Caledonia and its outlying islands and to Papua. John Williams was active in encouraging this missionary enterprise and was involved in it himself. In 1839 he landed on a beach in Eromanga in what is today Vanuatu, hoping to bring the Gospel to those people, but he was clubbed to death. It was a sad ending to a brilliant missionary career.

We think of John Williams as an Apostle to the Pacific but he also had an important contribution in Australian Christian faith. He was deeply concerned about the plight of the Aboriginal people, appearing before a House of Commons Committee in London looking into the matter. He was influential in the formation in Australia of the Aborigines Protection Society. He was at heart a missionary.

Much of this material has been drawn for the article on John Williams by Neil Gunsen in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Rev John Mavor

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