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.

If the Church is to play a role of leadership in the island world during this decade it must immediately have funds for the tasks thrown up by this development and change pictured earlier in this book.

The amount of money will be very large.

It cannot come from within the island world because the Church's people have not previously had cash currency in their way of life. Their contribution to the work and life of the Church has been in service and kind limited to the subsistence economy in which they live. With transition to a cash economy more cash will become available--is already doing so--but nothing like the amount needed to launch the churches into the new day in the Pacific.

Some people picture missionary work as a priest going off into the bush or landing on an island and there preaching the Gospel to those he can reach. And that may be how it starts. But even that simple beginning required a sending church or missionary society

(a) To train and prepare and equip the missionary;

(b) To get him to the chosen spot;

(c) To maintain him in food and educational and medical supplies to do his work;

(d) Buildings for dwelling, for worship, for schools, for clinics, for hospitals, for stores;

(e) Transport for all the above.

Missionary work does not stay simple for long! Its key stage comes when the Christian Church, so founded by heroic endeavour, must be transformed from a "foreign missionary" imported thing into being an indigenous [88/89] growth, something of the soil and of the people. When this stage is completed, and it is a long one, the process of transplanting the Christian faith into new soil will have been achieved. The plant will put down deep roots and bear rich and lovely fruit.

To hasten this stage the Pacific Churches Development Project has been conceived. It is concerned with the production of indigenous leadership and with that only. But the number and complexity of matters intimately related to training such leadership will surprise most people. Study of the project outlined below will show clearly how each part is dovetailed into the other and none can be fully successful without the others. It soon becomes plain where and how a million pounds will be swallowed.

Think of each part as a tributary stream pouring its contribution into the total river of the life of the Church.

Stream 1--Theological Education

Not only the increase necessary in the number of the indigenous clergy but also two other factors cause this to be given first priority. The present indigenous clergy and the present indigenous adult communicants will need Theological, or Pastoral, instruction if their understanding of obligations and penitence are to be brought into relation with the new demands and temptations they are being brought to face.

The Church of England has always had sound doctrine at the roots of her life. The new churches need the fullest and quickest possible development of Theological learning for indigenous clergy and Theological training for the people.

This will produce the few who can reach academic distinction. They will be the professors of the future, training new generations of clergy for the island churches.

[90] New Guinea is soon to have a University College at Port Moresby. The churches together plan to establish a Hall of Residence and tutorial system. There will be a Diploma in Theology--later, one hopes, a degree. Academic staff will be needed. At the opposite extreme are those who have shown special ability and faithfulness as lay Catechist-Evangelists and should be ordained to the ministry, after further necessary training. And there are younger men who want to study for the ministry just as Australians do.

Whatever happens in the Pacific world can be faced in confidence if this stream of Theological education flows strongly in the life of the churches.

Needed: More buildings, staff, libraries, lecturers.

Each diocese has a Theological College in embryo, with one teacher, the Principal, who must cope with all subjects and all grades of men as best he may.

Under the same heading is the training of Evangelists and Catechists. There are hundreds of these men in charge of out-stations and village churches, leading the daily services, teaching children and adults, especially in New Guinea and Melanesia. They are the great strength of the Church. With better training they could accomplish still more. Some young men would like to train with the Melanesian Brotherhood, and test their vocation. It has been found invaluable to send a few of the most promising ordinands to Australia and New Zealand to widen their outlook. All such training must be part and parcel of the life of a truly indigenous church. Travel and maintenance must be met.

Stream 2--Ministry of the Clergy

This is really another aspect of Theological education. Until the island churches can supply all their own leaders, clergy from overseas will still be essential. Many more overseas priests, and particularly specialists, are needed [90/91] quickly, both for training others in parishes and in colleges. This involves more houses for them.

Also,, both for expatriate missionaries and indigenous clergy, the near future will see in many instances the changeover from outpost mission with subsistence and community living to "urban" parish with cash income and individual housekeeping. This is more costly for the Mission budget.

The possibility of inaugurating a "Home Mission Fund" for supplementing the stipends of clergy in new or weak parishes should not be overlooked. This would be an appropriate claim as a Development Project.

Clergy Provident Funds for the retirement of aged clergy should make an important contribution to the advance of a diocese to new levels. The inauguration of such a fund, not necessarily limited to clergy, would be an appropriate claim as a Development Project. It would need to be costed with due consideration of actuarial factors.

Stream 3--Diocesan Foundations and Management

Anglican Church order demands Bishops and Dioceses. In the mission field the people are too poor in cash to support their parish or mission priest entirely, let alone contribute to diocesan maintenance. But when a diocese has many hundreds of catechists and teachers to pay, Government departments to deal with, dozens of schools and hospitals to maintain, a transport fleet of trucks, ships and even a plane to look after, obviously a qualified diocesan staff is necessary.

So, in addition, there is need to train indigenous workers at once for this expert and responsible task.

There are the development of Endowment Funds and their proper application; the development of a staff registry; the structure of parish and diocesan finance . at least in embryo; the organisation of Synodical government [91/92] with executive organs and the means for regular meetings; the provision of suitable accounting and audit; the training, with practical experience in the home church, of selected persons for the management of this work. All these must now be envisaged and costed in ways which in the past one hardly dared dream about.

Stream 4--Leader Training

(a) Leader Training Secondary Schools: Having started at the top, we must work down. Few realise that today there is not one Secondary School in the Anglican Mission in New Guinea. But standards are rising every year, and the Martyrs' and the Holy Name schools represent the beginnings of Secondary education. It is interesting that today the lowest class at the Martyrs' School does the work done ley the highest class in the school 10 years ago.

