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.


THE DIOCESE OF MELANESIA, which Bishop George A. Selwyn was instrumental in founding, is an associated missionary diocese of the Church of the Province of New Zealand. The Diocese has always had a close connection with the Australian Board of Missions, which continues to support it by prayer, offerings and personnel.

EXTENT: It comprises the scattered islands of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate and the New Hebrides. This means constant travelling by the Bishop and others whose work it is to supervise and strengthen the life of the Church. Thus sea transport is one of the main concerns of this island Diocese. With the Southern Cross as the flagship, there is a fleet of mission vessels, such as the "Baddeley", "Fauabu Twomey" and the "Patteson".


Area: 3/4 million square miles. Population: 150,000.

Christians: 100,000. Anglicans: 50,000.

Melanesian Clergy: 100. Brotherhood: 75. English, N.Z. and Australian Clergy: 12. Catechists: 900 (unpaid).

District Schools, six Boarding Schools, two Hospitals, one Leprosarinm, Clergy Training Schools, Workshop and Shipyard, Printery.

Conversion is what Melanesia needs, quickly. Conversion to modern. Conversion to Christ has been done so thoroughly that there are few heathen left, but new heathens are coming now out of the process of sophistication. From now on the heathen converted will about equal the number of the faithful lost to the new heathendom. To convert the heathen to Christ was the work of the Mission, much of it done by Melanesian converts themselves.

The Melanesian Christian today is like the mediaeval Christian Englishman, an independent peasant living off the soil, clothed in grass instead of tweed, housed in leaf instead of stone. The crops and the land are his living with a small sum of cash thrown in. "Passing rich at £40 a year" is quite an accurate description of Melanesia today. The parish register's record of the year's [34/35] offerings; the yearly tax to the headman; the unnumbered coins on the dice in the gambling group; the cash to the peddler of trinkets, finery and sweets, who comes on a motor launch--these are slowly spreading surface movements. Underneath is the life of a man subsisting in the soil--well fed, adequately clothed and housed, sure and secure in his place in the village, lucky if the local parson has picked him out as one of the few to be schooled.

The picture has become blurred in the last decade and the changes are now moving faster. From mediaeval peasantry to modern Europe took two centuries and four revolutions. In Melanesia it is happening in the one lifetime.

To convert the Christian from mediaeval peasantry to modern plenty without losing him to the new heathen materialism is the task of the Church now.

There are many wonderful missionaries in Melanesia. A report could be filled with their daily tasks. Gallant doings would make good reading. That used to be the whole story, appealing in its quaintness--snakes and magic, sharks and dillybags, warfare and preaching, death and conversions. Now there are more difficult things to be brought to the attention. The heroic and dedicated details must be left to the imagination.

The Melanesian Pattern

Having been in New Guinea and Polynesia recently, I became aware of something in Melanesia which is not yet apparent in the other two. Remembering that Melanesia has a history of a hundred years, the difference is probably due to longer life. Whatever the cause, there is a deeper spread of the Church in the island community. It is not just that whole regions are completely and exclusively Anglican, for that can be found in Papua. In [35/36] Melanesia, in such areas, the community as a whole has a life which is the life of the Church in a Melanesian pattern. The clergy are Melanesian entirely from Rural Deans outward. Two Rural Deans are to be made Bishops. Expatriate clergy are only found as Archdeacons, or as school staff, or in Honiara. With the Melanesian clergy are large numbers of catechists and the well-known Melanesian Brotherhood evangelists.

Melanesians on the staff of the Diocese number 1,546, out of a total of 1,605 persons. Melanesian clergy exceed 100, catechists 800, teachers about 300.

In organisation also the Church exhibits local patterns--the Church Association, the Village Unions, the District Education Committee and the Melanesian Brotherhood. It would be worthwhile commissioning social science analysts from the Australian National University to study the structure and growth of these organisations. The report should be helpful to the other Pacific Dioceses. My visit leads me to suggest that the Diocese should be encouraged to bring these four organs to full development.

