Quarterly Report on South-West Anglican Mission in Northam
Presented to the Director, The Annual Meeting of the Parish of St John’s and St James’,
The Native Welfare Dept, The Native Welfare Committee, and others who are concerned in the workIn June the Director, the Rev. E.C. King, takes up his appointment as Rector of St Luke’s, Cottesloe. About 7 years ago he left Pinjarra to direct an attempt to minister to the fringe dwellers. With a real understanding of the coloured people which had been actively expressed in Kojonup and Pinjarra he brought his administrative gifts to bear upon the work. His gifts of leadership have been appreciated by his staff, not least by us in Northam. The work is not what it appears from outside. People generally just do not understand. Nor can they do as they cannot view the attempt from inside. Mr King has that understanding, and in the support of his staff, especially when the burden reaches breaking point, we have had leadership at its best. Thank you, Mr King.
The Primate’s Visit, on St Mark’s Day, when Bishop Rosier announced our appointment to Kellerberrin, was a grand climax to 2½ years among our coloured people. It was thrilling to sit literally at the Primate’s feet as he proclaimed Christ and spoke of the fuzzy-wuzzies’ brown faces, and to see Saul and Elizabeth among us. His Grace had a special blessing to give them as they left the church, and through them for the children of the Sunday School at the Reserve where their labour of love for Christ is carried on.
With the Primate’s message and the knowledge that Bishop Bruce is making it one of his duties to stimulate concern for our coloured people we feel God’s time has come for us to move on to another task.
Mr King and I are not walking out on the coloured people; changes beyond our control are affecting the Mission which will continue with a stronger emphasis on hostels and training. Many people are disturbed about the withdrawal from the Reserves; others will feel that it doesn’t really matter. If it does matter the work could continue if both money and Missioners can be found. Friends anticipate calling on us in that lovely home, the Rectory, Kellerberrin, and we already know Mr and Mrs Wally McGuire, Mrs Hayden, and others within the boundaries. We are fortunate in being appointed to a town where lessons learnt in Northam will be of lasting value.
As we look back we feel (no doubt with Mr King and the lay Missioners) that our crazy metaphorical lances have been tiled at, and often shattered on, something more important than windmills, and that, although our efforts may have been “a jest to the complacency of crowds”, there has been the challenge which swings “the bell that tolls the high and leaping chimes of sympathy within that true cathedral of our souls.”
Norseman and Esperance. From 14th to 25th April I ministered at Holy Trinity, Norseman, and saw the work among the coloured people at Norseman and Esperance. In general this is progressive and more productive of results than ours. Mostly t is second generation work from the staff point of view, and is focussed on Children’s Homes and Teen-age Training. I Saw nothing comparable either in administration or endeavour with our attempt. The Church of Christ Christian Centre in Norseman will function more like a town church, with its social side more like our East Perth Centre than the work on reserves where the facilities we try to supervise must be left open to misuse and destruction in our absence.
I do not know any boys or girls in our district qualified for Wongutha, but I wish one or two boys would accept work and training at the hospital at Esperance run by Mr and Mrs John Pedlar. All the work I saw is motivated by a keen evangelistic and pastoral concern.
(a.) Employment at Guildford Grammar School has been obtained for Lucy Pickett and Laurel Egan. Both girls are settling in happily and giving satisfactory service.
(b.) Last year, while at St Christopher’s, I taught Bryce Nelson at the High School in scripture class of 3rd Yr boys; this year Lorraine Davis is in the 1st Yr scripture class which I have been privileged to take during first term.
Native Welfare Dept. Recently I have approached Mr Ian Johnston or his assistant for permission for Miss A. Mackay and her friends to enter the Reserve to supervise homework; in connection with the removal of baths to reduce the blocking of drains; for renewal of worn out garbage bins and issue for shack dwellers hitherto not supplied and advice as to our Mission making material available for self-help building. Replies are awaited. N.W.D. Officers are friendly and courteous, but we regret that visits are so few and brief. As Missioners we are concerned with many matters but are the final authority in none. Hence the need to refer to the appropriate authority. Excess individualism creates confusion. Co-ordination is still a vital need.
