Project Canterbury

Flood Tide in the Pacific: Church and Community Cascade into a New Age

By Frank William Coaldrake

Stanmore, New South Wales: Australian Board of Missions of the Church of England in Australia, no date.


Staff--Indigenous and Expatriate

The diocese is divided into districts with head stations. Each head station is responsible for establishing and maintaining outstations. It is usual to find between ten and twenty outstations all staffed entirely by Papuans--clergy, evangelists, teachers, medical orderlies and workmen. The head station usually has a community of villagers who live near by and boarding school children. These make a full pastoral charge for a priest, a full teaching job for a teacher and a clinic job for a nurse. The outstation rounds are a patrolling job more than sufficient to occupy other priests, teachers and nurses, who are responsible for the training and supervision of the Papuan staff in the outstations.

At present the head station expatriate staff will usually be only one priest, one teacher and one nurse. They carry the central work at the head station and the patrolling work in 20 or more outstations spread along a walk of fifty miles or more.

Here is a picture of the partnership between expatriate and local staff in the diocese:--


Australian   Papuan
2 Bishops 1
35 Priests 18
1 Deacons 15
  Evangelists 25
7 Franciscans 2
4 Sisters of C.H.N.  
  Melanesian Brothers 10
22 Fully Trained Teachers  
  Teacher Evangelists 200
5 Assistant Teachers 250
  Pupil Teachers 72
3 Doctors  
12 Nursing Sisters 1
1 Medical Orderlies 85
4 Builders 10
  Transport Staff  
1 Boat 13
2 Road  
1 Plane 6
13 Others 5

The Church in New Guinea began seventy years ago with two priests.

Now Papuans themselves are the spearhead of the evangelistic drive to their own people, and Papuan priests, teachers and medical workers outnumber Australian staff by 7 to 1.

The Papuan was never nomad. He has always fed, clothed, housed and defended himself, and lived a settled life in a village, providing for his family sufficiently well to have survived through many centuries. Today he continues to live this way. He does not seem to put out any more energy than he used to do in the old easygoing life. There are, however, more demands on him today.

From the Church's point of view the convert is a self-supporting citizen of his country who hardly knows what cash is but has enough of his world's goods to support life.

The Church has been careful to avoid making beggars. It has always expected people to continue the normal, self-supporting village life. The Church building has been built by the village workers without wages, using materials provided by the village on land belonging to the village. The local materials, palm leaf and timber rot after a few years and the village has been continually rebuilding its Church.

[23] New Building Standards

The village, wanting a school, has also been expected to provide the land and materials, and build the school.

Today, provided in this way, are approximately 200 churches and 400 school buildings. But very few of these are constructed with permanent building materials.

The only completed permanent Church building is the Cathedral at Dogura. It was built in the 1930's. Building materials cost £4,000 of which £3,300 was provided by legacies from England. The balance, £700, was provided by Papuan peoples' offerings. They also provided the labour free. It is larger than St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney.

After seventy years of ceaseless building and rebuilding of churches and schools the termination of this non-stop do-it-yourself building programme should be encouraged for the following reasons, namely:--

(a) The staff are compelled to spend too large a proportion of their time on the building programme.

(b) Local materials are increasingly scarce, so that distance and cartage adds to the burden of the building programme.

(c) The Administration's policy for schools is to withhold registration and subsidies unless the buildings are fairly permanent. Village materials cannot satisfy the demands of the Education Department. The logical development of departmental policy will be that unsatisfactory buildings will mean not merely the loss of subsidy but the closing of the school.

(d) Government and commercial buildings of semipermanent materials are appearing in even remote [22/23] parts of the Territory. The Church's buildings are, by contrast, of such a low standard that the reputation of the Mission is damaged.

Cash is rapidly invading the life of these people in whose livelihood it previously had no place. It is not possible nor desirable to halt this, but it becomes a task of the Church to teach the people to understand money and to spend it wisely. This requires perception and disciplines which people neither possess nor develop easily. They can make their offerings for school and church buildings in cash.