(a) Church Associations

The affluence of the American Armed Forces in the Solomons during the war was remembered by the Islanders when the difficult years of reconstruction came upon them. Many rebelled against the austerity of British rule and turned to "prophecy". The return of the Americans was confidently expected. The Islanders organised themselves to flout British rule and prepare for the coming of the Americans. This was "Marching Rule". The Island of Malaita was one of the most active centres. Although the British Government was opposed, there was apparently no theoretical opposition to the English Church; but, in [36/37] fact, in many villages the Melanesian priests of our Church found themselves denounced because they tried to keep the peace and argued against American Messianism. "Marching Rule" had an element of "Cargo Cult" in it. The power of "Cargo Cult" to take away the membership of the Christian Church was demonstrated on a Presbyterian island in the New Hebrides. From a membership of over a thousand, all but seven left the Church.

It was in this situation in Malaita that one priest, the Reverend Willie Masurah, called two neighbouring priests to meet him secretly. That was in 1949. In Honiara recently I was able to meet him. He is now Canon of the Cathedral. With him was the layman Mr. Timothy Faifu, who had been called in to act as secretary for those secret meetings in 1949. With their churches dissipated by false hopes and no sign of help from outside they prayed and read the Bible. Gradually they wrote into their notebook the rules for a Church Association, as follows:

1. The name is to be THE CHURCH ASSOCIATION.

2. This Association has been formed after much prayer and we believe it comes from the guiding of the Holy Spirit. It has only one aim--to help and strengthen the Church in Melanesia by getting the people to love and support the Church more than they have done before. So we begin this Association trusting in the help and guidance of Almighty God.


The Foundation on which the Association is built is the Great Law of God--that we love God and our neighbour. We are members of one family and we must love and help one another. St. Matthew 22: 35-40.


The Association will help the people, first by strengthening the life of the Church; then by helping the life of the people by schools, medical work, and by teaching good ways of gardening and farming.

We hope the Association will spread all through the Diocese of Melanesia, and it will be the work of those islands where it is strong to help the other islands that are not yet strong. Romans 15:1.


The Mission and Government will help as much as they can to support the Association, especially by providing what is wanted for the farms, schools and hospitals. At first, help will be wanted with money to get the work started.


(i) Our Lord and His Apostles had a bag of money with which they bought what they needed, and also used it to help the poor. St. John 12:6-13, 29, 30.

(ii) Then in the early Church everyone wanted to help by giving ALL HE HAD. Acts 2:44-47; 4:34-37.

(iii) There was a regular collection of money from the Christians. 1 Cor. 16:1, 2.

(iv) This money was used to help those who were in need. Acts 11:29, 30; 1 Cor. 16:3.

The Church can do its work well ONLY WHEN EVERYONE HELPS by giving.



(i) It shall be the duty of every baptised person to give 2/- each year to the Church Association.

(ii) People in special positions will give more, like this:

Bishop, £3.

Archdeacon, £2/10/-.

Priests, anyone in special position in Government or trade or Mission, £2.

Deacons, £1.

Lay workers in Mission, dressers, headmen, storekeepers, Junior School teachers, £1.

District School teachers, 15/-.

District teachers, village chiefs, village teachers, 5/-.

(iii) Copra, porpoise teeth, shell, or anything that can be sold for money can be given for the Collection.

(iv) If a village has a Mission plantation and makes copra from it, half the money must be given to the Association and half to the village Church Fund.

(v) Those going away to work will give their 2/- for the Collection, and 3/- for a Thankoffering for each year they are working. If they go for less than a year they will give part of this Thankoffering. If they do not send the money, the keeper of the Church money in their village must pay for them until they return.

(vi) The Collection must not interfere with the ordinary Church collection at Christmas, Easter and other days, which collections also go to the Church Association.

(vii) None of these Collections must interfere with the Government tax.


(i) Those who recover from sickness shall make a Thankoffering of 1/-.

(ii) Money may be raised in the following ways: One-tenth of the garden food each day may be kept for sale. If it cannot be sold, the village leader will see that it is used to help the poor and sick and others in need.

(iii) Villagers may plant coconuts, tobacco and food for helping the Church, also make mats, bowls, baskets and other things that can be sold.

(iv) Pigs, fowls and ducks can be sold to help the Church.

7. A TEAM OF "CONSOLATION" (Acts 4:32-37):

(i) The Association shall choose a number of men who will help by going away to work with Government, traders or Mission.

(ii) These men will give at least £1 per month out of their wages to the Church Association.

(iii) They shall solemnly make their promise to the Bishop or the Priest at the Altar.

(iv) Young men who have been to school could help very much in this way.