Three years ago the subject of Citizens’ Rights was in the air. On arrival in Northam in Sept. 1964 I was often quizzed. Then I hardly knew what to say. We have talked to many people, faced up to many problems, and often called upon by people in distress. The long list of troubles and tragedies ever with us and letters from distant places leaves no doubt that our time in Northam has been set within the wider context of a general deterioration due to alcohol. On the Pingelly situation today’s West, 6th May, supports this conclusion.
The Native Welfare Committee seems to lack a constitution; its relation to the S.-W. Anglican Mission and its policy needs definition. 2 ½ years ago we were welcomed; the pattern of the work was changing and I was not building as Mr Quayle had done (it seems the Mission built houses may be demolished soon); not being nominal Anglicans we were involved in fellowship and service at St James’ and St John’s; during the interregnum I was more involved; our ministry included town-dwellers in Northam as well as the Reserves and tow-dwellers in York and Goomalling. Thus a talking point has been found by those who think our noses should be applied unremittingly to the Northam Reserve grindstone.
We have neither the ability nor the physical stamina to do everything; the work is slow and less productive of results than we wish. We have disappointments and hopes deferred. The most disciplined Missioners need support rather than the destructive criticism which they often have to bear.
During a high pressure period, Aug. to Oct. ’66, in which we moved and I had two long trips at the time of my father’s death, Committee relationships became difficult and we welcomed the Director’s intervention. Mr f. Killick, the President, stated that it was not the function of the Committee to help our Mission. Accepting this I decided to forbear, but, as I needed help began to wonder whether I should try to draw around us helpers who would be friends of the Mission. In spite of this my frequent contacts with Mr Killick have always been friendly, and I have taken him into my confidence on many problems. Realising that I should have done this long ago, my final word to the Committee is to suggest that a devotional approach be brought to bear on its business. This should not only be possible but effective in bringing about the unity of the Spirit in the bod of peace.
Gratitude. A long list must be briefly stated to leave room to open our eyes to open doors of service. Apologies for inevitable omissions. Clergy and people of St John’s and St James’ with the out-centres; clergy of the Avon Deanery, especially the Revs P. Atkins and M. Ward whose parishes we have entered in the course of our work; members of the Ministers’ Fraternal, especially the Rev. S.J. Shearn in regard to the tenancy of his house and his concern as Interim Moderator in the appointment to Kellerberrin; the Rector and people of St Alban’s Highgate, whose missionary outlook has not only been directed to distant places, but to our situation at the door; Mrs Davies in the Kindergarten for her firm loyalty and independent mind; many donors and the mammoth job of sorting and selling largely done by Mrs Wrightson; numerous contacts with officials in many walks of life; cooperation from school teachers and instructors of adult classes; orchardists and fruiterers from whom we have received gifts and made purchases; the understanding and friendship of Sister Rose of Silver Chain; Messrs John Luscombe and staff for service, advice and cooperation; our many friends among the people to whom we have tried to minister; and finally Ron Williams and his team with their ministry of song. We remember his unswerving devotion and rousing choruses, e.g. “it’s always darkest before dawn”, and on tape the children pleading “We are all hungry and Mummy is weeping, Don’t sell Daddy whiskey today.”
Open Doors of Service. I have been to be more specific in stating what help is needed. In Feb. I listed some jobs. Here is another list which includes most of them:- windows and louvres to be renewed, put in sink at hall, hand basins for Kindergarten; put in drain at 1st Aid Rm; car bodies to be removed; acquire and spread fresh sand. After 2 years almost unaided effort the people are beginning to help tidy the reserve.
We take our hands off an unfinished task and trust that God will both call and enable those who , for Christ’s sake, will carry on.
B. P. Wrightson
Missioner, S-W. Anglican Mission
6th May , 1967
This document is from the personal papers of Mary Elliott – the language is that of the author