Secondary standards of education are obviously necessary in training qualified indigenous leaders. These are now being reached, but not without big costs in buildings, staff and equipment. The number qualifying for Secondary schooling will be small at first, but will expand rapidly.

Similarly the demand for Technical Schools and trades instructors will increase by leaps and bounds.

From those who go through Secondary Schools will come the teachers of the future. A big expansion in teacher-training facilities therefore is an essential part of this programme.

(b) Medical: Healing has always been one of the mainstays and main glories of the mission of the Church. A doctor, newly returned from New Guinea, writes of "the appalling mass of curable or preventable conditions" .. . "this almost overwhelming mass of disease". In an [92/93] independent church, medical work also must be entrusted to indigenous staff. The qualifying of these is obviously no small task nor expense.

To make maximum use of Government facilities is already the practice. But the mission must first train its young men and women up to the stage at which they can enter Government institutions for further training.

Mission hospitals are always crying out for more doctors and nurses not least for this task of training.

Add together accommodation for more trainees, their educational materials and equipment, European staff, training staff and accommodation for these, and another formidable bill becomes payable.

Stream 5--Lay Missionary Staff

The pastoral care of missionaries (lay and ordained) needs very careful study.

The rate of wastage and replacement of resigning missionaries makes it difficult to meet the demands for additional staff. It must be recognised that a new generation of Australians, nurtured in a time of prosperity and comfort and the kindly guidance of a welfare State, is now supplying our missionaries. They are not likely to accept the rigours of service with the same resolution as did previous generations. The missionary dioceses can do more to make good use of the missionaries coming forward. They can add to the length and efficiency of service by making concessions to their past. In particular, many mission houses are sub-standard, and such living conditions must make it difficult for the married missionary to give the service of which he is capable. Some missionaries come home disgruntled, and become a handicap to our recruiting campaign.

Domestic medical needs are met by the mission, but sometimes serious cases such as difficult confinements [93/94] require treatment in Australia. The cost of such treatment, together with travelling and the compassionate company of a spouse cannot be met by the missionary. The continued health and future service of a missionary could depend on proper and satisfying medical treatment. As such, the expenses could be a good investment. There seems to be an obligation on the mission under its present conditions of service to meet in full any expenses of prescribed medical treatment.

The spiritual needs of missionaries are met by the daily services which are times of great refreshment, but spiritual problems and private worries need special care. No one person can cope with the travelling which would be involved in the pastoral care of all the missionaries. In an Australian parish a priest has a spiritual adviser to whom he can turn during times of tension and spiritual; depression. In an isolated mission station this is even more necessary, fbr lay people and priests. This needs particular attention. In New Guinea it is to become one of the special works of the Franciscans.

In addition to the pre-field training of missionaries in the House of the Epiphany, the introduction of adequate training facilities on arrival in the field should be considered. A receiving station where missionaries can become "acclimatised" and make personal adjustments before being sent to "front-line" stations should be considered.

Stream 6--Buildings

Here lies the crux of all the streams flowing into this vast inter-related project. It is not only a question of money. Successful accomplishment depends upon a large team of expatriate builders and on sufficient provision for their maintenance and accommodation. In other words, catch your builders first! They will have plenty of [94/95] assistance from indigenous workers, but for some years to come island dioceses will all require qualified expatriate tradesmen with a sense of vocation and a willingness to impart their skills to their indigenous assistants.

Stream 7--Radio

He is a bad educationist who imagines that if the inschool hours of the day are catered for, all that is necessary in developing a people has been done.

Out-of-school activities are equally or more educational than what is learnt in the classroom in moulding character and outlook. So certain other streams are necessary in this task of creating Christian indigenous leadership.

If broadcasting is to be entirely in the hands of commercial interests, what is likely to be the effect of the kind of programmes we are all too familiar with in Australia on these immature people?

There is already in being the start of a Christian broadcasting station in the Philippines which might beam shortwave programmes to New Guinea and elsewhere. Maximum advantage should be taken of it. Field and programme officers would be required.

Stream 8--Literature

With more and more of the potential future leaders able to read, write and think, the provision of the right kind of literature is essential. Otherwise, someone else will provide the wrong type. Centres for selling or distributing specifically Christian literature should be a high priority in this developmental programme. Because this can be done without (though with dire effects) it is often shelved. In co-operation with S.P.C.K., a printing press, bookshops, and a well worked out scheme of distribution of literature at very low prices must be an important part of this plan.

[96] Before the right literature can be printed and distributed it must be produced, written, edited or translated. This is a highly technical and skilled job for the gifted specialist. But because it is an essential way of reaching out to churchmen and non-churchmen alike it must be given a top priority in this programme.

Stream 9--Transport

Public transport is cheaper, but if it does not go anywhere near where you must go public transport is not much use. The island dioceses for a long time to come must continue to depend on their own. This means jeeps, launches, trucks, Bishop's vehicles, and one, if not two, planes.

Yet the development of an area has always started with the opening up of roads, transport and communications, and we can expect this to happen quickly in the island world. We can look forward to the time when it will be more economical to use public transport.

Here then is a formidable undertaking. But can anyone deny that it is essential? Many possible "streams" have been omitted. Social Service is one, including institutions such as orphanages or aged persons' homes. These will come with the welfare State. The running of them will be thrust upon the Church by popular demand. The training of personnel might best be achieved by sending island Church people overseas for return to responsible positions in welfare institutions. Costs of such a programme would come into Stream 4, but it is not yet urgent.

Here then is the work to which the Church in Australia must put its hand, without delay or hesitation, believing in the power of God the Holy Spirit Who alone can make us sufficient to meet the new day in the Pacific.

Project Canterbury