What the Church Associations Do

When they had the plans worked out they gave the notebook to the Bishop, asking for his approval. The Bishop gave it back later .and said they could start the Association. The District Officer, suspecting a new form of "Marching Rule," asked for the book but, after studying it, gave his approval.

[41] The Church people were then called to meetings and the plan explained. There was criticism, but enough support to make a beginning. Soon the idea caught on and the Church Associations flourished.

In 1953 the Synod gave its approval to the rules, and every part of the Diocese was encouraged to develop the Association. It is now an accepted part of Church life. Not all of the rules of the founders have been kept, but the Association has achieved the main thing attempteda firm financial undertaking by members of the congregation to pay the costs of Melanesian staff in their area.

A cash offering is made each year, usually on the patronal festival. Every Church member contributes to the Church Association (in addition to his church offering). The sum is usually between 2/- and 5/-. For people without cash this requires a special effort to make and sell something.

The Church Association accepts responsibility for paying the wages of catechists and teachers in the district, and may give help with clergy stipends. With this financial basis the Melanesian Mission has been able to increase the force of village catechists to the present figure of 820.

In the Reef Islands I found 18 villages with a total of 15 catechists and two priests serving a total population of 3,000 people, all Anglicans. The Church Association meets most of the costs despite the extreme poverty in this group of islands.

In other areas some changes have crept in. Ysabel Island is 120 miles long by 20 miles wide. The population of 8,000 are all Anglicans. The island is a rural deanery, with the Reverend Dudley Tuti as Rural Dean. Here all Church members make a cash contribution annually to the Church Association, but do not become members of the Association.

[42] The income of the Church Association does not go through Diocesan books. The annual financial statement of the Diocese shows a total Melanesian Church offering of £6,250 in 1962, but this does not include Church Association contributions. I would guess that these contributions in the Diocese total more than £3,000 yearly, but the figure might be higher.

The change in the Church Association on Ysabel Island could be significant. It works as a Deanery Finance Committee would work.

In Ysabel this works out very well with the full sanction of the people, probably due to the ancient social organisation of the tribes on this island. There was a powerful headman to each tribe and an all-powerful chief headman for the whole island. His word was law. He was an hereditary office-holder, but lived close to his people and accepted a moral obligation to consider their welfare and serve them. The Reverend Dudley Tuti is now Rural Dean of the island. He would have been the hereditary chief headman of the island if he had not refused the post because of his priesthood. The people know this and now accept his authority in the Church in the same way as they accept the ruling chief headman's authority in other matters. It is not surprising to find the Church Association in this all-Anglican island community working in the old social pattern. This strengthens the impression that the Melanesian Church is developing patterns of organisation which were latent in the social patterns, and are being brought into action as the Church people set about solving their problems in their own ways. The hint of this is important enough to warrant close social science analysis so that all may learn lessons in Pacific Island Church growth.

The Church Association has been described at length. The other three organs will be described briefly. Each has [42/43] its purely Melanesian detail, which will not be mentioned here but which would be worth the detailed social science analysis suggested.

(b) Village Unions

These Unions also started on the Island of Malaita. It is ancient custom to expect all the men of a village to give one day of work a week to communal needs, such as clearing jungle for gardens. Communal service is today required by, and controlled by, the local Government officers appointed by the Administration. Roads, wharves, Government buildings, village water supply and such things are built with this labour force.

The Church in Malaita has adapted this institution to the service of the Church. Malaita is the same size as Ysabel, but has a population of 52,000. Of these, 24,000 are Anglicans, the remainder being mainly Roman Catholics or Seventh Day Adventists. The distribution is haphazard over the whole island, but usually the whole village belongs to one church. In Anglican villages there are Church Associations, but they have tried to develop the production side of the Association's programme. Villages and individuals are encouraged to make farms or plantations so that the produce can be sold for Church Association Funds. Breaking into the jungle for this purpose requires hard work. The village people have founded Village Unions to carry out this work. Membership in the Unions is voluntary, but most Church members belong and give their work. A man may stay out of the Union with no penalty other than social contempt. No worker expects to be paid, but the Union charges a fixed rate of £1 per day for the services of the Union. There might be 10 or 50 men in the work force, but the charge is the same. The Union gives its earnings to the Church Association, but the Association expects to reap an even [43/44] greater benefit as the various plantations come into bearing. Individual men in the village who own unused land are being helped in this way to start small plantations and sell the produce so they can give to the Church Association.

