May 7 – John Flynn

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 Flynn, Christian pioneer


John Flynn (1880-1951) was a Presbyterian minister, missionary, and founder of the Australian Inland Mission. He was born in Moliagul in Victoria, Australia. In 1902, after four years with the Education Department of Victoria, Flynn joined the home mission staff of the Presbyterian Church, working amongst remote communities.

First, through his successful publication, Bushman’s Companion (1910), and then through the Oodnadatta Nursing Hospital, Flynn began a long career of developing services and ministry to bush dwellers. He was ordained in 1911 when he was assigned for two years to what was known as the Smith of Dunesk Mission based at Beltana, South Australia. In 1912 he reported on the needs of remote Aboriginal and white communities in the Northern Territory, presenting a vision of the church’s mission to the sparsely populated areas of inland Australia.

For the next 39 years, as superintendent of the Australian Inland Mission, Flynn was guided by the motto “For Christ and the Continent” and by putting need before creed. In 1928 he founded the mission’s Aerial Medical Service at Cloncurry, Queensland, later known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.  This fulfilled his dream of a “mantle of safety” for outback Australians. From 1939 until 1942 Flynn was moderator general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. His image is on the Australian $20 note and there are many memorials to Flynn around Australia.  At Moliagul there is a memorial with the inscription, “Across the lonely places of the land he planted kindness and gathered love.”  The John Flynn Memorial Church in Alice Springs is his official memorial.

William Emilse