Australian church money is only a small part of the total gifts being poured into the Church's programme in Papua and New Guinea. Bookkeeping cannot record potatoes with pounds, and conversion of gifts in kind to a cash value would not be realistic. The picture shows the Papuan Church rooted in the village, receiving a little assistance from expatriate missionaries, who number about one-seventh of the total Church staff. The material needs of the Church are supplied mainly by the Papuans themselves. The cash needs are met partly by Government subsidy earned, partly by the Church in England, mainly by the Australian Board of Missions, [£83,000 in 1963] and also by the cash offerings of the Papuans themselves.

No one can measure the spiritual gifts being offered in daily service by many hundreds of Papuans and New Guineans as well as expatriate staff. These spiritual gifts are the fruits of the Church's witness and ministry in Papua during seventy years. The New Guinea Mission has always been short of funds. The A.B.M. has never been able to provide anything like the requirements of the Mission's programme. Making a virtue of necessity the Bishop has caused the people to "get by" through their own gifts and services. The result has been beneficial to the character of the Papuan Church.

[25] It is suggested that A.B.M. giving during a defined period of from three to five years should aim:

(a) To develop strong staff training central institutions and programmes in education, evangelism and the ministry.

(b) To encourage local effort in all aspects of the life of the village Church by making A.B.M. cash gifts in the form of subsidy on local giving by the villagepeople.

Education, Schools and Teachers

There are now over 400 licensed and commissioned Papuan Missionaries and Mission workers. Almost all are teacher-evangelists.

The real strength of the Church in Papua and New Guinea is to be found in these men.

The last five years have been marked by considerable advancement in educational standards. In the last five years 120 Papuan teachers have passed the Government Registration Examination and have qualified as teachers, 18 of whom are women.

The Church is also providing for those who are capable of going beyond the standards of the ordinary Mission schools. The Martyrs' Memorial School, under Archdeacon B. Roberts, its headmaster, now has over 170 boys, and the standards of this school are rising year by year. A similar school for girls has for four years been conducted at Dogura by the Sisters of the Community of the Holy Name. Some from this school have already gone on for training as teachers or nurses. From the Martyrs' Memorial School, apart from boys who have won Government scholarships to Australian schools, three others were sent by the Mission to the Slade School at Warwick, in Queensland, and have now returned to take up teaching work. In technical training the St. Christopher's Manual [25/26] Training School, under Mr. L. J. Hart, has obtained recognition and approval by the Government as a technical training institution.

At each of the two base hospitals, at Eroro and Dogura, are Medical Training Schools where Papuans of both sexes undergo a four years' course for the work of Medical Evangelists. The number who have qualified for their medical certificates and been licensed to go out as Medical Evangelists is increasing. Some are working at the main Mission hospitals, others are in charge of isolated medical posts in inland places among the heathen. One male and one female trainee from the base hospital at Dogura have been sent by the Mission to Melbourne hospitals for further training, and the authorities at the hospitals have commended the high standard already reached before they came.

In the Mount Lamington area, where four new centres have replaced the two that were destroyed at the time of the eruption, numbers of outstations have been opened in new areas so that the work has extended inland into the Kokoda district and Managalasi Mountains.

The Highlands

There has been great extension work in the Highlands. Though the beginnings were delayed through the Mount Lamington eruption, progress has been made in recent years. Arduous pioneering journeys have been undertaken by Bishop Hand, accompanied by one or two intrepid missionaries, into country for which permits are still required for entry because of the warlike nature of the inhabitants. Besides the work in the Siane Valley in the Goroka district, and at Aiome in the Madang district, Bishop Hand has opened a new field in the Simbai area amongst primitive peoples in the Jimi River and Shrader Mountains. Outstations have been established there under [26/27] the Melanesian Brothers and Papuan Lay Missionaries, and thousands of primitive heathen are hearing the Gospel for the first time. This advance in the Highlands is the more remarkable in view of the few white missionaries available. It has depended almost entirely upon the Lay Papuan Evangelists and Melanesian Brothers. But if they are to be brought to the standards reached in Papua, teachers and other white missionaries, and especially priests, will be needed.