(c) District Education Committee

It is on Ysabel that the District Education Committee has been developed. All Ysabel's 8,000 people are Anglicans (except one family which has gone over to S.D.A. as a result of a family squabble). All the schools are Church schools, but the local Government District Council is responsible to the Administration for the control of education. Three years ago the Church and the District Council formed the Education Committee and each appointed three members to it. Although all the existing schools were Church schools, the Church agreed that the Committee should take charge of:

(i) The appointment, discharge and transfer of teachers.

(ii) The collection of the school fee which the parent of each pupil must pay (about £1 a year).

(iii) The opening of new schools.

(iv) The repair and replacement of school buildings.

The Committee has flourished, and today controls five boarding schools with nearly 600 pupils, and eight day schools with over 400 pupils. The staff numbers 33 and the income and expenditure in 1962 was in excess of £2,600. It finished 1962 with a balance of £900.

The Committee met while I was there, and I was allowed to attend. The day-long meeting was an entirely Melanesian affair. Some problems were solved by long discussion, others were settled by the chairman of the meeting (it was the Reverend Dudley Tuti, Rural Dean). [44/45] Some decisions were entered in the minutes as resolutions, others were recorded only in the memories of the participants. The Ysabel District Officer was present as a consultant. He also is a Melanesian and a layman of the Church, an old boy of Pawa, Mr. Silas Sitai, M.B.E.

The secretary-treasurer of the Committee presented accounts which had been duly audited and certified by a Government officer.

The Ysabel District Council

This body is responsible for local government in Ysabel. All the members are Anglicans. The Council has an annual expenditure of £10,000 on health, justice, clerical services, water supply, roads, wharves and grants to the Education Committee. It is responsible to the Government for the education system in the district. At present the Diocese provides some of the costs of staff salaries and buildings, but it is possible that the District Council might soon meet the whole of the costs. What this means for Church education policy is being thought out by the Diocese, but the views of the Council and of the Education Committee are quite definite. At this meeting the question was asked, "Should the schools be controlled by the Council or by the Church?" The answer was unanimous: "By the Church."

Only a brief description of the District Education Committee has been given, but it will probably have demonstrated several important matters, including the following:

(i) Melanesians have achieved the modern social requirement of multiple-identity.

(ii) The extension of education is accepted as a local responsibility, and is being carried out effectively.

[46] (iii) The institutions which used to be left to the Church to provide are now being assumed as a civic responsibility.

(iv) Church members have increasing responsibilities as citizens and are learning their civic tasks within the Church.

(v) Local government takes over an increasing part of the activities of Church members. If the local government officers are Church members the process is smooth and the institutions of local government will be run by Christian men.

(vi) The pattern of Ysabel life appears again in the functioning of the Education Committee.

(d) Melanesian Brotherhood, Companions and Catechists

The foundation of the Melanesian Brotherhood by Ini Kopuria, the former police sergeant, has often been described. The work of the households of Brothers in the New Guinea Highlands has often been described. What is often not realised is that the Brotherhood was responsible for the conversion of large numbers of Melanesians, especially in those areas where the people were stubborn or aggressive. Many converted by the Brothers could not be ministered to by the Church because of lack of staff. The people wanted the Anglican Church, but were taken up by the S.S.E.M., S.D.A., Jehovah's Witnesses, Baha'i or Roman Catholics. [S.S.E.M.: South Seas Evangelical Mission. S.D.A.: Seventh Day Adventist.] Even today many of these still ask for the Anglican Church to come to them.

The Brotherhood excelled at making disciples of people in the uttermost parts of jungle and mountain. They proved to be too good for the Church to keep up with them.

[47] An important part of the Brotherhood is the Order of Companions of the Brotherhood. After any service in a church in Melanesia ended I found some of the congregation remained in the church for a short service of prayer led by one of them. This was the Company of Companions of the Brotherhood in that place praying for the Brothers--probably for one particular household.

Not only by the general prayers of the Church, but especially by the particular prayers of the Companions, the Brothers are upheld in their undertakings. This must be recognised as a significant part of the Brotherhood's work. The work of the Brotherhood is an undertaking of the Melanesian Church.

The inability of the Church to follow up the Brothers' work of discipling with teaching and perfecting has been felt very deeply. The policy of putting trained catechists into villages to teach and act as lay-readers is now being developed. Catechists now number 820. A catechists' school has been established so that they can be better trained.

The Melanesian Press has printed a syllabus and lessonmaterial for the catechists' course. Men who would like to have been priests but have not the ability for theological study are encouraged to become catechists.

Catechists are expected to "subsist" in the village where they are appointed, and receive a small cash payment. It varies from £3 to £15 per year, according to the district. The increase in catechists has only been possible since the Church Association was formed and undertook to pay them. One of the incentives keeping the Church Association moving is the understanding that the Brothers must be followed up more adequately than was done in the past.

The Brotherhood has always been essentially an evangelising or "discipling" agency. Young men gave three years of their lives after leaving school to serve in the [47/48] Brotherhood. At the end of that time, if they chose to stay on, they were accepted on the basis of one-year vows. At the end of Brotherhood service men generally went back to the village, but many became priests, teachers or catechists.

The usual time of three years in the Brotherhood meant that little time was available for training, and that mostly in spiritual discipline. They made an excellent spearhead for entry into new and difficult country. The time has come when there are few unconverted areas in the island needing such a task force. This is a critical time for the Church as it tries to find a way to apply the forces of the Brotherhood to "follow-up" work rather than "spearhead" evangelism. Whether an order which was so successful in evangelism can become equally effective in teaching is one of the questions.

Another question is whether young men will continue to give three years' service to the Church at the end of their schooling. There were not many alternatives in the old days. A boy might go back to his village, become a teacher or join the Brotherhood. Today there are many live options. While rejoicing at the enrichment of life by the multiplication of vocations, the Church must wonder whether the Brotherhood will continue to exert a strong attraction, and whether the most able men should in fact be accepted into the Brotherhood. The development of the Franciscan Order in Papua for Papuans is being watched for possible clues as to the future of the Brotherhood.

The ancient social pattern in Melanesia put young men apart from the village community for some years as they arrived at maturity. The initiation process went on throughout that period and culminated in a more intensive "finishing" course. In the days when the Brotherhood started, initiation was still being practised, and the memory of it was still fresh everywhere. In some villages in the [48/49] Santa Cruz Islands I found there is still a "boy house" in which all the young men live until they marry, but apart from this living together there seems no survival today of the initiation process. The survival of the "boy house" does show how deeply ingrained in Melanesian society was the idea of putting the young men apart from the village life. It seems likely that the Brotherhood thrived partly because it took up this Melanesian social practice and applied it to the Church. It must have helped the young men to understand what it meant to be asked to give three years' service away from home. It must also have helped parents and villages to be ready to agree to let the active young men go away for that period in their lives. The change in social patterns and expectations has now gone so far that neither the young men nor their families will find it so easy to agree to Brotherhood service.

The Melanesian Church is therefore facing the possibility that a typically Melanesian organ has had its day. It is hoped that the Melanesians will themselves discover the appropriate future for the Brotherhood and adapt it as necessary.

Social Patterns and Ecclesiastical Patterns

Each of these organs--Association, Union, Committee and Brotherhood--is playing its part in the life of the Church in Melanesia. Each sprang from a Melanesian's answer to a problem which he believed he must solve for the sake of the Church. Growth has not always followed the rules laid down, and this strengthens the impression that these organs have flourished because they have an affinity with something in the original structure of Melanesian society. A much closer examination than I could give would be needed to discover the links between [49/50] the social and the ecclesiastical patterns. If this were done it would give an invaluable lead in the development of a Pacific Church life.

It is also possible that ecclesiastical patterns brought by the missionaries might be clamped firmly on these organs. The process might be quite indirect and unintentional. The Brotherhood might be developed on the lines of a European religious community rooted in mediaeval monasticism; the Unions might be moulded to fit the patterns of the Church of England Men's Society and the Mothers' Union; the Committee might become one of many church departments; the Association might be developed as Promotion. In doing this the nexus with Melanesian society would be cut and the organs could then be expected to leave the ground of general community life and float in the clouds of irrelevant ecclesiasticism,. Any steps taken in Melanesia to safeguard the indigenous growth should be strongly supported. Melanesian men and women of the Church have proved that they can make themselves available to the Holy Spirit. We may be called to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit in them.