In the smaller but vital field of New Britain, the Church is just holding its own. There has been a sad paucity of white missionaries. Where these are, there has been advancement both on the missionary side and in education. The remarkable thing in New Britain has been the loyalty of the people to their Church over long periods of isolation.

The Towns

All the main towns in the Territory now have a Rector or Chaplain: Port Moresby, Samarai, Lae, Wau, Bulolo, Madang, Goroka and Rabaul. Three new churches in these European centres have been dedicated: St. Martin's, Boroko, a suburb of Port Moresby; St. George the Martyr, Rabaul, replacing the church destroyed in the war; and All Saints', Bulolo, where there was no church before the war. A Chaplaincy at Goroka, a town of growing importance in the Highlands, established some three years ago, forms a base for missionary work in the Siane Valley. Churches are yet to be built at Goroka and Madang.

The Bishop, as a member of the Legislative Council of Papua and New Guinea, is able to bring to bear a Christian view upon all vital questions. Matters brought before the Council in these years have included marriage, drink control, labour regulations, education and public health.

[28] Religious

The Community of the Holy Name Sisters at Dogura has increased to four. The coming in 1959 of the Society of St. Francis means that there is now a Community of men. The Friars have taken over work at St. Francis' Mission Welfare Centre at Koke, Port Moresby, and already they have brought great strength to the Church throughout the Diocese and are already building a training centre for Novices in the Popondetta area.

Papuan Staff

Papuan staff training can be traced from earliest stages when the small heathen child is loved for his own sake and won into the faith. He stays at the village school until Primary Standard 2. The school is under a Papuan teacher who probably left school 20 years ago when the top class was Standard 2. The teacher is faithfully handling each generation of children. In the village he is more than teacher. He is the evangelist searching out the heathen, the catechist instructing newcomers, the Layreader maintaining the services daily in the village church, and he is the chief counsellor to the village leaders banded together in the Church Council. He is hard-working, poor and faithful. This man has laid the foundation of Christian character in the child by the time he leaves the village school and goes to board at the Mission School at the head station.

Here he spends two or three years. If he passes Standard 6 entrance exam. he will go to one of the higher primary schools, either St. Paul's School at Dogura or the Martyrs' School at Agenehambo. Girls go to the Holy Name School at Dogura.

[29] All who complete the Upper Primary Standards 7, 8 and 9 will have opened before them the full range of careers in Papua. Government employment with security, comfort and authority is offering attractive salaries. Commercial employment is available with less security but higher salaries. The home village offers a colourful career to the man who can make good at the expense of his fellows. The Church's call in the face of all this is to poverty, hard work and lowliness in a dead-end job. At least one-third of the pupils leaving the Church's schools want to serve the Church.

Over a two-year period, out of 52 boys who passed out of Martyrs' School, 25 entered the service of the Mission.

Papuan staff is always loyal and competent within the limits of its schooling. With the upsurge in education there is a wave of Papuans with full Primary education and a trickle of men and women with Secondary. We expect the Church in the next five years to produce enough Papuans with Upper Primary and Secondary schooling to staff the schools and provide the needed clergy.

One noticeable weakness in recruiting Papuan staff is in medical work. The worry is that those young men from Church schools who enter medical training go into the Department of Health rather than into Mission medical training. The reasons are not only that the Government offers much more money, but also that its facilities and equipment are much higher; Government medical training takes place in Port Moresby, which has a great attraction for all Papuans; Mission medical staff tutors are nearly all female and Papuan men prefer the male tutors of the Government.

[30] St. Aidan's College--Training Teacher Evangelists

St. Aidan's College, on the outskirts of Dogura, is the Staff Training College producing teacher-evangelists for the whole of the Mission.

There are two hopes in respect of every man accepted for the three-year course in St. Aidan's. The first is that he will pass the Education Department examinations and gain a certificate of registration as a teacher, either the lower "A" or the higher "B".