Some eight years ago the Bishop devised a system of Rural Deaneries with Melanesian priests as Rural Deans. Each Deanery is a natural region. Responsibility for pastoral oversight and administration is committed to the Dean. The Bishop's visitations in the Deanery are made through and with the Rural Dean. It is a natural development of this that two of the Rural Deans have now been nominated for appointment as Assistant Bishops.

Nothing could be more English in its structure and terminology, but it has flourished. Close scrutiny would possibly show that it, too, has an affinity with the old Melanesian systems of chiefs and head chiefs. Rural Deans in Melanesia enjoy prestige and power quite out [50/51] of proportion to the original model. They also take their position more seriously, but must sometimes wonder why the title is not Marine Dean.

Relation to Australia and New Zealand

It has been the accepted pattern of our thinking to leave Melanesia to the care of New Zealand and give only a minimum of help from Australia. Melanesia was first evangelised from New Zealand, and is now part of that province. The time has come to review this policy. Two things lead me to suggest that we must accept a greater responsibility for Melanesia:

(a) New Zealand seems to be unable to shoulder the responsibility. She is letting the Church in Melanesiaand Polynesia, too--mark time for lack of vital supply. Even if the island world were not changing, Melanesia could not maintain its present ground. It has not been able to accept many invitations to take the Church into new villages. The sects and the other churches now flourish in places which were converted by Anglicans and wanted to be Anglicans, but had to be left. Now a great increase in supply is needed if more people are not to be lost. The opportunities for growth are many, but New Zealand support seems to be at its peak and quite inadequate.

Government and Development

As a Mission Board we cannot ignore Government policies in the islands because they are bringing great changes to which the Church must adapt. An example of this is the Solomon Islands White Paper on Education. The Government is repeatedly saying that the U.K. Government has not yet agreed to the proposals nor voted the money. Despite this, the planning for education by [51/52] churches and villages is already following the White Paper. It will be difficult not to adopt it now.

The plan aims to achieve an enrolment of one-sixth of all school-age children in approved schools by the end of eight years. The teacher-training output in that time will total 288, of whom 240 will only be qualified to teach up to Primary Standard 4. Another 24 will be able to teach to the top of Primary school and the remaining 24 are to go higher. At this rate of progress it will take at least 20 years to provide full Primary education for all children. Few people will agree that there can be time to move so slowly. It appears likely that the Islanders themselves will swamp the Government resources with pressure for schooling. In this situation our Church must be ready for unrest as the inability of the Government to meet the needs of the people becomes apparent.

In the Solomons one sees other examples of the same thing.

It is distressing to find not only Melanesian dressers and nurses, but trained nurses on missionary staff, without the drugs necessary to treat the cases that come to them. Government health programmes have created the demand for treatments which the trained staff cannot give because of totally inadequate supplies of drugs. One missionary nurse has started to buy drugs from Australia with her own money because of the distress of letting children die of a form of malaria which can be cured with the right injection.

Fiscal programmes are also lagging. People are encouraged to keep savings accounts, but even public bodies cannot get bank loans to finance works. Accumulated savings must be put to work if a country's economy is to expand. Solomon Islanders' savings are in the Commonwealth Savings Bank and are not loaned out in the Solomons. Presumably they are helping to expand the Australian economy.

[53] Diocesan Ships

The life and work of the Church in Melanesia needs keels as we need tyres in Australia.

We must continue our prayers without ceasing for the Melanesian vessels and their crews. The "Southern Cross" is the pride of the fleet. The other large vessels are "Baddeley", "Fauabu Twomey" and "Patteson". Another dozen or so small launches and countless canoes of the simplest hollow log type are in constant use. In all this fleet only one man, the master of the "Southern Cross", is a European. The Mission shipyard has a staff of 50, but only two are Europeans.

The grounding or loss of a vessel can occur as a result of natural hazards, despite the highest degree of competence in all hands. Almost every year vessels are lost. Last year it was the Burns Philp boat "Yanawai". This year, actually during my visit, a Lever Brothers vessel almost the size of the "Southern Cross" was lost. I realised for the first time just how dangerous are the waters of the Diocese as I watched the "Southern Cross IX" being conned and sounded through great reefs. In fair weather it is dangerous enough, but the hazards are frequently increased by foul weather.

Whilst Melanesia still needs the help of European missionaries, the last five years have shown that the Melanesians are capable of creating a truly native church, holding fast the Catholic faith, and expressing it in its own Melanesian manner.

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