He will then have to choose whether to enter teaching for the Government or for the Church. Almost all St. Aidan's men enter the teaching service of the Church as teacher-evangelists. To qualify for the work of an evangelist, in addition to teaching, they spend one of their three years in college in a special course; pastoralia, doctrine and Scripture are studied. Throughout the three years' in college there is a regular routine of prayer, worship, farming and building, as well as study.

The second hope for each is that he will prove worthy to be a priest. The proof of this has been required not only in the college course but in years of service as a village teacher-evangelist. The more promising a man the more difficult the assignment he is given. The Bishop eventually calls the selected men into Newton College for Theological training. There are over 300 men trained by St. Aidan's now serving the Church as teacher-evangelists or medical orderlies.

These men are the backbone of the Diocese. Their character and personality makes them outstanding in the whole of Papua.

St. Aidan's College can only handle 45-50 men in threeyearly stages. The addition of 15 men each year to the staff of the Diocese is not sufficient to meet the pace the Government is now setting.

[31] Additional staff and buildings at the college and funds could be well used here. Strategically this staff-training institution should be a first priority for funds and staff.

This development seems the more important because St. Aidan's graduates would be the strategic reserve of potential priests. Ordinarily, about one in ten will be selected for training for the priesthood. No risk of mistake is taken and no mistakes have been made. In an emergency a large proportion of former St. Aidan's graduates now serving as teacher-evangelists would be ready for ordination. If circumstances compelled, these men could be ordained with only such further training as opportunity might permit.

Newton College--The Indigenous Ministry

The war and the Mt. Lamington disaster were staggering blows. Their full weight was felt especially in the indigenous ministry.

The war not only caused a break of three years in the ordination training programme, it had a more serious effect in dispersing all scholars. Many potential priests were never recovered at student level. Among the students whose schooling was terminated by the war there were possibly fifty to a hundred who would have had a vocation to Holy Orders.

The Mt. Lamington disaster caused equally grievous loss. Twenty young men already in the later stages of training for priesthood were gathered at a retreat at Sangara. By a truly demonic force they were wiped out. Thus was lost the Church's output for the priesthood during the first six post-war years. In 1951 the Church had to start again.

Since 1951 the Bishop has exercised extraordinary restraint and ordained only men indisputably ready.

[32] At the same time great improvements in education have brought an increase in the number of men qualified for training as potential evangelists, teachers and priests.

In the past, emphasis has been on character and Christian leadership as proven in assignments to village posts. Academic education was limited by the low educational level of the community. The rapid advance of community levels has made it possible now to select for training young men who have completed nine years of schooling.

To make Newton College adequate for the numbers required by the diocese an increased staff, a Vice-Principal's residence, two lecture rooms, a library, an additional single men's dormitory and married men's quarters are essential. There is only one lecturer on the staff at present.

Papuan Staff--Wages and Quarters

The basis of employment of all Papuan and New Guinea staff workers is that the worker grows his own food, builds his own house and receives a small monthly cash wage for other necessities. The devoted service which has been rendered for half a century on this basis staggers the imagination. The Church has been extended and maintained by some hundreds of persons living in a spirit of poverty, content in a remarkable way to make do with the little available. There has been no change in this spirit.

Change in the external circumstances around the Church is now taking place rapidly. These changes make it necessary for the New Guinea Mission to contemplate improvements in housing and a considerable increase in the monthly cash wage for all Papuan workers.

[33] The Papuan Church has been asked for many years to provide the cash needed to pay the Papuan staff. The Papuan Church Fund has been kept before the people as their responsibility and as the means of paying this cash wage. At present the contributions of the people to the Papuan Church Fund equal about one-third of the costs of the Papuan staff. In recent years the Papuan staff have been told that their allowances will be increased as the contributions to the Church Fund increase.

It is doubtful whether the necessary increase in payments can be deferred long enough to allow the building up of cash contributions to the Papuan Church Fund.

Port Moresby Co-Cathedral

The Bishop intends to build a new church as a Co-Cathedral in Port Moresby, which might be described now as the settled non-missionary administrative city of the Diocese, soon now to have a University College.

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